Why I Love…Changeling

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The dancefloor. Frigging hell! Did Simple Minds know how to fill it back in the day. I guess they still do to be fair.

But let us rewind back to 1979. Rockfield Studios in the Welsh countryside. Five young men from Glasgow are in the studio making the followup to their debut album. An album that really couldn’t be more different to the first. They are still just babies, with the average age of them being just 20. They are still very much learning their craft. Recording in the studio next door are none other than Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Could life get any sweeter?

Yes it could. These five young men band together and make one of the best dance tracks of the late 1970’s as you are ever likely to hear.

OKAY! I’ll be the first to admit that…given all the changes in lyrics that Jim Kerr has made in SM songs over the years…esp. early on (he would rewrite songs entirely from demo to album recording), it’s quite a thing that there wasn’t a change made to the opening line to Changeling. I suppose that was the curse of there being no demos for Real To Real Cacophony. They went straight into recording.

The sticking point, lyrically, is that horrible propensity for snidey shits to take the mickey out of the opening line and continue to sing along to Wombling Free, which I’ve got to say…I don’t know what it does to Jim…but to me, it fucking pisses me off no end!

Perhaps we should concentrate on the musical structure of the song for now? Synths and bass opening with an instant dance hook. Drum grooves quickly follow and then a simplistic yet fab guitar riff. Industrial dance grooves. Fuck these boys were good at them! There’s nothing quite like this on Life In A Day. They hadn’t made a sound quite like this, yet…but boy does it signal the start of a very identifiable early “Simple Minds” signature sound. An aural “watermark”, if you will.

I really don’t know anyone who could listen to this track and not tap their feet or their hands and just get hooked in by the groove.

In spite of what the Arista execs hear at the UK HQ with Real To Real Cacophony in which they appear utterly dumbfounded, they do seem to make the right choice in having Changeling as the lead (but unfortunately subsequently ONLY) single off the album. How they didn’t then follow it up with Factory and Premonition is anyone’s guess. One can only assume they were already becoming concerned that SM was going to leak money hand over fist.

Changeling has no chart success, so one assumes that is why there are no other singles released from the Real To Real Cacophony album.

The failure of the single to chart can’t be down to it being deemed “not good enough” by the music consumer of the time? Just listen to it! Was it just overlooked from a then pretty flooded market? Singles at this point sold in their THOUSANDS every week. Albums had their importance then too, but the single was still king at this point. To the point where single picture sleeves were at their height. A single was packaged with as much of a visual selling point as an album was at this point in time. Every Simple Minds single released so far had been in a picture sleeve…Changeling being no exception. Did the picture sleeve “sell” the single? Hmmm…I’m unsure it did much. Life In A Day was certainly simplistic in its design, but it made an impact nonetheless. As for Chelsea Girl? She was on the mark. Jim was on the mark for wanting that Jean Shrimpton painting as the cover.

But for Changeling…I don’t know what a greyscale image of some hosepipe really tells you about the song. There’s a kind of industrial look to the cover, yes…but where I think the texture and simplicity of the Real To Real Cacophony album cover works to sell it (luring you in wondering what the hell this album is about as the cover actually gives NOTHING away by design) – that same simplistic approach falls flat for the Changeling single.

Back to the song itself. Let’s get back to those lyrics. Young Mr Kerr, what you on about, boy? Lol. For me, I gotta say that Changeling is a very rare beast in that it is all about the tune, the groove and not much about The Boy’s songwriting…for a change. I still love the words…but they mean fuck all. Lol. But hey….some of my absolute favourite Bowie songs are pure gobbledegook. The Burroughs technique has a lot to answer for, sometimes. I couldn’t write a song that means SOMETHING…let alone one that doesn’t really mean anything at all but sounds like it does anyway. And to me…that’s master craftsmanship.

In summary? In the simplest terms, it’s a dancefloor filler. Possibly Simple Minds’ first. At least one of the first, blazing a trail for more killers that follow…I Travel, Celebrate, This Fear Of Gods, Love Song, The American…the list goes on (and on and on 😜).

And that is why I love Changeling.

(PS: Jim can’t mime to save his life….but I bloody love him anyway!)

Lodger At 40

Today is the 40th anniversary of the release of the Lodger album by David Bowie. A rather jumbled up travelogue of an album. The travel theme running heavily through side A of the album with: Fantastic Voyage, African Night Flight, Move On, Yassassin (Turkish for Long Live) and Red Sails.

Side B’s theme alters and shifts back to menial points of life, work, home, family…death, mental illness, domestic violence – the only slight thorn in the side is Boys Keep Swinging as it seems more tongue-in-cheek with its theme. Well, DJ is to a degree too. But there are darker themes explored in Look Back In Anger (mental illness/death) and Repetition (domestic violence).

It sadly ends with a rather inferior version of Iggy Pop’s sublime Sister Midnight in Red Money. Compared to Sister Midnight, Red Money feels derivative. I never used to mind it much. I wasn’t aware and got into Iggy until after I heavily got into David. As the years have passed, I am always far more appreciative of Iggy’s side of the Bowie/Pop collaborations, it somewhat pains me to say.

Although seen as being part of the “Berlin trilogy”, it was actually recorded in Montreux, Switzerland and mixed in New York. I always found it curious it was put in a trio with Low and Heroes. I have always felt the trio SHOULD be, at least more musically, Station To Station-Low-Heroes.

Here’s to Lodger! “The hinterland. The hinterland. We’re gonna sail to the hinterland!”

Staring At (Photos Of) The Rude Boys – New Ruts Photobook

There’s a new Hanging Around book release featuring the photography of Virginia Turbett. The book in question features photos of The Ruts (aka Ruts DC – as they are known these days).

The book called “South Of Babylon: The Ruts 1978-1979” is available to pre-order through the Hanging Around Books site and is released on May 27th. Click here to order your copy.

Really looking forward to this one.

We Jumped The Gun – Again – Still Not LIAD Anniversary, YET!

Yesterday I was out-anoraked.

Jim had posted about it being the anniversary of Life In A Day and smuggins here felt a little bit pleased with herself that he was acknowledging the correct date of release. Well, so I had deluded myself. (And obviously he had thought so too…)

The holy bible that is Dream Giver Redux had a Zoom press release from the time showing that the album had been set for release for April 13th. Well, obviously Bruce and Brian had done what I did months back investing in my Mott The Hoople ticket, and neglected to take in that it was Easter weekend.

And as my anorak friend had pointed out on SMO FB, it was indeed Easter weekend on April 13th, 1979. He had said in his comment that in the New Gold Dream tour program it showed the release date to be 20/4/1979. I admit to looking at my scanned copy of my signed version of the program, and there it was! He also said he had seen a subsequent Zoom press release showing the revised date.

I am happy to declare I have been well and truly outdone in the anorak stakes. Lol

Similarities In ‘79

I was preparing a post for the blog that will be posted inline with a anniversary date in the near future.

In doing so, I was reminded of this song by this band. Thanks to my older brothers (one of them in particular), I feel I had pretty good taste in music for a nine year old girl. And I actually thought the singer was pretty dishy too. At nine! Lol. Was I like?!

Insatiable!

“I Rehearse Going For The Bus” – Mick’s Hurrah’s Memories

Listening in to Mick MacNeil’s show on Thursday night on Indy Live, I loved hearing him talk about SM’s gig in New York at Hurrah’s – so much so that I took this audio snippet out of it to share here.

 

Of course, you can listen in to Mick’s show on Thursday evenings at 9pm GMT on Indy Live. Just click the link HERE to go the website.