Jim’s July Playlist – The Reaction

“The dogs are impatient for attention….” he opened with. Pretty obvious metaphor there. It wasn’t lost on me, I just tried to brush it aside yesterday.

Anyway, I thought with the whole deluded continuation of “discs and doughnuts”, I’d post my reactions to Jim’s choices this month.

Will O The Wisp

I must confess that I really was unfamiliar with the folklore tale behind it. I knew it was a term but really didn’t know anything about it and felt compelled to look it up. It didn’t escape my attention that a variation on the character is known as “the Spunkie” in the Scottish Highlands. Maybe that is where the alternative term for “having spunk” – ie: to be gallus and have attitude and bolshiness – comes from?
Anyway, on to the song itself. After one listen…I’m not sure. Very few songs capture me after a solitary listen, it has to be said. Those that do are pretty damn special. The only judgment I can pass for now is that I probably prefer other Pet Shop Boys songs to this. But I will give it a few more listens…it may lure me in…

Israelites

To be honest, all I could think of initially is this!

But in all seriousness, it’s a great reggae/soul/gospel fusion. Obviously political too – well, to my ears it has a political slant.

She Sells Sanctuary

I have to admit as much I have enjoyed hearing the song over the years, it was a rare one that escaped my knowledge lyrically. Most songs if they grab my attention I’ll educate myself on lyrically. I guess for this I just liked the tune and was happy for Astbury’s lyrics to be just gobbledegook to my ears.

She’s A Mystery To Me

What is NOT to love about the Big O? Geez, the man could sing the phonebook and have you crying tears. An immaculate falsetto too – used to perfection to end the song. My mum bought a copy of Mystery Girl for herself. I had bought a copy of You Got It as a single and she had to trump me. Lol. She loved him. I think she may have even seen him perform live but I am not so sure now – and I can’t really ask her. We were both so saddened by his passing. A great loss at still a relative young age.

When Jim mentioned that semi-conscious half sleep, half wake state, I had to comment about Alasdair Gray, Lanark, and my discovery of the word “dwam”. Reading Lanark, I have been made aware of so many words I had never heard before and “dwam” was just one of them. And because I had never seen/heard it before I had to look up its meaning and I instantly fell in love with it.

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Let The Good Times Roll

The Cars are one of those bands that I dabble into now and again and enjoy listening to a “best of” and then they languish again. Much like how it was for Simple Minds for the longest time. I am only familiar with “the hits” and the use of Drive showing the footage of the Ethiopian famine at Live Aid – forever synonymous with those images. Ingrained on the conscious. As much as Ric Ocasek is seen as the main head of the group, it was the songs with Benjamin Orr on vocals that are my faves – Let’s Go and Just What I Needed, as well as Drive, of course – but all the songwriting is Ric’s. Favourite line is from Let’s Go “she’s got wonderful eyes and a risqué mouth” – combined with Orr’s delivery of it – I just find it damn sexy.

Hey, but it’s Let The Good Times Roll that we’re on about here. I’m surprised Jim didn’t relay the story of the signing to Zoom/Arista as part of it because he had mentioned in the past that as part of the celebration of Simple Minds signing the Arista deal, they went to a Cars gig and it was another reason why the song has resonance with him – as for Simple Minds the “good times” were indeed about to roll.

Kooks

It’s such a fab song. And what a gift David gave to Duncan writing this for him. He and David had such a wonderful relationship. It was heartbreaking seeing Duncan on Twitter announce his imminent fatherhood and the sadness he felt that David wouldn’t get to experience being a grandfather. 😦

The song is just a lovely “you and me against the world, kid!” anthem. Both kitschy and beautiful.

What Jim said of Bowie’s Glastonbury performance I agree with. It actually seemed quite lacklustre and David himself just didn’t seem in the right place for it. His music of the period fell a bit flat for me. He had released album ‘Hours…’ several months prior and I wasn’t keen on it, to be honest. Move ahead three years and Heathen could not have been any different! To me, Heathen is on a par with Low as my all-time favourite Bowie album.

