Pleasantly Disturbed – New Hanging Around Books Release!

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A new release by Hanging Around Books sees images taken in 1978 by Laurie Evans feature in the book.

I feel ssooo bad as I made the horrendous assumption that Laurie is a man! My apologies, Laurie.

I’ve been waiting a while on this one as I had contacted Laurie some time back from seeing photos she’d taken of Jim on the banks of the Clyde years ago and enquired about prints. She told me of its imminent release then and I have been eagerly awaiting its arrival since then.

The book is officially released on Feb 28th but is available to pre-order.

Use the link below for order details.

https://hangingaroundbooks.com/products/simple-minds-pleasantly-disturbed-glasgow-edinburgh-1978

P.S. I don’t care how it sounds but – he is goddamn beautiful on that cover! There. It’s done.

Still Just A Small Taster

My collection of Virginia Turbett prints of Simple Minds grows slowly yet strongly. A new batch arrived last week and I wanted to show what is in it without comprising the copyright of Virginia’s images. This is still just a small taster, and probably now the last you will see.

The prints are of stunning quality. Trust me, if you decide to buy, you will NOT be disappointed. This video doesn’t do them full justice (I have to be careful not to show them at optimum resolution as they’ll just end up being taken and used) but I hope you can get some sense of how wonderful they are. Some are just truly iconic. The ones taken at Tavistock Square in 1980…the whole photo session is gorgeous.

If you are interested in prints, contact Virginia via her website at: www.virginiaturbett.com

More To The Collection

I think I have a final tally and “want” list with Virginia. I visited her on Saturday and came away with 13 original vintage prints and a big old list of digital prints to be done. It’ll be some collection at the end of it all….

Why I Love…Changeling

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The dancefloor. Frigging hell! Did Simple Minds know how to fill it back in the day. I guess they still do to be fair.

But let us rewind back to 1979. Rockfield Studios in the Welsh countryside. Five young men from Glasgow are in the studio making the followup to their debut album. An album that really couldn’t be more different to the first. They are still just babies, with the average age of them being just 20. They are still very much learning their craft. Recording in the studio next door are none other than Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Could life get any sweeter?

Yes it could. These five young men band together and make one of the best dance tracks of the late 1970’s as you are ever likely to hear.

OKAY! I’ll be the first to admit that…given all the changes in lyrics that Jim Kerr has made in SM songs over the years…esp. early on (he would rewrite songs entirely from demo to album recording), it’s quite a thing that there wasn’t a change made to the opening line to Changeling. I suppose that was the curse of there being no demos for Real To Real Cacophony. They went straight into recording.

The sticking point, lyrically, is that horrible propensity for snidey shits to take the mickey out of the opening line and continue to sing along to Wombling Free, which I’ve got to say…I don’t know what it does to Jim…but to me, it fucking pisses me off no end!

Perhaps we should concentrate on the musical structure of the song for now? Synths and bass opening with an instant dance hook. Drum grooves quickly follow and then a simplistic yet fab guitar riff. Industrial dance grooves. Fuck these boys were good at them! There’s nothing quite like this on Life In A Day. They hadn’t made a sound quite like this, yet…but boy does it signal the start of a very identifiable early “Simple Minds” signature sound. An aural “watermark”, if you will.

I really don’t know anyone who could listen to this track and not tap their feet or their hands and just get hooked in by the groove.

In spite of what the Arista execs hear at the UK HQ with Real To Real Cacophony in which they appear utterly dumbfounded, they do seem to make the right choice in having Changeling as the lead (but unfortunately subsequently ONLY) single off the album. How they didn’t then follow it up with Factory and Premonition is anyone’s guess. One can only assume they were already becoming concerned that SM was going to leak money hand over fist.

Changeling has no chart success, so one assumes that is why there are no other singles released from the Real To Real Cacophony album.

The failure of the single to chart can’t be down to it being deemed “not good enough” by the music consumer of the time? Just listen to it! Was it just overlooked from a then pretty flooded market? Singles at this point sold in their THOUSANDS every week. Albums had their importance then too, but the single was still king at this point. To the point where single picture sleeves were at their height. A single was packaged with as much of a visual selling point as an album was at this point in time. Every Simple Minds single released so far had been in a picture sleeve…Changeling being no exception. Did the picture sleeve “sell” the single? Hmmm…I’m unsure it did much. Life In A Day was certainly simplistic in its design, but it made an impact nonetheless. As for Chelsea Girl? She was on the mark. Jim was on the mark for wanting that Jean Shrimpton painting as the cover.

But for Changeling…I don’t know what a greyscale image of some hosepipe really tells you about the song. There’s a kind of industrial look to the cover, yes…but where I think the texture and simplicity of the Real To Real Cacophony album cover works to sell it (luring you in wondering what the hell this album is about as the cover actually gives NOTHING away by design) – that same simplistic approach falls flat for the Changeling single.

Back to the song itself. Let’s get back to those lyrics. Young Mr Kerr, what you on about, boy? Lol. For me, I gotta say that Changeling is a very rare beast in that it is all about the tune, the groove and not much about The Boy’s songwriting…for a change. I still love the words…but they mean fuck all. Lol. But hey….some of my absolute favourite Bowie songs are pure gobbledegook. The Burroughs technique has a lot to answer for, sometimes. I couldn’t write a song that means SOMETHING…let alone one that doesn’t really mean anything at all but sounds like it does anyway. And to me…that’s master craftsmanship.

