But of course I need to be in a room with him for at least half an hour for that to happen…or challenge him to an online game. Pffft! Like that’ll happen! I’d whip his ass anyways! (Scrabble talk at the end, in case you’re wondering what I’m on about.)
Released in May, 1981 – while the band are still busily recording the Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call albums, the first of the singles of the album is rushed out.
But as “rush jobs” go, it has been a mainstay in the Simple Minds live set…well, since even BEFORE it was recorded in the studio and released as a single.
Well, so the Dream Giver site says but when I look at setlists from the March tour I see Sweat In Bullet on the setlist and not The American. Also there is a mention on the page about the March ‘81 tour that Careful In Career and Love Song had been written earlier in the year and already getting live airings. Which makes The American an odd choice for a first release single. Why not Sweat In Bullet or Love Song? I guess the desire to give a thirsty public something completely fresh and new won out (though you’d have thought only the small-ish contingent of die hard Minds fans would be the only ones familiar with the new tracks from the March setlist?).
Anyway, I suppose I’m splitting hairs. The point remains that the single is braw (“very good” for the non Scots reading this). And if only Simple Minds would give their still incredibly thirsty fanbase new material like this these days – and this quickly! No such luck. It’s all such a corporatocracy now. Music as “commodity”. No. We release singles as one new song tagged on to a “best of” album. Yet ANOTHER “best of” album. Sorry, but, yeah. I never like to criticise the band much but, one “new” song attached to a “best of” album, and a whole tour based around that?! Well, in retrospect, maybe a pandemic was just what this band needed to get a bomb up its arse and think about just WHAT their fanbase wants or DESERVES.
I’m sure Jim will not be best pleased with what I have written just above. But then again, he probably doesn’t give two shits, which is how things have felt this past year in the Simple Minds fandom, to be honest. YES! He keeps talking about new material and a new album, but then it gets handed over to record company fucking bureaucratic red tape shit. FUCK! JUST GIVE US SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO BEYOND PROMISES! JESUS CHRIST!
Hey ho. I guess the Minds story will come to an end soon enough anyway, so why does it matter?
ANYWAY! The American! Let’s celebrate The American. The rush job of a single that still has the fanbase singing their lungs out to this day. I can’t be begrudging ANOTHER “hits” tour when I have so much love for songs like The American now, can I? It has appeared on many a tour over the years, with short rests during the Street Fighting Years and Real Life tours and just the odd absence from there.
There is a demo version of the song that got a release on the 2004 mega compilation, Silver Box. It’s all pretty much there. The final studio release was refined and honed.
I find the 12” extended version of the song much better than the album version. The album version is great too, just…a bit short. Still, I guess everything that appeared on Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call was pushing for space. So much so that the LEAD single from the sessions doesn’t even get put on the lead album but on its twinned “sister extra”.
The 12” also gets a highlight on the wonderful Themes sets – on Volume 1 of the releases. As well as that, in the late nineties, there is an “Interference Mix” of the song released. It remains a solid favourite of mine of the Simple Minds remixes that have been produced.
The earliest live appearance I can find on a bootleg is at the Futurama 3 gig at Bingley Hall in Stafford on Sept. 6th, 1981. The infamous one where Jim is “as crook as Rookwood”, as we say in Oz (ie: feeling very unwell). It’s audible, to the point where it sounds to me that Jim sings “here comes the meds” during the second run of the “chorus”. There is a lot of dead air where he normally would be singing. And Derek gives the sign off at the end of the song for the end of the gig. I guess Jim is off puking again by this point?
Another favourite involves “early days” footage of the band on French TV performing it live. Jim is partly clothed in my favourite combo, in his riding boots and baggy white troosers. (And in a fairly figure-hugging white t-shirt as well – his chest looks frigging awesome! OMG!) He also does some wrapping of the mic cord around his elbow and he just makes shapes and is just the sexiest thing alive! Beautiful! He’s beautiful.
But I digress!
The most “recent” (some recent to my ears anyway) versions I have really enjoyed have been the live acoustic version (not the studio version on the Acoustic album – that never really sat well with me for some reason) but also the version I heard from the Good News From The Next World tour. It was a return of the song on the setlist after an absence of some eight years. I heard a version of it from the gig at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on 10th September, 1995. Jim actually sings all the BV lines! The “across a curved earth / Nassau club days / in collective fame / the eventful workouts” lines. I nearly lost my shit hearing it for the first time. It was late at night but inwardly I was shouting, “HE’S DOING THE LINES! HE’S DOING THE LINES!” Lol. I was ssooo happy!