Back to Glasto…I’m not sure what it was beyond the music. His voice seemed weak to me. He had given up smoking. Iman was pregnant with Lexie and so he was trying to stay away from the “cancer sticks” – sadly it seemed to be somewhat to the detriment of his voice at the time. I’ve not watched the performance since the time. I never wanted to go back to it. I was seeing the hype over social media last weekend and I wasn’t particularly fussed. And I certainly didn’t want to put my head above the parapet and express my disappointment with the set back then. Perhaps I should watch it on iPlayer to see if my opinion and feeling has changed?

Almost exactly 12 months later I got to see him live for the one and only time – seeing him at a day long festival at Old Trafford cricket ground called Move. He was top of the bill. Suede were on before him. There were several other acts on the bill – the other highlight being The Divine Comedy (another man who could sing the phonebook and make me swoon – Neil Hannon). The weather was dodgy during the day and when Suede arrived on stage the heavens opened. Brett Anderson did his best to distract us in the crowd from the downpour but we all looked like drowned rats by the time David appeared. When he did appear, the gloaming sunlight returned – as if we had been joined by God himself. I was soaked to the bone and freezing cold, but I didn’t care. He was wonderful.

Thunderstruck

Oh, I have an aversion to Brian Johnson fronted AC/DC, I really do. I can tolerate Back In Black, but after that, I just find them a parody of themselves. To me, Johnson is a mimic of Bon Scott – and not a good one. “Cartoon rock” is a summation I’d agree with. Not when Bon was around though! Not on your nelly.

So, along with the glockenspiel and triangle, we can add “air-drums” to Jim’s calibre of “instruments” he can play? Lol

Thank god I got me a real kit last week! Jim can probably play his air-drums better than I can play my real ones right now though!

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The Joke

And so we go from the ridiculous to the sublime. Oh, you are too right, Mr Kerr on this one. The emotion in that lady’s voice?! Wow. Nothing else to add.

You can listen to Jim’s playlist here…
(Check Simple Minds FB for his explanation of the choices.)

 

A Chemical Reaction

Ever heard of Galaxians? Nope, me neither until Field Music’s David Brewis mentioned them on the Field Music Instagram account on Friday.

A new album of theirs (Galaxians) had been released and he was recommending it for your weekend listening pleasure. He said “our Leeds compadres Galaxians (he actually tagged their Insta a/c) have a new album out! Features the finest synthesizing this side of Bernie Worrell’s most-holy ghost.”

A person leaving a comment quoted that last part with a “SOLD!” at the end of their comment.

And I was really taken by the cover art. With me still in the middle of reading Lanark, there was something of the Alasdair Gray to the album cover art. So I thought “I need to give this a listen.

And for the past two nights I have done. Wow! Not just synths. Drums! E-drums. Linn drums maybe? I’m no expert. The vocals! Wow! And the style/genre – harking back to real PROPER funk, soul and r&b. I’m not sure about the Bernie Worrell reference. I am yet to see exactly what that pertains to. All I know is – THIS is a summer album! AND IT COMES FROM LEEDS?! It’s like that constant mindfuck of knowing that Average White Band hail from Dundee. Lol. You never expect these kind of sounds to spring forth from the UK.

Anyways, I am with David Brewis firmly on this one. You could do worse things on a rainy Sunday in Glasgow (or wherever else in the world you find yourself in currently) than listening to Galaxians new Chemical Reaction album.

Spotify link below…

You can buy their music from Bandcamp also. I’ve just gone and bought the album in vinyl. Bandcamp wording is a clickable link directly to their page.

Warm Digits – Flight Of Ideas – Listening Party Replay

Now Jim may well be found “in the kitchen at parties” (bedroom, more like!) – but Tim Burgess is now the self-proclaimed Twitter DJ to end all Twitter DJ’s. Since pretty much the beginning of lockdown he has held “listening parties” on Twitter. The concept being, we all join up online and listen to an album together all simultaneously and tweet along with our thoughts on the tracks and sounds, etc.

