Show Me What You Can Do

Much like with Simple Minds, I had been aware of Talking Heads for the longest time. My brother had copies of More Songs About Buildings And Food and Fear Of Music. At least in my head these are the TH album covers I remember seeing in his collection.

I don’t remember him listening to them much…but he must have. And I certainly never listened to them (I would sneak into his bedroom when he was out with friends and play his albums on his full stack sound system). I remember being a little scared of the cover of MSABAF – it looked rather strange to my young eyes for some reason.

As I got older, I naturally became more aware of them. Knew things like Psycho Killer, Once In A Lifetime, Burning Down The House – in the age of MTV such groundbreaking videos made in impact. Then of course Stop Making Sense was a HUGE thing in the cinemas upon its release. It was EVERYWHERE!

As I got more exposed to their music over the past few years, I have a favourite in amongst the songs I know of theirs – This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody).

Over the past couple of months, I have started to immerse myself in the music of Talking Heads. It’s been a progression.

First I gave Fear Of Music the odd listen. Cities started to grow on me as a track. I then started to listen to MSABAF and recently that has really, really grown on me. It is the album I currently play most. Thank You For Sending Me An Angel is currently the constant earwarm. But a lot of the album is really getting under the skin.

This is how music from particular artists would seep in and finally make an impact with me. It was rarely an instantaneous thing. It’s always been like true love is…a growth. A measured process.

I feel a little silly for being retrograde with this stuff…but that is the shining legacy of the music I grew up with – that there was SSOOO much great stuff around one worried they would spread themselves too thin trying to explore it all.

I feel I should try and give new bands and new music my time too. I try – but it certainly doesn’t come from the charts. That stuff really does not interest me at all. That may be some inverted snobbery there. But I can’t help but feel snobbish when chart “music” feels much more about marketability than being an artistic endeavour.

I think the exploration of Talking Heads will continue…and I’m sure lots of other retrograde and retrospective explorations of late 70s/early 80s post-punk/new wave outfits will continue.

Vive la music!

Billy Drops A Bomb!

So, I am listening into the Billy Sloan Show earlier (still listening now as I type this out) and he read out some listener comments about the best gig, album and single of 2018. After he read some words about Simple Minds, he went onto say “they are bringing out a new album and will be on tour again. I can’t say too much now but all will be revealed in due course. Simple Minds are set for a very busy year in 2019.”

WOAH! HOLD THE PHONE!

STAYED TUNED FOLKS!

UPDATE: Next morning: okay, well…I’m not sure where the “tour” bit came from that I heard. I suppose I had jst been talking “tour” wth a friend just a few minutes before and it stuck in my mind and stayed there. I hadn’t been well, so that’ll be my excuse. But, to reiterate, Billy did say that a new album s coming and that Simple Minds will have a busy year ahead. But…we’ll see! My eyes will be kept peeled and my ears will be kepyt to the ground.

Rejuvenation Unboxing – And…Shortchanged?

For those, like me, who can’t get it yet…but would just like to experience the feel of the unboxing…
(Actually didn’t take in that Big Music STILL doesn’t come as the deluxe format on vinyl…even though it is spread over 2 LPs. COME ON! I just assumed because the deluxe version is now back on Spotify, it was the deluxe version on vinyl. But from what  I saw in the unboxing…it’s still only the standard issue. If it’s about space for the grooves, well, by comparison WBW has four songs on each side of the first LP and then the three bonus “deluxe” songs on one side of the second LP on the blue (and Ltd Ed fuchsia) vinyl edition. Okay, there are SIX extra tracks on the Big Music deluxe CD – but Bittersweet and Liaison needed to be on the reissue. Seriously! If you could add Too Much Television to B&W 050505, why not have added those two to the Big Music vinyl? WTF?!)

The Renaissance – Reconsidering The Rebirth

This man! Sometimes I pour scorn on him and piss on him…well…that’s how it’s feeling today. I adore him above all else…and he has more talent in that fold on the upper corner of his left ear that I fetishise so much than I have in my whole entire being.

And there also…I will be flippant in my explanation! I can’t help myself!

The last thing I ever want to do, esp. after what happened in July, is piss him off or upset him. So I need to be mindful and careful and observant. I usually am. Ninety five per cent of the time, I am.

