Another piece of memorabilia recently gained from eBay trawls was this. I’ve seen several photos from … I’m guessing the same photoshoot – before, but never this particular photo. And it’s a genuine vintage promotional photographic print. In stellar condition it was too!
I’m very happy with this. Yes I am!
The photographer is Paul Canty – hence the watermark.
I love it when Charlie tries to look all “mean ass” in promo photos. Lol
Jim’s trying out his prowling cat moves.
They are bunched up so close, you can see Charlie’s foot wedged under Jim’s thigh.
“So when I thought Charlie’s guitar in ‘Angel’ sounded like church bells…” – writes Adam Sweeting, having just been given an explanation by Jim of the ideas behind the song. You can read a full extract of that below.
I’d be intrigued to know what the book of short stories was. I thought for a few minutes about asking Derek Forbes if he’d remember it. Even went to Twitter in further contemplation of conjuring up the gumption to ask him…but I can’t. Best to let sleeping dogs lie. And I guess if Jim had remembered it, he’d have mentioned its name or the author back then during the interview. Maybe someone could find out or shed some light on it?
Anyway, let us ‘push on’.
UPDATE: A regular visitor and reader of this blog – Scott, contacted me about who he thinks the author of the short stories might be and which short story it is! And I think he just may be right. He read on Dream Giver about Jim mentioning Philip K Dick. Well of course I remember that too because of Jim’s reply to me (when I quizzed him about having read sci-fi) about “growing out of things…like drugs, alcohol, hair dye and jodhpurs”. But I didn’t make the connection when compiling this post. A book of short stories of Dick’s is titled “A Handful Of Darkness”. Released originally in 1955, it contains a short story called “Upon The Dull Earth” (that even sounds like a line Jim would use in a song!) – a link to the plot of the story HERE – I think Scott came up trumps with this! Where would I be without him?
The original working title for the song was “Petrocello” – a word entirely made up it would seem. A portmanteau of the words “petronella” and “Limoncello”, perhaps? Or maybe of “petronella” and “uccello”? A portmanteau of those two words could translate as “dancing birds”. For “petronella” is a style of Scottish folk dance while “uccello” is the Italian word for bird. That would be lovely if it was a combination of those two. I’m always trying to put romantic connotations to everything.
Again it was one of the songs that Mick gave to Jim to listen to on cassette and obviously he could hear such potential in all the pieces. I guess had Mick not heard the potential in the music himself first, he’d have not passed it on to Jim to pass his lugholes over it.
I can’t claim to know about music or its structure and complexities (or otherwise) and what it is to describe something as “melody” as opposed to labelling it an “arpeggio” – but what I do know is those chords, those notes from Mick MacNeil’s synths are some of the most beautiful pieces of musical notation you will ever hear. And that Adam Sweeting is right, that Charlie’s guitar chords do sound like church bells.
As it started life as one of Mick’s workings, it may have initially been going to remain an instrumental. Who knows at what point during recording proceedings Jim was ready to provide lyrics? He seemed quite the procrastinator back then – leaving lyrical input until pressed to provide it. Then again ‘Angel’ was seemingly one of the earlier tunes to be formed so maybe it was a rare time in which Jim was ready with lyrics fairly early on but he just delayed putting them across in the studio? All supposition by me.
The song had a brief run of being in the live set during the opening part of the Sons And Fascination tour in Aug/Sept of 1981, performed just a handful of times before leaving the set altogether. Never to reappear again until 2006 on the Black and White tour. And not on a set list again since.
The only live recording of it that exists from those handful of 1981 shows is from the Royal Court in Liverpool on September 22nd. It’s performed in Edinburgh on the opening night of the tour on August 28th – it doesn’t seem to go too well.
The next two shows, it’s off the set list – the reason for the Bingley Hall absence I guess would be to how ill Jim was on the night. The next gig in Nottingham, was the one and only time that Wonderful In Young Life was performed. Ironed out, perhaps? It was then back in the set until the final gig of this first short leg of the tour at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on September 25th. A total (potentially – as some set list information is unavailable) of seven shows that it was performed at. Amazing then that there is even one recording to exist of it. I’m sure that given that the gig was recorded for the specific purpose of putting out some live content, that a recording of it being performed at Hammersmith must exist somewhere in a vault.
It was a fairly prominent feature in 2006, particularly during the first part pf the year as the band tour around Europe. It makes its last appearance during the opening gig of the Australian leg of the tour in May. There are several live versions to be heard. The pedant in me couldn’t really stick with any of them. I am terrible for that. I love lyrics as they are. As they’ve been written and intended to be heard in the first place and when that doesn’t happen I find it annoying. Yes! I know. There is the excuse that the band hadn’t actually performed the song 25 years by that point – I could give them a break! But my counter argument would be one – they would have given themselves time to rehearse before going on tour. Also, the element about it that leaves me disappointed has nothing to do with the music. It’s being played very well from the examples of performances I had heard. My gripe is with Jim and the lyrics. The version I can listen to that plays furthest along in the tour is in Rome on March 19th. Some six weeks into the tour. It’s the 34th performance of the song.
