Themes For Great Cities – Other Reviews

There have been some other great reviews coming in for Graeme Thomson’s Themes For Great Cities book.

Firstly, Classic Pop magazine gave a glowing review. And recently, both Uncut and Electronic Sound magazines have reviewed it. The Electronic Sound review is succinct yet wonderfully positive. The Uncut review gives the book an 8/10 and its opinion of Graeme Thomson as a writer is wholly positive, but the rest of the review is rather backhanded and quite dismissive and scathing of the band. Almost as if the reviewer wondered why Thomson had bothered to waste his talent and energy in telling the Simple Minds story? Well, that’s how the review read to me anyway.

See what you think…

I still think my own review is the best of the lot of them so far. And I don’t usually plug myself with this much bravado! You can read my review HERE – and don’t forget that I am running a competition to win one of two copies of the book. Check the review post for details! The comp closes on Sunday, January 23rd.

Graeme himself was pretty awed by my review, as you can see below… I admit to being quite stunned by his reaction to it. And very humbled. A few tears were shed.

As Dorothy Said To Aunty Em…

“There’s no place like home.” A much used quote lifted from The Wizard Of Oz. But it rings true. And it certainly seemed to have rung true on the nights of November 18th and 19th, 1982.

Simple Minds had just returned to Glasgow after another whirlwind stint of touring to the far reaches of the globe (yes, GLOBE – no “flat earth” conspiracy theorists here! Have ANY of these flat-earthers NEVER been on a plane? How do they explain the curvature of the earth and the horizon? I digress!) – heading back to Australia, New Zealand and Canada directly after the release of New Gold Dream.

I was looking into fanzines on eBay last night, after having seen an enquiring post on my FB feed about a certain Scottish produced fanzine. I thought I’d have a hunt around the interwebs and see what I could find. I decided on eBay first and got caught up looking at fanzines on there. One in particular caught my eye. One called Deadbeat. I looked at the listing of every issue and viewed the images, trying to scan and find more info on the fanzine production itself more than anything.

No one was then more surprised than me to find within the shared images of one listing of the magazine – THIS! A review of Simple Minds playing Tiffany’s in November, 1982. It’s unclear as to whether the reviewer is at the first gig or the second, but regardless of that it’s a glowing review.

The only error in the review is that they say Mike Ogletree is on drums. And it wasn’t until I was listening over the bootleg last night did I think to myself “Naw, pal. That ain’t Mike, that’s Mel.” Mike’s last gig was in Toronto about 10 nights prior to this gig. So in actual fact, it was Mel’s first or second night at the kit – depending on which night the reviewer was there.

They wax lyrical about Jim. Such praise! Excited at my discovery of this review last night I did a very rare thing (these days) and posted it to SMOG first with a link to Art & Talk’s upload of the November 18th gig to YouTube. In my post on SMOG, in reference to the lashings of praise heaped on Jim, I said “anyone would think I wrote the review! Lol.”

It is true though – anyone WOULD think I had time travelled and gone and reviewed it for the fanzine. It is wonderful to see such praise given to His Kerrness though. And it’s certainly nothing I wouldn’t have done myself.

A companion piece for me are the photos I have from Virginia of them playing the second night at Tiffany’s. My favourite photo of the set? One of Jim on the stage – looking pretty fucking sensational, I have to say in signature white collared shirt, shiny tailored trousers and black wee “ballet” shoes. And in the bottom left corner of the frame you can see his brother, Mark, looking as though he would rather be anywhere else than watching his big bro up on stage. Lol. Poor Mark! It’s not in the ones I have posted above, but you can view the particular photo I am referring to on Virginia’s site HERE

Lastly, here is the link to the first of the two Tiffany’s gigs that A&T uploaded. Oh, for a night at Tiffany’s! This is the next best thing…

P.S. Artwork used for the YT ident, eh? *wink* Thanks A&T!