In light of what I said earlier in this post, The American is one song I would be happy to keep on the setlist. It is a firm favourite of mine at gigs and one I am guaranteed to dance and sing along to. But I would be absolutely OVER THE MOON if more tracks from Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call were performed. The only tracks with almost concrete affirmation to stay on the setlist are, The American, Love Song and Theme For Great Cities. The only other track I’ve had the privilege of hearing performed live in front of me from the albums is This Earth That You Walk Upon. I’d love to hear Sweat In Bullet or Sons And Fascination itself, or Seeing Out The Angel or In Trance As Mission. Anything really.
Speaking of “rush jobs” – the cover! Malcolm Garrett was given just 48 hours to come up with something for the cover of the single – his first design for Simple Minds. His time at the cover design helm for the band saw a number of iconic covers produced, the pinnacle of these, for many, being New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). But the start of the working relationship with Assorted iMaGes the band had was through the first work of The American. The cover holds personal significance for me, given how Malcolm collected the images together and how I make my own art.
Overall, the 12” version as well as many live versions are my favourites of The American, so for this week’s Minds Music Monday, let’s say happy (almost!) 40th anniversary to the AMERI-AMERI-AMERI-AMEREE-AMERICAAAN!
It is with some level of trepidation that I explore live output from Simple Minds in 1995. Mostly just to do with my silly hang up about Jim’s style of singing during that period.
But with yet ANOTHER new upload from Art&Talk (YouTuber of eternal mystery…), I felt almost duty bound to take the plunge and listen to the gig uploaded. That namely – a gig from the Good News From The Next World tour of them at the Royal Concert Hall on September 10th, 1995.
We start things off with a pretty stellar version of She’s A River. Full version, and so new still (although already several months old) that Jim ACTUALLY REMEMBERS the words! 😱😱😱😘😜
Then into a bit of a curveball for the period and into Up On The Catwalk. Quite enjoyed that too.
From early on you get a real feel for the atmosphere of the gig. You can also sense how much live production techniques have refined and changed over the past 15 years (up to 1995) as everything sounds pretty crystal clear – from Jim’s breathlessness to the crowd going apeshit when he asks of them “everything okay?” – the only thing that gets lost in the mix at times is the crowd singing along, which isn’t an entirely bad thing IMHO.
See The Lights was also great. But then, for me, the highlight. The jaw-drop moment. The one that almost had me throwing myself out of bed and doing cartwheels on the bedroom floor – The American. But not just ANY OLD VERSION of the song but one in which Jim actually SANG THE BV LINES! The “across a curved earth, Nassau club days, in collective fame, the eventful work-outs” – I nearly wet myself with excitement! I mean…he NEVER sang those lines live that I have ever been aware of – before or since! In the early days he’d do the “here comes the flag, I’m walking in the black” lines and also do “hand shake, this world, here comes the flag” lines – but never those BV lines!
I wanted to be able to up jump back in time, crawl through some kind of wormhole and just kiss him all over and shag his brains out! Lol – fuck! Goddamn!!!
I’d sell my fucking eyeballs off if he sang those lines again. I’d even be happy with the “hand shake, this world, here comes the flag” lines these days!
I think this will now – singularly – be my favourite live version of The American … EVER! And if you told me that THAT was going to happen from listening to this gig, I’d have never believed you!
I grinned like a Cheshire cat through the whole song. In actual fact, I was mostly like THIS through it (and grinning like a loon when I allowed myself to close my mouth a little. Lol)
But after the joy of The American came the mixed bag of Big Sleep. Great that Jim (again!) was great with the lyrics (he was on a roll at this gig) – but he was veering into the singing style that grates on me a little too much with this version. But! Having said that it wasn’t the complete turn off from some versions of it I have heard. Also…it was short. Literally half the length the song usually is – particularly live. I suppose that was probably a good thing.
Back on the up again with a cracking version of Great Leap Forward. A decent enough version of SSIS (not sure Mark Schulman quite had the feel of the drumming on that right, but perhaps I am being pernickety?) sandwiched between a pretty cracking Hypnotised.
Let There Be Love from that period had us ‘coming’ “like an ocean” twice! Lol (Don’t mind if I do, Jim. Fucking Tsunami, I reckon, if you ever … erm … “came” near me like that! Lol – Noah would need the ark! And then some …😂😂😂😂)
Belfast Child? Did it work at that point, played like that? Hmmm, jury’s out. I liked the line change “peace is raging through the Emerald Isle” of the time. It still took a few more years to get there from that point – but it did get there in the end.
Back to Jim being the “blues crooner” during the medley of Roadhouse Blues and into Waterfront. I can’t be too dismissive of him for that. Given the choice between Jims Morrison and Kerr and which one has the more sex appeal for me – THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING CONTEST – sorry Mr Morrison. I appreciate the sex appeal you exuded, I do…but, you are not the Jim for me (though I am pretty sure I’d have had a hard time saying no to you had I ever found myself in your presence).