I will say no more of it because I know where he’d tell me to stick it – esp. after given a critique of something some 15 years after the fact, but I can’t help being a pedantic c*** about these things.
All I know is that as a track to end an album with? Very few match it for statement and feeling, to summerise and sum up all that has passed in the album that has just been experienced. The melody. The “church bells”. The amazing bassline. The underplayed drum beat. The beautiful backing vocal. It’s exquisite. As delicate and as haunting as the angels it is depicting. That daydream, vision, visitation – whatever it was that Jim experienced as a child certainly left its mark on him. And all these years later it still lives on and will live on eternally in the mindset of Simple Minds fans. Those angels are with all of us. For many of us they feel like guardians. Guardians of the thoughts and feelings we hold so very precious. If what Jim experienced was indeed “a vision”, then it was definitely meant to be. They wanted to be seen, and they wanted Jim to see them.
What an absolutely sublime piece of work to finish an album on.
Photograph of Jim by Virginia Turbett
Angel wings vector graphics: Bastian Schwind
Additional source information: simpleminds.org
Let’s try and reset the clock and think of the good things.
Before I start that – thank you to Sage, who commented on a previous post with some rather apt – as her name suggests – sage words.
I’d like to think I am intelligent enough, and I know what needs to be done but I am obviously very emotionally stunted. So, I can have all the analytical, rational and lateral intelligence in all the world but if I can’t keep my emotions in check, or I struggle to rationalise my emotional wellbeing, that’s when it all falls apart.
I will post below here what Sage has written to me. They are words I know are true and right. I wish I had the emotional intelligence and resolve I need right now.
I need to apologise to Jim.
For one final time I am going to try to explain this as best I can. I don’t know why I feel so compelled to explain this, I just do. Maybe somehow to just rationalise it for myself as much as anything? I don’t know.
I hate for it to be misconstrued that I am IN LOVE with Jim and that I wish to be with him. IT IS NOT THAT! It really is not that! I do love him, yes. But it is a love of adulation, not of lust or desire (and lust and desire isn’t love anyway). Any notion like that is tied up with Jim in the past. The young Jim. The 22/23 year old Jim that I confess to being visually and aesthetically drawn to.
It is not how I feel about the Jim of the present. The Jim of the present is more where the emotions lay. It’s a romantic love, but not in a way that means I wish to be with him. I will never claim to know him. I don’t. And I never will. That’s the bitter pill. That’s the thing that causes the pain. That I would like to actually know him and have him be fond of me and see me as a dear friend. A friend. Nothing more! Not a lover. Not a girlfriend. Just someone that he would like to talk to on occasion. Someone who he’d think of during the day, pondering “I wonder how she’s doing? I hope she’s okay?” and then would get in contact to see how I was. That’s it.
But I am aware that even that is A LOT. That it’s a lot to ask and I can wish for that as much as I like but if he doesn’t feel that way, if there is no element of him liking me or trusting me or wanting to allow me in, then…it can’t be forced. I can wish for it all I like – until I make myself sick with it.
I am sorry, Jim, if it seemed or felt as though I was endlessly making demands of you. My naivety in thinking that positivity between us would have us feed each other. But it can’t work like that when only one person is providing the positivity. And I guess you have given me plenty of explanations as to why you are where you are and I am where I am.
You radiate light and warm, generosity and humour, wit and charm. You’re articulate and a lot of the time erudite. But maybe that is all public persona? I never felt that it was. One can only act for so long.
I am just me. Just one person. Just one fan in… how many fans? How many people wanting your attention? Wanting – and I hate this term, but I guess it applies – a piece of you? And you as one man, JUST “a man” (as several people like to remind me time and again), can only spread yourself so far.
I started typing out this post downstairs in the dining area of the living room, but I have now moved upstairs to my bedroom. The little bit of “office” area of my bedroom. Where I am hoping to keep looking after this blog. I look up just over and above the screen of my PC and this is what I see.
Sunshine. He is sunshine. He just radiates it. Warmth and beauty. And I just want to bask in it – constantly! I want to bask in the glow of him. And that should be enough. To look at the beauty of him. To bask in the sunshine of him. For it to be what it was when I wrote this that follows…
“…You are tantalisingly tangible
Yet I don’t really know who you are.
I find you intoxicating
And will be happy
Spending all the rest of my days
Drinking you in from afar.”
