Have acquired these over the past few days and looking forward to devoting some time to them very shortly. Already have spent some time perusing the Bryan Ferry Lyrics book. I didn’t realise there was a foreword in it and a short piece by Bryan himself.
Mother Of Pearl has been a firm favourite since my very first listen to it. Over You was my favourite Roxy song before delving into their catalogue some time back – fuelled mostly by Jim waxing lyrical about Bryan and what a consummate performer he is.
I was unaware, really, that Bowie was that much of a fan. Dunno why. And it’s been a lot of David’s more wordy and wonderfully intricate songs like Cygnet Committee, The Bewlay Brothers and Teenage Wildlife that have been particular favourites of mine over the years. I have always found a certain link between Cygnet Committee and Mother Of Pearl, if for no other reason than to be determined to know the songs well and recite the lyrics word for word. And well, this piece in the book really DID make my day. For like I had done with Cygnet Committee, I was determined to know Mother Of Pearl ‘off by heart’. To read that about David was just so wonderfully endearing.
I had a hoard of memorabilia come in this week and in amongst it was this article, written by Graeme Thomson, none other! Featuring in The Guardian on February 24th, 2012, just as the 5×5 Live tour is getting under way.
We know how I feel about that. Goddamn! I was out by just over two years. I will forever rue it!
Some of the discussion that takes place between Graeme, Jim and Charlie during the interview for this article features in the Themes For Great Cities book.
I thought I’d scan the article and post it here. Just as a little taster of what’s to come next week.
A footnote (and a chance for me to be a pedantic pr*ck); the inset photo of Jim is from 1980. October, in fact. It’s one from the Tavistock Square session. The same session the photo on the book’s cover comes from.
When a song…and indeed a WHOLE ALBUM starts with the line “for just one moment in time I hear the holy backbeat” – then you know you’re in for something very special.
The band were convinced of its merit as the opening track to the album, but Steve Hillage took a bit of convincing. He felt it was “a bit long, but in retrospect, it’s so emphatically strong in putting across the overall vibe on the whole record. It’s a really good first track.” He was won round to the band’s way of thinking.
The title of the song could sound like a corny dad pun heard out of context but it instantly conveys the mood and tone of the song – movement, travel, open spaces, passages through time, the learning experience through exploration, through travelling.
Jim, back then, would seem quite dismissive of his lyrics in some ways. He said he hated the notion of his words being deemed poetry and dreaded the idea of people taking them out of context and away from the music. “My words go with the music.” They do indeed. But even a title – as the very first thing you hear or see, and unavoidably taken out of context initially, provides some notion of what the song is about.
Obviously songs don’t have to be about anything in particular. And maybe some Simple Minds songs feel like that to some people. Jim’s writing style was certainly ambiguous most of the time in the early days. And esp. during the Sons And Fascination period.
Jim also talks about the desire for “greatness”. He wants to matter in this world. He wants his life to have meaning and purpose. He wants his life to matter. Any person with a modicum of feeling that they want to feel like their existence on earth MEANS SOMETHING can understand and appreciate that.
The second verse to the song can sound pretentious as a result but he is just expressing that feeling in the lyrics – “for just one moment in time I want to walk where it is, sustain a stature in life”.
And then there is talk of the process of writing on the road. The hours of travel between cities, towns and venues and how it gives him the chance for “down time” and time to think and create. The monotony of the drive and the motion giving him time to sit and write. Looking out the window of the mini van or tour bus, time to collect his thoughts and just be quiet and insular for a time. Time to “recharge”, but also time to create.
He talks about every line being “a painting”. That every line to a song has a different story within it.
Below is an excerpt from an article printed in Melody Maker on March 27th, 1982. The band are “moving on”, telling Adam Sweeting “just what is going on”. They’re still touring the SAF/SFC albums but are changing direction. Promised You A Miracle has just been recorded. They’re on tour in France.
“I see a town by the track / can’t see the road for the tears.” Upon reading that excerpt way back when I did the first time, it brought that line to life for me. To read that he, Jim Kerr, of all people, is as overwhelmed by the music he helps to create as any of us. I just found that incredibly emotional. And I always think of that every time he sings that line of the song. Even though he is actually talking about the beautiful music of Seeing Out The Angel in the article, in my mind’s eye I see him on the coach looking out the window, hearing the music and feeling and looking overwhelmed…and beautiful. As beautiful as the words and music themselves.
