The Return Of SSIS Video From Belgian TV

This clip was around on YouTube last year and then shortly after disappeared. I was GUTTED when it disappeared. I only got a few screengrabs from it and although I made a bit of art from it as a result, I missed being able to watch the clip. I just love it…and I adore Jim in it.

So this time, I made sure it will NEVER, EVER disappear from me EVER again! Hopefully the Belgian station will always allow the clip to be viewable on their site..but if it ever disappears, I have my own copy of it saved now.

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You can watch the whole clip by CLICKING HERE and going to the Sonuma website to view.

Enjoy!

Huge thanks to mega SM fan, Carlos, for making us fans aware of it being available to watch on the Sonuma website.

Live In The City Of…Angels – Out October 4th

Well, here is the news!

And here also, from the album, is Love Song – sounding overdubbed (Jim’s voice, at least) to buggery.

Look…I hate to criticise, I really do. BUT…if you are going to release a live album…have the bloody courage of your convictions! If you want to keep that reputation of being one of the best live bands in the world…WHY overdub “live” albums?

Okay, I am basing this purely on the sound of Love Song. I’ve not heard anything else from the album, and I wasn’t at that gig…but Jim did write a post after the tour about how run-down and full of lurgy he was feeling during the tour. No one I knew who went to the gigs heard anything up with his voice.

I’m sorry, but to me, overdubs feel deceptive.

And he’ll be pissed off with me for my preliminary critique. But it is how I feel. And I am NOT going to lie. It’s just my first impression over what I’ve heard.

Sorry, Sir. But if I can’t be honest with you, then I might as well just…do as Annie Mitchell suggested and go and “step off the planet”.

But it’s a first impression, based on one song from it. I’ll no doubt invest in it, listen to it and give it a full and fair critique on release date.

Available to pre-order…details can be found on Simple Minds’ social media platforms.

Minds Music Monday – Why I Love…Soul Crying Out

Lighting the political touchpaper in 1989 with words of angst and hope, Soul Crying Out has to be one of Simple Minds’ most beautiful, heartfelt pieces on the current state of the world (of then…as it is now) as you are ever likely to hear.

Starting with a soft, jangly guitar riff from Charlie Burchill and wonderful whispering vocal from Jim Kerr…the pair immediately pull you in to the quiet plea of the track. The world is in turmoil. People are hurting.

It’s a tome on what became – for the suffering working classes – Thatcher’s “legacy”. Of course, she was still in power when the song was written and released…but thankfully her time was running out.

But the damage had pretty much all been done by 1989. She’d been in power for 10 years, and in those years, mines closed, shipyards closed, unemployment reached record highs. And there was the disgusting “guinea pig” experiment of testing out the Poll Tax in Scotland. A policy, that if put forward by a Labour government might have been seen as fair, just and egalitarian. It certainly sounds Communist in its ideal – a single same rate tax for all. Everyone is equal. That’s the Communist philosophy, right? But let’s be honest, the world really is Animal Farm Orwellian, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

Those lines “And the government says you’re gonna pay, pay, pay!”, driven home by Jim with rising tones in his voice, only to soften again…nailing it in with sorrow “and you pay / still you pay”.

“And I say / I don’t know
Maybe I don’t care”

Apathy – a disease. Jim talked about it in an interview with Billy Sloan in 1984, saying he felt that apathy was the biggest disease hitting the UK then. I can see his point…but to try and drag yourself out of that state when you are being oppressed by your government, you can’t find a job, no one in your family has a job, what do you do?

The disease wasn’t so much the apathy…but her. Maggie. That’s definitely how I see it.

Jim, you were lucky not to suffer the apathy. To be strong-willed enough not to let it consume you. Many others were not so lucky. Try not to be too judgemental. Not everyone is blessed with your willpower, resolve and self-belief. That goes beyond optimism.

But it gave him the opportunity to twist the song into hope and aspiration.

“All I know is / I gotta get out of here
And I’m going / going any way
Do you know some place to go?
I’m getting out of here.”

By 1990, Thatcher was gone, but there was still seven years of Conservative power to endure. John Major tried his best to lessen some of the worst effects of the previous 11 years of government. He will most likely be the Conservative government’s last “centre-right” leader for some time to come.

For today, those highest in office within the Conservative Party are all “Maggie’s children”. Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Jeremy Hunt, and Boris Johnson all err on the side of the Fascist side of right-wing politics.

Anyway, enough of the political talk and the potential for apathy.

Let’s listen to what may be Simple Minds’ best political statement they ever produced.

And that is (some way into trying to explain eloquently) why I love Soul Crying Out.

(P.S. I definitely need to do a new piece of art for this! The one above is well old!)

Five Years A (Mega) Fan

While it is that beautiful man’s birthday – it is also my fan anniversary. This year it is FIVE YEARS since I became a Simple Minds uber fan.

I clean near forgot as I have had something else rather dominating my thoughts today – and it wasn’t that it’s Jim’s 60th, no.

I’ve been hard at work on something today and there’s a few other bits and pieces going on…all enough to distract me from remembering my fan anniversary for several hours today.

But here we are. FIVE YEARS! Of following the most amazing band in the world, EVER. From the very earliest days right up til the present moment…Simple Minds have been my entire universe these past five years.

I can’t imagine my life without this band in it now.
Thank you ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ – a heart for each of the current members of the band.

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.