I need to find that place again. The place in which I never made demands. The place before Hunter And The Hunted. The place before he knew my name. Knew who I was. Knew what a stupid, pathetic creature I am.
I need to stop beating myself up. And I need to stop wanting him to be things he can’t be.
Right about this time seven years ago I’d be making those tentative steps again (after trying in 2006 and it not really going anywhere) to try and get a handle on the Simple Minds back catalogue. Listening to Life In A Day. It really was a slow burn (“stay – I’m burning slow”) but of the handful of songs that seeped their way in…the first to take hold was All For You. I loved the guitar riff. It’s a rather more “traditional rock” piece from them, with a standard verse/chorus song structure, which is actually fairly unusual for Jim to write that way during those early years. I love the backing vocals also. His voice is a higher register at that point but I find it soft and sultry on that song.
It was the seed that germinated what I was to become as a Simple Minds fan.
I wish I could start again. Wipe the slate clean. Not get so…invested in it. Perhaps have stayed away from going anywhere near the band’s Facebook page? Oh, but had I done that? Well, I wouldn’t have met the beautiful people I have met. I wouldn’t have some of the friends I have now. Including the one whose pictures of “Mr Sunshine” are on the wall just above.
And I wouldn’t have the good and wonderful and happy memories I have of Jim. Perhaps for a time he actually DID like me? He made a fuss enough. But was it actually of me? Of Larelle, or just “the new fan”. That I was just an object of curiosity and intrigue for a time until I shared everything about myself and there was no intrigue left. No “enigma”.
And…I do this too. I do this far too much. I overanylise and “overthink”. I read too much into things and I put into them a degree of importance that just doesn’t exist, or only exists for me alone.
But I feel like Jim gave me a strength. He gave me a strength and a belief in myself that I had never had. And the things it allowed me to do no doubt seem minuscule to many, but for me they were momentous and profound. And I loved him for it. I loved him for freeing me from the things I felt restricted by.
But I guess it has come full circle and now I feel somewhat imprisoned by those feelings that at one time felt so freeing and liberating. Because I keep craving those things.
He has NEVER bored me. He has never made me tired and he has never stopped being a curiosity to me.
I live in hope that my awareness of my emotional stupidity is the thing that sees me through it. But I also fear a feeling of a loss. That I need to walk away from it all. That before I drown, I should try and get myself out of the water. Instead of just praying he’ll reach out to me with a hand, with a fingertip to say “I won’t let you drown.”
It’s like… I want permission. I want permission to love him. I want to know that it’s okay that I do. And that he doesn’t see me as odd or strange, or thinks I’m weird or an idiot, or worst of all – pities me. That he understands. That he cares that I care! But how can I expect that of him?
I don’t know where I go from here. I feel I should talk about it because… because supposedly it helps to talk? I worry about “exposing” myself.
Sharing the things that make/made me most happy. This is how it started. I titled this “And Then It Continued…” but this is really how it started.
I loved this “artwork” so much. And I couldn’t believe that he liked it as much as I did. For that I will be forever grateful. I wish it would have got printed in the Heart Of The Crowd book. It was all I wanted in there. Just the piece. Not even any words. But for want of the photo of it being printed – the words had to suffice.
Does he still have his copy on a wall? I can only ever hope. Or lie to myself that yes, it’ll be there. Somewhere.
I know my copy is still on my bedroom wall. And always will be. All the days of my life. It’ll be going nowhere. And I guess that’s the thing.
Bass. That Forbes bass. It’s the linchpin to the Simple Minds sound at that time. Those basslines are one of the things that distinguished them from others and made them stand out. And what a bassline that starts the title track to Sons And Fascination.
I don’t really know what the sound is that accompanies that bass – something percussive? A hard synth tone? Some kind of sound like a “thwack” to try and explain it in an onomatopoeic way.
Jim talks about them having repetitive loops and riffs during this time and not so much melody. The melody comes later, by his reckoning. But for me, the melody is already there. To me, loops and riffs CAN have melody too. And Mick’s synth work on this track is melodious. A shining synth melody, twinned with an understated guitar riff. A short and bright riff.
Those opening lines! “Summer rains are here / savaged beauty life / falling here from grace” – knockout punch! Sorry, Jim Kerr, but that is abstract poetry right there! Almost a haiku – but at 5/5/5 syllables. All his lines in rhythm. 5/5/5 – 5/5/6 – 5/5/5 -2/2/2 – 2/2/2 – 5/5/5 – 5/5/6 – 5/5/6 – 2/2/2 – 2/2/2 – 5/5/5 – 5/6/6 – 5/5/6 – 2/2/2 – 2/2/2 (numbers representing the syllables per line of the song)
Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about what is fast becoming my final wish. To ask Jim about certain lines in this song. I don’t really know why it has been such a point of focus for me but that almost choral set of lines? The “ma son / warm land / semi monde” lines have fascinated me all these years. Especially the last of the set of three.
