The Pet Shop Boy…and Girl

This morning I was taking photos of Sultan as she was sitting by the little light box thing which has “pure dead braw” on it.

ASAP jumped up on the table a minute or two later and sat beside Sultan. I kept snapping away. Then Sultan yawned and as the camera snapped I thought “Oh hopefully that’ll make for a fun one, mid yawn.”

By heck it did! As soon as a saw it looking back through the few I’d taken, it just instantly made me think “Pet Shop Boys! That album cover of theirs!” Then I had to put in a Google search “Pet Shop Boys album covers” because I didn’t know what it was called. It revealed itself to be “actually” pretty quick in the search results.

I saved a copy of the cover, I then posted it to the FB group called “Recreate artworks with things you find at home”. This is how popular this post has been through the day…

1800 likes! And nearing 200 comments. My furbabies are little microstars!

Here’s the pic in full resolution…

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.

A Real Good Time?

I really am not the biggest fan of the live album. Never have been and probably even more so now I actually go to many gigs during the year. Get it wrong and it’s completely devoid of atmosphere and can just sound appalling and probably doesn’t “sell” what is otherwise a truly stellar live act. Get it right though (which in my view is VERY rare – much rarer than an act just getting the sound/atmosphere right on the night) – and wow!

I listened to this last night. If Mr Ferry still sounds and can deliver like this in a few weeks time at the Armadillo…I will be a very, VERY happy bunny!

SM News And Gig Review

Last night I was in Oxford seeing Kelly Jones on the final night of his “Don’t Let The Devil Take Another Day” solo tour of the UK. I will review the gig in a dedicated post shortly.

But while I was at the gig last night, news of this broke out within the fandom…

Now I had known something was coming out in November as Virginia had told me she had one of her photos being used for a release coming up. I didn’t quiz her any further on it as I knew it would all be announced by the band in due course.

There’s an extra buzz within the fanbase as this new compilation seems to include a completely new song called For One Night Only. I first read about this track a very short time ago on the Dream Giver Redux site. It was sited as a Walk Between Worlds track that didn’t make the final cut and lyrics were listed for the song.

The link to the info on Dream Giver Redux can be viewed by CLICKING HERE

So now it would appear that FONO will get an airing…albeit as a carrot on the stick of yet ANOTHER compilation album. And a rather strange and curious tracklisting this new “best of” has too. Before it disappeared off Amazon it said the album’s tracklisting had been put together in conjunction with “the band” (aka Jim and Charlie, I’m guessing). It’s a bit non-linear to say the least. And this same treatment that the Bowie “best of” Nothing Has Changed got has been deployed with “edits” of songs all over the place. I don’t get it. WHY have an edit of a song on one disc to have the full version on the next? I mean…what the fuck IS that about? I do not understand what goes on in the minds of record company execs any more. I’m not even sure THEY know how to sell product any more.

So, curious, perplexing and something to push onto us leading up to Christmas with the tasty little morsel of ONE SOLITARY NEW SONG. Okay…keep them keen, I guess.

More on this to come in the ensuing weeks, methinks.

Slow News Sunday Summary – May 5th

This week in SNSS

  • Sir talks cinema and “sphericals”
  • Cherisse in Lisbon
  • Sarah on her Mahalia Jackson project
  • The Anchoress finalising artwork on album two

A couple of posts from Mr Kerr this week on going to the cinema and catching up on musical delights (or possibly lack thereof). He spoke of seeing the film Wild Rose. All that uplifting stuff in which someone with dogged determination and an overabundance of ambition goes from the streets of Glasgow to the Grand Ole Opry to become country music star goddess.

Sometimes I do believe he thinks we can ALL just do it, you know? Which is a great attitude to have…until you become disillusioned with all the people you feel who are not on a par with you and then it feels like it can lead to some inverted snobbery. It is how it can make me feel a lot of the time. You know…all I’ll ever be is a fan, a spectator, a cop out, a failure – not a doer….just some pathetic under-achiever, or even non-achiever.

Anyway, I run the risk of this becoming a diatribe.

Maybe if I’d had Jim’s “sphericals”, lol, I’d have felt able to achieve SOMETHING? Rather than feeling a constant “oxygen sapper”?

I digress.

The “sphericals” references today’s post in which he discussed Billy Sloan, their lasting friendship and their mostly matched up music tastes, apart from a recent unfortunate disagreement about new work from Mr Springsteen.

I also dare say at this point that Mr Kerr has a HUGE propensity for the ability to “dish it out, but not take it”. Yes, Siree! But I will go no further with that, and metaphorically bite my tongue until it bleeds.