Pictorial Passion – Musical Years In Review – 2021 and 1982

Last night Spotify revealed my yearly listening stats to me. There was no real surprise to find Simple Minds at the top of the tree yet again! And that Boys From Brazil was my top track for seventh year running. All the SM tracks in my Top 5 played tracks of 2021 all came from Sons And Fascination and given it was the 40th anniversary of the album, that would be of no surprise to anyone.

My latter love for Jonathan Richman shows itself in him being at number five of my Top 5 played artists.

My top podcast showed how much I have been enjoying Frank Gallagher’s Soundman Confidential this year. I love the bit about that yes, it’s okay for you to consider the host a member of your family now. Lol. Never in a million hears did I ever think I’d be having little online exchanges with Frank! I felt that Jim always made him sound intimidating as fuck, but he’s brilliant and is always wonderful. And even comments on my FB posts sometimes…which I find amazing that he’s sitting there in Flagstaff, AZ, reading my complete pap! Just last week he responded to one of my posts about enrolling in the OU for my Higher Ed. English diploma and my endless self-doubt. His response was “drive til they take the keys away”. I responded by asking him to “spread some gallus my way”. He replied back, “you don’t need anyone’s permission to be yourself”. He’s lovely. Just lovely.

Of course there is much more music I listen to outside of Spotify so it isn’t 100% everything I listen to. I have been listening to SM live bootlegs and gigs much more this year and that won’t be reflected on Spotify stats, just as one example.

Here’s the breakdown of it in full visual splendour.

Lastly, today sees the release of Classic Pop magazine’s retro look back to all things 1982 in a dedicated special issue. In amongst the artists and bands discussed is a piece on the art side of music which features Malcolm Garrett. And of course the main feature to do with Simple Minds is a look through New Gold Dream. There’s a part of it that covers the official videos released. They mention the Promised You A Miracle and Glittering Prize videos. Someone Somewhere In Summertime was the third single from the album and therefore should have had a video released but one was never made. Instead the magazine talked about this one (below). I love what is said about Jim’s moves. Lol. You’ll not be surprised to learn that I adore this video and quite a bit of art from me has come from it. I will leave my favourite example of that at the end of the post.

Click to play Someone Somewhere In Summertime video.

The Billy Breakdown 20/11/2021

I don’t know how long this new idea will last, but this is the start of a new concept for a weekly post here. It’s going to be called the “Billy Breakdown” and will basically be a short (or long-ish, depending upon how much I feel needs to be discussed) discussion about the previous evening’s edition of the Billy Sloan Show on BBC Radio Scotland.

There was no interviewee this week so the show was fairly crammed full of music this week, which was great. 

There were some really great tunes played this week. Standouts for me were the Wet Leg single, Chaise Lounge, which has now been a constant earworm for me over the past few days. I find the song absolutely SEXY AF. That part of the second verse “hey you, over there / on the chaise lounge in your underwear / what are you doing sitting down / you should be horizontal now” – I mean…come on! It doesn’t leave much to the imagination, does it!? But then there is also “hey you, in the front row / are you coming backstage after the show / because I’ve got a chaise lounge in my dressing room / and a pack of warm beer that we can consume.” Goddamnit, I wish! And no surprises as to who with, either. Bejaysus! 

Anyway, enough of Chaise Lounge and my sexual fantasies. 

Other things about the show this week that I loved:

Inwardly dancing like a loon to Magazine’s Because You’re Frightened. What a tune! And to hear Billy describe John McGeoch as “a beautiful man” – that was lovely. I wish I had got to know of John further back in time than I have done. Malcolm Garrett spoke very kindly of him to me also. He told me they shared a flat together for a time. He is greatly missed by a lot of people.

Hearing the new Johnny Marr single, Tenement Time again – that’s a catchy fucker too! He’s making some cracking music right now. Wish he could share some of that Halloween Scorp magic with me so I could become some super stellar, amazeballs person. 

