Minds Music Monday – What Goes On – Lostboy! AKA Jim Kerr

This week we have an imposter for MMM. Over the weekend I was “VJing” (for want of a better term) over on the SM fan group that I vaguely help out with from time to time.

We do Playbacks (long before Tim Burgess came along with his lockdown inspired “listening parties”). Head honcho of the group, G Man, would conduct playbacks. A bunch of fans meet at the group at a specified date and time and listen to a playlist of SM songs simultaneously and just…comment along with thoughts and memories about the tracks playing. All great fun.

Except…when I hosted a couple a few months back! Lol. It was just prior to lockdown, I think. Anyway I did a couple and it scared the bejaysus out of me. I found it INCREDIBLY stressful but…a little bit fun. Despite not being able to enjoy them as I had done as someone who just listened in rather than ran the thing! Lol

Anyway, there hadn’t been one for a while and I suppose I wanted to see if it was as stressful as I remembered it feeling. Short answer? Yes and no. The prep is stressful! And I now realise from after this weekend….I need to give myself much more time to prep and I need to have all the prep done before I even announce that there is going to be a playback or playbacks on the weekend chosen. That working on it for a couple of hours a day until all the playlist links, my intros to them, any interesting info I want to share about what’s being played, etc, etc is all sorted. That will lessen a lot of stress attached, because once the thing is under way…once you’ve put that first track out and have the playback going – then it’s fun!

So, this weekend the playbacks had come via a group member suggestion of having the first and last track of each album as the list.

To end the second part of the playback and have it run to a similar time to the first part, I chose a couple of SM covers at the end of the list. Rockin’ In The Free World by Neil Young (which was on the Searching For The Lostboys album bonus that was released with Graffiti Soul) and then All Tomorrow’s Parties (from Neon Lights – which is now just about my favourite Simple Minds cover of all).

I think there is something about SM covering Lou Reed/Velvet Underground songs that gives them more resonance, makes them better, gives them more feeling, more emotion…be it melancholia or joy – or even a mix of both. They just seem to give them…more. Perhaps it is down to Jim’s “hero worship” of Lou? I’m not sure. But the best SM covers seem to be Lou Reed penned compositions.

I finished yesterdays playback with two encores. Them performing Street Hassle live at the Roskilde festival in 1983 and then an early live version of White Light/White Heat from 1979.

So, here we are. Another Lou Reed cover. This time from when Jim branched out on his tod as Lostboy! He’s a bit of an imposter this Lostboy! but there’s an SM connection there, I think. I think the link is Jim Kerr…. *pondering face – rubs chin* 🤔😜

The title seemed relevant for me too. I mean…what the fuck DOES go on in my mind? Lol. Not even sure I know most days! Anyway….after that long-winded fucking intro…enjoy!

Why I Love…New Warm Skin

I cannot reiterate how great a lot of Simple Minds B sides are. Most of them became an “also ran” at the expense of a song that makes it onto an album. I would easily swap Special View for Sad Affair, for example. Others would swap Veldt for Kaleidoscope (as although the song wasn’t released until the I Travel single – as a special flexi disc bonus – it had been formed during the Life In A day tour, so could have easily been recorded during the Real To Real Cacophony sessions).

But when it comes to NWS, it’s difficult to shelf something from Empires And Dance to make way for it. This time, they did make the right choice leaving it for the B side to I Travel.

The drummer girl here loves that intro. It hasn’t got the usual synth sound we get from Mick. And there really isn’t much of Charlie’s guitar over it. Just brief little riffs and licks.

It is a different beast to what else is on Empires And Dance. Musically the tone is much lighter. And there is…for its time, a very traditional “verse/chorus/verse/chorus” structure to Jim’s songwriting on this. Most unusual compared to most everything else of the period.

There is a demo version. Recorded during early EAD sessions. I’m sure after the R2RC fiasco, Arista INSISTED upon demos. I bet they still didn’t know what to do with them. I mean…seriously!? How can you have acts like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Patti Smith on your label, yet Simple Minds leave you dumbfounded? HOW?! It makes no sense!