One, a couple of days back – someone left a comment on a post about the Rejuvenation box set asking whether albums will be released separately as “I really don’t want Neon Lights on vinyl”. Inwardly my reaction was polared. Firstly “Man, you were brave to put that comment here on SMO!” – secondly “I hear ya…but, tough!  We’ve got it.” – lastly, and in devil’s advocate mode of making a suggestion of what he COULD do with his unwanted copy of Neon Lights, I shared a YouTube clip of the scene from Shaun Of The Dead in which the main protagonists in the film use vinyl records as weapons to attack zombies. Obviously THIS IS NOT something I would do myself – although faced with actual zombies…who knows? I have a copy of Neon Lights on CD…and it is coveted and held securely in my boxed treasure trove of Simple Minds music, merch and memorablia. I’m not using the CD as an onion slicer.

With today’s post, Jim reminded me that, although it may not still be completely my cup of tea, within its origins for being, I do need to give Neon Lights due respect. That the concept of it was born out of respect for those musicians and artists that SM themselves hold dear. And that, without them and without wanting to emulate them, there would be no Simple Minds at all!

I had already been having those feelings myself. With the album being available to listen to on Spotify, I dived in again. I also added it to the playlist of my mega SM content. I have a complete playlist on Spotify. Literally EVERYTHING Simple Minds. Everything SM related goes in it….Dark Flowers stuff is in there, Lostboy! tracks, collaborations, all sorts.

I fell asleep giving it its first listen when it was back on Spotify…and I don’t mean that to sound disrespectful…it’s just the time of day I start listening to music, and the setting in which it happens. It was around 2.30am and I was in bed, snug as a bug in a rug. I gently drifted off as Jim was telling me “how good” Gloria makes him feel (lucky cow she is! Lol)

I stirred and awoke for a few moments to take in and be mesmerised by All Tomorrow’s Parties. In a dreamy half-sleep, it sounded dreamy and beautiful. Jim’s voice wonderfully emotive, as if the ghost of Nico was haunting it.

From then, I let shuffle mode do its work and surprise me. It did with Bring On The Dancing Horses and then Needle And The Damage Done.

When I first became “uber” SM fan, and first listened to Neon Lights, I liked The Man Who Sold The World – Charlie’s guitar playing is unreal and I liked Jim’s vocal (though I still twitch when he delivers “foreign land” rather than the correct lyric of “form and land” – but that is me being an anally retentive pedantic fuck). I also liked Dancing Barefoot. But beyond that…? Besides…I wanted SIMPLE MINDS…not “Simple Minds does…” – I still had a whole back catalogue to explore. And I was falling head over heels in love with their very own magic. I didn’t need to hear them cover others. Not a whole album’s worth!

But, you know…one of my very favourite Bowie albums is Pin-Ups. It’s always been a bone of contention between me and my OH. She can’t stand it, but I bloody love it. You go out on the street now and ask 100 people who did the song Sorrow, I bet all 100 would say David Bowie and not the original artist. It was Bowie covering The Who that got me listening to them. To me most of the songs were IMPROVED by being given the Bowie sprinkle of gold dust.

So, why should it be any different with Simple Minds? The more I listen, the more I am being won round.

And the way Jim writes about it. That period of time in the history of SM, how the album came to be…WHY it came to be…IT MAKES SENSE!

I missed both embryonic stages of Simple Minds. I missed the initial one because I had only a few years previous stopped being an actual embryo myself, and I was stuck down at the arse end of the world…a heady mix descendent of Germans settled in Adelaide, Irish immigrants in country southern NSW, and native Aboriginies from that same rural NSW setting. Think Sidney Nolan paintings of an outlaw with a huge metal bucket on his head…the skewed romance of it all. “Such is life.”

The “Renaissance” of Simple Minds was happening just after I “upped sticks” and moved away from the arse end of the world to arrive in “The Mother Country”. It would take another 14 years for me to finally say “WE NEED TO FUCKING LISTEN TO SIMPLE MINDS, YOU AND ME! A PROPER DIVING IMMERSION!” You and me being – myself and my own psyche.

Better late than never.

I understand the importance of Neon Lights as a consequence.