The crux of the post was him actually admitting that maybe…just maybe, he can jump the gun AND be too quick to pass judgement sometimes! As much as I try to remind myself constantly, Jim Kerr *is* but a man and is susceptible to faux pas just like the rest of us mere mortals.

Cherisse is off on a short break in Portugal before she has a busy couple of months touring around the UK with Kelly Jones. I shall miss my tutoring. I am really getting into this drumming stuff! But I will practice, practice, practice! in the meantime.

Sarah has been in the recording studio working on her project to bring to the world the gift of musical mentor and inspiration, Mahalia Jackson. I, for one, an excited to hear what’s to come of this venture of Ms Brown’s.

The Anchoress is continuing on putting together the final touches of album number two. A test pressing came her way a couple of weeks back, and just this last week she has been at record label, KScope, working on the artwork for the album.

And that’s it, in a nutshell. Nothing else to report…

Until next week,
Roger – over and out!

Photo courtesy of The Parietal Eye

Happy 40th Anniversary – Life In A Day!

Someone:
It’s quite manic the way it starts then sounds traditional rock. Almost pub rock. Post punk. But “poppy”. I love that little “doo wop” bit too. The magic of a song that sounds catchy and upbeat, but if you take note of the lyrics…there’s a slightly different story going on. But we’re looking for life beyond those potentially boring “teen angst” years. Adulthood has dawned. “You’re running home before the morning light. There is a new age that has just begun.” Leave the angst behind, Ruby.

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Life In A Day:
Synth washed opening but still steeped in post punk. It does wear its influences boldly this song. Already those more industrial sounds are there. It’s in the atmosphere conjured up by Jim’s lyrics. I always say that Factory is like a lyrical LS Lowry painting – Life In A Day is its predecessor. Some days I really enjoy listening to Life In A Day…other times it leaves me feeling a little despondent, and I am unsure as to why that is.

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Sad Affair:
This has always been the weakest track on the album, for me. I’ve never really taken to it. This to me is the track that sounds most “Boomtown Rats”. The one I think of first when I am reminded of Jim’s feelings when he first heard the album being played back once they got their hands on the final cut. That feeling of “Oh, we’ve fucked up with this. This isn’t us! This is the Boomtown Rats!”

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All For You:
In 2014, when I started my exploration of the Simple Minds back catalogue, this song really made me sit up and take notice. The first one on the album that I truly went “ooh, now…THIS is interesting!” over. I know Jim has a soft spot for Someone, but I do for All For You. Had this track not piqued my interest when exploring the SM back catalogue a second time over, then…well, I would probably NOT be doing this post, or even running this blog!

Pleasantly Disturbed:
The title could not be more aptly applied to a song. I mean, that title sells it perfectly. Starting with a quiet yet low rumbling slow drum beat and cracked jagged guitar riff…it’s wonderfully atmospheric and moody. It conjures up a similar feeling in mood to one gets from Riders On The Storm. A dark, oppressive and gloomy rain-washed street. The genius of adding violin to it…I mean, who came up with that? Charlie? Well, if he did, he cursed it subsequently through the years from having to continue to play it when performing the song, while never feeling he had the true virtuosity for it. From the moment it starts, it just feels on a different level to any of the other songs on the album. And unlike most other tracks on the album in which they didn’t quite capture their live sound right, or John Leckie didn’t quite capture their essence – it worked for Pleasantly Disturbed. If anyone you meet ever dismisses early Simple Minds as a serious musical force of nature, play them Pleasantly Disturbed. And if they’re still not convinced, then they are beyond salvation. Pity them.

No Cure:
I suffered such a love/hate thing with this song. I used to abhor it! For a long time I would skip it entirely. Then when out in Oz and getting into the habit of listening to SM on shuffle mode each night, it played a few times and I was roused to semi-consciousness to listen to it. Too tired to grab the iPod and find the skip button, but awake enough for the song to filter through, a change of heart started to happen. Things actually ended up turning on its head and I went from utter intolerance of the track to absolutely falling head over heels for it! I couldn’t get enough of it! It became a constant earworm. It was stuck in my head for WEEKS. And I played it over and over! Lol. The title of it, once again, became so apt. Jim is a master at this stuff, he really is. For of course, the song had been previously known by the title Cocteau Twins, until Jim decided to tweak the lyrics and retitle it. Having read up about Cocteau Twins and its beginnings…Les Enfant Terribles… oh how it makes some weird sense of why I had this love/hate grapple. Knowing its history, I find the song strangely alluring and ever so sexy. It may have been “tidied up” but the words pertaining to “the game” are still there.

