I loved the way Jim defined his role within the creative tour de force that was Simple Minds in 1981. He posted two pieces on the official Facebook page regarding Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call – both quite succinct in their acknowledgements – but I guess he has spent more time than anyone over the past 40 years dissecting and talking about it, he probably had very little left to say. And of course, as the lyricist and vocalist on the albums – well, he can let the music, his words and his voice do all that needs to be said and done.
“I’m not saying anything, I’ve said too much.”
But of the things he did say, that description on the second post of the band being “on fire” and that it was his job to describe the flames. It perfectly describes it! And that is why he did such an incredible job of it!
And…whenever you want, Jim, you can come and fan my flames! Just saying… (what are those lines from 70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall again… *pondering expression on face*)
I didn’t post a Minds Music Monday post yesterday as I still was feeling a sense of “mourning”. A bit of a loose end right now. Minds Music Monday really had a purpose behind it these past months. Before that, it had been nothing more than “here’s the Simple Minds song that’s stuck in my head this week” kinda thing. I put a lot of work into really trying to turn the weekly theme into something solid and something to look forward to.
It did get on top of me a few times. It quickly became something I wanted to deliver on week after week and there were times during the summer when family matters and personal crisis got in the way of being able to dedicate the time I needed to make each post as thought-provoking and insightful as I wanted them to be but I am already missing that challenge. Equally it is nice not to feel so much pressure to fulfill a task, to be working to a self-imposed deadline.
Minds Music Monday is definitely going to continue but perhaps at a more controlled pace. And I have time until the next major celebration. With New Gold Dream’s 40th Anniversary next year, and there only being nine tracks on the album, I can slow the pace down somewhat. My thinking is that I will start a monthly post from January onwards with related pieces in between. But I may change my mind about that come January. Part of me doesn’t want to kick off the celebrations too early, yet the other part of me thinks IT’S NEW GOLD DREAM! We’ll see.
In the meantime, just to go back to Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call – I’d like to share this. This is what I had written out as my blurbs to intro each of my choices for Ronnie McGhie’s radio show last week. Once the show got under way, we were so pressed for time, I felt I couldn’t say all the things I wanted to, so I tried to get across the important points and tried to limit what I was saying. It is why I ended up stumbling over my words towards the end, just trying to get a more succinct point across made me trip up over Seeing Out The Angel and This Earth That You Walk Upon.
So here are my broader points that I wanted to say printed below. I also included the brief introduction of myself that I had written as well. My part was originally going to be a pre-record and I had recorded my audio and sent it to Ronnie but he said doing the show live was an option if I was up to it. I really didn’t feel very confident about it to begin with but the more I thought about it and considered it, the more exciting the proposition was. And so we went for it and I am ssoo happy we did. It was a great experience.
“My name is Larelle Read. I have been an ardent and fanatical Simple Minds fan since the summer of 2014. When realising there was so much more to discover about the band than what you hear from their array of hits, I meticulously went through their back catalogue. I did so in chronological order and when I got to the albums of Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call, it cemented my love for this band completely. From the beginning of In Trance As Mission right through to Seeing Out The Angel on the “Sons” album, all the tracks are perfectly placed. It’s Europe of the early 1980s. And it’s 5 men all below the age of 25 sharing life’s experiences. It’s musically and lyrically perfect. And it SHOULD be lauded as highly as New Gold Dream is, as far as I am concerned.
BOYS FROM BRAZIL
It’s all about that drum beat for me. It’s meaty! Added to it a relentless bassline and single note synth, then Burchill’s jangly guitar riff. Kerr’s lyrics at this point are already political, citing Neo-Nazis and the National Front in his lyrics. It has a sophistication and a message, delivered with a subtlety that many miss. It’s not a song to dance to so much but it packs a big punch and it gets my fist pumping and my heart pounding. And visually, I see the style of the Minds members reflected in their clothing choices. Tailored trousers and collared shirts. Very 1940s smart attire.
