And why not…
There is a path that leads me here to this post. A path that was an unexpected but wonderful stroll. The stroll continues, still. I’m not sure how much of this I can explain. Best to keep it a bit cryptic and vague. We love ambiguity – ain’t that right, Jim?
Suffice it to say one thing led to another.
There is a Sons And Fascination link here. Or should that be “Sons And Fascist Nations”? An explanation of that in due course.
A couple of my most prized possessions in my Simple Minds collection are copies of albums produced for the overseas market. One album released for the U.S. market via Stiff Records was titled Themes For Great Cities and was a compilation of tracks from Real To Real Cacophony (Premonition) to several tracks from Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. The other is a version of the Sons And Fascination album released by Virgin Records for the Central American market.
There are patterns on the cover. The artwork by the one and only Mr Malcolm Garrett, with photography by Peter Anderson. You can see shapes and a figure. I could see a figure on these covers.
Then there is the reissue of I Travel by Virgin Records in 1983 which bares a photo of Jim, taken by graphic designer Garry Mouat, on stage in motion as if marching. “In central Europe men are marching” always springs to mind seeing that cover. What I never really took in is what appears in the overlay of the photo of Jim and I didn’t see it properly until Malcolm was kind enough to show me this…
I did see that something was overlaid on the photo of Jim but what I didn’t know was that it was a variation on the figure seen on the Stiff Records “Themes” release and Mexican version of SAF.
I also missed the very obvious figure on the Sweat In Bullet sleeve art. Mostly due to the fact the figure has the head of a photo of Elizabeth Taylor.
And so…why did I alter the title of the album to “Sons And Fascist Nations” earlier, I hear you ask? Well, here’s the thing. In talking to Malcolm about the album cover photoshoot with Sheila Rock and asking him about the cars, we got to talking about other art relevant to the Sons And Fascination period. He told me about certain things that inspired some of the cover art. This included him telling me about the image above and that it was inspired by similar figures like it that had appeared in a book he had seen. The book in question is called “Mostra Della Rivoluzione Fascista”. Issued in 1932 to be a compendium to an exhibition on Fascist propaganda – a “celebration” of the 10th anniversary of Mussolini’s march on Rome. Seemingly exhibited in a building erected specifically for this solitary purpose – also known as the “Mostra Della Rivoluzione Fascista”. The exhibition proved so popular that it extended beyond its initial intended six month run and ran for two years. It was seen by almost 4 million visitors by its close towards the end of 1934.
You can view selected pages of the book by clicking HERE
I will state here Malcolm’s initial reluctance to have me write and publish this post and he had approval of this before posting. And I do understand the reluctance. You wouldn’t want to be seen condoning Fascism! But it’s about art and the aesthetic and not the political. Well, that is how I see it. This post nor we as individuals are condoning Fascism! But when it came to the use of the “Marching Men” (as they have come to be called during our conversations) and the line in I Travel “in central Europe men are marching” (long since changed by Jim since he now always sings “all over men are marching”). It conjured up the exact imagery used on the Virgin released I Travel cover.
I missed the image of the Marching Man on the Sweat In Bullet cover, yes, and I don’t see the link quite as obviously as with I Travel but listening over some of the lyrics then… it could be “ambition in motion” or to “grow in size” or to “grow more / take more” that makes it fit?
Either way, all four covers featuring the Marching Men are striking and impressive. And they certainly make a statement.
Another short point – as I was researching to do other posts that were SAF/SFC themed, I shared an article from New Sounds New Styles printed in 1981. Ian Cranna interviewed Jim for the piece. Check out the magazine layout! Guess who was behind the layout of New Sounds New Styles? Yes! You got it!
By this point, the band had only appeared on the back cover of their albums. On Life In A Day they were on the back cover and also on the back of Empires And Dance. Inner sleeves too. But only the inner sleeve of Real To Real Cacophony. Not up to this point on the FRONT COVER of an album. Not until Sons And Fascination. They were reluctant and the images of them are somewhat obscured but the images reflect the movement and motion of the music contained within. The “travelogue” musical sensibility of the album. It was a masterstroke. Perfectly encapsulating the audiovisual.