From the bottom of my crazy old heart, Jim, thank you for today’s post. Thank you for just bringing it home. ❤️❤️

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It’s Difficult To Love You – My Grapple With Cry

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With the imminent release of the Rejuvenation vinyl box set, both Neon Lights and Cry have appeared on Spotify. For Neon lights – I think that may be a first…for Cry it’s a return after a brief stay around the end of 2016.

I’ve never really missed not having Cry on Spotify. It isn’t a Simple Minds album I have ever been overly enamoured with. As long as I was able to hear Spaceface on Spotify, that has always been enough for me. The 2013 release of “Greatest Hits+” also saw Cry and One Step Closer solidly in residence on Spotify, so exposure to those tracks has been fairly regular for me.

I didn’t get a copy of Cry straight away when I became “uber” fan. It was the early catalogue I ploughed my money into…chasing desirables like a first pressing release of Empires And Dance and Real To Real Cacophony…things like that.

I listened to Cry once or twice via YouTube and thought it was one I could hold back on obtaining. 

I think I finally obtained a copy about a year into my fandom. I gave it a few listens and decided that, apart from the glorious Spaceface (which I absolutely adore), there wasn’t much else that held me. 

I am always in two minds with doing this stuff. I generally don’t like to air my dislikes much (if you’ve got nothing nice to say, etc…) but I feel I own an explanation as to why. If I can do that. I mean, it’s not enough to say “just…because”. If I have genuine criticisms about the album, even 16 years after the fact…I should try and be articulate enough to explain why.

This blog post was born out of me listening to the album once again on Spotify this morning. It’s hard for me to be objective now and listen to it with fresh ears because I have now naturally grown a prejudice to it. Over the past four years I have listened to it maybe ten times – compare that to EAD, SAF/SFC and NGD (hundreds of listens) – and the prejudice sticks out like a sore thumb! The fact that it HASN’T been on Spotify hasn’t helped its plight. 

This morning’s listen. Inwardly, I was praying something would take…there’d be an epiphany moment. IT HAS HAPPENED! With other songs in the SM catalogue. For some time I really could not stand No Cure on the Life In A Day album, but then one night, during one particular listen, something suddenly clicked…and then the complete opposite thing happened. It became an earworm and was stuck in my head for WEEKS. I kept playing it over and over and over. It tilted completely on axis from utter dislike and skipping the track to solid infatuation and constant, and I mean CONSTANT, play. The diehards reading this will say “Yeah, but it’s no Cocteau Twins, is it?”. Lol

Listening to Cry this morning, the overriding thing that struck me is…there’s no cohesion. That’s how I felt, personally. That’s what started the idea of me writing this post to explain why I still have a … THING …about this album. By the time I got to Face In The Sun, I was saying to myself “where’s the cohesion in this album? It’s just, literally, a collection of songs.”

I mean, compare it to Walk Between Worlds (if such a thing is possible…chalk and frigging cheese to me!) and there is NO CONTEST! The fluidity and cohesion of WBW pisses all over Cry! Sorry…but it just does.

Cry is very different from Spaceface, which is different to New Sunshine Morning, which is different to One Step Closer, which is MILES different to Face In The Sun…and on it goes through the whole album.

Track by track:

Cry – I just find it…meandering, and depressive. I am usually the type that LOVES depressive songs! But, for me to love a depressive song, it needs to have a strong emotional pull, and I don’t get that from Cry – certainly not this version of it anyway. You know what makes ME Cry? That Cry doesn’t make me cry…or give me ANY kind of emotive feeling at all. And that is just a horrible feeling for me as a Simple Minds fan. Love is one thing. Dislike is another. Both are visceral. But indifference? Awful. And…sadly…that is how Cry leaves me feeling…indifferent.

Spaceface – this could not be ANY different to how I feel about Cry! Spaceface makes me want to jump for joy, and dance, and celebrate life and be happy! Pure optimism. The magic of Simple Minds right there in just under 4 minutes of pure pop joy. “You’ll soon be home, I’ll be there, you’re not alone.” Those words meant the WHOLE WORLD to me when I was out in Oz in 2015/16. Like Jim’s personal re-assurance to me. And that is exactly how it felt! Like I was never alone and he was always there for me. THIS is the song that makes me cry! Tears of love and joy.