I read an interview. I’ve read so many early interviews. I never remember where I get what quote from where. But I remember Jim talking about his Da. About how, for a working class man, for a guy that was a builder’s labourer, he was “cultured”. But it was something he didn’t shout about or boast about. A man’s man! But he liked to be knowledgable and he liked reading and he liked the theatre. And he liked music, of course. Jim has memories of his dad taking him to Govanhill library as a wee boy to join the library and get his library card.
I think Jim became quite the “chip off the old block” insomuch as he loved his pals and his football and being a guy – your typical Glasgow boy. But something more was always calling. The desire for knowledge and a thirst for learning, for travel and of being “cultured” ensured he wasn’t going to be just another Glasgow boy. That a different path was laid out for him.
In this interview he had talked about seeing shows at the Citizens Theatre. He just vaguely brushed upon it, so I have no real clear reference of what he saw there and when. As far as I am aware, the Citizens was a serious playhouse. Not a place where you’d go and watch a pantomime or see a comedy performer.
Researching up on it – yes – it’s PROPER theatre! Where you’d see the likes of Shakespeare and Beckett. Ibsen and Brecht. And …. Noel Coward.
And so, it was in 1977, right in the middle of the UK punk explosion – where a group of Southside boys got together and made a racket under the rather lewd name of Johnny And The Self Abusers – a play Noel Coward had written in the 1920s, made its theatrical debut at the Citizens Theatre in the Gorbals.
Did the boy in the punk band go to “the Citz” to watch a play about 1920s “high society” nobs? Well, only he knows. Lord knows I have tried to ask him! Perhaps for some reason I can’t quite fathom he’s ashamed to confirm it? Or, conversely, he doesn’t want to admit to a denial? Either he’ll appear terribly “un-punk” for having been to such a play in 1977 or he’ll feel a let down for not appearing quite as “cultured” as he has alluded to in the past.
In the grand scheme of things, it matters very little. I have just always had an intrigue about the use of the term in the song and wondered if that (the play) was some vague spark that caused its usage.
It’s strange how some things can connect in ways you never expect. The Citizens has had its share of theatrical acting alumni come through its doors. One such talent was Pierce Brosnan, who had a stint plying his craft at the theatre around the time. He had a role in Semi Monde. And he (Brosnan) was my very first crush. There’s just something about those dark-haired, blue-eyed, Catholic, celtic boys, eh? They give me the “sucker punch”.
So, let’s just pretend that the inspiration for the use of the term was down to that – him actually seeing the play – rather than he just banged some French girl and she perhaps shouted it out in the throes of passion and he liked the sound of it and used it.
Can I be that French girl?!
Jim has recurring themes. A recurrence happens in the song Book Of Brilliant Things – “thank you for the voice, the eyes, and the memories shine”. But very similar lines are used (and as for as I am concerned, used superiorly) in Sons And Fascination – “thank you for the voice / thank you for the eyes / thank you for the good times”. They are used more emphatically in SAF.
He paints such a collage of things in the song. Of nature. Of a metropolis. Of motorcades: “golden guns and cars / styles and motorcades” and celebrations: “parades are leaving town”. I see 8mm film – images in my head of the things he sings about. Almost like a Pathé News reel.
It’s the cohesion of the album. It’s European travelogue. It’s a reflection of life in this point in time. It’s cinematic without being pompous. It’s a window. And it is still a reflection of what is influencing them musically but now also so very much their own! Their own voice! Their own image. Their stamp. Their mark! And, it’s indelible. For as much as it paints the picture of the now in 1981 – the Europe of 1981 – it has become timeless.
The song had the original working title of Sulphate. And it was one of those tracks Mick had worked on. One of the ones he had given to Jim on cassette. One of the ones that Jim fell in love with in his walks around Glasgow.
I absolutely adore Sons And Fascination. I’m so glad they worked with everything. That all the songs felt too precious to ditch anything and throw anything away. And I know it was done from the perspective of “wiping the slate clean”. But what a way to wipe the slate clean. What a way to blank a canvas!
Had they not done what they had done with Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call we may never have ended up with the album we got with New Gold Dream. And this is why I will forever hold Sons And Fascination in such esteem.
Inked on my skin.
I have a number of live versions as favourites. One is one that was recorded in San Francisco in November, 1981, specially for Billy Sloan’s show in Radio Clyde and aired in July, 1982, the night before a gig they had at Tiffany’s.
Another live favourite is a more up tempo version recorded from an FM broadcast, a Tiffany’s gig from December, 1981.
And we can’t leave it without a link to the album version. Masterful.
One final extra, if you’re interested in learning any more about it – links follow to a program on STV that aired a few years back about The Citizens.