Street Fighting Years Box Set Reissue Reviews

A couple of reviews of the SFY box set have been printed in both Mojo and Uncut magazines this week. The Mojo one is particularly scathing but the “fortune cookie wisdom” in regards to Jim’s lyrics in the Uncut review isn’t exactly complimentary, either! Although overall, it is a kinder review.

The reissue lands in two weeks time.

Mojo magazine review.
Uncut magazine review.

Minds Music Monday – Why I Love…Soul Crying Out

Lighting the political touchpaper in 1989 with words of angst and hope, Soul Crying Out has to be one of Simple Minds’ most beautiful, heartfelt pieces on the current state of the world (of then…as it is now) as you are ever likely to hear.

Starting with a soft, jangly guitar riff from Charlie Burchill and wonderful whispering vocal from Jim Kerr…the pair immediately pull you in to the quiet plea of the track. The world is in turmoil. People are hurting.

It’s a tome on what became – for the suffering working classes – Thatcher’s “legacy”. Of course, she was still in power when the song was written and released…but thankfully her time was running out.

But the damage had pretty much all been done by 1989. She’d been in power for 10 years, and in those years, mines closed, shipyards closed, unemployment reached record highs. And there was the disgusting “guinea pig” experiment of testing out the Poll Tax in Scotland. A policy, that if put forward by a Labour government might have been seen as fair, just and egalitarian. It certainly sounds Communist in its ideal – a single same rate tax for all. Everyone is equal. That’s the Communist philosophy, right? But let’s be honest, the world really is Animal Farm Orwellian, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

Those lines “And the government says you’re gonna pay, pay, pay!”, driven home by Jim with rising tones in his voice, only to soften again…nailing it in with sorrow “and you pay / still you pay”.

“And I say / I don’t know
Maybe I don’t care”

Apathy – a disease. Jim talked about it in an interview with Billy Sloan in 1984, saying he felt that apathy was the biggest disease hitting the UK then. I can see his point…but to try and drag yourself out of that state when you are being oppressed by your government, you can’t find a job, no one in your family has a job, what do you do?

The disease wasn’t so much the apathy…but her. Maggie. That’s definitely how I see it.

Jim, you were lucky not to suffer the apathy. To be strong-willed enough not to let it consume you. Many others were not so lucky. Try not to be too judgemental. Not everyone is blessed with your willpower, resolve and self-belief. That goes beyond optimism.

But it gave him the opportunity to twist the song into hope and aspiration.

“All I know is / I gotta get out of here
And I’m going / going any way
Do you know some place to go?
I’m getting out of here.”

By 1990, Thatcher was gone, but there was still seven years of Conservative power to endure. John Major tried his best to lessen some of the worst effects of the previous 11 years of government. He will most likely be the Conservative government’s last “centre-right” leader for some time to come.

For today, those highest in office within the Conservative Party are all “Maggie’s children”. Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Jeremy Hunt, and Boris Johnson all err on the side of the Fascist side of right-wing politics.

Anyway, enough of the political talk and the potential for apathy.

Let’s listen to what may be Simple Minds’ best political statement they ever produced.

And that is (some way into trying to explain eloquently) why I love Soul Crying Out.

(P.S. I definitely need to do a new piece of art for this! The one above is well old!)

One Wish – Reimagined?

Today is the 30th anniversary of the release of Street Fighting Years…and I think I just ended up exhausting myself with having interviews for Life In A Day to try with more.

I couldn’t bring myself to ask Bruce for more time. As it was he started to worry I wanted to go though every single Simple Minds album with him. Lol. So…I just couldn’t bring myself to ask for one last interview session for a SFY retrospective.

The only others really relevant to it are Mick, Jim and Charlie…Mel too, I guess…and there are a few others. Trevor Horn…

And on that note! Minus any post Jim may do about the anniversary of SFY (I’ve got to say, I am actually STUNNED there is no box set release to coincide with the anniversary….but perhaps along with the Rejuvenation sets and RSD ltd ed. Graffiti Soul release, it was all deemed too much?) – I would DREAM of a reveal of he and Charlie being Trevor Horn’s special guests at the “Reimagines” gigs in July. At least the Glasgow one.

