Empires And Dance Appreciation – Constantinople Line

I originally wrote the following in January, 2016 as a “Why I Love…” piece for the blog. Little has changed in my feeling for this song. It’s bloody fab! I share the demo version of the song because it is the one stuck in my head today more than the album version. Enjoy!

***** It’s the rhythm of it to begin with. Very reminiscent of David Bowie’s Station To Station. It reminds me of it, but is far enough removed not to sound a pastiche.
A great bassline once again from “Big Dan”. And Charlie uses the guitar effects for a nice screeching sound. Maybe it’s just reverb. I can’t claim to understand what I hear, but I know I like it!

Absolutely one of the best set of lyrics Jim has ever written. They are very image laced. I see the pictures in my head when he sings them “I see a land, as we crawl by night /I see a face on the window in front” – I love those lines so much! And possibly my favourite lines from ANY SM song…ever “these stations are useful / these stations we love them” when it wasn’t very “de rigueur” to claim to “love” things like that. I’m assuming because of such, Jim is very much saying it tongue-in-cheek, which I love. (No pun intended!)

The demo version has different lyrics. He sounds like he’s ad libbing a bit. The song’s musical structure is there…and some of the final lyrics are there (including the “these stations” ones) but there are some lines that don’t gel. He did a wonderful job refining and trimming. The demos can make you appreciate the final cut so much more…
And, of course, the song ends with the sound of a train.

It just does a great job of letting you feel that train journey experience. Foreign lands…people behaving shifty…cloak and dagger…it’s like Strangers On A Train. Simple Minds do Hitchcock and borrow a *tiny* bit from Bowie and do a stellar job.
This song…I love it! 😜😊 *****

P.S. The artwork is a really early days one. An oldie but a goodie. Jim liked it. Halcyon days 😌

Empires And Dance Appreciation – KANT KINO

It is my favourite Simple Minds instrumental.

My favourite David Bowie track of them all is A New Career In A New Town – that “town” being Berlin. I heard an instant parallel between ANCIANT and Kant Kino. Both have an incredible emotional pull on me – both brought me to tears the first time I heard them.

Although most of my SM art is about Jim’s lyrics, I have done the odd piece on an instrumental track. I made one for Kant Kino. (Dave Kelly then egged me on to do one for Somebody Up There Likes You, which Jim subsequently seemed to like so much, he actually requested a copy from me. Something that amazes me still to this day. It always will.)

We have our own “bucket list” things that we want and wish for. Mine for a VERY long time now has been to visit Berlin. I will finally get to tick it off the list in December. On the list of things to see is – to take a stroll down the Potsdamer Platz, to visit Checkpoint Charlie and Hansa Studios. One or two other things too, hopefully. A David Bowie (and Iggy Pop) pilgrimage.

The other thing on the list will be to stand outside of Kant Kino…well…I might just go in and see a film…who knows? It’s still open as a cinema complex.

Say Who You Are!

The album that did it for me. The one that, during my exploration of the Simple Minds back catalogue, “sealed the deal”. Empires And Dance put me into a state of…I dunno…suspended animation. I quite literally could not believe what I was hearing…that the band responsible for Don’t You (Forget About Me ) – subsequently I learned how much involvement there was in that, obv. – Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself, etc, had also made stuff LIKE THIS?! It just blew my tiny frigging mind. I’m not holding up the songs mentioned to belittle them or say they’re inferior in ANY WAY….it is just a fact that Simple Minds within a 5 year period became a very different band musically and that I had NO KNOWLEDGE of how they sounded in 1980.

So, again for me personally, in 2014 listening to Empires And Dance for the first time was like discovering an entirely new band. And with the anniversary of its release this week, I just wanted to talk about it a bit, share some of my art inspired from the tracks and just give it and its content some praise.

I wouldn’t be the mega diehard (but has she earned her stripes yet?) SM fan I am now without this album existing, I don’t think.

Today I share what is at this point possibly my very favourite live version of Thirty Frames A Second. Jim stalking around that stage like a freshly uncaged animal. Leaping about like a jack rabbit…never faulting vocally…but being raw and emotive and just….GGRRRRRRRR!!! I love it!

It’s Oh So Quiet

I have to say…things is quiet on the SM front, and I do miss Mr Kerr.

I hope things are okay. One can’t help but worry. I guess it isn’t our place to be concerned.

It’s one year to the day since the opening Grandslam gig at Maidstone in Kent. Mixed feelings still of the gig, only having been allowed back on to SMO the week prior. The cynic in me can never help but think it was just tactics (having my block from SMO revoked). I wish for more than anything in the world that it wasn’t.

My lasting memory of the day will be of meeting my beautiful friend, Ally, and us in an embrace singing along to Someone Somewhere In Summertime together. A magic memory. ❤️❤️❤️

I obviously didn’t film it at Maidstone. I was swept up enjoying the moment with Ally, but I recorded them doing it at Leeds the following weekend.

Can You Hear Me, Major Tom? Fifty Years On.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of Space Oddity.

I’m trying to have some recollection of when I first heard it. Obviously not when it was released, is it came out some 15 months before I was born. I don’t have any clear recollection when I did finally hear it but I know I’d have been very young and it would have been on the radio.

I have a clearer memory of hearing Sorrow on the radio quite a bit. And probably at the time of its release as it would have been 1973 and I know I was very young when I first recall hearing it. I remember it being a Bowie song (well, actually a cover) that I really liked.

As for Space Oddity…how can you not be drawn in by the song’s theme and its opening? The countdown sequence. It’s a magical thing. And pretty far removed from anything else on the eponymous 1969 album – alternatively titled “Man Of Words/Man Of Music” when released in the USA.

It was a very timely…and I am sure in fact, deliberately canny, release with Apollo 11 heading off for the Moon less than a week later. It made it to number 5 in the UK charts due largely on the strength that the BBC used it during coverage of the return journey by the Apollo 11 astronauts to Earth.

Happy Anniversary Space Oddity. Fifty years young, and a timeless classic.