I can’t see my words for my tears…
Before I continue on with the lyrics and the Kerr fanaticism…let’s talk about the amazing musicality of the song. The opening – Derek Forbes by far has to be one of the best bass players on the planet. He just nails the opening visual of the song’s intent, its mood, with a rhythm of movement. Then understated, soft staccato drums from Brian. The time signature is in 9/8 – and I love this most about Simple Minds. They’re not afraid at all by experimentation and don’t stick to the regular time signature of most songs, the regular 4/4, 4/8 or 8/8 time signatures. No. I can see why they’d get the “art rock” schtick at times – but they are sooo above that. It’s never contrived. Never formulaic. It’s organic…and it shows. You hear it in the life of the music.
Simple, long notes from Mick encapsulate smooth lines of long highway roads and Charlie’s beautiful high wailing riffs seem to denote frames of images | this house | that shop | this bare tree | that run down car | while still instilling the movement of travel…”you gotta move on”.
And because Jim’s words are so fragmented in this song, it gives space for the music to breathe.
Back to that “holy backbeat”…
There are also visions of dreams and how they can be a positive life force. “In dream a dream a / courage of dreams.” And it certainly won’t be the last time Jim will talk about the positivity of dreams. The positivity also enforced by an almost violent note “something crashing into my life / something crashing against the white rocks.”
It has been, from the first time I heard it, my favourite opening track on any Simple Minds album. I Travel is, of course, also fabulous. Other favourites are Up On The Catwalk, Moscow Underground and Blindfolded. But the love I have for Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call starts at the beginning…from the get go…track one.
Among the favourite versions of the song I have are, of course, the album version, but also a live session version performed for the Kid Jensen radio show on Radio One in February, 1982.
Also I wanted to share the contrast of the thirty years of space between performances. In Trance As Mission was never performed live again after 1982 until it FINALLY reemerged into the setlist in 2009. The first of the two comes from Newcastle in November, 1982. The second nearly a full 30 years later, also from Newcastle, the 5×5 Live gig on July 8th, 2012. The day before a certain someone’s 53rd birthday. Fifty-three and FLAMING HOT! 🔥🔥
SOURCES: The Simple Minds “Holy Bible” – Dream Giver (for the Hillage quote esp.) | for the Smash Hits article – Brian McCloskey on Flickr | other article excerpts are from my own collection.
A lovely 30 minute chunk of Simple Minds recorded in Dublin in March, 2012. Really nicely done. Fine video work, Trevor. Thank you so much for filming it and taking the care to add better audio. Excellent work!
For those of us who missed the tour, this is as near to a TARDIS as we’ll get.
Geez, how I’d love there to be another 5×5 style tour. I know it won’t happen. I guess Jim thinks he’s just too past it for that stuff now. The more time moves on, the more gutted I am that my diehard fandom didn’t take in 2006, for had it done so, I know I’d have been at as many 5×5 shows as I could have afforded to be at on that tour.
“Regrets. I’ve had a few, but then again….PROBABLY JUST THIS ONE!”
It’s a clipping I only recently came into possession of and I had never (for obvious reasons) read the article before.
Some interesting things said. Interesting to read Mick saying that he thought they’d have all stayed together…maybe might had still been together (as of then) if Brian hadn’t have left when he did.
Also interesting them bringing up the cover of Record Mirror mag with Brian on it. I was only very recently chatting to Ronnie about that cover. He said to me it wasn’t the photo he wanted on the cover and shared with me a photo of Jim he had submitted for use (which I won’t be sharing here unless I get photographer’s permission first – I haven’t asked him).
Good bit of talk about Rockfield and Iggy and Bowie in the lead up to Saturday’s airing of the documentary on the BBC.
Jim seems rather more philosophical in this than he has done at other times.
A couple more clippings to come….including another Sheila Rock gem (hence the reason I ended up with the clipping – prior to the “naked titties” one surfacing).
Today Billy Sloan on his show page for BBC Radio Scotland was asking which gig that you’ve been to in the past would you want to go back and experience again.
Not sure I would want to go to any specific ones, really. Probably just any Simple Minds one.
But…oh, the chance to see them in the past with gigs I have never been to in the first place? PLLLEEEEAAAAASSSSSSEEE! ALL OF 5X5 LIVE! Every single gig it is possible to go to – just to start.