One can but keep dreaming, I guess…

Agree To Disagree In The World Of Variety

A fan on one of the Simple Minds fan groups on Facebook decided to put their head above the parapet and share their opinion on the Street Fighting Years tour, due to many fans having fond memories of the Roundhay gig in 1989.

I was not one of those fans. As you may already know (if you are a fellow fan who knows me, or a regular visitor to the blog), Simple Minds were off my radar then. I mean, I was aware of Belfast Child, and liked it, but I wasn’t really seeking out their music then.

For many fans, Street Fighting Years and the Roundhay gig was their first exposure to Simple Minds, so it would be deemed a very special thing to them. But I could see that other fans’ point. But I also see that people have their own likes, values and special memories.

I know NO ONE will get what Wonderful In Young Life means to me. Not even Jim, I suspect. He’s no doubt as perplexed about it as most fans are. Few have such an obscure track as a favourite, but I appreciate those fans that do (have more obscure tracks as favourites), even if I don’t agree with their choices. Give me a fan of Saturday Girl ANY DAY over a fan of Don’t You! 

Some of my bias is going to come to the fore with this piece, and it’s usually something I don’t discuss. My taste is my taste. I don’t tell other people what they should like and would expect the same courtesy. But I *do* question what some people like sometimes! Lol. It’s only natural. The human condition. But I never think that they SHOULDN’T like it.

To elaborate on what I said about preferring a fan of Saturday Girl over a fan of Don’t You. It’s about dedication. Now, as songs, I prefer Don’t You over Saturday Girl…in a strict musical sense.  (I hate doing this, but here goes…) I find Saturday Girl schmaltzy, syrupy and I don’t like Jim’s vocal style on it (THERE! I’ve said it!). I don’t dislike it so much as to not be able to listen to it at all, but I don’t listen to it often, and I certainly don’t seek it out! On the flip side, I avoid Don’t You like the plague! It has been OVERPLAYED TO DEATH. I can tolerate it at gigs. It’s a bit of light entertainment with the sing-a-long and all. I honestly don’t know how Jim breathes that much enthusiasm into it still! I guess one thought of Villa Angela does the trick. 

But this is where the thing lies for me. This is why I’d prefer a Saturday Girl fan over a Don’t You fan. The SG fan is probably what I would deem a “truer” fan of the band than the DYFAM fan. A DYFAM fan is more often than not going to be a casual fan…to be kind to them. I would seriously have to question a fan’s dedication if their fave SM song was Don’t You (because, let’s be frank here – it isn’t even a Simple Minds song! They merely perform it).

Now, I’m sure I look like I HATE Don’t You. Lol. But I really don’t. The only real problem I have with it is that it has been overplayed. I’m tired of it, and I am also tired of Simple Minds only sticking in peoples’ memories because of it! A wonderful catalogue. Amazingly crafted songs, wonderful lyrics (you guys know how I feel about Jim Kerr as a lyricist) and yet they remain most well known for a song they didn’t write that while, yes, iconic and is good, quite good…is not as good as many of their OWN compositions (IMHO).

So, as much as I dislike Saturday Girl, a Saturday Girl fan is preferable to me because the song they love *is* a Minds composition, and the fan sought it out (the song being a B side to This Is Your Land).

And so, that brings me back to my point. Roundhay and the SFY tour. Now that I have gone and done the one thing I usually don’t do…I never see the point in negatives.

We all love and hate different things. Variety! It really is the spice of life. The things that I dislike (I can’t even bring myself to say the word “hate”, as it’s much too strong!) in the Minds catalogue perplex me (I’m not perplexed by my dislike OF them…but that they…exist)…but the things I love of SM would no doubt perplex those who like the things I loathe.