The Associates – The Rhythm Divine. Another person greatly missed by many is Billy McKenzie. What an incredible voice – and I sat listening, captivated. Stunning. 

Loved the Wings songs played during the “Live and Dangerous” part of the show. It has made me want to hunt down and listen to Wings Over America. 

Then the Skids’ TV Stars. Never heard that before. That’s fab. 

Highlight and surprise of the night? – Highlight was the Lola In Slacks track Strawberry Locks. Wow – what a hypnotic kind of thing that was! It was bloody braw! Surprise of the night was The Scars’ Your Attention Please – and Billy giving me an education, name-dropping an Australian poet I had never heard of in my life! A man by the name of Peter Porter, who had written the poem The Scars track is based upon. Wow, it had some clout, that!

The topic for this week was to choose a song that has a list within the lyrics, be it placenames, items of food, clothing, people… whatever. As long as it listed things. The songs I enjoyed hearing on the topic were producer Gregor’s choice of Adam And The Ants’ Christian Dior, and the other was Ian Dury And The Blockheads’ Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3. I’ve heard the song a few times over the years, but never really took any heed of the lyrics until last night. He was always great with words. My fave line? Unsurprisingly enough is the line “being in my nuddy” – not that I go about naked – just …. Certain imagery that I conjure up thinking of other persons (hint hint). I don’t need to elaborate any further on that, either, I don’t think! 

My choice for this week’s topic came to me quite late. I saw Billy ask the question as I was putting myself to bed on Tuesday night. And I went and had a look at the choices people had left on Facebook on Wednesday morning and saw that someone had chosen Up On The Catwalk. Nothing immediately sprang to my mind on Wednesday morning so I left even trying to think about coming up with a song. Then last night when he asked the question again shortly before going to air – like a shot John Grant’s Marz came to my brain. Marz is basically a list of ice cream flavours that he turns into verses of the song. Marz is meant to be about a place he’d go to as a kid. An ice cream parlour and they had all these fantastical ice cream flavours. It was one of his favourite places to go. For a song about ice cream flavours, it’s really quite beautiful. And I have that silly memory of being in Oz, and Jim writing a post about St Patrick’s Day, choosing a John Grant song and then him posting a link to Marz for me in the comments. Me forever associating the line “you’ll get your heart’s desire, I will meet you under the lights” as a wish to meet him at the stage doors after a gig as a wish that may by fulfilled sooner than I think, if I have the gumption to stand about and wait. Oh, Bridlington…

My choice wasn’t read out this week. Probably got lost in the deluge. 

Along with Up On The Catwalk, I Travel was also chosen by a listener. 

Billy played another track from Peter Capaldi’s St Christopher album and he said they had one of the most amazing responses ever to his interview the previous week with Peter. He said “I’ve interviewed some big names over these past years on Radio Scotland”, and Jim got mentioned amongst those “big names”. That’s Billy making sure he stays on Jim’s Christmas card list! Lol

As for next week he said “I am hoping to get a guest for next week, but nothing has been finalised yet.” Hmmm, a mystery! I wonder who it could be? I kind of wondered with the couple of name-drops that Jim got and that next week’s show will be on November 27th as to whether it might be Charlie on the show? That could be quite fab! 

We shall see!

Link to the show on BBC Sounds HERE

VU Too

From the makers of Uncut magazine – a WHOLE 124 page special edition on the Velvet Underground, and their individual members. I have only taken a quick glance through it so far – but it looks pretty extensive…and dare I say possibly more insightful than the documentary?

I am still finding myself aghast that with every “Top 10/20 Films Of 2021” list I see, the VU documentary doggedly gets placed ahead of The Sparks Brothers film. The mind boggles!

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying the doc was shite. I’m just saying it wasn’t as good as The Sparks Brothers and in my list of top films for this year, there ain’t no way on earth I am putting the VU doc above The Sparks Brothers doc. No way, no how!

