Walk Between Worlds Anniversary And The Continued Viability Of The Physical Format

Yesterday was the anniversary of the release of Walk Between Worlds. It’s been four years now! Where the fuck did four years go?! Bejaysus! Simple Minds fans back in the early days must have felt ssooo spoiled – an album coming out EVERY YEAR! TWICE A YEAR in 1979 (Life In A Day and Real To Real Cacophony) and 1981 (Sons And Fascination and Sister Feelings Call). Not to mention all the touring that went on in between. Holy fuckaroli!

At this point in time four years ago, I was recouping from a whirlwind visit to Glasgow to be at the HMV in Argyle Street for the album signing. Us fans were all lined up early. I was maybe third or fourth in the queue. That’s the WRONG place to be for an event like that. I soon learned – the rookie that I am – when it comes to signing events, you want to be towards the back. More time is afforded to you then when you get to the front. Instead of what happens to those at the front of the queue, which is to be hurried along. 

As we are stood there waiting inside the store, Jim and Charlie enter the room from my right side. Jim sees me in the queue and says hello to me. I immediately want the ground to just envelop me whole. I was standing their with my OH and with Alison Carroll. I’m in my heavy raincoat. Undrerneath I am, for me, “dolled up”. I am a complete nervous wreck. I can remember both my OH and Alison saying to me “do you want to take your jacket off?” “Nah, it’s fine.” I didn’t want to make a fuss or cause a scene. All I could see in my head was the commotion I’d make, handing all the stuff I was carrying over to them, taking the coat off, then getting all the other stuff handed back to me and it all just being a ruckus. 

Can one be both hot AND cold at the same time? Because it was a freezing day and that was also partly why I didn’t want to take my jacket off. But I was warm in the store. I was just, as I say, a wreck. I just wanted it over with. All this stuff is racing through my head standing there as we are waiting to be passed by Jim and Charlie. “He probably thinks I am the saddest, grossest thing he has EVER seen. I look like Edith from Still Game standing there in this coat. A fucking bag lady! Look at me! With all this shit in my hands. What do I look like?! TAKE YOUR FUCKING COAT OFF! YOU IDIOT! Why did you even bother to wear this fucking dress if nobody is going to see it?! What am I going to say to him? Don’t forget to ask if they’ll sign the Virginia print!” Ya da ya da. On it went.

Do I have good memories of it? Yes and no. The bloody sherbet straws thing will forever be immortalised. Stupid. Just stupid. I wish I had some really sharp, funny thing that I did or said or whatever. But no…I’m there looking like a bag lady and throw him a bag of sweets. WHAT ON EARTH WAS I THINKING? Socially inept to the highest degree. I couldn’t have been any less cool if I tried. 

Anyway, the retelling of that nightmare was fun! 

I guess that is why maybe he didn’t check with me on how to spell my name? Either he thought “near enough will be good enough” or he believed he could remember it. Or…he genuinely thought that’s how it’s spelt. Or, that is how Larelle looks when he writes it? Nah – because he has spelt it out clearly on the Hunter And The Hunted piece. He probably was just sparing me the hell of tripping over my own name to spell it out. 

ANYWAY – enough mental scars of that day. (And I am willingly putting myself through MORE meet and greets!? How?!)

Since then, there really has only been two official Simple Minds releases – the 40: The Best of 1979-2019 album which saw the release of For One Night Only, and then just over two weeks ago with the release of Act Of Love. There have been a couple of side projects. A release of a symphonic version of Alive and Kicking in 2019, as well as Trevor Horn’s Reimagines The Eighties album in which Jim, Charlie and Mick MacNeil collaborated with Trevor for a recording of Brothers In Arms.

Other than those lean morsels, it’s been slim pickings. And it’s been a long wait from October, 2019 to January, 2022. 

In Jim’s recent interview with Mark Millar of XS Noize, he alluded to the idea that there is so much new material that has been recorded, we COULD see a double album!! Sons/Sister for the 21st Century? Dare we even dream it?!

Also with that, he was being very pragmatic about even hinting at a release date of new material. So many factors in the mix. Least of all the state of the production of vinyl records right now. 