New Sunshine Morning – I want to like it! I should. It has optimism…but just in the chorus. Meant to be one his mum’s favourites…which always adds an extra pang of guilt for me not liking it so much. A song that asks for forgiveness…but with a new day, something of a “well, forgive me or not, I’m just getting on with life anyway…making the best of it I can”. Not sure how well I sit with that sentiment. But I think that’s Jim’s general approach on life…and one that has kept him in good steed, it seems. 

One Step Closer – One realisation listening to this again, the conclusion I have reached is that I definitely prefer the album version to the Phunk Investigation mix. Yeah…I like OSC – there’s an ambiguity to it I like…I mean…One Step Closer to what, exactly? Paradise? Bliss? Sexual gratification? General contentment? I’m not really sure what he’s getting one step closer to…but that’s okay. I like it because, lyrically, it recaptures that ambiguous writing Jim is so great at.

Face In The Sun – I think Jim almost uses it as wordplay, because when he sings it, it sounds like FACING THE SUN…which makes more sense. Unless he was a huge Teletubbies fan and was referencing the Sun Baby? On Dream Giver it says Mark (yes, Jim nicked it from his little bro, again) had titled it “OK Lonely?” and the line within was “PLACE in the sun” but Jim changed it to “Face”. I’m gonna struggle at this point to say anything good about it. I love Happy Is The Man…and really like Angel Underneath My Skin (Mark Kerr’s other musical compositions, “pilfered” by his big bro)…but…I dunno. Face In The Sun just doesn’t do anything for me at all…other than make me want to switch off. Sorry 😦

Disconnected – “Everybody needs to feel respected…not disconnected” which I am ALWAYS mindful of, setting out on an exercise like this! I love this band so, so much. Charlie is an incredible musician…highly underrated and really quite prolific as a songwriter. And I don’t really need to reiterate just how much I love and adore Jim. I love this song. It’s a track I’ll happily listen to. It’s dancey and funky and I love the words, the way Jim sings on it. It took me a while to be won round by it, because on the album it sits between my two least favourite tracks. In the songs I like on this album, it sits in third place.

Lazy Lately – I don’t know what to say? It probably is my least favourite song in the whole Simple Minds canon. Despite me saying earlier that Cry makes me indifferent….I could still probably get something from it. Then again. Lazy Lately sort of starts promising. I like the way the music sounds…but then it just gets a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy with that title. It becomes…U2-esque, Beatles-esque, Oasis-esque – and not in good ways. A parody…not a pastiche. A parody of itself. Sorry 😦

Sugar – I *should* like it. I mean…there’s something there. Sugar can definitely be taken as metaphor. I should find it sexy AF…but I don’t. I don’t like the way he sings it. It seems trashy rather than sexy. Jesus…I’m gonna go to hell in a handcart for this stuff! He’ll hate me! 😦 I do like the lyrics…but it just seems a bit, ordinary musically…and yeah. Sorry! 😦

Sleeping Girl – After Spaceface, this is my most favourite track on the album. Again, it took me several listens to formulate that opinion and feeling. As with the whole Cry album, few to no lyrics where printed for the tracks. Simon on Dream Giver did his best at deciphering lyrics, but there are patches and obvious misheard lines. It leaves ambiguity with some tracks where lines are harder to decipher. I generally love that. And I like that about Sleeping Girl. Even if the words had been printed, they are still ambiguous in meaning. Where Sugar SHOULD be a sexy song for me – Sleeping Girl definitely is. The way he sings it, the ambiguity of the words, the musical structure, it totally hits the mark where Sugar fails.

Cry Again – slow, acoustic reprise of the album opener and title track. It offers a deeper melancholia than the opening track. I don’t think Jim has delivered a more deadpan and soft vocal. It kind of scares me in its bleakness. Of the two versions of Cry, at least this one doesn’t make me feel indifferent! I’m affected! But…something still kind of lacks…and I can’t put my finger on it.

Slave Nation – even for those in the fandom that like the Cry album…this seems to get panned…but I think I like it. I usually tend not to last this long into the album, so it really is not very familiar to me at all…but I do think I like it more than dislike it. There’s something about it. There’s an attitude to it I like.