Of course, already the highlight of the whole magazine, before I have even read it, is a piece by Jonathan Richman. The love keeps blossoming, yes! Oh, yes.

Minds Music Monday – The ‘Cure All’?

Differing tastes. Songs that you don’t initially warm to and songs you love from the get go. This is the theme for MMM this week. 

I was pondering what I was going to write about this week – thinking that I more often than not choose earlier tracks. It’s my bias coming to the fore there really. If you gave me two albums to listen to – depending on the albums, I would most likely choose the earlier album. 

Let’s say those two albums laid down in front of me are Life In A Day or Big Music. Between the two of them, and the way I am feeling today (in particular) – I’d choose Big Music.

But the thing that really started the thought of this post was what song on Big Music do people tend to overlook or seem to express a disliking for? That seems to be Kill Or Cure. I love Kill Or Cure! I think it’s really sexy. I mean those lines in the chorus – especially the “you can spread yourself all over me” line – bloody hell! Don’t I wish! I honestly don’t get why it’s dismissed so much. How can you not hear how bloody SEXY it is?! I genuinely think it is one of the best tracks on Big Music. And that album – especially the deluxe version, with the addition of Liaison and Bittersweet makes Big Music quite the sensual experience.

But the reception of Kill Or Cure had me thinking about Simple Minds songs that I don’t warm to much. And in popped a link in my head. The word “cure”. One of the songs in the SM canon I didn’t warm to initially was No Cure. No Cure being a track on Life In A Day. 

The Life In A Day album I can listen to sure enough. But as has been discussed over the years, the things I enjoy more about the early Simple Minds era – especially the very early period between 1978-79 is listening to them live. The Thing I tend to wish for most is being able to see them with Magazine. Being able to see some gigs on that Secondhand Daylight tour – just as SM released Life In A Day. And frankly, I wouldn’t be bugging Jim for them to play Chelsea Girl. I get his frustration. It’s a shame he doesn’t get that same kind of frustration these days for feeling compelled to perform Don’t You (Forget About Me). 

Ah, the joys of seeing the 5×5 Live tour of 2012. All you lucky sods that bloody went!

No Cure was a bugbear for ages. And this is why I still use shuffle mode and have an absolute “kit and kaboodle” playlist of every single Simple Minds song…because on the odd occasion, the love grows. And that’s what happened with No Cure. Initially I couldn’t stand the song and would skip it. Then after a few times in a dwam of semi-sleep and it playing while listening to the “everything” playlist during the night – the song really grew on me. 

So, the link is the “Cure” – and the expanse of time in between – from early Minds to modern Minds and the songs that divide and unite. 

Perhaps without No Cure there’d be no Cocteau Twins? And for Simple Minds, without Cocteau Twins, there might not have been No Cure. I think compared to the demo that was done for Cocteau Twins you can hear on the “Early Years” CD, No Cure is more mature and more polished. I used to think No Cure sounded a bit too Boomtown Rats for me – but having just listened to Cocteau Twins again….that doesn’t really sound any less so. 

At the end of the day, I’ve grown to love No Cure and I loved Kill Or Cure from the start. 

And well…we need a “cure” this week, don’t we? A cure from the hangovers of Halloween. A cure from the fireworks of Bonfire night. And, most importantly – we need a cure for the world climate crisis. Another week of COP26 here in Glasgow. Let’s hope the leaders of the world can make the big and hard changes it is going to take to save this planet – if we think it’s worth bloody saving. 

I have no children of my own. But just because I am not a parent, it doesn’t mean I don’t give two shits about the future of the world and how future generations will live. In fact, the growing decline of the world and its growing population were strong factors in why I chose not to become a parent. It was the worry of what kind of world that I would bring lives into that made me reconsider the very fleeting notion I had of becoming a parent. Biggest factor of all was I’ve never felt very capable of looking after myself let alone be responsible for another or other human beings. 

