As promised in a previous post about Boys From Brazil, here is information about the Kensington Roof Gardens. The tenancy was held by Virgin Limited Edition since (despite some erroneous information saying it was 1982) 1981.
I think Simple Minds must have been one of the first bands on the label to make use of the space, having promotional photos for Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call done there with Jill Furmanovsky. As well as shooting the video for Sweat In Bullet in the Spanish part of the gardens.
Along with that, Love Song was shot inside the Babylon nightclub. I have always wondered where the Love Song video was filmed and only as I was researching for the post on Boys From Brazil did I see information on the wonderful Dream Giver Redux about the Kensington Roof Gardens. As I said previously I was aware of a Branson/Virgin connection with the location of the SAF/SFC promo photos and the Sweat In Bullet video but thought it was Branson’s private garden or gardens at the Manor House. And I had no idea that the Love Song video was done at the same site as the promo photoshoot and the video for Sweat In Bullet. I had always just assumed it was some nightclub in Glasgow or Edinburgh.
You can read about the Babylon nightclub by clicking the photo above.
Back to the gardens themselves. The gardens were designed in the 1930s so now it is entirely understandable to me why it feels to have this certain…air of sophistication around it. And the way the Minds boys are clothed and photographed for the promo photos ties right in with that aesthetic. They look so bloody glamorous! I love those photos, and Jim looks as hot AF. I mean, they look like they’ve swanned in off the set of The Great Gatsby or something. They look amazing!
I’ve added a couple of videos about the gardens sourced from a really insightful article about the gardens that you can look at by clicking on the photo of the Spanish part of the garden below. There are a couple of older Pathé News clips you can watch of the gardens in 1938 and 1949, just check along the right hand side when you click on the article. All their resource information is down that side in columns.
And for good measure, I added the videos for Love Song and Sweat In Bullet here in the post for you guys to enjoy and maybe see things in a slightly different perspective now.
It’s a shame it’s currently closed. But there seems to be plans afoot to have it open back up again. I think a new tenant has been found. Stay tuned!
A couple of things to highlight from recent days. One is an interview (well, part one of an interview said Neil Saint in reply to a comment left on the FB post) with Kenny Hyslop about his days in Slik. You can listen to the interview by clicking HERE
I’m still yet to listen to it myself, but will do imminently. And I will link to part two when it airs.
The other is this (linked below)! A rare 1979 bootleg of the Minds playing a gig at Orebro University in Sweden. It was on November 1st, 1979. I have just turned nine years old the day before and Real To Real Cacophony is about to be released.
I don’t think this is a full set on this bootleg, but it’s more extensive than what I’ve been exposed to from this gig previously. There’s a good blend of tracks from Life In A Day and Real To Real. Premonition is a bit of a cut up job and Jim fluffs on lyrics several times throughout. Nerves getting the better of him, I guess. Fluffing only in the sense that lyrics end up out of order – and I am far too much of a pedant not to notice. In amongst the album tracks there’s also Here Comes The Fool and their cover of White Light/White Heat getting an airing.
I started listening to it last night and had to stop before hearing WL/WH and Chelsea Girl.
Obviously it isn’t the best bootleg going as far as sound quality is concerned. It has its moments though, and I am always appreciative of there being bootlegs from so early on to listen to. Jim even has a go at engaging with the crowd! Which I find amazing for that period, because he rarely utters a word at this point in time. And when he does talk, he sounds as nervous as hell!
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!
Final couple of acquisitions for now. I had been waiting to have the funds to get this final two as I couldn’t just grab them all at once. I thought at one point I lost out on getting the band photo but it was just the listing had ended and it took a while for the seller to relist it.
I’ve gotten all the ones I want for now. Unless something new crops up, I’m happy with all my recent finds.
Just one last thing with the band one – if you look at the inside of Charlie’s jaiket, down by his left hip, you’ll see he has one of these passes (pictured below) clipped to it. I’d love one of those. I love how it is pretty much a silhouette of Jim’s head. It’s all in the hair and ears. Lol
There are no details with either of the photos but I am guessing with them being German photographers that these were both taken in Germany? The band photo from 1981 during the Sons And Fascination tour – that backstage tour pass was certainly for that tour (and used into 1982 as well) – and well, Kenny’s with them, so it would see to confirm a 1981 date for that photo. But looking at the gig dates on the Dream Giver site, Kenny never goes to Germany with them. Hmmm – confusing! The only European dates he seems to do is a couple of Spanish dates at the tail end of the tour to Canada/USA/Oz/NZ in 1981.
