The poster arrived today. It looks REAL good! I want it on the wall already but the current frames I have, it won’t fit in properly. I’ll lose detail, I think. It seems wider than the frame so I’d lose detail on Jim and/or Brian if I framed it in one of my current frames. Damn it! I thought I’d be getting it up on the wall in a day or two!
Released in May, 1981 – while the band are still busily recording the Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call albums, the first of the singles of the album is rushed out.
But as “rush jobs” go, it has been a mainstay in the Simple Minds live set…well, since even BEFORE it was recorded in the studio and released as a single.
Well, so the Dream Giver site says but when I look at setlists from the March tour I see Sweat In Bullet on the setlist and not The American. Also there is a mention on the page about the March ‘81 tour that Careful In Career and Love Song had been written earlier in the year and already getting live airings. Which makes The American an odd choice for a first release single. Why not Sweat In Bullet or Love Song? I guess the desire to give a thirsty public something completely fresh and new won out (though you’d have thought only the small-ish contingent of die hard Minds fans would be the only ones familiar with the new tracks from the March setlist?).
Anyway, I suppose I’m splitting hairs. The point remains that the single is braw (“very good” for the non Scots reading this). And if only Simple Minds would give their still incredibly thirsty fanbase new material like this these days – and this quickly! No such luck. It’s all such a corporatocracy now. Music as “commodity”. No. We release singles as one new song tagged on to a “best of” album. Yet ANOTHER “best of” album. Sorry, but, yeah. I never like to criticise the band much but, one “new” song attached to a “best of” album, and a whole tour based around that?! Well, in retrospect, maybe a pandemic was just what this band needed to get a bomb up its arse and think about just WHAT their fanbase wants or DESERVES.
I’m sure Jim will not be best pleased with what I have written just above. But then again, he probably doesn’t give two shits, which is how things have felt this past year in the Simple Minds fandom, to be honest. YES! He keeps talking about new material and a new album, but then it gets handed over to record company fucking bureaucratic red tape shit. FUCK! JUST GIVE US SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO BEYOND PROMISES! JESUS CHRIST!
Hey ho. I guess the Minds story will come to an end soon enough anyway, so why does it matter?
ANYWAY! The American! Let’s celebrate The American. The rush job of a single that still has the fanbase singing their lungs out to this day. I can’t be begrudging ANOTHER “hits” tour when I have so much love for songs like The American now, can I? It has appeared on many a tour over the years, with short rests during the Street Fighting Years and Real Life tours and just the odd absence from there.
There is a demo version of the song that got a release on the 2004 mega compilation, Silver Box. It’s all pretty much there. The final studio release was refined and honed.
I find the 12” extended version of the song much better than the album version. The album version is great too, just…a bit short. Still, I guess everything that appeared on Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call was pushing for space. So much so that the LEAD single from the sessions doesn’t even get put on the lead album but on its twinned “sister extra”.
The 12” also gets a highlight on the wonderful Themes sets – on Volume 1 of the releases. As well as that, in the late nineties, there is an “Interference Mix” of the song released. It remains a solid favourite of mine of the Simple Minds remixes that have been produced.
The earliest live appearance I can find on a bootleg is at the Futurama 3 gig at Bingley Hall in Stafford on Sept. 6th, 1981. The infamous one where Jim is “as crook as Rookwood”, as we say in Oz (ie: feeling very unwell). It’s audible, to the point where it sounds to me that Jim sings “here comes the meds” during the second run of the “chorus”. There is a lot of dead air where he normally would be singing. And Derek gives the sign off at the end of the song for the end of the gig. I guess Jim is off puking again by this point?
Another favourite involves “early days” footage of the band on French TV performing it live. Jim is partly clothed in my favourite combo, in his riding boots and baggy white troosers. (And in a fairly figure-hugging white t-shirt as well – his chest looks frigging awesome! OMG!) He also does some wrapping of the mic cord around his elbow and he just makes shapes and is just the sexiest thing alive! Beautiful! He’s beautiful.
But I digress!
The most “recent” (some recent to my ears anyway) versions I have really enjoyed have been the live acoustic version (not the studio version on the Acoustic album – that never really sat well with me for some reason) but also the version I heard from the Good News From The Next World tour. It was a return of the song on the setlist after an absence of some eight years. I heard a version of it from the gig at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on 10th September, 1995. Jim actually sings all the BV lines! The “across a curved earth / Nassau club days / in collective fame / the eventful workouts” lines. I nearly lost my shit hearing it for the first time. It was late at night but inwardly I was shouting, “HE’S DOING THE LINES! HE’S DOING THE LINES!” Lol. I was ssooo happy!
