Play A Long Song – Play The Long Game!

Now, where do I start with this?

I’m not sure. The past 24 hours I have been, although celebrating the anniversary of Empires And Dance – it’s been giving me time to reflect on aspects of the music and my fandom.

There are several stepping stones my fandom took as I was discovering them properly. I guess I should use the word “REdiscovering” as I already knew of them and was a “fan” – but I use the quotation marks around the word because it felt very different then to what it does now. I was very fair-weather and knew very few songs outside of “the hits” and those songs would have only been from Once Upon A Time – the only Simple Minds album I had ever owned until “diehard” fandom took hold.

Unlike 2006, when the idea of exploring their back catalogue extensively took hold, but failed to actually TAKE HOLD, in 2014 I persevered. Kept moving on. In 2006 I listened to Life In A Day a few times, didn’t much warm to it, apart from (what I felt at the time) a few standout tracks and then just…gave up. I keep putting it down to just not being ready. So I remained a fair-weather “fan”. It needs the quotation marks because there is a clear distinction in how I was a fan of Simple Minds pre summer of 2014 to post summer of 2014. I mean, for instance, say…I like The Cure, I know some of their songs and really like them – I even bought a copy of In Between Days when it came out in 1985. I think I might bought a copy of Friday I’m In Love as well – but do I call myself a fan? Not really. I don’t own any of their stuff. I don’t really sit around and listen to them. And if I did listen to them, I’d probably only play the songs I know and like. Does that make you a fan? Not for me. That’s a “fan”. Let’s not forget that the word “fan” – to describe someone who has a particular affinity for a band, music artist, actor, painter, etc – is a derivative of the word “fanatic”.

Rather regretfully, it took another 8 years to be ready again. I started again chronologically, first with Life In A Day. The first change was…I wasn’t quite as dismissive of the album as I was in 2006. I could feel the burning embers of a spark. Although I still sat on the fence about it. This time more than just a few songs started to grab me. So instead of going “oh, I don’t know” and giving up, I went “Well, okay, I’m still not fully convinced here, let’s see what the next album offers” and I started listening to Real To Real Cacophony. Well, I think for a start you have to be open to the quirkiness of this album. As a concept – unlike Life In A Day before it – it really IS a mixed bag. But a great mixed bag! And they wear their experimental hearts on their sleeves with this, And I could hear it, feel it, appreciate it for exactly what it was. And it made me love things like Veldt for being just so…off the wall “out there”! Things like Factory and Premonition are just so strong and incredibly rounded and formed pieces of musical art. So very much an early indicator of how great Simple Minds are and could be. Other tracks are overlooked by fans but are just as incredible to me: Citizen (Dance Of Youth) – it has real political guts that song. And there are dance tracks too already with Changeling. Film Theme is a wonderful instrumental. Calling Your Name and Scar are slight throwbacks but still so strong. Scar is such a strange one. It already seems fully formed and is played live for several months in its previous form and then Jim goes and completely rewrites the lyrics! Lol. The same thing happened with Cocteau Twins/No Cure. You’re a curious (and very beautiful!) beast, Mr Kerr. Lol

As much of a hit and miss that Real To Real Cacophony seemed – for me it was much more “hit” than “miss”. I understood and appreciated the experimentation going on. In actual fact, I applauded it! I was much more won over by RTRC and was excited to move on to listen to Empires And Dance. And…oh my lord! How that album took hold of me. I can remember listening to it for first time genuinely AGASP at what I was hearing. I don’t think my jaw came back off the floor until the stylus got stuck on the inner end groove ring. Lol. A metaphor as I actually listened to it on Spotify. But…I was agasp. And remember sitting there just stunned that this was the same band that did Don’t You (Forget About Me).

It was the second side of the album (I know! I listened on Spotify but…anyway) that really sealed the deal for me. As masterful as I Travel, Today I Died Again, Celebrate and This Fear Of Gods was (and OMG – I can remember how slack jawed I already was listening to “Gods”), it was the three after that – Capital City, Twist/Run/Repulsion and Constantinople Line that I think PROPERLY, categorically, without a shadow of a doubt SEALED THE DEAL for me. After those three songs played – I was a Simple Minds FAN – no quotation marks needed any more.

Constantinople Line to me was like…film noir, a Hitchcock film in song…Strangers On A Train in song – espionage and John Le Carre – cloak and dagger – but with just a smattering of tongue-in-cheek matter-of-factness thrown in “these stations are useful, these stations we love them”.

