I Love You, You Big Dummy – Magazine Mania

E74F417B-641C-4DA8-ACC4-3178E4B73883

These things take hold with me at strange, perplexing and kind of random times. I am a rather habitual beast. When I get gripped by something…if it really takes hold, it becomes quite an obsession for a time. And then they remain habits.

I’ve been trying to branch out my musical taste. It really is quite limiting, I guess, and I have never been that good at absorbing new discoveries. I tend not to give things enough of a chance to wow me. If it isn’t immediate – and therein lies the hypocrisy because very rarely has any musical love I have gained of a group or artist been THAT instantaneous – I tend to give up rather quickly.

These days, I tend to try in small doses until such time as my interest gets super piqued and the thing starts to bite and then I start to OD.

The newest bite is Magazine.

I KNOW! But honestly, the “new” music that is around these days rarely takes hold with me. A few acts filter through, but very few of them sound genuinely new.

So…Magazine. There had been bugger all of their stuff on Spotify for AGES. So much the case that when I wanted to take a listen of Real Life again last week, I went straight to YouTube. It was only a couple of days later did I go and take another look at Spotify. Blow me down with a feather! Quite a bit of the Magazine catalogue is now up there – Real Life, Secondhand Daylight and The Correct Use Of Soap up there for a start…and quite a bit besides.

I suppose the thing that got me diving in again was this. Seeing Howard Devoto’s words on Pete Shelley and hearing that snippet of their most recent musical collaboration it got me wanting to explore Magazine again.

I’ve listened to the first three albums several times over this past week. I think that for me…despite some of the more well-known tracks being on Real Life (Shot By Both Sides, Definite Gaze, The Light Pours Out Of Me) and The Correct Use Of Soap (A Song From Under The Floorboards, Sweetheart Contract, Thank You (Fallentinme Be Mice Elf Again) – Sly And The Family Stone cover), my fave album of the three so far is Secondhand Daylight. And the fact that was the album they were touring with when SM were their support touring with Life In A Day – God I wish to fuck I had a TARDIS!

To start, apart from their own material, they do STELLAR covers! I titled this post “I Love You, You Big Dummy” because I just fell in love with it on the first listen. Revealing my musical ignorance, I had NO IDEA it was a cover of a Captain Beefheart song. I was at least familiar with Thank You (Fallentinme Be Mice Elf Again) and its origins, thanks to a certain Mr Kerr. I’d love to ask him what he thinks of Magazine’s version, but I am trying not to harass the man currently. Best not to badger. Leave the insipid enthusiasm for the blog, eh?

I think back to my interview with Bruce and him saying he tried to get Simple Minds out of their contract with Arista earlier than they did. That he approached Simon Draper some 18 months before they signed to Virgin. At that point, Draper was unconvinced, “Why would we want Simple Minds on our books when we already have a “Simple Minds” – Magazine?” Perhaps I am nuts…biased…wear rose-tinted glasses – but I really don’t hear that much of a musical similarity. Certainly not to the point Simon Draper was making – that they were TOO SIMILAR to be record label stable mates. WTF? Well, as it transpires, it would seem that Simple Minds’ signing to Virgin seemed to signal some kind of death knell for Magazine. They released one album shortly after the SM signing – Magic, Murder And The Weather. Then there is nothing new until the band reforms in 2009 (a rather short-lived reformation).

I am yet to listen to Magic, Murder And The Weather…I really am quite absorbed with the other three for now.

My favourite track? I heard it for the first time proper last night, and then immediately played it again…and then again…and again. I just found it jaw-dropping. Not really sure why. I just loved what I felt was an edginess and rawness to it. Actually I do know why…fuck me…that bassline from Barry Adamson!!! FUCK OFF!

Yes…I can feel a new love affair blossoming. It’s very rarely “love at first sight” for me musically. Most things are a slow burn.

Magazine are the latest slow burn to suddenly become a fireball. Will they remain a powerful flame? Will they fizzle out and simmer away in the background like many of my recent other new loves? Roxy Music, Talking Heads…

All I know is the appreciation is finally there.

Drum Lesson And Practice – June 29th, 2019

Yesterday was the first tuition I’ve had in two months. Gareth was great. Started me back right from scratch, really. We went right back to basics. We worked on stick grip, rudiments, grooves and fills.