In light of what I said earlier in this post, The American is one song I would be happy to keep on the setlist. It is a firm favourite of mine at gigs and one I am guaranteed to dance and sing along to. But I would be absolutely OVER THE MOON if more tracks from Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call were performed. The only tracks with almost concrete affirmation to stay on the setlist are, The American, Love Song and Theme For Great Cities. The only other track I’ve had the privilege of hearing performed live in front of me from the albums is This Earth That You Walk Upon. I’d love to hear Sweat In Bullet or Sons And Fascination itself, or Seeing Out The Angel or In Trance As Mission. Anything really.
Speaking of “rush jobs” – the cover! Malcolm Garrett was given just 48 hours to come up with something for the cover of the single – his first design for Simple Minds. His time at the cover design helm for the band saw a number of iconic covers produced, the pinnacle of these, for many, being New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). But the start of the working relationship with Assorted iMaGes the band had was through the first work of The American. The cover holds personal significance for me, given how Malcolm collected the images together and how I make my own art.
Overall, the 12” version as well as many live versions are my favourites of The American, so for this week’s Minds Music Monday, let’s say happy (almost!) 40th anniversary to the AMERI-AMERI-AMERI-AMEREE-AMERICAAAN!
It’s the 18th of November, 1982 and Mel Gaynor is making his live debut for Simple Minds as they play to a raucous home crowd at Tiffany’s in the “Dear Green Place”. Mel’s an accomplished drummer, no question there! But he’s still learning the SM repertoire of songs. Of course he’s familiar enough with what’s on New Gold Dream – it’s his drumming on about 70% of the album’s output. But as for the rest of the Simple Minds catalogue? He had to learn pretty quick!
Mike Ogletree was touring with them through all of 1982 and for whatever reason (he just didn’t quite fit? Who knows? All I know is I have grown a huge amount of respect for Mike over the past six months or so listening to all these bootlegs) they parted ways. I think Mike will always have a subtleness in his playing that Mel lacks (or perhaps just doesn’t use as often – he’s a hitter). And well, I guess Simple Minds probably wouldn’t have sounded QUITE so bombastic on Sparkle In The Rain and Once Upon A Time without Mel behind the kit. It’s an interesting supposition to ponder how things might have progressed with Mike there.
Speaking of Once Upon A Time and the sessions around it (and the reason behind this whole MMM post) – take a listen to this version of Sweat In Bullet from Mel’s debut gig. Is it just me…or does it sound like he’s about to start off playing Don’t You (Forget About Me)? I was genuinely perplexed when the song starts, it’s only when Jim intros it as Sweat In Bullet did I have any idea of what it’s actually meant to be! Lol. Just two nights later at Newcastle and Mel has the rhythm of the song sussed and it’s sounding more like it should. By far one of, if not THE funkiest track Simple Minds have ever produced.
Let me know what you guys think. Do you hear the hallmarks of Mel’s “Don’t You” intro on it?
I’d love to know more about when and where this video of Love Song was done (ie: which music program, which country and when – 1981 is all I got)! Answers on a postcard.
At least I know a tad more about the Hear Here appearance and thank fuck they were allowed to perform live! I’ve never got music shows that have bands on and then don’t let them play live. What is the bloody point of having them on if they don’t play live?!
Anyway, enjoy these two in a bit more clarity than before.
Ever wondered about those two blurred beauties photographed in action on the covers of Love Song and Sons And Fascination (and no, I don’t mean Jim and Charlie. Lol)?
Well, I can tell you they are two 1960s American classic cars. One is a red 1969 Plymouth Sport Fury and the other is a black 1964 Cadillac Fleetwood. I think we can agree that these beauties are as much the stars of the cover art of these releases as much as Simple Minds are themselves, no?
You can read more about the Love Song/Sons And Fascination cover art by visiting the Dream Giver info page HERE
The YouTube clips below show the cars in their glory. Obviously not the EXACT ones on the covers, but the same makes and models. The cars aren’t the same colour but it’s such a fab/naff advert for the Plymouth and PETULA CLARK sings the blooming jingle! And just being able to hear the sound of the Cadillac engine – OMG…pure car p0rn!
Thanks to MX for the additional information on the cars.