Take humanity out of the equation completely – and I care enough for the animals we share this planet with not to be hellbent on destroying it. If we destroy this planet then that is sinister. It’s a monstrous act! We’ll never know. I almost wish the planet will be left to the animals. That humanity just fucks itself up and doesn’t take any other innocent party along with it.

Perhaps “the meek” – aka, all the rest of the animal kingdom – SHALL indeed inherit the earth. They deserve it much more than we do, in my humble opinion. 

The ultimate abolition of the human race – perhaps that is just the cure this world needs? 

(Shit. That went a bit dark and heavy, eh? Sorry about that!)

Anyway…either it be a Kill Or Cure, or No Cure at all. These songs are bloody braw!

Sunshine And Darkness

The only thing that seems to make me happy right now is to endlessly listen to Jonathan Richman. It’s these kind of things that make me wonder whether I am on the spectrum because of my silly, confused traits.

I need an outlet. I need to vent. This is what this place is for, for me personally, beyond it being a tenuous Simple Minds blog, and more broadly a general music blog, and even broader still, a review, interview and generalised art and creative space – it’s a personal space too.

A space for me. When wanting to be insular is too unhealthy. I can bottle things up and let things fester.

Anyway…where am I going with this? I don’t know.

I guess I was just…I was travelling along okay, you know? Not on the highest of highs…but at a fairly decent equilibrium. The odd dip through the day. One’s mood can change from minute to minute, can’t it? But on the whole, as of Saturday, October 23rd, I was … “stable”.

Then I got a message which arrived during one of those little “dips”…and that was it. 

I can’t go into detail about it. But I probably should. I have not spoken to the sender of the message since then. So upset and angry by it as to just dismiss it and them. So, how do I explain it without going into detail? How do I explain my mood and slide downwards if I can’t elaborate? I don’t know. 

I feel unable to confront the persons/people concerned. 

To be honest, the person I am most angry with is myself. I should have been more upfront about my feelings and fears. And here lies the paradox! 

But…I was quiet, because I felt as though my feelings and my fears would not be considered or would be dismissed. People were putting faith in me to do something that I didn’t feel equipped to handle and didn’t really know much about to be honest. I was happy to do the groundwork and try and do something with it – but it put the fear of god into me! If it went shit, if it fucked up, it would be MY head on the chopping block – not theirs! And if I did fuck up…who would be hardest on me for my fuck up? ME!

Jim’s post about “Absolute Beginners” was timely…but a little too late. 

I don’t feel as though I learn anything. I just constantly make mistakes I never learn from. I see all my faults and all my foibles and I never know how to make them right! 

Okay…let’s start over.

People put their faith in me. Some people who do that I get genuine good feelings from and never question why they do it. They are just good, virtuous people who see the inherent good in everyone. I used to think I was like that too. Believed the inherent good in people.

But others I find myself questioning why they put their faith in me, why they would want to have dealings with me, or associate with me because I feel I have nothing to offer them in return. So then I believe they must have motives. WHY are they being nice to me? For what purpose? Perhaps they are just…a different type of person? So, I use my “inherent good” glasses and dismiss any doubts or niggles I may have. Anything that is otherwise screaming “PROCEED WITH CAUTION!” at me. 

It was around mid July. We had been going through the saga with the cats and both of us (myself and my OH) were going through ill mental health. My OH has been going through mental health issues for…nearly the whole time we’ve been together. Prior to that. A long time. I didn’t start to recognise my own mental health issues until we had been together almost 10 years. 

To cut it to the quick – both of us had suffered with varying degrees of mental ill health for quite some time now. 

In mid July, we were both at breaking point. Several factors compounded the issue.

Right at this point in proceedings, I was “bestowed” (for want of a better term) a task. This task seemed absolutely MONUMENTAL to me! Did I confess this to the bestower? No! Heaven forbid I should seem weak and incapable – the things I believe this person thinks of me. So I put on my guise. Made a joke of it “hey, I can’t even organise a piss-up in a brewery, but if you want me to give it a go, I’ll give it a go.”

