ICYMI – Enjoy Some Dulcet Tones For Burns Night

Looking for something else to do to celebrate Burns Night other than downing some haggis, neeps and tatties? May I suggest that you get your lugholes around this?

In case you somehow missed it (I dunno how you would!), Jim was on Billy Sloan’s show on Saturday night. Billy did ask one or two questions of Jim that I would want to ask him myself in all honesty. Jim’s responses were actually quite frank and full of humility. It’s always great to hear him talk.

If you missed it, you can catch up with it on BBC Sounds. Click on the player below to listen to a direct extract of the interview.

Of course there was talk about Act Of Love and the first official Simple Minds gig with Billy’s conversation with Jim happening on the actual anniversary of the gig (last Monday, Jan 17th).

The song is still an earworm for me. There was talk of it being played live when the tour commences – that will be great!

Billy’s Smug Mate

Well, well, well…look what we have here! This week on Billy Sloan’s Show on BBC Radio Scotland, SOMEONE is going to be Billy’s guest. A day after I conduct my interview for this wee blog. (No! I’m not interviewing Jim! In my goddamn dreams. But the person I AM interviewing is relevant to the content of this site…very much so. My lips are otherwise sealed.)

Now…how the fuck am I meant to concentrate on MY interview on Friday with knowledge of THIS now? Come on! Talk about test a woman. Jeez-o!

Look at him! Smug as you like! And I don’t mean Billy! 😁😁😁

It seems things are warming up quite nicely at SMHQ. GOOD! We could do with some cheer at long bloody last!

Not much else for me to say but…tune in to BBC Radio Scotland on Saturday night from 10pm GMT.

I’ll be there!

Photo courtesy of Billy Sloan Show FB page.

“New” Music News!

After a long, dry spell… (the last new release from Simple Minds being the release of For One Night Only for the 40: The Best Of Simple Minds 1979-2019 release towards the end of 2019) THERE IS NEWS! A new release from Simple Minds in celebration of the band’s debut gig at Glasgow’s Satellite City on January 17th, 1978.

To mark the 44th Anniversary of the gig taking place, the band have re-recorded the first song they performed on the night, Act Of Love.

Act Of Love was previously recorded as a demo. The band’s CaVa demo that secured their initial recording deal.

You can pre-save the recording on your chosen streaming service by clicking on the following link – https://SimpleMinds.lnk.to/ActOfLoveFA

You can also hear the previous incarnation of the song below.

Next week we get the Minds Music Monday to end all Minds Music Mondays! YAAAAS! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

You can read much more by visiting the band website HERE

The Short(bread) News Grapevine

Exciting news! There will be a new “Priptona Talks” interview on the blog soon. I am excited by this one! As I have been with all my previous interviews. More details on that to come, so keep an eye out.

Last week there was a rather unexpected parcel that arrived on my doorstep. The sender of this parcel? One Francis Xavier Gallagher! I had left a comment on a post of his in which he had shown some shortbread for sale in his wife’s haberdashery store. I asked him if he made the shortbread himself. He confirmed that indeed it was he who makes it. I said in reply that I’d love to try it. “Stand by, Madame” was his reply.

At that point I thought “Oh, he’s not going to send me some is he? Nah! He would nae!”

Well, he bloody did! And not just some shortbread, but a Soundman Confidential mug in which to brew the bevvy that would accompany the shortbread, and some badges and a sticker. How bloody wonderful is that?!

Marks out of 10 for the shortbread? Delicious! 10/10! It had the mark of quality – both buttery and crumbly. The only downside to it all was – there wasn’t enough! You get a taste of something that good, you want more!

The best bit about the mug for me? Because I am left-handed, the logo stays facing me. Frank’s eyebrows follow me around the room! Lol.

On top of all that, news that…the rhythm section of Simple Minds (at least) – Ged and Cherisse are back into rehearsing SM material. Not sure what the rest of the band are up to, but at least there is some practice going on! With only seven weeks to go until the tour gets under way – FINGERS ARTHRITICALLY CROSSED – it’s great to have some optimism going on within the band dynamic that the tour WILL go ahead.

Review: Themes For Great Cities – A New History of Simple Minds by Graeme Thomson

“This is a fast story”, author Graeme Thomson says at the beginning of the book and keeps reminding us a few more times further in. 

It’s a story of the formative years of two pals from Toryglen, their school chum down the road, the keyboard player from the Chinese restaurant and the bass player that was meant to be a guitarist. 

The focus is as one would hope – primarily on the music and the band itself. The meeting of five incredibly creative and gifted men and how those quite different young men come together to produce the alchemy that results in the early music of Simple Minds. We learn most about their creative and working lives. There is little about their individual backgrounds, only vaugaries that are relevant to the telling of the overall story. 

Although the story is heavily focused on Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Mick MacNeil, Derek Forbes and Brian McGee, we also hear from others deeply involved in the story (if not necessarily within the band itself or the creation of the music). Jaine and David Henderson, Bruce Findlay, John Leckie, Simon Draper, Steve Hillage and Pete Walsh get mentioned and/or spoken to at length. 