Answers on a postcard for that. A band photo like that one is pretty rare anyway. I’m glad I got hold of it in the end.
As for the one of Jim on his own, I speculated it being taken at a gig in Berlin in March, 1983. Again, just a theory as there are no details with the photo other than the photographer’s name on the back.
FURTHER UPDATE – MARCH 4th: The crowdfunder campaign has been extended for two weeks – which I think also extends the time of the prize draw. The announcement of the winners won’t happen until April, so one can assume the prize draw is still active right now. If you’d like to make a donation and be in the prize draw, check with Carlton for certainty.
UPDATE – MARCH 2nd: Prize draw donations will be closing in a couple of days from now, so if you want to be in with a chance, be sure to make a donation ASAP!
Carlton Studios in Glasgow is a rehearsal space and professional recording hub for local bands within the city. As far as I am aware, Kenny Hyslop was involved in the set up of the studio.
Due to the lockdown restrictions that have gone on over this past year, the studio is in real danger of permanent closure. It needs funds to stay afloat. It needs our help.
Virginia Turbett has donated eight A3 sized prints to Carlton Studios to help raise funds. The prints are being auctioned off. The prints centre around the Scottish music scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s and include images of Simple Minds, Bruce’s Records, The Skids, Alex Harvey and The Rezillos.
Please take a look at Dennis Ramone’s video in the Facebook link below….
You can donate by clicking HERE – please consider donating anything you can to this. Rehearsal and recording space such as these are vital for cities like Glasgow, where music is one of the major driving forces of the community.
It’s been the inspiration for a few art pieces, and the video is a fave. Jim is sssoooo frigging skinny in this video. He’s got his gammy eye and he is that heady mix of fledgling Laird Dash Fandango in his collared shirt and tailored trousers but with that bit of “gangster rough” with it.
Oh, and him doing all those whipping actions with the mic cord….OMG! It used to have me saying stuff like, “WHIP ME, JIM! PLEASE! WHIP ME!” Lol. Oh…the fantasies!
Anyways! It’s a Happy Anniversary to Sweat In Bullet being released as a single a mere 39 years ago today. Enjoy…art and video… (the first is still a fave, even though I did it yonks ago)
Visuals from Glittering Prize for the last one but words from Sweat In Bullet.
“The Man in the Sky”, Mick MacNeil, was being interviewed….well, more joined in in a live stream chat (with a loose interview in there) for this YouTube channel called the Pro Synth Network. Basically a weekly synth geek’s get together to discuss all things Synth and keyboard based. New bits of kit out on the market, etc, etc.
Once we get the technicals and geek talk out the way, about 45 minutes in, then there is talk with Mick about his time with Simple Minds and just…his background of being a synth player and how it all came to be. It’s a great thing and Mick shares great anecdotes and is a lot of fun. He always gives great banter.
I am going to drop in on the interview right at the point where Mick says he went to see the band before he joined. What he says about Jim absolutely cracked me up and had me in stitches! Which then meant I missed the next minute or so of the conversation. The very interesting point Mick made about Jim and his stutter (or on anyone with a stutter – in the broader sense).
Anyway, let’s cut to it. But I recommended you maybe go back a few minutes on the clip and listen to Mick talk about taking up (or having it thrust upon him, more accurately!) the accordion and sticking with the rest of the video.
It’s a clipping I only recently came into possession of and I had never (for obvious reasons) read the article before.
Some interesting things said. Interesting to read Mick saying that he thought they’d have all stayed together…maybe might had still been together (as of then) if Brian hadn’t have left when he did.
Also interesting them bringing up the cover of Record Mirror mag with Brian on it. I was only very recently chatting to Ronnie about that cover. He said to me it wasn’t the photo he wanted on the cover and shared with me a photo of Jim he had submitted for use (which I won’t be sharing here unless I get photographer’s permission first – I haven’t asked him).
Good bit of talk about Rockfield and Iggy and Bowie in the lead up to Saturday’s airing of the documentary on the BBC.
Jim seems rather more philosophical in this than he has done at other times.
A couple more clippings to come….including another Sheila Rock gem (hence the reason I ended up with the clipping – prior to the “naked titties” one surfacing).