I find the whole aspect of the cover art for the Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call albums and singles…erm…fascinating. And if I do then I thought others would too.
Below are a couple of YouTube clips showing footage of the Mostra Della Rivoluzione Fascista, including a modern day (in Italian) look back at the exhibition as well as footage from the time of a visit to the exhibition from Mussolini himself!
A massive thank you to Malcolm Garrett for allowing me to tell the story of the Marching Men images and what inspired them into being.
I have over the past few days found myself super intrigued by the artwork of the Neon Lights album.
I suddenly started to wonder who designed it, and more importantly, who wrote out the tracklisting on the cassette cover. It didn’t seem like it was Jim’s writing but I couldn’t help but think how awesome that would have been had he written it out. It’s one of the things I love about the cover art of Life In A Day, that Jim has hand written the credit notes.
So that had me thinking about what a great choice for a cover design it (Neon Lights) was and who had been behind it.
I was surprised (and somewhat disappointed) to learn that, looking into it, it was a team of artists at a design and marketing firm in The Netherlands that came up with it.
As a consequence of trying to learn more about the cover art, it had me at the Dream Giver site (which turned into me being Alice spiralling down the rabbit hole!), reading an article – and interview with Jim – printed in The Scottish Sunday Times on September 23rd, 2001.
I started to read it. It was a very frank interview. My focus soon turned to something else (though still wanting to find out about the Neon Lights cover art).
I’ll link to the interview at the end of the post, but in it Jim talked about (among other things) his relationships with Chrissie and Patsy and he described them as “women of their time”.
Seems a bit of a pigeonhole to put them in…
Like, they were “flavour of the month”.
That can’t be though.
Then again, he goes on to say… (interview excerpt below)
If the arrangement sounds a bit too cosy, it is. “I might make it sound like there was logic to the break-up of my relationships, but there were periods of disillusionment, fears, chaos and sadness,” he says.
“I was never the one to give in. That’s part of the modern way. People give in, because they can.
“The magazines suggest if you’re not having ten orgasms a night or you’re not having eight holidays a year then you’re not having a great life. Expectations are very high. If it doesn’t happen, then they’re off. But the fallout when it goes wrong is awful. I just thought: ‘I could do without this for a while and it’s better not to get involved.’ I wouldn’t trade those moments or emotions for anything but I’d be wary of them should they crop up again.”
Have they? “No. Marriage is about ‘the one’ and I don’t believe in that any more. It’s great if it works out but it’s a tall order. Now I think if there is a right person, they’re right for you at that period in your life.”
“That period in your life”? Okay, I get the idea of considering things in a finite way. I mean our LIVES are finite and there’s an element of the realist “self-preservation” not to get yourself caught up with the fairies with a rose-tinted glasses view… but…
I don’t know. The article just had me thinking about things. It’s never a thing that I feel comfortable in talking about – even if he did seemingly discuss this in public in a newspaper.
But I admit I have wondered for a while now how you become someone who he holds dear. Really dear. Someone who he sticks by – because it seems quite a rare thing from the outside. Rarer than the veneer seems to give off.
Esp. in terms of the opposite sex. I mean, how many people GENUINELY stay good friends with exes? I know there are children involved – but beyond that, or in spite of that – not many are successful at it.
I mean, in my own very limited experience of ex-relationships…or just…RELATIONSHIPS, full stop… I’ve had one other previous relationship and one rather…intense friendship, I guess you’d say.
My only other lasting intimate relationship, was with a boyfriend I had for about 18 months. I had just turned 19 when we met. We broke up because (in retrospect rightly so) he had had enough of my constant jealousy.
I didn’t see him for a while after we broke up. But then he started to come round and visit me. It became “friends with benefits” even though I knew he was with someone else (the person he broke up with me to be with). And I almost did a very, VERY bad thing. Full, honest, disclosure here – for a brief amount of the “friends with benefits” time – I tried to fall pregnant. NOT to trap him! I had no plan to tell him I was even pregnant. I had no intention of ever telling him I was pregnant and that he was a father. I was at a point where I was so wanting to be loved that I thought having a child would be the way to get love.