Graeme Thomson has been meticulous without dragging out the pace of the story. As he continues to reiterate through the book it is a fast story. Like the five men that feature most strongly within the story, there is not an ounce of fat on it. Nothing lags. Nothing is protracted. Succinct, yet never lacking in detail. If I had got around to writing a book about the band I love, then this is EXACTLY the book I hope I’d have written. 

Along with content from interviews conducted with the primary band members, there is also input in the form of small “bridge” chapters from Bobby Gillespie, James Dean Bradfield and Ian Cook. There is also a dedicated “Q and A” interview chapter with art designer Malcolm Garrett. 

Some never-before-seen (even by me!!) photos are contained within the two sections of photographic content within the book. A number of wonderful photos by Virginia Turbett are within. Rare gems from John Leckie and Carole Moss can also be found within. 

There are things that I have questioned or pondered within my time as a Simple Minds fan that are discussed in the book. For instance, was the Life In A Day album already too “old” by the time it was released? Was Jim Kerr’s pudding bowl haircut a work of genius? Is Real To Real Cacophony one of the best albums they ever made? Is there anything that you cannot like about Empires And Dance? Why didn’t Grace Jones ever record a Simple Minds song? (Love Song gets singled out as the prime pondering here.) Can I ever stop my mind from wandering off to the object of my sexual desire when discussing Jim Kerr’s “Archimedes moment”? I may be the only person who grapples with that notion to be honest, but I am happy to keep on pondering it. “Eureka!”

If you want the WHOLE story of Simple Minds then this isn’t the book you want. But actually it IS the book you want. It is exactly the book you want! Because without this beginning, then there would be no “whole story”. This book is about the building blocks. That sandpit on the Toryglen building site where Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill met as eight year old boys is such a fantastic serendipitous metaphor for the whole story of Simple Minds. Getting a gang of workers together. Gathering the materials required. Assembling the parts. Laying the foundations and by album number six, having a cathedral to wow yourself (and others) with. 

For the ardent Simple Minds fan, the book actually contains few new revelations. I don’t want that to be a disappointment to the ardent fan because Thomson tells the story so well you will find it utterly enthralling all the same. The retelling is compelling. 

For anyone who is newer to the Simple Minds fold, or came to Simple Minds from the point of Once Upon A Time and hasn’t really explored their back catalogue extensively, I implore you to read this book. 

For the diehards – YOU NEED THIS BOOK! It is a fast and exhilarating ride. The book jumps off around the time of the recording of Once Upon A Time. That’s a different tale to tell then. 

I honestly have not enjoyed a book like this since I read The Complete David Bowie by Nicholas Pegg. With Pegg’s book it was the telling of the Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane years of the Bowie story that struck a chord most. The telling of Bowie’s meeting with Tony Defries and the MainMan years in particular. It made me “want in”. I wanted to be part of it. It fed the hunger of the dream to be in “the thick of it”. To be right in the cogs of that working machine. 

I am feeling the same with how Graeme Thomson tells the Simple Minds story here. He takes you right in. I can feel myself in the recording studio. At Rockfield, walking about those barns and inside the studio, at the mixing desk. Watching John Leckie orchestrate these young guys as they get to grips with how to write songs and produce music that confounds and mesmerises, enthrals and bewilders. 

To experience the “coming of age” of these young men, from the evolution of Jim Kerr as songwriter and stage performer, to Mick MacNeil finding his feet as a musical architect and composer, working alongside Charlie Burchill, it makes you appreciate more than ever what actual musical juggernauts both Burchill and MacNeil are. Also just what a bedrock the rhythm section of McGee and Forbes were together. 

A tale told with utter distinction. I genuinely have not wanted to put this book down for a single moment since it arrived. Hide yourself away. Devour it at will. Gorge upon it! You won’t be disappointed. It is a feast. Then play those first six albums again with new ears and a newfound appreciation of the astonishing band Simple Minds are. 

I have two copies of the book to give away. If you would like to win yourself a copy of “Themes For Great Cities: A New History of Simple Minds” by Graeme Thomson, simply answer the following question: In the book Jim Kerr tells of his “Archimedes moment” when writing the lyrics for which song? (Hint – search this website to find the answer.) Leave your answer in the comments section of this blog post. You’ll find the comments section at the bottom of the post titled “leave a comment” (you may have to scroll past the existing comments to leave your own unique comment. Fresh comments will provide me with details to contact the winners). If you have trouble with the comments section, you can also enter via the “contact me” form found HERE. All successful entries will go into the draw to win one of two copies of the book. The competition closes on Sunday, January 23rd, 2022 at 23.59 GMT. Winners will be notified shortly after. The competition is open worldwide. Good luck!

Santa’s Christmas Day Delivery

Of course Santa seemed to arrive early to Casa Read with the arrival of Graeme Thomson’s Themes For Great Cities (which I am just under halfway through and absolutely ITCHING to review here – but want to complete it first) a few days ago.

But he returned yesterday to deliver these…

All gratefully received. Books of Brilliant Things and BAKLAWA! GET IN!!! (MA BELLEH!!!)

Merry Christmas From Little Brown Books!

This arrived in the post this morning. I am literally like a kid at Christmas!!! So very excited to be reviewing the book for the blog. The review will be up on the blog VERY soon. As will be details of a giveaway of copies of the book!

Exciting times. Keep an eye out for the review and more details on the giveaway shortly.

Merry Christmas!