The Floating World – I SWEAR I remember hearing this being played around the time…hearing it on the “chill out/Ibiza” stuff that I was into at that point. It’s of its time. Another that can get a panning by the fanbase…but, I think I like it. 

In conclusion on the album…it kind of feels disjointed to me. No fluidity and cohesion to it. A stark case in point, the sandwich of Disconnected between Face In The Sun and Lazy Lately. It’s kind of the way the album flows (? Oxymoron?) for me…don’t like…like…don’t like…like…

In my order of preference, from love to :-/

Here’s my tracklisting:

Spaceface
Sleeping Girl
Disconnected
One Step Closer
New Sunshine Morning
Slave Nation
Cry Again
The Floating World
Cry
Sugar
Face In The Sun
Lazy Lately

The Pressing Question Of (A) Foxtrot

And no! I am not referring to dancing and my desire for a “dad dance” with Jim. Lol.

I am, of course, referring to the 1972 Genesis album. In the interview for the “Records In My Life” video, Jim mentions his second gig being that of Genesis during the Foxtrot tour. In discussing Jim’s interview with someone, I was advised (possibly against my better judgement!) to give Foxtrot a listen.

Now, to me, prog can (or indeed DOES) have its roots in folk. But very traditional folk. Like…16th century shanties and things. With groups like Jethro Tull (their namesake being an 18th century agronomist), et al, it is never really a genre of music that has particularly spoken to me.

I don’t dismiss ALL prog. I don’t dismiss ALL folk (though I declare it to be my least favoured genre of music)…but blend them? And it really is something I find quite hard to digest.

There have been times…exceptions…in which I have thoroughly enjoyed a piece of work within those genres. PJ Harvey’s stellar Let England Shake from 2011, for example. Also David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World and tracks like The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud, but by and large, the genres of folk rock, traditional folk and/or prog do little for me.

So, I tried to keep any bias from the door and just give the album a listen. It wasn’t entirely unpleasant to begin with. And really, this kind of musical concept I *should* love! It’s almost like a musical history lesson. The musical style, to me, harks back in time and leans heavily in style of those traditional shanties.

By the third track – Get ‘Em Out By Friday – I was falling asleep (mostly from the reason for the way I take in the majority of my music listening these days…at night once settled in bed for the evening) with a question I was ready to pose in the morning… HOW DOES THIS SPEAK TO A 13 YEAR OLD BOY ON A COUNCIL ESTATE IN GLASGOW?!

Now, of course, when Jim was talking of Genesis and Foxtrot, he was talking about having seen them on tour. But to want to see them, you must have some interest in them…be a fan?

What happened earlier this year with Roxy Music and that “epiphany” moment I had? Well, it was helped along by Jim, explaining to me (for him personally) the significance of Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry for and to him. It helped the penny drop in the slot, so to speak. Sophia Deboick had me aiming the coin along the right trajectory…Jim just…widened the path, one could say (I dunno…a strange analogy…stick with me! Lol).

Foxtrot is Genesis’s fourth studio album. Had Jim already heard the other three? Was Foxtrot his first foray into Genesis? If so, then the question is amplified.

I suppose part of me is now wondering whether he, Jim, can produce the seemingly impossible, and win me round to early Genesis. I have less of a problem with later Genesis, once Gabriel leaves and Phil Collins turns frontman. They change musical direction and become a more traditional rock band and leave most of the prog style behind. Or at least with strong folk element within their early style of prog.

I’ve always found the title of the genre “prog rock” an ill-fitting one. For, what’s “progressive” about it? To me it’s kind of REGRESSIVE in its outlook and styling. Unlike glam which seemed blindingly futuristic. Look at how the glam genre was, with stars like Bolan, Bowie (even though David had done the prog thing with TMWSTW) and Roxy. They were otherworldly. Men from outer space, with a look and style that forged them headlong into the future. And like a supernova, they exploded quickly, shining brightly.

So…SELL THEM TO ME, Jim! Sell early Genesis to me. I know it shouldn’t be your remit to do so…but I’d like to think you are up to the challenge.

Just to recap, here was yesterday’s more succinct pondering and question to Mr Kerr about Foxtrot. The particular bit of how this music spoke to him at that time is a question I’d really love to have answered.

So, one last time…with feeling…

Jim? (maybe I’ll have to wait until you’re home and rested some)