I really don’t see the point of “Ooh, I don’t like that!”, or “I wouldn’t have put that there”, etc, etc. Esp. once a record is made. What? The band are going to go back in the studio and change it for you? They’ll put a different version of the album out for you, with the song you don’t like not on there? Nope! And just because YOU don’t like it, doesn’t mean others will/won’t…whatever. My point is…I don’t CARE what you don’t like! I care about what you LIKE! If you like EVERYTHING…I’d be concerned. If you liked NOTHING…why ARE you a fan, exactly? But what you like is important. What you like tells me more about you (to me) than what you don’t like. And if you like things that I don’t like…fine 🙂 It’s fine. We like different things. I’m sure there’d be some common ground somewhere…we *are* Simple Minds fans after all :-))

And now…as an excersice in catharsis – I am actually going to say what I don’t like in the SM catalogue (here goes, Jim – CLOSE YOUR EYES!).

Least favourite album – Live In The City Of Light. I got it as part of job lot of SM collectables on eBay last year. I didn’t want to keep it. Before I had the copy, I listened to LITCOL on Spotify. It was a BIG NO for me. Before I decided to give my vinyl copy away, I thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and another listen. I no longer have my vinyl copy! The album is overproduced…arrangements of the songs are awful and over pompous. In no way the live experience they give you now when you get live recordings. Nor anything like the FANTASTIC bootlegs that kick about from the early gigs. True *live* experiences, full of atmosphere and boys on their apex. But this is just my opinion.

Least favourite studio album – Street Fighting Years/Real Life/Cry/Neon Lights. These four get the least play from me. All of them have exceptions. With SFY it’s Soul Crying Out, Wall Of Love and Kick It In. With Real Life it’s Woman, Stand By Love and Let The Children Speak. Cry it is OBVIOUSLY Spaceface, but also Disconnected, Sleeping Girl and The Floating World and with Neon Lights it’s The Man Who Sold The World (mostly for Charlie’s AMAZING Ronno impression on guitar – Jim’s vocal is good too minus the stuff up on the lyrics! Cannot forgive!) and Dancing Barefoot. Other songs I have to avoid (more on that in a moment). As for the reasons? SFY/Real Life – overblown, pompous. Cry – a bit too…”trendy” but I really have not played it that much to be honest. I might be being harsh. It’s not on Spotify, so I just don’t seek it out. I *do* own a copy…just…I never play it much. But I will play it a few times in the next week and see if this changes my opinion. Neon Lights – it’s covers, innit? And rarely covers are bettered by the original. Well, that’s probably not true. There’s probably LOADS of covers I’m not even AWARE are covers and so I’d lose my argument. But in this case…little is gained from the boys doing these. They are…adequate. Some are good (TMWSTW for example). But on the whole, it offers little.

Least favourite songs – PYAM – but the awful, awful LITCOL version (I love the original studio version and mixes). I want it BURNED! I abhor it with a passion I rarely have on the dislike scale! The arragement. The production. Just, no. No, no, no!!! As soon as I hear that “OOH OOH, there’s only one love!” Just…OFF!!! Real Life…opening chords…as soon as I hear them, off!!! Street Fighting Years…opening chords sound like Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay…nope! Just…too…earnest. I know about the subject matter, and I feel AWFUL for saying this…but I just…sorry. Lazy Lately…just…it grates. I dunno why.

So there you have it. I was hoping that doing this would somehow feel cleansing…like…”ah, no more pretending, it’s out there”. But I feel fucking awful! That was horrible! It’s all just my personal opinion and feeling with these songs and albums. It doesn’t mean I’m right or whatever. And I know for a LOT of people, the albums I dislike are their faves. And, good for them! They get much more out of them than I do. And their least favourite album is probably Empires And Dance, and their least favourite song is probably Wonderful In Young Life and that is all good. 

Our individual tastes are what make us unique and who we are 🙂