It is a thing that Simple Minds International on Facebook have been doing for some time. And when lockdown started, I did my bit by being “DJ”/host of a couple of the SMI Playbacks, though the majority have been held by SMI page creator and admin extraordinaire, Gordon Machray, with another helper who may wish not to be named on here and myself helping latterly.

Back to Tim’s parties on Twitter. On Monday one of the albums up for listening to was Warm Digits’ Flight Of Ideas. Anyone who has visited this blog in recent months will know how I feel about this dynamic duo of men. Other than Simple Minds, Warm Digits are just about my favourite band in the world – and certainly, along with Ruts DC and The Stranglers, an absolute favourite live act. And mercifully one of the acts I got to see live in 2020 before Corona caused chaos.

I wasn’t feeling well on Monday night, so I unfortunately missed tuning in and joining along but amazingly, you are able to watch and listen via a replay. Not as much fun as taking part live, but still a way to enjoy what was missed.

You can view the replay by clicking HERE

Enjoy!

You can also read my review of Flight Of Ideas and my interview with Steve Jefferis by using the search feature and searching for ‘Warm Digits‘ on this blog.

In the meantime, this one’s for Jim…

Strange Days … Indeed!

And, well…just in case Sir disnae see it on the SM visitor wall (as it now behaves rather oddly these days and can’t be viewed via the FB app – at least I can’t view it – maybe I have been blocked from it? Dunno!) Anyways, I did post this to the SM FB wall but on the silly notion that Jim comes and peruses this utterly sycophantic, lovesick blog then…

So I open the (digital version) latest edition of Uncut magazine and there’s a piece about Richard Strange in it. Simple Minds even get a namecheck as being a Doctors Of Madness support act back in the day. The short piece discusses Strange’s … memoir? I guess it would be. Also in an audio form on his website it says. But I am sure you are already up on all of this, Sir? If not then, you’re welcome. 👍🏻😊

Curious About Kenny

I have just been perusing the latest issue of Electronic Sound magazine and was taking a cursory glance through the reviews section. King Creosote has a new release out called KY-10 (I’m going to assume it has something to do with his postcode and not anything to do with lubricant – as I think he is a Michelle – aka a Fifer…see what I did there?).

The review given has me rather intrigued. I think I may have to give King Kenny’s latest a listen this evening…

An Interesting Critique On Empires And Dance

I’m not sure who is talking when, but I think it’s Steven Wilson first which means when Tim Bowness comes in to say that EAD is the first real defining mark SM makes, the interjection from Steven for Real To Real Cacophony – I am finding myself shouting “YES, YES!”

And I hold my hand up for making that mistake sometimes. To have missed it off my tattoo on my wrist….I do wish I had added it now! Maybe something to think about for the future. Anyway, see what you think of this little discussion. I think a swathe of the fanbase would be in agreement.

The Blog That Nobody Follows

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It was never the reason I started this blog. Not to gain followers. It was never about that. If nobody read it, I would STILL be posting here. If it never had “an audience” it would still be going.

It has always been about self-expression and showing my passion and love for this band.

It didn’t even start seriously! It started on Tumblr – which is a very image and gif rich social media platform hybrid. It’s much more a visual based thing. Just a big excuse to share lots of gorgeous images and gifs of Jim (and the rest of the band). A big excuse to ogle. (Oh, how I like an ogle.) For a time I even had a secondary Tumblr page solely dedicated to Jim’s left ear! Lol. This is how frivolous and silly it all started out as!

If I had wanted followers, I’d have stayed on Tumblr. In my short time on there I gained about 300 followers and it would have kept growing exponentially as that’s what most social media platforms are about. Equally, if I wanted my blog to have followers, I’d be sharing posts and going on about it here, there and everywhere. Endlessly sharing links and posting stuff to Simple Minds groups on Facebook and retweeting links to Twitter users, etc, etc. Basically spammed people to death with my blog.