We need to be honest with ourselves with the future viability of the production of vinyl. It’s not a sustainable thing. It’s not a clean process and not something that as environmentally conscious people we really should be reverting back to. Nostalgic ideals can definitely have negative effects. CD production is probably only nominally cleaner. As wonderful that the experience of listening to things on a physical format is – we really need to weigh up whether it is TRULY worth it. Would you prefer to wait another 12-18 months to hear new Simple Minds music for the sake of having it on CD or vinyl? 

Digipaks were great ideas. And there is no reason why that can’t be done again. I think Simple Minds were pioneers when it came to that kind of thinking. To be able to go to a gig and then at the end of the night, leave the venue with a SD card with a recording of the gig on it? Fucking brilliant! Why did they stop doing that, I wonder? 

Why not Simple Minds be the pioneers AGAIN!? Jim stick with his “fuck nostalgia” line of thinking and ditch the physical format like they have done with Act Of Love? Continue with that. Please!

I know it’s tough, people! But, honestly, when you think about it, how many of you actually sit and play your vinyl records every day? I bet that the majority of you still don’t even have a turntable. We can have everything but! There can still be lovely presentations of the thing. Something that arrives in a 7” or 12” presentation package? Take a look at these examples below. Lovely little presentation boxes. That one of the Greatest Hits+ Live, with that military pilot statue figure on the cover of Empires And Dance then used as a colourful shaped USB stick is just INSPIRED! Even if what we got wasn’t anything at all physical when it comes to receiving the music – that it was just an access code for downloading. It could be done – and it could be presented in a wonderful way – so it still is something collectable and a wonderful keepsake. It doesn’t have to be wrapped up in the environmentally damaging nostalgia trips of owning and playing vinyl records or CDs. 

Just a thought. 

Back to the excitement of the thought of the new music itself. And the notion that, unlike Mr Kerr taking of the previous release of Walk Between Worlds and that being “less is more” with there only being eight tracks on the standard issue CD, Jim in his ever mercurial fashion is now talking in terms of “more is more” – and the proposal of a double album! And with him being as mercurial as he is, I am taking what he says with a pinch of salt. It is just supposition on his part. Something to incite a potential frenzy amongst the fandom.

By the time it comes to pass. If we will be asked to wait about for physical format releases, wait for the end of this tour, etc, etc, it’ll by then be nearing five years and another Olympic length wait.

We’ll see. We can but see.

Finally, Happy Anniversary for yesterday, Walk Between Worlds.

This is still my favourite track from the whole Walk Between Worlds recording. Not filler!

Once Upon A Time …. I Liked It

It was 36 years since the release of Once Upon A Time yesterday. I find it an anniversary that usually passes me by without any fanfare. Unlike April for Life In A Day. Or November for Real To Real Cacophony. Or even my birthday for Big Music (seemingly deemed to be early November these days as its release but I received my pre-ordered copy on my birthday in 2014).

But especially in September when we get the run of anniversaries just a day apart – Empires And Dance, Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call and New Gold Dream.

This is starting to sound like I am big on anniversaries and know them all….but I don’t. Once Upon A Time is a case in point. It slips my mind every year. Probably because of the time of year it happens. Ten days before my birthday. I’m usually preoccupied with that.

In 1985 I got the album for my birthday…I think. It might have been for Christmas….I have an appalling memory! I know I wanted it though and I did receive a copy of it for either of these occasions. It was the first Simple Minds piece of music I had ever owned. It SHOULD mean more to me! I SHOULD remember the date. There SHOULD be some significance to it, but alas….

Why? Why is that? Honestly? I think I have just grown weary of it. Which is sad. I feel sad that I feel like this. I didn’t feel this way about OUAT in 2014. But the whole Simple Minds back catalogue was so new to me then. I felt a nostalgia and a reverence for the album then. 

Move forward to 2021 and I can’t even play the album these days. Or more, I have little interest in playing it. Unlike with Real To Real, EAD, SAF/SFC and NGD – all of whose songs I never tire of. I just can’t bring myself to listen to Once Upon A Time.