I can’t really talk a lot about it…not really going into much detail. And it felt a lot to take in yesterday because I was so apprehensive about it, but really excited too. There was a lot to take in. Well, it felt a lot yesterday and because I’m so anxious about it all, not everything sinks in immediately.

I checked with Gareth that he wouldn’t mind me recording the lesson. He was fine with that. I won’t be sharing any of that, but I will still share a bit of my own practice here and there.

I’m really thankful that he’s okay with me recording because as it was with Cherisse, upon playback, things register better. My brain absorbs the information better and I always have it to reference it.

I’m about halfway through listening to yesterday’s lesson…and I just lost it. Gareth had me playing along to (rather ironically) No Woman No Cry…and I just started blubbing like a fool. I could just feel it and I could see him in the room with me, helping me keep to the beat, dancing around the room to it and it was just lovely thinking about it…and I just lost it, I feel like an idiot! (I’m crying all over again typing this out! I’m such an oversensitive idiot.)

I’ve just wanted this for so, so long. It was like the 8 year old me was in that room yesterday, learning.

As you get older…once you get to adulthood, you just think all this stuff is just too late. That it’s too late and you’ve missed your chance and it’s all gone. “Don’t bother now. It’s too late. You’re too old. You can’t afford it. And you’ll never learn. You’ll never pick it up. Your mind is young enough. You won’t be as much of a sponge.”

I still feel like that. The adult me says…”You’re 48! Why bother now? Where’s the money gonna come from? How will anything sink in?”

And then I was listening to the lesson and how it was all sinking in and just listening to the playing. Hearing myself play to Bob Marley…and it’s joyous and liberating and wonderful and that 8 year old is there inside saying “Wow. This is cool. I’m getting this. And my teacher is cool. And we’re having fun. And I’m learning and playing…”

And now my face is an absolute mess!

Such a silly cow.

So yesterday was wonderful. And I still want this. More than ever.

But how I continue to do? Who knows…

We’ll see.

The Wright Stuff

The full piece on Andy Wright from the latest Classic Pop issue below. If at the main site, click on the post header to then view the pages by clicking on them and accessing zoom options on the bottom right of the page.

If at the post page already…just click on the thumbnails!

Minds In America Live Album?

I’m sure it doesn’t seem the case to those who THINK they know me…I’m sure I seem the biggest blabber mouth on the face of the earth, but I CAN keep a bloody secret!

One that I was (somewhat accidentally, admittedly) entrusted with was the info there was going to be a live release from Simple Minds’ most recent tour of the U.S.

Today I received the latest issue of Classic Pop in the post and there’s a big old write up and interview with SM producer, Andy Wright. In amongst it, he talked about his working relationship with SM and within it was also the reveal of there being a live release of SM recorded during the resent U.S. tour. He says it’s going to be a 40 track thing…but that seems quite a lot. I’m not even sure 40 individual tracks made it on the setlist in America, did they? Perhaps some things played during soundcheck are being included? Who knows? We’ll see around Christmas time, I guess.

Exciting news nonetheless.

53026161-166B-4873-A78A-40A3AE922D78

 

Why I Love…New Warm Skin

I cannot reiterate how great a lot of Simple Minds B sides are. Most of them became an “also ran” at the expense of a song that makes it onto an album. I would easily swap Special View for Sad Affair, for example. Others would swap Veldt for Kaleidoscope (as although the song wasn’t released until the I Travel single – as a special flexi disc bonus – it had been formed during the Life In A day tour, so could have easily been recorded during the Real To Real Cacophony sessions).

But when it comes to NWS, it’s difficult to shelf something from Empires And Dance to make way for it. This time, they did make the right choice leaving it for the B side to I Travel.

The drummer girl here loves that intro. It hasn’t got the usual synth sound we get from Mick. And there really isn’t much of Charlie’s guitar over it. Just brief little riffs and licks.

It is a different beast to what else is on Empires And Dance. Musically the tone is much lighter. And there is…for its time, a very traditional “verse/chorus/verse/chorus” structure to Jim’s songwriting on this. Most unusual compared to most everything else of the period.

There is a demo version. Recorded during early EAD sessions. I’m sure after the R2RC fiasco, Arista INSISTED upon demos. I bet they still didn’t know what to do with them. I mean…seriously!? How can you have acts like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Patti Smith on your label, yet Simple Minds leave you dumbfounded? HOW?! It makes no sense!