Twist/Run/Repulsion is also film noir and deliberately jarring which makes it fucking AWESOME to me. I will never understand in a month of Sundays how Jim – still with a stutter that could trip him up quite often though getting more manageable with age (and exposure to being the band’s spokesman and poster boy) – was able to sing and deliver those lines. But I guess that is just that wonderfully headfuck aspect of a stutter in that those who suffer it can usually sing without any of the effects of it showing up in song.

So, yes. After yesterday’s celebration I can safely say that without Empires And Dance being there as the third album – as the “third time lucky” piece – I don’t think I’d be here on a blog called “Priptona’s Simple Minds Space” and have the URL of priptonaweird.co.uk – or be making art with the moniker “Priptona” or even be calling myself PRIPTONA. I mean…where would I have come up with such a silly name for myself without Minds? Without Jim?

And there was the other thing that happened. Once it was Empires And Dance, then I was off, trying to go through all the early live footage I could get my hands on. I wanted to SEE them then. I wanted to see how they looked and performed back then after that. And…nothing prepared me for how…in awe I would get with Jim. Again…it was an absolute jaw-drop moment. The first thing I watched was the Hurrah’s stuff. And I am watching thinking “fuck off this is Simple Minds. And that’s Jim Kerr! Give over!” Lol. “Look at the way he’s moving! OMG! He was fucking amazing! How did I never know this? How has this taken so long for me to be exposed to all this?!”

And I move on and just try and watch all the things I can find…and I find the French TV one. Celebrate. The leather. The tambourine. If I say any more on that…well…just…look at my blog, FFS! Lol – and it’s brief description “may contain a heavy dose of Jim Kerr.” MAY?! HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAA! I really should change the “may” to “does”. It certainly would be a more accurate description. I could be taken to trading standards at the moment. Lol

And then we moved on to Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call and the rest REALLY IS history from that point on.

So, here’s to Twist/Run/Repulsion! She doesn’t get enough love. But she is a “film noir” creepy, jarring, tongue-twisting little gem. I love her!

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!)

We Jumped The Gun – Again – Still Not LIAD Anniversary, YET!

Yesterday I was out-anoraked.

Jim had posted about it being the anniversary of Life In A Day and smuggins here felt a little bit pleased with herself that he was acknowledging the correct date of release. Well, so I had deluded myself. (And obviously he had thought so too…)

The holy bible that is Dream Giver Redux had a Zoom press release from the time showing that the album had been set for release for April 13th. Well, obviously Bruce and Brian had done what I did months back investing in my Mott The Hoople ticket, and neglected to take in that it was Easter weekend.

And as my anorak friend had pointed out on SMO FB, it was indeed Easter weekend on April 13th, 1979. He had said in his comment that in the New Gold Dream tour program it showed the release date to be 20/4/1979. I admit to looking at my scanned copy of my signed version of the program, and there it was! He also said he had seen a subsequent Zoom press release showing the revised date.

I am happy to declare I have been well and truly outdone in the anorak stakes. Lol

Happy 40th Anniversary – Life In A Day!

Someone:
It’s quite manic the way it starts then sounds traditional rock. Almost pub rock. Post punk. But “poppy”. I love that little “doo wop” bit too. The magic of a song that sounds catchy and upbeat, but if you take note of the lyrics…there’s a slightly different story going on. But we’re looking for life beyond those potentially boring “teen angst” years. Adulthood has dawned. “You’re running home before the morning light. There is a new age that has just begun.” Leave the angst behind, Ruby.

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Life In A Day:
Synth washed opening but still steeped in post punk. It does wear its influences boldly this song. Already those more industrial sounds are there. It’s in the atmosphere conjured up by Jim’s lyrics. I always say that Factory is like a lyrical LS Lowry painting – Life In A Day is its predecessor. Some days I really enjoy listening to Life In A Day…other times it leaves me feeling a little despondent, and I am unsure as to why that is.

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Sad Affair:
This has always been the weakest track on the album, for me. I’ve never really taken to it. This to me is the track that sounds most “Boomtown Rats”. The one I think of first when I am reminded of Jim’s feelings when he first heard the album being played back once they got their hands on the final cut. That feeling of “Oh, we’ve fucked up with this. This isn’t us! This is the Boomtown Rats!”

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All For You:
In 2014, when I started my exploration of the Simple Minds back catalogue, this song really made me sit up and take notice. The first one on the album that I truly went “ooh, now…THIS is interesting!” over. I know Jim has a soft spot for Someone, but I do for All For You. Had this track not piqued my interest when exploring the SM back catalogue a second time over, then…well, I would probably NOT be doing this post, or even running this blog!