In summary? In the simplest terms, it’s a dancefloor filler. Possibly Simple Minds’ first. At least one of the first, blazing a trail for more killers that follow…I Travel, Celebrate, This Fear Of Gods, Love Song, The American…the list goes on (and on and on 😜).

And that is why I love Changeling.

(PS: Jim can’t mime to save his life….but I bloody love him anyway!)

Why I Love … Today I Died Again

It’s that … cold war Europe sensibility and style it has. Actually, it’s more post-war (The Great War), 1930’s, really. It’s Christopher Isherwood Berlin. Not flappers and sharp-suited men…later…early 1930s….now more the time of “austerity” (and how relevant does it make this song now?!), mass unemployment – post Wall Street Crash and the Hoover Dam project and, In America, Roosevelt’s New Deal.

There’s an “austerity” to the song. The musicality of it. It starts slow and sparse. A very slow dum beat – echoey, long bending bass notes. And a very dreary, dour synth. There’s a bleakness to it. Lyrically, Jim sets up the scene, “the human drum beats a rhythm of life / the clothes he wears date back to the war”. Which war? In my mind, the Great War (WWI) – but most likely he means WWII – they are some mighty old clothes to be had for 1980, either way!

Moving on from those opening lines…the lyrics printed in the album’s sleeve have the next line as being “he talks a lot / often to himself” but it isn’t what Jim sings on the album. The line alters slightly…and brings you in more as a listener “you talk a lot / often to yourself”. Talking to oneself always deemed a sign of mental illness. “What’s the first sign of madness? You talk to yourself. What’s the second sign? You answer back!” So…who’s mad? The protagonist in the song? Or you, the listener?

With the imagery I get from early Simple Minds songs, in particular, it’s very prescient that Jim should use the line “paint me a picture” because it is exactly what his lyrics do for me. They paint me a picture. They create a whole scene, in fact. A whole little play. It varies from still images as a slideshow, an actual painting on its own, or a short movie.

He goes on “America can fall”. The love of Capitalism its fall? The Wall Street Crash? Was he prophesying the second crash that is to come in 1987?

The title itself…and the lines expressing it are the most curious. There’s really a strong expression of nihilism and even oppression in it…with little recourse of showing a way out – as the most optimistic of Simple Minds songs will convey. And as much as I draw strength from the upbeat and optimistic SM tracks…I can draw, if not out and out positivity from the more “dour” of SM tracks, I can gain a strength and a resolve from them all the same.

There’s a nostalgic look back to “better days” within the lyrics too. “Back to a year / back to a youth. Of men in church and drug cabarets” hence my feeling of the setting of the song, time wise, as being the 1930s. Namecheck for the album “is this the age of empires and dance? Oh, what a world…”

There is so much of this album that is “film noir”. I don’t think I will ever fall out of love with it.

The last 90 seconds of the song is just the culmination of all of its components. Jim’s title of the song hauntingly just bending and weaving and echoing. The instruments building on a crescendo…and that final 30 seconds in which Brian increases the pace of the beat with added lovely cymbal splashes. Just … mwah! Perfection.

And then we fade away and on into Celebrate (which I have previously tried to put into words as to why I love without using just the single word “PHWOAR!” to suffice. Lol)

If Today I Died Again was represented by a painting, it would be this (for me)…
It is titled “Self-Portrait with Model” (1916) painted by Erich Heckel. The very same artist whose work inspired cover art for the albums “Heroes” by David Bowie and The Idiot by Iggy Pop.

And that is why I love Today I Died Again.

When One Thing Leads To Another – And What Things!

A couple of days ago, I saw an FB friend tag Brian McGee, mentioning him in a post and it suddenly had me thinking “I’ve not really seen much from Brian of late, and he friended me a while back. Has he just not been posting? Or has FB been glitching and not been showing me his updates? So I went looking at his FB profile to see.

And well, it would seem, a bit of both things happened. Brian doesn’t post TOO often, but I had also not seen any recent posts. One in particular escaped my attention from the end of September. A post Brian had been tagged in, from Jaine Henderson…with a gem of a photo within it.

Before doing this post, I had contacted Jaine to ask permission to share the photo here. It’s one thing that she put it on FB and tagged Brian (which in turn means Brian’s friends, and friends of friends can see it…it has a limited publicity), quite another thing to have it here, so I thought it best to at least try and seek permission.

I am yet to get a reply, so, with some trepidation, I will share it here in the hope it is okay, as it actually has been open to public eyes. Neither Jaine nor Brian seem to know who the photographer is…but it was obviously someone in “the gang”.

It’s just a great snapshot. Those ties!! That wallpaper! Lol. OMG – Joe looks like a BABY! Lol (And he’s older than Jim! Only by a few months.) Brian in those shades. JIM WITH A GUITAR?! WTF?! Obviously just a prop. And his shades too! Lol

I must admit when I first saw it, Brian stuck out instantly. I mean it’s on his FB timeline, but I recognised him straight off. And then over to the right side of the photo I was looking, thinking “that looks for ALL THE WORLD like Jim – but he’s got a guitar?! Surely not!”

Reading the comments revealed with certainty who was in the picture:
From left to right: Joe Donnelly, Brian McGee, Tony Donald, Jim Kerr

One question posed by someone in the comments wondered if Charlie Burchill had taken the photo. No one seemed sure. Brian thinks the photo dates from around 1976.

Let’s hope it’s okay to stay here. If not, of course I will remove at once!

UPDATE: Permission kindly granted. Thank you, Jaine 🙂