Lines from the demo alter to the studio version. Instead the skin being “expensive to touch” for being “novocaine skin” – it’s “expensive to touch” for being “American skin”. And what was once “ugly as sin” is now “transparent and thin”. The third verse in the demo is pretty much a repetition of the first, whereas in the studio version it has been refined and expanded. “…Contorted dreams of the beauticians that pray / crawling out of this heat and drifting this way…”.

I have always been most intrigued by those lines that end each verse, “Is this a war? Is this a god?” A war on what exactly? The natural beauty of the human face? A god? A new god…one that has refined and “perfected” how the human face should be?

Of course, many years later, Lostboy! AKA Jim Kerr revisits those lines and reuses them in the track Nail Through My Heart, with a musicality to the track not a million miles away from New Warm Skin. Defeated in “war” by the superficial, perhaps? “You put a nail through my heart / nail through my heart / then you discarded me. Corrupt from the start / you pushed it too far / then you discarded me. You put a mark on my skin / let yourself in / no escape for me.”

Musically, NWS has more of a “new wave” tone to it than what else is on Empires And Dance. The album is a Euro-centric dance, trance, travelogue…definitely still rooted in post punk and not quite yet new wave – well not as I differentiate new wave to be.

I mean those three/four albums from 1979 to 1981 – Real To Real Cacophony/Empires And Dance/Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call – progress yet bridge together so amazingly well. Each a stepping stone to the next and the next. Then…the big leap! The huge curve ball. The stand-alone. The “nothing before it or after”. The freak. The beast that is New Gold Dream.

I hear similarities in the synths of New Warn Skin to what’s on Are Friend’s Electric? and Cars. Simple Minds were very much getting away from wearing their influences on their sleeve by that point, so NWS is a slight hark back in that respect. But I am sure that by this point in the game any similarities in sound were purely subliminal or coincidental.

How deeply we should dissect the track I am unsure. I mean, what is it after all? A parable on the the pursuit for human “perfection”? Superficiality – the ultimate cost of vanity? Is that such a heavy subject? I suppose even still in 1980, plastic surgery was in its infancy – in terms of it deemed as a “standard” procedure. Nobody bats an eyelid over facelifts now – mostly because nobody CAN…if you get my gist?

In musical tone there’s a cool and a heat to it. I like the pace of the chorus…the layers of the backing vocals.

There’s more electronica to come with the sound of Simple Minds. New Warm Skin leads on to Love Song, This Earth That You Walk Upon, Seeing Out The Angel and Theme For Great Cities…and most other tracks on the Sons and Sister albums.

I’d hazard a guess we weren’t meant to take New Warm Skin TOO seriously. I’m pretty sure the younger Jim would not have relished his lyrics being dissected like this. I’m not much sure the older Jim sees much point in it, either.

But it’s what I like to do. It deepens meaning, emphasis, musical enjoyment. I just like to exercise a curious mind. See if I can derive a meaning from the songs, musically and lyrically. “What did Jim mean by that? Does it mean anything? Is my interpretation of things what others’ hear too? Am I the only one that hears this, this and this?”, and so forth. It keeps me happy and occupied (“Not bloody occupied ENOUGH!” shouts Mr Kerr from his Glasgow panic room. Lol).

It’s just a little electronic gem with catchy lyrics.

And that is why I love New Warm Skin. (Demo and studio versions follow.)

The Master Of The Art

I’m always flicking through the pages of the music mags. Not much really has me stopping for too long. (Perhaps to my detriment? A slow reader’s curse that to be drawn in to read something, you REALLY have to grab their attention – going by my own experience anyway.)

I suppose I am finding myself studying Lou Reed quite a bit of late. Not in an involving and methodical way like I have done with others who end up deeply piquing my musical interest. Bowie very much became a study piece as much as a musical exploration. If I’d have taken an OU degree in English Lit. say, Bowie in some way or other could have ended up the subject of my thesis.

I can feel it possibly going that way now with Lou Reed. Exploring his work deeper. I am certainly starting to feel that sense of the story itself being as important as the music. But I think that is what usually pulls me in to those musical artists I admire and covet most. They are great storytellers, either by encapsulating the narrative verbally, or creating a visual palette of what is being told with an inner visual artist flair. (John Foxx’s description of Jim Kerr being the “the best internal movie director” always springs to mind. It is my favourite description of Jim as a songwriter and it is just so…”on point”, as the whippersnappers say these days).

I really am starting to get that there is much more to Lou than meets the eye.