Pleasantly Disturbed:
The title could not be more aptly applied to a song. I mean, that title sells it perfectly. Starting with a quiet yet low rumbling slow drum beat and cracked jagged guitar riff…it’s wonderfully atmospheric and moody. It conjures up a similar feeling in mood to one gets from Riders On The Storm. A dark, oppressive and gloomy rain-washed street. The genius of adding violin to it…I mean, who came up with that? Charlie? Well, if he did, he cursed it subsequently through the years from having to continue to play it when performing the song, while never feeling he had the true virtuosity for it. From the moment it starts, it just feels on a different level to any of the other songs on the album. And unlike most other tracks on the album in which they didn’t quite capture their live sound right, or John Leckie didn’t quite capture their essence – it worked for Pleasantly Disturbed. If anyone you meet ever dismisses early Simple Minds as a serious musical force of nature, play them Pleasantly Disturbed. And if they’re still not convinced, then they are beyond salvation. Pity them.

No Cure:
I suffered such a love/hate thing with this song. I used to abhor it! For a long time I would skip it entirely. Then when out in Oz and getting into the habit of listening to SM on shuffle mode each night, it played a few times and I was roused to semi-consciousness to listen to it. Too tired to grab the iPod and find the skip button, but awake enough for the song to filter through, a change of heart started to happen. Things actually ended up turning on its head and I went from utter intolerance of the track to absolutely falling head over heels for it! I couldn’t get enough of it! It became a constant earworm. It was stuck in my head for WEEKS. And I played it over and over! Lol. The title of it, once again, became so apt. Jim is a master at this stuff, he really is. For of course, the song had been previously known by the title Cocteau Twins, until Jim decided to tweak the lyrics and retitle it. Having read up about Cocteau Twins and its beginnings…Les Enfant Terribles… oh how it makes some weird sense of why I had this love/hate grapple. Knowing its history, I find the song strangely alluring and ever so sexy. It may have been “tidied up” but the words pertaining to “the game” are still there.

Chelsea Girl:
What a riff. So simple but so full of intent. Speaking of songs that are sexy. I do find this sexy too. Seriously, if I had been of their age, I’d have fancied Jim from day one. I’m still not quite sure exactly what I am meant to make of the “Chelsea Girl”. Is she a prick tease? Or a floozy? Answers on a postcard…

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Wasteland:
I find Wasteland a wonderfully obscure Kerr lyric. A song I am not really sure I know much of what it’s actually about. Looking at the lyrics I have no real clue. God I love you, Jim Kerr. You are a puzzle! The songs may feel like puzzles to solve to you…sometimes I think you pass them directly on to us! “Solve that one, peeps! Try and work out what I’m telling you here.”

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Destiny:
Also a curious one. Seems as if it was a much meatier thing when it was called Sweet Things. I am going to assume by how the lyrics read, it is a look at the life one has laid out for them and a defiant rejection of it. “Can you hear me, can you see. I don’t want this destiny.”

Murder Story:
After All For You and Pleasantly Disturbed, this is a song I really fell in love with quite quickly. I love the drama of it and despite the title and the tone of this song, there’s an element of fun to it. And I just love the way it ends. All the layers of Jim’s vocals clashing and sounding cacophonous and him singing alternates of “it wasn’t me/it was me”…then with that final trio of shouts of “IT WAS ME” and then it just comes to a halt.

 

 

A LITTLE NOD TO THE B SIDES

Over all as an album, it’s a good debut. It’s solid. And yes, I somewhat played Devil’s advocate asking Bruce Findlay if he felt that some songs were “too old”. It doesn’t quite hit the mark in some elements. And they probably weren’t captured quite at their full potential the first time round with John Leckie, but they and he quickly made up for it. And Real To Real Cacophony is by no means faultless either, but it improves upon a good stepping stone.

The album certainly has a maturity to it. I mean, heck, the average age of the band at this point is 20. TWENTY! They’re babies! Jim and Charlie are actually still only 19 upon its release. If I do that “compare them to U2” baloney and compare Life In A Day to Boy – the maturity of Jim’s songwriting over Bono’s is just chalk and cheese for me. While on Boy (even just the album titles reveal all you need to know!), Bono is writing about The Electric Co and Stories For Boys, Jim’s writing about the daily grind of city life, murder, drug use, mind games between young adults, conquests (or lack thereof). It’s young men, not boys.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not dissing Boy. I love Boy. You can’t knock I Will Follow, and I love An Cat Dubh and Into The Heart, A Day Without Me and Shadows And Tall Trees contains my favourite line in the entire album “Mrs Brown’s washing is always the same”. Boy will always have a soft spot in my heart, because I grew up with it. My brother had a copy from 1980, so it has been with me since I was 10 years old.