The crowd interaction, Jim talking to the punters…still extolling lovingly of Glasgow.
We then go into Love Song and as much as I am enjoying this gig, sleep is starting to take hold of me. I start to fall into a dwam and Love Song and it’s slight medley into Glory begin to elude me as I fall deeper in. I barely hear the beginnings of Alive And Kicking and am almost fully asleep by the time the song ends. The rapturous applause by the crowd is what rouses me back from my ever deepening dwam.
I am fully awake once more for the encore which begins with And The Band Played On. Everything performed from the Good News album gets a solid thumbs up from me.
And…knowing that we were into the encore and with it yet to make an appearance, I was dreading the inevitable appearance of Don’t You (Forget About Me). And…there she blows! Penultimate song of the night! Never as bad a thing to endure when you’re in amongst the crowd and you let yourself get caught up in the sing-a-long, nostalgia-trip-fest – but other than that, I derive very little enjoyment from it these days. God, I’d have LOVED the 5×5 Live Tour (and I bet they bloody LOVED having a tour that the song didn’t have to be part of since 1985!) – a whole tour in which you NEVER had to endure DYFAM – what a dream! I know! It sounds like I hate the song. I don’t! What I hate is how overplayed it is! What I hate is knowing I’ll have to hear it at every single Simple Minds gig I ever attend for all the rest of my days. What I hate is…pretending that I really enjoy hearing it at every damned gig and feeling implored to sing “la la las” for five fucking minutes while Jim takes a few minutes break from singing.
Final song is…the final song I ever heard being performed live… Sanctify Yourself. Again…upon reflection – I’d have LOVED 5×5 Live because with no DYFAM also comes no Alive And Kicking and no Sanctify Yourself. I’d have to double check it, but I am pretty sure these three songs have either been the final three songs or within the final five songs (in a slightly altered and reversed order) of the set at EVERY SM gig I’ve been to – and that’s 22 of them (23 if you count that I actually attended both shows at Copenhagen).
I’m sorry to say it, but I stopped listening. Tiredness was taking over and my patience was wearing thin so…I switched off.
BUT! I really enjoyed the gig, and apart from most likely skipping the final two tracks (if I had been there, I might have pissed off home a bit early, at least I could catch the 75 back home before everyone else needing it piled on 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻), I’d definitely listen to it again. And…THE AMERICAN! THE AMERICAN was fab!
For MMM this week, enjoy the Good News from 1995!
There’s been a recent newcomer on YouTube, uploading SM bootlegs. Some I really enjoyed as they were of a fairly decent quality – others …. not so great.
The most recent upload I was really excited to see was another from the tail end of 1982 – my all time favourite period for listening to them live.
I started to tune in last night but I quickly stopped, disappointed that the quality of the audio just WASN’T there.
They had shared the upload on one of the SM fan group pages with a cheeky “Art & Talk who???” comment. Lol
Well, if you’re going to be full of bravado about it, then honestly, A&T has nothing to fear because A&T uploads QUALITY!
I’ll even delve into periods of the band I am not so enamoured with because I know the sound quality of the bootleg will be “to a standard”. It is why I listened to the Glastonbury set a few nights ago. As much as I love the Good News From The Next World album, and as great as the band was live at the time, there is an element of Jim’s singing voice at that period that grates on me. I don’t really know what it is – I just don’t like the way he sounds at that point. It’s mostly to do with word annunciations and nuances in pronunciations of words – kind of “American mid-west crooner” kind of style. Or more … over-emphasised “blues man”. It just sounds false and kind of protracted and laboured. It wasn’t so pronounced at the Glastonbury gig so I did enjoy it but other gigs from the time, his voice just gets on my tits and I have to stop listening (sorry, Jim!).
So, yes, the quality of A&T’s uploads means I *will* listen to things I normally wouldn’t. Not always. Some I still haven’t dabbled in – but I’ll get around to it.
Of course there are some points in the history of the band’s bootlegs in which it will be nigh on impossible to have quality recordings. Unless they actually had made recordings for radio, etc, and they were professionally recorded, there is going to be little quality around.
And still, for my own level of interest in wanting to listen to bootlegs – quality is key. It is why I shied away from dabbling into bootlegs for so long. One) the general poor quality of recordings, and two) I wasn’t overly into live music when I first got into the band. That has changed massively since being a SM fan and now I really enjoy the live music experience. And I actually find the bootleg experience to be a much better (and truer) representation of what it is like being at a gig than a more professionally recorded thing with full production techniques and “in studio ‘enhancements’” and overdubs made to them.