WONDERFUL IN YOUNG LIFE
The first time I ever heard Wonderful In Young Life as a new “mega” (perhaps zealously rekindled) Simple Minds fan, I cried. I found it the most beautiful song I had ever heard. I am reluctant to go into too much detail but my teenage years weren’t years I look too fondly on. This song expresses everything that is special about being in your late teens and early 20s for a lot of people. A whole life ahead of you. Setting out in the world where the sky’s the limit. That you’re making your way in the world and you have great friends around you sharing in those experiences. Exactly as the title says – Wonderful In Young Life. It is something that I felt had passed me by, and it’s why I felt so much emotion from it. For the years I felt I lost. Another driving beat and fantastic bassline and so much amazing wailing guitar. And those lyrics! And Jim’s voice. And a rare time he’d sing in a falsetto. And it was those falsetto lines of “I’m singing memories” that would tip me over the edge. I have “I’m singing memories” tattooed on my right forearm. That is how much this song means to me.
SONS AND FASCINATION
Sons And Fascination reminds me of being back in Australia with my mum. I was there in the summer of 2015/16 and it was the last time I had with my mum before she passed away at the end of 2019. I think each song I choose has some kind of quirk to the rhythm that catches me. This has some kind of hand clap effect or a Linn drum snap or whatever it is. Mick MacNeil’s synth work and again with Derek Forbes bass sell this one for me. Sophistication in Kerr’s lyrics once again. He was such a keen observer and it’s all reflected in those lyrics. I think everyone should listen intently to Jim Kerr’s lyrics. And I need to get to the bottom of why he chose to use the words “semi-monde”. It is an incredible title track and absolutely encapsulates everything the album is. The whole rhythm, tone and message of the album. It’s magnificent.
THE AMERICAN (Extended Version)
The American is a favourite in the live set. It is always the indicator for me that a Simple Minds gig is well under way when The American is being performed and it is guaranteed to get me singing and dancing. (If I am not already doing so by then, which I usually am!) It is the extended version I enjoy much more than the version that is on the album. The album version I find too short. And I love the way the extended version fades out after that almost trippy and hypnotic repetition of the chorus. Live versions are always favourites, esp. one from the Good News From The Next World tour of 1995 in which Jim included the backing vocal lines of “in collective fame/ Nassau club days / across a curved earth / the eventful work-outs”. And Charlie Burchill’s guitar work on this is fabulous.
SEEING OUT THE ANGEL
Seeing Out The Angel is just the most beautiful, serine, haunting song. The synth melody that opens the song and the bass that counters it. The haunting backing vocal. And then the guitar that sounds like church bells – something that music journalist Adam Sweeting said of Charlie’s guitar on this song, and he is absolutely correct. And the story behind the lyrics as well. Of Jim saying he had this “vision” of an angel or a visitation FROM an angel as a young boy I find fascinating. And it contains one of the most beautiful lines I think Jim has ever written, “in colourful, breathless, emotional sea”. I’m not one for choosing a funeral song. I don’t care what’s played at mine. You could play Russ Abbott’s “Atmosphere” as far as I am concerned. It’s not as if I am going to be there to enjoy it! But I can certainly appreciate why Seeing Out The Angel appeals to fans for that particular reason and purpose. And as the final track on the Sons And Fascination album, it is just perfect.
THIS EARTH THAT YOU WALK UPON
This Earth That You Walk Upon contains my favourite Charlie Burchill guitar solo. But there is also more shimmering synth work from Michael MacNeil. It’s really big on atmosphere, this track. It makes the world feel huge. We have our place within the universe, but we as human beings are just a speck in space and time. We are the blink of an eye in time’s history. Going to the Walk Between Worlds short set of showcase gigs in February, 2018 and being promised some rare tracks from the back catalogue, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was hoping for Boys From Brazil or Wonderful In Young Life, even though I knew in my heart of hearts the chances of either of them being performed was as likely as me winning the lottery! But when I heard the opening synth chords to This Earth, I felt like I had been taken to heaven. I was in EXACTLY the right place at the right time. Glasgow, Barrowland, and this song being performed live in front of me was all I could ever wish for. It’s a very special and magical memory.”