Chelsea Girl:
What a riff. So simple but so full of intent. Speaking of songs that are sexy. I do find this sexy too. Seriously, if I had been of their age, I’d have fancied Jim from day one. I’m still not quite sure exactly what I am meant to make of the “Chelsea Girl”. Is she a prick tease? Or a floozy? Answers on a postcard…

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Wasteland:
I find Wasteland a wonderfully obscure Kerr lyric. A song I am not really sure I know much of what it’s actually about. Looking at the lyrics I have no real clue. God I love you, Jim Kerr. You are a puzzle! The songs may feel like puzzles to solve to you…sometimes I think you pass them directly on to us! “Solve that one, peeps! Try and work out what I’m telling you here.”

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Destiny:
Also a curious one. Seems as if it was a much meatier thing when it was called Sweet Things. I am going to assume by how the lyrics read, it is a look at the life one has laid out for them and a defiant rejection of it. “Can you hear me, can you see. I don’t want this destiny.”

Murder Story:
After All For You and Pleasantly Disturbed, this is a song I really fell in love with quite quickly. I love the drama of it and despite the title and the tone of this song, there’s an element of fun to it. And I just love the way it ends. All the layers of Jim’s vocals clashing and sounding cacophonous and him singing alternates of “it wasn’t me/it was me”…then with that final trio of shouts of “IT WAS ME” and then it just comes to a halt.

 

 

A LITTLE NOD TO THE B SIDES

Over all as an album, it’s a good debut. It’s solid. And yes, I somewhat played Devil’s advocate asking Bruce Findlay if he felt that some songs were “too old”. It doesn’t quite hit the mark in some elements. And they probably weren’t captured quite at their full potential the first time round with John Leckie, but they and he quickly made up for it. And Real To Real Cacophony is by no means faultless either, but it improves upon a good stepping stone.

The album certainly has a maturity to it. I mean, heck, the average age of the band at this point is 20. TWENTY! They’re babies! Jim and Charlie are actually still only 19 upon its release. If I do that “compare them to U2” baloney and compare Life In A Day to Boy – the maturity of Jim’s songwriting over Bono’s is just chalk and cheese for me. While on Boy (even just the album titles reveal all you need to know!), Bono is writing about The Electric Co and Stories For Boys, Jim’s writing about the daily grind of city life, murder, drug use, mind games between young adults, conquests (or lack thereof). It’s young men, not boys.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not dissing Boy. I love Boy. You can’t knock I Will Follow, and I love An Cat Dubh and Into The Heart, A Day Without Me and Shadows And Tall Trees contains my favourite line in the entire album “Mrs Brown’s washing is always the same”. Boy will always have a soft spot in my heart, because I grew up with it. My brother had a copy from 1980, so it has been with me since I was 10 years old.

Life In A Day never bowled me over completely, but there are gems contained within it. It probably didn’t feel that way at the time, and thank god Simple Minds came into being at a time that they did and with Bruce as their mentor and ultimately manager because he was never going to abandon them. They were given the time to evolve artistically and become truly great. They held such promise and it was there for all to see. Life In A Day, though not perfect, showcases, with a bit of “hit and miss” what Simple Minds were capable of. Their tender and tenuous beginnings. It’s an album strong enough to enjoy from start to finish. The only track I used to skip was No Cure, and I ended up falling in love with it.

Give it a listen today. Have a bit of a nostalgia trip and say “Happy Anniversary Life In A Day!”

Celebrate Life In A Day – But Not Yet

People be jumping the gun re: Life In A Day 40th anniversary. Lots of celebrating today…but there is an official Zoom press release from the time on the Dream Giver Redux site showing the release date to be April 13th…so I will be holding my horses until then.

BUT…in preparation for it, you can read (and hear parts of) my interviews with Jaine Henderson and Bruce Findlay and also see my review of Life In A Day as a single right here on the blog!

In the meantime, here’s the link to Dream Giver showing the press release and its transcript. See you back here on April 13th, Life In A Day fans 👍🏻😁

Billy Drops A Bomb!

So, I am listening into the Billy Sloan Show earlier (still listening now as I type this out) and he read out some listener comments about the best gig, album and single of 2018. After he read some words about Simple Minds, he went onto say “they are bringing out a new album and will be on tour again. I can’t say too much now but all will be revealed in due course. Simple Minds are set for a very busy year in 2019.”

WOAH! HOLD THE PHONE!

STAYED TUNED FOLKS!

UPDATE: Next morning: okay, well…I’m not sure where the “tour” bit came from that I heard. I suppose I had jst been talking “tour” wth a friend just a few minutes before and it stuck in my mind and stayed there. I hadn’t been well, so that’ll be my excuse. But, to reiterate, Billy did say that a new album s coming and that Simple Minds will have a busy year ahead. But…we’ll see! My eyes will be kept peeled and my ears will be kepyt to the ground.