1982 Jim – there’s MY Alasdair Gray follow-up to Lanark – 1982 JIM – sod Janine! Lol
Just…from this distance and passage of time, looking back at him at that time, I am transfixed. I can only imagine what I’d be like IN FRONT OF HIM at that time.
Yes, I am feeling it bad today because…I am very down on myself. Very disappointed and upset with myself. As a consequence it is just…I’m just seeking comfort in the things that…yeah.
ANY gig from 1982. Anywhere in Europe in the spring and early summer. Cologne. Anything while they were in Oz in 1982. The Friars, Aylesbury – then off to Oz. Oh, imagine it! New Gold Dream has only just come out and Jim looks fucking breathtaking. I don’t even care. I’m not even gonna apologise! Don’t believe me? Check that Sheila Rock pic from the other day. Someone said to me from me sharing it on my FB feed a few days back (a few comments had been left by that point) “oh, you ladies aren’t talking about his ‘package’ – you’ve disappointed me.” I replied saying “I covet his tits more than his junk.” Lol
Such brazen objectification. But it is true! I know the topic comes up for discussion, but honestly…I don’t feel I’m obsessed with his…”appendage”. There is sssoooo much more about Sir Kerr I am into than…that! His brain…just for a start. Not the other thing most men think with! Lol
ANYWAY! Gigs! Dream gigs. I don’t want to go back to a gig I’ve already experienced. Been there, done that…right? So! I want time travel. I want a gig I never got to experience by actually being there.
I watch some of the things from 1982…I watch him and think about how I feel when I am at gigs now – standing in front of him, watching him…thinking “Oh, you intoxicating, delicious…just…ggrrrr” then put that to how I’d be feeling being there in 1982. I think I’d end up catatonic. Lol. I’m sure. Probably end up in hospital or something. Lol
This is why I am so stunned that I am not finding my wall of Kerrnessnessnessness a distraction at the kit. But I genuinely am motivated by those pictures. Thank god I am! I need to be. Because so much else is bringing me down right now. Me! In every other way. I am a fucking c***, basically. I really, really hate myself right now.
I’m going to leave you with Jim. Well…Simple Minds actually. But…Jim.
An interesting post on SMOG from a long-time fan, reminiscing about the Floating World tour of 2002.
It gives a little pang of envy. I know this person has been relatively close to the band in the past. They have stories to tell. Lovely memories. You know…it sounds like more than just “band and fan”. A thing that I had always dreamed of. A thing that I sometimes kidded myself I had, you know. Not overtly so! It’s just that yearning of reciprocation. You love the band, so you hope the band loves you too. “She is your friend, until the bitter end.” But it can only go so far. And I just want more than I can have. It’s that simple. But even that little bit I *did* feel I had is all but gone.
I’ll shut up about it!
Anyway, said fan asked what our favourite tour was. He had talked about this tour like the “gig hop” tours I’ve been on. Following the band around, seeing them all over the place. But again, his experiences were back in “halcyon days”. Soundchecks you didn’t have to pay for to experience. Time just hanging out with the band after shows and stuff. Like, not just a quick signing and a photo op, but a chat at a bar or restaurant. Talk that went into the wee hours. A number of fans have these stories.
Anyway, I think his gigging goes back to 1986? Or maybe ‘89. A long way back anyway. But the Floating World tour was his favourite, he said. Others chimed in with 5×5 Live…just to make me spit even MORE chips!
I gave it a second’s thought. Of my EXTENSIVE range of tours, Big Music (technically one gig, though I saw them twice in 2015, the second was a festival slot, so not strictly a Big Music tour gig, I guess), Acoustic and Walk Between Worlds…I dunno. I have to discount Big Music, it was just two gigs – but that first ever Simple Minds gig at Cambridge will always hold a special place. And of the other two, Acoustic and Walk Between Worlds – both were amazing for differing reasons. But I guess Acoustic just pips it because…just…meeting Jim and hearing him say my name at Bristol and…yeah. All that silly “falling in love” business. Lol. But for WBW there was the album signing, Barras and the meet and greet at Colchester.
But who knows what this year will hold? I am on a MASSIVE 12 show hop-a-long, seeing them in six different countries (seven, if you separate England and Scotland). Let’s see where the wind takes us…