In a small village called Little Chalfont, in the Buckinghamshire countryside near the town of Amersham…. five band members and a producer that they (the band) admit to having slight reservations about (they wanted Todd Rundgren but he only worked out of Sigma Sound in New York and Virgin deemed the idea too expensive to hire him, then it was proposed they use Martin Rushent but he was unavailable, or Steve Lillywhite but he was deemed too expensive also at that point in time) enter a recording studio and started to record what would be, for me, quite possibly their most remarkable album(s). There may have been trepidation to start with. And it may have continued to be fraught with indecision, but what sprang forth from it, in hindsight, is…wondrous!
Steve Hillage sounded the least authoritarian producer you could wish for, which one could argue wasn’t what a still fledgeling Simple Minds needed at that point – their three album recording history with John Leckie meant that it was an entirely unknown dynamic for the boys when they entered Farmyard Studios with “old Cabbage Head” to record their 4th and 5th albums. They sounded as if they needed the discipline that Hillage lacked giving them – at the time – but it also released something profound too. Perhaps a modicum of freedom that they needed? Yes, it meant they were indecisive about which songs to work on, but wow! I mean, talk about spoilt for choice when you feel your hands are tied and say “we’ll take them all in!”
Perhaps this is why we’ll never see a Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call boxset? Do we have it all already? Well…I can’t imagine that is true! Just last night on the Dream Giver site I read about demos that were recorded at CaVa Studios in Glasgow. And when I interviewed Jaine Henderson a couple of years back she had told me that initially Love Song was offered to her by Jim to perform and record. Imagine it! What would be their biggest hit of the time – until Promised You A Miracle is released 12 months later – might not have even been a Simple Minds hit! Jaine wasn’t persuaded. She wasn’t a singer or performer.
I’m guessing those CaVa demos are what ended up on the Silver Box set that Virgin brought out in 2004? There are demo versions of Love Song, The American, Careful In Career and Sweat In Bullet on there – as well as (dare I mention it?) the forgotten Life In Oils – which fell somewhere between the tracks of Empires And Dance and Sons/Sister. Already too much new stuff they were working on as the Sons/Sister sessions started, it got ditched, much to mine and John Leckie’s consternation.
They nearly called him (Leckie) back into the studio, they ended up so directionless with Hillage – but would we have ended up with what now feels like such a rich tapestry? The album needed to formulate and end up shaped in the way it was. A bulging overspill of creative energy. A band oozing with an abundance that sees them on the cusp of something grand. You can feel it. You can almost taste it! With long hindsight, and even with its (SUBTLE) imperfections both Jim and Charlie value it for the creative tour de force it was.
For your listening pleasure – a fantastic recording of them made in San Fransisco while they were on tour. Recorded by Frank Gallagher, no less, and aired exclusively on Billy Sloan’s radio show for Clyde Radio back in July, 1982. I’m assuming the recording was made the previous November as they played San Fransisco on November 7th, 1981. They didn’t tour the U.S. again until 1983 and SAF was no longer on the the setlist by then.
Art & Talk has been busy leading up to Easter and gave us TWO gigs from the Floating World Tour of 2002 to enjoy over the weekend period.
One is a 10 track FM Broadcast from Amsterdam. The other, from 10 days later, is a full setlist gig at a winery in California.
I haven’t listened to either of them yet, but will do in the days to come. I’ve had another task at hand, which has had me going over gigs from my favourite period – forever stuck in 1982. Lol
I guess there’s trepidation for me, as I start to hear conflicting things from the fanbase for gigs around this era. Early SM gigs are pretty much universally lauded, as much as they are now (with only a small contingent of sour puss’s brandishing all the same old tired-out drivel “the band ain’t the band any more. They’re like a tribute act these days” ya da fucking ya da), but during this kinda of middling period, they seem a bit more hit and miss. But I won’t know unless I listen to them myself! One man’s meat is another man’s poison…as the saying goes.
Not much new content from the band performed with this tour – we only hear Spaceface from the first gig, and One Step Closer is added for the second. It smacks of not being TOO assured of your new output to only have a couple of newbies in your setlist.
Anyways, enough waffling – get your lugholes round them!
It is with some level of trepidation that I explore live output from Simple Minds in 1995. Mostly just to do with my silly hang up about Jim’s style of singing during that period.
But with yet ANOTHER new upload from Art&Talk (YouTuber of eternal mystery…), I felt almost duty bound to take the plunge and listen to the gig uploaded. That namely – a gig from the Good News From The Next World tour of them at the Royal Concert Hall on September 10th, 1995.