Blogs are different to other aspects of social media. Yes, they can have that element to them as well but the overriding reason someone creates a blog isn’t really about gaining a fanbase or followers, as such.

Tumblr did have its limitations. It’s very much its own community there. And it wasn’t really the place for more serious contemplation or expression. I felt anyway. I felt as if I was outgrowing Tumblr. I wanted something more. I didn’t want to completely come away from the fun stuff. The ogling of Jim and the silly things that went on at Tumblr, but the move away from Tumblr was a great reason to start to bring in a more serious slant to stuff.

It took time. Time for the love of the band to really develop into something that I felt I could try to articulate and express more.

Over time I have introduced several “themes” to the blog. Not completely leaving the fun side behind at Tumblr, I coined “Kerrsday Thursday” for the blog. A weekly ogling session of all things Jim. I had written pieces titled “Why I Love…” in which I would try and go in depth and explain why I loved a particular Simple Minds song and therefore why it was in its place in my Top 50 Simple Minds songs. Nearly five years down the road, and I STILL haven’t finished all 50.

The weekend whiriiGIG was coined in which I would share a live performance from YouTube that I enjoyed. Mainly bootleg gigs. Before it was the “weekend whirliGIG” it had been on the blog as a TARDIS dream gig wish. A gig that I would wish I had been able to go to but…due to age, distance, non fandom, it didn’t take place for me.

And it eventually came a space to share band news and things and a place for me to feel free to comment and talk about those things.

A place for my art too. The digital fan art being a huge aspect of that…but also painting and drawing that I would do – not necessarily of the band, either.

The joy of gigs and seeing them live. And then just….expanding on that and started to give reviews of other gigs I started to go to. In the past three years in particular, I have been to see more live music and more gigs than I had ever done in the previous near 30 years (as of then) of my adult life.

And this year – my 50th year – was going to be the most gig rich year yet! Until Covid-19 had other plans. My calendar of events had just started. I had been to a Poliça gig to see my guys, Warm Digits, as their support. A gig wish was fulfilled by seeing Bryan Ferry at the SEC Armadillo the week prior to flying over to Copenhagen to see what was meant to be the first of THIRTEEN Simple Minds shows for this year. And there were so many other gigs lined up besides! More Warm Digits gigs, as they have just released a new album. Then there was meant to be King Creosote on the day we were due back from Copenhagen. And beyond that…John Grant, Jimmy Webb, Crowded House, The Stranglers. One of the Warm Digits bills had them at the Stag and Dagger in Edinburgh and I was looking forward to getting to see other bands on the bill there. Perth band Parliamo, in particular.

I had started to conduct the odd interview as well. I had interviews with Simple Minds original lighting technician, Jaine Henderson, former band manager, Bruce Findlay and just recently an interview with Warm Digits’ Steve Jefferis.

I have been trying to make something of it. Not just have it be a Jim Kerr ogle-fest or a sycophantic endless declaration of love and admiration for him. It always runs the risk of falling back to that.

But, hey! I am human after all. I have feelings, thoughts, concerns, worries, hang ups. And at the end of the day MY blog is MY outlet for things. I really try not to drag it down with too much personal stuff. But if it happens…I shouldn’t really feel the need to apologise for that. At the end of it – it IS a personal blog. It isn’t in any way monetised. It doesn’t exist to make money! It doesn’t exist to gain followers.

But, you know what? It DOES have followers. A small number of them. But the fact it has any at all astounds me. And at times, it embarrasses the fuck out of me! A lot of the time, in fact.

And I have regular readers too. And then new comments coming in too. And I have had wonderful acknowledgements from people I admire and hold in esteem and these things feel very unworthy.