It kind of scares me how tired of Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself, All The Things She Said, and even the title track Once Upon A Time I have become. To a lesser degree it affects Ghostdancing and Oh Jungleland. I Wish You Were Here has been played minimally enough not to be too affected. And when I played the album back in the day I would always skip Come A Long Way anyway, so that’s pretty unaffected too. And I have grown to appreciate the song in recent years.

I rarely talk in the negative like this about Simple Minds. Well…I try very hard not to talk in negatives, anyway. (We are the “meek and unambitious” and we shall not have our voices heard!) But…I do feel mournful that I have grown so weary of OUAT – for without it, I may never have become a Simple Minds fan at all! Either the fairweather fan I had been since the day of its release up until the summer of 2014 – or from that point on until the present day in fervent fandom.

I hope my love returns. I hope with enough of a break, and the passage of time, I will feel able to listen to it once more. It might depend on certain changes to the live setlist though – or my not going to any more Simple Minds gigs. Or fewer of them. I don’t know. 

As soon as I had posted my piece about the “Seven Year Itch” and not really listening to them at all much, it turned it around and I was listening to them again. Maybe just posting and the airing of this will have me listening to OUAT again?

Stranger things have happened…

Minds Music Monday – In Trance As Mission – In Celebration Of Imminent Anniversary of Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call

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.

Minds Music Monday – Act Of Love

I always consider it an “act of love” that these, let’s face it – barely adult boys (yes, screaming oxymoron there!) – would form a band and rehearse and play and that most gorgeous of those boys (bias!) would be the glue that acts as the cohesion to get it all to gel with his words and his voice and his drive and passion and just…yeah.

It’s an “act of love” for music, for life, travel, wanting to experience a world outside of Glasgow.

How can we, as fans, not be thankful for that?

Jim posted about the anniversary of the first “official” Simple Minds gig yesterday, a whole week before the date. Still showing that enthusiasm almost 43 years down the line.

He talked of the band of boys – Tony Donald (god bless his soul), Charlie, Joe Donnelly and of Brian. And their varying likes of music and where their influences in learning to play sprung from.

Jim himself? He seemed the one that just wanted to see it all come to fruition – whether he was actually part of the band or not. He just seems like that kind of man. An “influencer” if you will – long before the word became sullied by people on Instagram seeking fame for fame’s sake and living the Andy Warhol dream of being “famous for 15 minutes”.

Because that’s what Jim seems to do with people. He seems to, not only have his own astounding level of enthusiasm and drive and self-belief – he tries to pass it on to others or to deepen their own level of passion and drive. And he’s amazing with it. It’s almost a skewed act of altruism.

It’s early days, and early Minds. And there are others there that night too, not mentioned yesterday. Duncan Barnwell. David and Jaine Henderson (doing sound and lights, respectively).

I sought Jaine’s permission when posting this photo before, I hope she won’t mind me using it again. It seemed apt, given the subject and context.

Perhaps he meant to share this photo when talking of those early days when the guys were still learning to play before that first gig. (What happened to the guitar, Jim?) I first saw it when Jaine shared it and tagged Brian. I’m guessing Charlie’s the one that took the photo? He’s conspicuous by his absence.

Anyway….all journeys set out from a start point, or perhaps several smaller points that converge for one joint starting point – here’s one of Simple Minds’.

Happy Anniversary Sweat In Bullet!

It’s been the inspiration for a few art pieces, and the video is a fave. Jim is sssoooo frigging skinny in this video. He’s got his gammy eye and he is that heady mix of fledgling Laird Dash Fandango in his collared shirt and tailored trousers but with that bit of “gangster rough” with it.

Oh, and him doing all those whipping actions with the mic cord….OMG! It used to have me saying stuff like, “WHIP ME, JIM! PLEASE! WHIP ME!” Lol. Oh…the fantasies!

Anyways! It’s a Happy Anniversary to Sweat In Bullet being released as a single a mere 39 years ago today. Enjoy…art and video… (the first is still a fave, even though I did it yonks ago)

Visuals from Glittering Prize for the last one but words from Sweat In Bullet.