We start things off with a pretty stellar version of She’s A River. Full version, and so new still (although already several months old) that Jim ACTUALLY REMEMBERS the words! 😱😱😱😘😜
Then into a bit of a curveball for the period and into Up On The Catwalk. Quite enjoyed that too.
From early on you get a real feel for the atmosphere of the gig. You can also sense how much live production techniques have refined and changed over the past 15 years (up to 1995) as everything sounds pretty crystal clear – from Jim’s breathlessness to the crowd going apeshit when he asks of them “everything okay?” – the only thing that gets lost in the mix at times is the crowd singing along, which isn’t an entirely bad thing IMHO.
See The Lights was also great. But then, for me, the highlight. The jaw-drop moment. The one that almost had me throwing myself out of bed and doing cartwheels on the bedroom floor – The American. But not just ANY OLD VERSION of the song but one in which Jim actually SANG THE BV LINES! The “across a curved earth, Nassau club days, in collective fame, the eventful work-outs” – I nearly wet myself with excitement! I mean…he NEVER sang those lines live that I have ever been aware of – before or since! In the early days he’d do the “here comes the flag, I’m walking in the black” lines and also do “hand shake, this world, here comes the flag” lines – but never those BV lines!
I wanted to be able to up jump back in time, crawl through some kind of wormhole and just kiss him all over and shag his brains out! Lol – fuck! Goddamn!!!
I’d sell my fucking eyeballs off if he sang those lines again. I’d even be happy with the “hand shake, this world, here comes the flag” lines these days!
I think this will now – singularly – be my favourite live version of The American … EVER! And if you told me that THAT was going to happen from listening to this gig, I’d have never believed you!
I grinned like a Cheshire cat through the whole song. In actual fact, I was mostly like THIS through it (and grinning like a loon when I allowed myself to close my mouth a little. Lol)
But after the joy of The American came the mixed bag of Big Sleep. Great that Jim (again!) was great with the lyrics (he was on a roll at this gig) – but he was veering into the singing style that grates on me a little too much with this version. But! Having said that it wasn’t the complete turn off from some versions of it I have heard. Also…it was short. Literally half the length the song usually is – particularly live. I suppose that was probably a good thing.
Back on the up again with a cracking version of Great Leap Forward. A decent enough version of SSIS (not sure Mark Schulman quite had the feel of the drumming on that right, but perhaps I am being pernickety?) sandwiched between a pretty cracking Hypnotised.
Let There Be Love from that period had us ‘coming’ “like an ocean” twice! Lol (Don’t mind if I do, Jim. Fucking Tsunami, I reckon, if you ever … erm … “came” near me like that! Lol – Noah would need the ark! And then some …😂😂😂😂)
Belfast Child? Did it work at that point, played like that? Hmmm, jury’s out. I liked the line change “peace is raging through the Emerald Isle” of the time. It still took a few more years to get there from that point – but it did get there in the end.
Back to Jim being the “blues crooner” during the medley of Roadhouse Blues and into Waterfront. I can’t be too dismissive of him for that. Given the choice between Jims Morrison and Kerr and which one has the more sex appeal for me – THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING CONTEST – sorry Mr Morrison. I appreciate the sex appeal you exuded, I do…but, you are not the Jim for me (though I am pretty sure I’d have had a hard time saying no to you had I ever found myself in your presence).
The crowd interaction, Jim talking to the punters…still extolling lovingly of Glasgow.
We then go into Love Song and as much as I am enjoying this gig, sleep is starting to take hold of me. I start to fall into a dwam and Love Song and it’s slight medley into Glory begin to elude me as I fall deeper in. I barely hear the beginnings of Alive And Kicking and am almost fully asleep by the time the song ends. The rapturous applause by the crowd is what rouses me back from my ever deepening dwam.
I am fully awake once more for the encore which begins with And The Band Played On. Everything performed from the Good News album gets a solid thumbs up from me.