I very quickly came to my senses. And luckily before I ever succeeded in getting pregnant! I mean, geez. I’d have loved the kid had it happened – but, other than this brief time – this crazy little window of a few months – I have not wanted to be a parent. I have constantly doubted my ability to be anything like a responsible person and certainly did not want to subject anybody to a world that I feel, for the most part, offers much more bad than good.
Have I ever had any friendships from past “relationships”? Lol. One steady boyfriend and a total of three sexual partners (the boyfriend being one of the three) – no! Not seen or heard of or from any of them for over 25 years.
My longest lasting friendship is with a guy. We met when I was still dating my boyfriend. We’ve been friends (with periods of no contact) for over 30 years. But, he was never an ex. But it is how the first period of no contact came about. He wanted more than friendship. I didn’t. The friendship strained. I loved him. Absolutely loved him. I still do. He was there for me at my mum’s funeral in 2019. He means the world to me! But I was never “in love” with him. I broke his heart. And he still loves me. He still tells me! And he is so strong and so amazing, and he has two beautiful daughters.
It feels very exposing to talk like this. But that is the extent of my “past relationships” experience. An ex-boyfriend and two ex…”lovers”, I guess you’d call them. I dunno. I was never into one night stands, so they were guys I knew, but we weren’t dating. It’s another lifetime ago anyway.
Back to Jim, and the pondering of relationships with exes. I am reminded of “the good ex” comment that a lady left a few years back on a post Jim put up on SM FB. I think it was when Chrissie’s memoir came out and he posted about it. The comment read “You’re a really, really good ex!” And Jim replied with, “True. I am the best ex on the planet…was always an ambition!” Lol.
I know it’s his silly, flippant sense of humour at play to a degree – but he DOES seem to have a point!
I have been pondering this for some time now…what makes a friendship with Jim Kerr endure? What’s the secret? What’s the special ingredient? It’s just a question that endlessly intrigues me that I have endlessly pondered for about…just a little under 5 years now.
From about the time he posted this…
It made a profound impact on me, this post, even back then. I found it very telling. Telling of what, exactly, I’m really sure. I don’t know. I seemed to read something into it at the time, and it has always stayed with me.
Anyway…this has been a very long-winded post that meandered so far away from its original purpose that…geez, I’m not even sure WHERE we ended up, but there you go! It’s Saturday night in mid January in Glasgow – during a lockdown in the midst of a pandemic – what else is there to do?
Anyone with any theories on how to be Jim’s friend for a REALLY long time? Then let me know…
Interview in the Scottish Sunday Times HERE
This piece of magic.
I know I did the mash up superimposing of the two images BUT…
Jim Kerr – I will love you all the rest of the days of my life for what you did for me as a consequence of me having a small bout of bravado and boastfulness.
I would have loved you anyway. I do love you. I always will. Nowt you can do about it now, Kerr! 😘😜
Beautiful. The artwork. You. The way you made me feel about myself. The way I felt that day. All of it.
Now, I don’t normally name fellow SM fans commenting and sharing things on SM groups on my blog, especially when things are shared by fans on private groups – but the Simple Minds Official Group is a public group and Otto deserves a shoutout for such a brilliant thing.
In my wildest dreams I’d have loved to have replicated this artwork with real badges, but I was more than happy with a signed lithograph version framed on my wall.
Not good enough for Otto. He went one better! He collated all the still images used by Stuart Crouch for the design of the badges and went and had ALL 233 BADGES MADE AND PRINTED! How fucking amazing is that?!
I salute you, Otto! That’s fabulous work, my friend. Well done!
If I could have just ONE of those badges, it would be the one towards the top left of the heart – a still of Jim from Top Of The Pops – of their debut on it performing Promised You A Miracle. Jim’s in “the jaiket”. Delicious!
I worked on two art pieces yesterday. The first one…I knew what I wanted from it, but it didn’t really come together. I’m not sure I like it. I love him on that Whistle Test appearance though ❤️❤️
The other was going to be another attempt, but it quickly morphed into something else and took shape quite fast. Then it started to look like Lostboy! AKA artwork and well…that’s where we ended up.
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”?
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