So, to all of you who visit and/or leave a comment, to Scott, (and to the other Scott as well that I know visits too) and to recent visitors leaving comments, Catrine and Gavin. To Stuart as well. And to the new followers who’ve subscribed, thank you.

To Gordon Machray of Simple Minds International on Facebook, to Simon Cornwell – who runs the sublime Dream Giver Redux – the absolute Simple Minds online bible, to Paolo Viani – who runs Simple Minds Historical on Facebook, and to Ronnie Gurr of Hanging Around Books. For all your nods of acknowledgement, I am humbled and thankful and feel it very undeserved.

Vive la Simple Minds!

Turn Up The Funk – Warm Digits: Flight Of Ideas – Album Review

The follow up to 2017’s Wireless World sees the Newcastle duo expand on the lyrics and guest vocalists and they take the funk up a notch too! A fantastic trip into the topical point of how not every idea we have is the right idea and should be executed blindingly.

Following is my track-by-track thoughts on the new album.

Track one – Frames And Cages: Bang up-to-date but with undertones of Eastern mysticism and the soft wave of the signature Warm Digits sound. Pulsing rhythms through it. Love the ending. A strong album opener.

Track two – Feel The Panic (feat. The Lovely Eggs): First time I listened to it I felt it should have been the lead single, just my opinion. Great catchy lyrics. “Are you infallible? Or just gullible?” Andy’s drumming is a highlight on this. Great guitar licks from Steve as well. They bring out such a big sound for a duo. This track could currently not be any more topical!

Track three – The View From Nowhere (feat. Emma Pollock): A bit more of a laidback groove from the guys this track. Again, great lyrics. Great guitar licks from Steve.

Track four – I’m Okay, You’re Okay: The melody! I love this track. I actually find it very emotional. It’s reminiscent of something off Autobahn for me – just….the emotional impact of it. Gorgeous electronica. But also very organic. A very signature Warm Digits track for me.

Track five – Fools Tomorrow (feat. Paul Smith): Wow! What a track! The funk weaving through and Paul Smith’s voice works ssooo well with the sound. And the beat break around the three minute mark in the song? Divine! Again, tracks on this album are becoming incredibly topical.

Track six – Replication: Again, the melody that starts the track just pulls you in and then Andy drums like an animal. Great bass work and then manic but gorgeous waves of melody and riffs. Something pentatonic with the beat at times. Then another gorgeous beat break around the three minute mark. The bass on this is sublime!

Track seven – Shake The Wheels Off (feat. The Orielles): More funk coming along, but perhaps toned down a little compared to others. Great electronics on it and fab hooks and riffs going on in it. Again very catchy. “A real bone-shaker”, as the song says.

Track eight – Everyone Nervous (feat. Rozi Plain): Beautiful electronics and Andy’s drumming on it is fab. Great guitar reverbs towards the end of the track as well. Rozi Plain’s voice is so wonderful emotive. I find this a wonderfully soft and emotional piece. It actually gives me those goosebump chills of electricity when I play it.

Track nine – False Positive: TURN UP THE FUNK! Wow! Was blown away by this when they performed it at St Luke’s in Glasgow back in February. Great synth melody over the top too. Something you can really just funk out to. Might actually be my fave track on the whole album. If not then…it’s really up there!

Track ten – Flight Of Ideas: These guys really are the modern masters of the looped groove for me. I just love absolutely everything they produce. And – hidden singing sensation on the track – the one and only Steve Jefferis!

A cohesive collection of songs. A maturing of sound, I feel. A little less emphasis on the more motorik sound they had. They have certainly increased the funk ratio and the influences of the electronica that the band originally sprouted from has returned somewhat, but also matured.

Standout tracks for me are: Fools Tomorrow, Replication, Everyone Nervous and False Positive.

A very solid 4.5 stars out of five.

Flight Of Ideas is released on April 3rd, 2020, on the Memphis Industries label and can be pre-ordered online at the Warm Digits store. Click the LINK HERE for details.