Life In A Day never bowled me over completely, but there are gems contained within it. It probably didn’t feel that way at the time, and thank god Simple Minds came into being at a time that they did and with Bruce as their mentor and ultimately manager because he was never going to abandon them. They were given the time to evolve artistically and become truly great. They held such promise and it was there for all to see. Life In A Day, though not perfect, showcases, with a bit of “hit and miss” what Simple Minds were capable of. Their tender and tenuous beginnings. It’s an album strong enough to enjoy from start to finish. The only track I used to skip was No Cure, and I ended up falling in love with it.

Give it a listen today. Have a bit of a nostalgia trip and say “Happy Anniversary Life In A Day!”

Murderous Murder Story

About 8 hours of work, spread over the past two days. I’m sure it’s shit. I’ll probably end up hating it because I overcooked it. Anyways.

I love Murder Story. Stay tuned tomorrow for my silly little LIAD anniversary post. Wish I could tell you I’m posting an interview with Jim on here…but alas, no. Never gonna happen 🙁

Celebrate Life In A Day – But Not Yet

People be jumping the gun re: Life In A Day 40th anniversary. Lots of celebrating today…but there is an official Zoom press release from the time on the Dream Giver Redux site showing the release date to be April 13th…so I will be holding my horses until then.

BUT…in preparation for it, you can read (and hear parts of) my interviews with Jaine Henderson and Bruce Findlay and also see my review of Life In A Day as a single right here on the blog!

In the meantime, here’s the link to Dream Giver showing the press release and its transcript. See you back here on April 13th, Life In A Day fans 👍🏻😁

Life In A Day – 40th Anniversary Single Review

We are nearing the release date of Simple Minds’ debut album, Life In A Day. From what I can deduce, Life In A Day – the track itself – was released as a single inline with their first appearance on television when appearing on the Old Grey Whistle Test on March 27th. As that day is a Tuesday, I am going to assume that the single would have been released a few days prior, on the Friday (March 24th).

So, happy 40th anniversary Life In A Day single! For some fun, I will review the single and the B Side, Special View.

I’ll try as much as I can to remember my feelings of listening to it for the very first time some 13 years ago…and again, almost entirely fresh almost 5 years ago now. Five years ago would have been my first ever listen to Special View. There was no 5×5 box out in 2006, so back then I heard the album as it originally was, with no B-side bonuses present.

Here goes!

LIfe In A Day: It reminds me of a song I loved as a kid. Part of the synth melody is similar. The song was called Computer Games by a New Zealand group called Mi-Sex. The Minds single pre-dates Computer Games by several months so any similarities would apply the other way round (that perhaps Simple Minds influenced the sound of Mi-Sex). And I never knew this until looking up info on them for this post, they named themselves Mi-Sex after an Ulatravox song!

It’s catchy. I like the guitar echo ending. Lots of synths. Like the “knock knock” sound. Lyrics are good. The song is quite moody. Best lines? “The premonition came true / look all around and you’ll see. Some say it takes two to know / or could it all just be me?” Not too keen on those word endings…ay ay aaaay. It’s got a good post-punk sound. The song makes you think. I don’t want something that’s purely visceral. It’s good to have something working the old grey matter.

It’ll grow on me, definitely.

Special View: I looooove that the song begins from a fade in. I really like the pace of it. I like the keys and guitar. It’s a basic riff but so catchy. That singer’s voice is really sultry. I bet he’s well sexy! (Jim…I’d have happily played with your basin cut, baby! 🤓🤗🤗😘😛😎)
I do love the song’s bridge. The jangly keys and and edgy guitar. Really changes the pace of it before settling back into that sultry meander.
I’ll probably get caned for saying it (Whip me, Jim. WHIP ME! Lol) – but I like the B side more.

It’s not to say I dislike Life In A Day, it’s definitely a grower – I just like Special View more. I am knocking my whole thing about preferring thought-provoking songs to something more visceral right on its head now, because my preference for Special View is because I find it ssoooo bloody sexy! Grrrr!

I’ve also mentioned in a previous post about the song specifically (and for lyric art I have done for the song) how I see stark, lucid imagery when listening to the song. A walled seafront. Waves crashing upon the walled promenade. A young woman waiting for her boyfriend to show up. The both of them walking along this walled seafront. The sky along the horizon looking both bright yet clouding over ominously. “The summer’s gone” says Jim, so it’s probably early autumn. Late September, so the sun is fading by 5pm and the air is brisk.

I have always loved the imagery that Simple Minds songs conjure up. And they mostly derive from Jim and his words, but obviously the musicality of the songs play a part too. King Is White And In The Crowd is a prime example of that.

Anyway…as for the overall rating of Life In A Day as a single? It’s a solid start as a debut single…I’d give it a 7/10