I’m in tears writing this just reliving how on earth I was going to execute this thing!

No other input. Nothing else came my way…just a “here’s this. See what you can do. There’s a good girl. Cheerio!” And because it came to me when it did, it just sent me spiralling down further. So I sat on it. I sat on it, petrified to speak out and say “I can’t do this!” – fear of being weak. Fear of compounding everything I think these people think of me. 

Some weeks back, some clarity came my way. A deadline. I felt I had a bit of breathing space. The past couple of weeks I started to feel able to at least try and tackle it. Make tentative steps as to what I needed to do to get this thing under way.

And then, I get this message. The message that tells me “thanks, but we’re doing something else with this now. All the best.” Was I relieved? Not really. What I was was devastated. And what I have been for the past 4 days is…gutted and angry. 

Had I wish I’d been upfront? Had I wish I’d been brave enough to say “Woah! Thanks, but I can’t do this.” Maybe. But…we’re told to push ourselves, to take ourselves out of our comfort zone to achieve things, right? Well, here I was, trying to push myself out of my comfort zone. And just when I was getting prepared to make inroads into it – BAM!! Rug pulled from under me. 

The past 4 days I have been sick. Sick, upset and angry. And I know those involved around it will be dismissive, because that is how it has always felt. I’m “oversensitive”. Or I’m “overthinking”. No! You know what I am? A HUMAN FUCKING BEING, WITH FEELINGS – WHO IS SICK OF HAVING THEIR FEELINGS DISMISSED!

I did this to myself – because I was too scared to stand up to what I would think was another dismissive waving of the hand. Either made to feel weak for admitting that at the point it came to me it was too much for me to handle, or a shirking of responsibility or a dismissal of concerns with a “ah, come on, you can do this in your sleep” denial.

And I know I need to let go of it. I now need to just…be Zen and let it go. Let it drift off away and not think about it any more. 

There is so much more I want to say and wish I could say…but I am best to keep the rest within. It would only be dismissed – so I might as well be the one to dismiss it. 

I still don’t know where I am going with this post. 

The title? Because I wanted to talk about the only thing filling my days with light right now is Jonathan. Dear, sweet Jonathan. 

Jim is there too, of course. Some things never change. So, there has been Halloween themed fan “art”…with Mr Kerr in varying dark roles, usually the devil – I think DraKERRla may be to come (my erogenous zone has always been my neck – I find vampire films highly erotic).

Last night’s music was a mix of sunshine and darkness. Sunshine from Jonathan and the Modern Lovers. “Monologue About Bermuda” from the album “Having A Party With Jonathan Richman” is just about my most favourite thing in the world right now. I can’t stop smiling every time I hear it – even through the tears.

Before that I played Roadrunner (Twice) and then Roadrunner (Once). I think I prefer once to twice. There’s a rawness to “Once” that I prefer.

After having my mood lifted for that little bit of time – I shifted to Magazine and listened to Secondhand Daylight. I bloody LOOOOOVE this album. All of it, but particularly the end block of Permafrost, Give Me Everything and I Love You You Big Dummy. That I can listen to something so dark and wallow yet be equally uplifted I find magical. And I am laying in bed, listening away and thinking at certain intervals “Man, how great is John McGeoch?!” And then it’s “Man, how great is Barry Adamson?!” and then for Howard, and for Dave Formula.

And I eventually fell asleep hours later, still wishing I could have seen Magazine and Simple Minds touring together. 

“To sleep, perchance to dream.”

Jim Kerr: The Laird – Magazine Interview – 1987 (Publication and exact date unknown)

I’m guessing by the description Adam Sweeting gives of the weather “a summery day” and the talk of Live In The City Of Light having just been released (LitCoL released in May), it must be around June of 1987.

I thought seeing as I’ve been to South Queensferry a few times over the past 12 months, I might as well get the damn article and share it here.