And…knowing that we were into the encore and with it yet to make an appearance, I was dreading the inevitable appearance of Don’t You (Forget About Me). And…there she blows! Penultimate song of the night! Never as bad a thing to endure when you’re in amongst the crowd and you let yourself get caught up in the sing-a-long, nostalgia-trip-fest – but other than that, I derive very little enjoyment from it these days. God, I’d have LOVED the 5×5 Live Tour (and I bet they bloody LOVED having a tour that the song didn’t have to be part of since 1985!) – a whole tour in which you NEVER had to endure DYFAM – what a dream! I know! It sounds like I hate the song. I don’t! What I hate is how overplayed it is! What I hate is knowing I’ll have to hear it at every single Simple Minds gig I ever attend for all the rest of my days. What I hate is…pretending that I really enjoy hearing it at every damned gig and feeling implored to sing “la la las” for five fucking minutes while Jim takes a few minutes break from singing.
Final song is…the final song I ever heard being performed live… Sanctify Yourself. Again…upon reflection – I’d have LOVED 5×5 Live because with no DYFAM also comes no Alive And Kicking and no Sanctify Yourself. I’d have to double check it, but I am pretty sure these three songs have either been the final three songs or within the final five songs (in a slightly altered and reversed order) of the set at EVERY SM gig I’ve been to – and that’s 22 of them (23 if you count that I actually attended both shows at Copenhagen).
I’m sorry to say it, but I stopped listening. Tiredness was taking over and my patience was wearing thin so…I switched off.
BUT! I really enjoyed the gig, and apart from most likely skipping the final two tracks (if I had been there, I might have pissed off home a bit early, at least I could catch the 75 back home before everyone else needing it piled on 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻), I’d definitely listen to it again. And…THE AMERICAN! THE AMERICAN was fab!
There’s been a recent newcomer on YouTube, uploading SM bootlegs. Some I really enjoyed as they were of a fairly decent quality – others …. not so great.
The most recent upload I was really excited to see was another from the tail end of 1982 – my all time favourite period for listening to them live.
I started to tune in last night but I quickly stopped, disappointed that the quality of the audio just WASN’T there.
They had shared the upload on one of the SM fan group pages with a cheeky “Art & Talk who???” comment. Lol
Well, if you’re going to be full of bravado about it, then honestly, A&T has nothing to fear because A&T uploads QUALITY!
I’ll even delve into periods of the band I am not so enamoured with because I know the sound quality of the bootleg will be “to a standard”. It is why I listened to the Glastonbury set a few nights ago. As much as I love the Good News From The Next World album, and as great as the band was live at the time, there is an element of Jim’s singing voice at that period that grates on me. I don’t really know what it is – I just don’t like the way he sounds at that point. It’s mostly to do with word annunciations and nuances in pronunciations of words – kind of “American mid-west crooner” kind of style. Or more … over-emphasised “blues man”. It just sounds false and kind of protracted and laboured. It wasn’t so pronounced at the Glastonbury gig so I did enjoy it but other gigs from the time, his voice just gets on my tits and I have to stop listening (sorry, Jim!).
So, yes, the quality of A&T’s uploads means I *will* listen to things I normally wouldn’t. Not always. Some I still haven’t dabbled in – but I’ll get around to it.
Of course there are some points in the history of the band’s bootlegs in which it will be nigh on impossible to have quality recordings. Unless they actually had made recordings for radio, etc, and they were professionally recorded, there is going to be little quality around.
And still, for my own level of interest in wanting to listen to bootlegs – quality is key. It is why I shied away from dabbling into bootlegs for so long. One) the general poor quality of recordings, and two) I wasn’t overly into live music when I first got into the band. That has changed massively since being a SM fan and now I really enjoy the live music experience. And I actually find the bootleg experience to be a much better (and truer) representation of what it is like being at a gig than a more professionally recorded thing with full production techniques and “in studio ‘enhancements’” and overdubs made to them.
I want to hear the crowd! Yes, I hate having some bloke being a pub singer right next to me and wailing over the top so I end up hearing much more of them than I do of Jim! But I’d prefer that than to no crowd noise at all and Jim’s voice sounding perfectly audible … almost as if he had gone and recorded his voice in a studio 🤨🤔🤔
If you’re going to give me a live album – make it LIVE. Don’t fiddle with it! Give me the imperfections and the crowd noise.
Still, one wonders exactly HOW MUCH is *live* at the gigs these days. Well, not much at the moment in good old Covid World.
But I digress.
Bootlegs – they need to be of a certain standard. They can still have the crowd and the punters talking and singing and you can hear the cheers and the screams and that makes you feel a part of it. And the band still sounds full and strong, and you can hear Jim’s patter between songs and he always sounds amazing and emotive, sometimes even breathless, and on the VERY ODD occasion, off key – but it all adds to the magic.
So, you provide the quality and I’ll keep on listening – capiche?!