I want to hear the crowd! Yes, I hate having some bloke being a pub singer right next to me and wailing over the top so I end up hearing much more of them than I do of Jim! But I’d prefer that than to no crowd noise at all and Jim’s voice sounding perfectly audible … almost as if he had gone and recorded his voice in a studio 🤨🤔🤔
If you’re going to give me a live album – make it LIVE. Don’t fiddle with it! Give me the imperfections and the crowd noise.
Still, one wonders exactly HOW MUCH is *live* at the gigs these days. Well, not much at the moment in good old Covid World.
But I digress.
Bootlegs – they need to be of a certain standard. They can still have the crowd and the punters talking and singing and you can hear the cheers and the screams and that makes you feel a part of it. And the band still sounds full and strong, and you can hear Jim’s patter between songs and he always sounds amazing and emotive, sometimes even breathless, and on the VERY ODD occasion, off key – but it all adds to the magic.
So, you provide the quality and I’ll keep on listening – capiche?!
In the continuing effort to “embrace the suck” ….
So…I get the message behind the phrase itself. I understand it. There’s a time and place, of course. I would like to hope that in the current climate that Sir Kerr is FAR FROM suggesting anyone that has suffered adversely from this current pandemic should just…”embrace the suck”. I’d like to believe he has far more empathy than that.
He linked to Great Leap Forward with the post and I just found myself looking up the lyrics. There are many lyrics I know off by heart, and there are some I am just not that familiar with. Great Leap Forward is one such case. Reading them over…I’m not quite sure what the song’s message actually is. Which, as usual, makes me feel like a dumb fuck.
I miss a time when I could just ask Jim and hope for a reply. But…I see little point now. All that wonderfulness is gone. TELL ME TO “EMBRACE THE SUCK”, JIM. Just you tell me! I’m sorry I lament about it so much, but it was a wonderful period of being a fan for me…that you would respond and interact. And I supposedly wasn’t even around for “the good old days”, when you and Charlie supposedly hung around fan forums and spoke to fans all the time! Must have been fab.
Anyway…the lyrics. The song. I mean, I like the sound of it. I really like Good News From The Next World. Usually a big part of why I love a song is because of its lyrics and meaning, or at least MY interpretation of the lyrics provides a story and meaning. Great Leap Forward leaves me perplexed. I’m not sure what to take from it.
“I jumped up like Apollo,
Crash landed on my feet,
The sun shot like a laser through my brain.
A little death had woken up,
And put a curse on me,
But I knew that I’d be coming back again.
Inspiration, across the nation,
There’s a poverty of expectation.
All I got to do was move ahead.
It’s a blue sky,
It’s a while cloud,
It’s a flame.
It’s a blue sky,
I shot back to the mirror,
There was nothing left to see,
But a phantom with his heartbeat deep inside.
I could feel the dust of ages,
They were blowing back at me,
But I knew that I was born to get it right.
Everybody take the great leap forward,
Everybody knows the mysteries at hand,
If you’ve been praying all those sweet days for this,
Don’t you know there is a whole different plan?
Sometimes I hear the madman calling,
He talks about some dark eternal place.
I’ve been waiting all my lifetime for this moment,
And now I’ve got to find some other ways.
One touch ignites this eagle,
One kiss for heaven’s view,
I need the flame so I can feel alive.
You can tell my little brother,
No requiem for me,
I knew that I was born to make this flight.
Inspiration across the nation,
There’s a poverty of expectation,
All I got to do was move ahead.”
Is it about death and reincarnation? No, it can’t be that. “All I got to do is move ahead.” That’s not talk of death. “A poverty of expectation”…is that another term for apathy? Complacency? Or lack of drive…ambition?
I wish I felt I could ask him. Even if I felt like a dumb fuck for doing so. He gets my juices flowing and stimulates my brain. I love him for that!
I’m grappling to connect “embrace the suck” to Great Leap Forward, it has to be said.
P.S. It’s a crappy old Prip piece without even a “Priptona” mark – with a copyright image (that’s why there’s no Prip logo on it). Must make an updated version! (Embrace that I suck.)
Had never seen these, either. I like certain aspects of his look during the Good News From Next World period.Embed from Getty Images
It’s a bit late for Kerrsday Thursday, but what the heck.
Fuck he’s sexy! Yeah, all the hankering was cast aside for a month while I was distracted by “having a life” in Oz.
Back to the hankering and drooling. Lol
Woah! Holy faaark! Talk about a weekend whirliGIG wish! Freshly uploaded onto YouTube is Minds’ FULL Glastonbury set from 1995. I have NEVER seen (or heard, for that matter) the FULL SET. This is AWESOME! Thank you “ScottishTeeVee” for the upload. Wow! PLEASE STAY ON YOUTUBE! Don’t disappear!