Lines from the demo alter to the studio version. Instead the skin being “expensive to touch” for being “novocaine skin” – it’s “expensive to touch” for being “American skin”. And what was once “ugly as sin” is now “transparent and thin”. The third verse in the demo is pretty much a repetition of the first, whereas in the studio version it has been refined and expanded. “…Contorted dreams of the beauticians that pray / crawling out of this heat and drifting this way…”.

I have always been most intrigued by those lines that end each verse, “Is this a war? Is this a god?” A war on what exactly? The natural beauty of the human face? A god? A new god…one that has refined and “perfected” how the human face should be?

Of course, many years later, Lostboy! AKA Jim Kerr revisits those lines and reuses them in the track Nail Through My Heart, with a musicality to the track not a million miles away from New Warm Skin. Defeated in “war” by the superficial, perhaps? “You put a nail through my heart / nail through my heart / then you discarded me. Corrupt from the start / you pushed it too far / then you discarded me. You put a mark on my skin / let yourself in / no escape for me.”

Musically, NWS has more of a “new wave” tone to it than what else is on Empires And Dance. The album is a Euro-centric dance, trance, travelogue…definitely still rooted in post punk and not quite yet new wave – well not as I differentiate new wave to be.

I mean those three/four albums from 1979 to 1981 – Real To Real Cacophony/Empires And Dance/Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call – progress yet bridge together so amazingly well. Each a stepping stone to the next and the next. Then…the big leap! The huge curve ball. The stand-alone. The “nothing before it or after”. The freak. The beast that is New Gold Dream.

I hear similarities in the synths of New Warn Skin to what’s on Are Friend’s Electric? and Cars. Simple Minds were very much getting away from wearing their influences on their sleeve by that point, so NWS is a slight hark back in that respect. But I am sure that by this point in the game any similarities in sound were purely subliminal or coincidental.

How deeply we should dissect the track I am unsure. I mean, what is it after all? A parable on the the pursuit for human “perfection”? Superficiality – the ultimate cost of vanity? Is that such a heavy subject? I suppose even still in 1980, plastic surgery was in its infancy – in terms of it deemed as a “standard” procedure. Nobody bats an eyelid over facelifts now – mostly because nobody CAN…if you get my gist?

In musical tone there’s a cool and a heat to it. I like the pace of the chorus…the layers of the backing vocals.

There’s more electronica to come with the sound of Simple Minds. New Warm Skin leads on to Love Song, This Earth That You Walk Upon, Seeing Out The Angel and Theme For Great Cities…and most other tracks on the Sons and Sister albums.

I’d hazard a guess we weren’t meant to take New Warm Skin TOO seriously. I’m pretty sure the younger Jim would not have relished his lyrics being dissected like this. I’m not much sure the older Jim sees much point in it, either.

But it’s what I like to do. It deepens meaning, emphasis, musical enjoyment. I just like to exercise a curious mind. See if I can derive a meaning from the songs, musically and lyrically. “What did Jim mean by that? Does it mean anything? Is my interpretation of things what others’ hear too? Am I the only one that hears this, this and this?”, and so forth. It keeps me happy and occupied (“Not bloody occupied ENOUGH!” shouts Mr Kerr from his Glasgow panic room. Lol).

It’s just a little electronic gem with catchy lyrics.

And that is why I love New Warm Skin. (Demo and studio versions follow.)

Spotify 2018 Listening Stats

I really, really do lve Silent Kiss ❤️😊😚

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The only pages I didn’t save were the ones giving me a link to my Top 100 Songs of 2018 playlist – which you’ll find a link to below – and the final “share” page to share your Spotify stats rundown via social media.

 

Lyric Of The Day – Lostboy!

Lyric of the day

Song: Lostboy

Album: Lostboy! A.K.A Jim Kerr

Year of release: 2010

Words: Jim Kerr

This song makes me cry. I know it sounds silly, but it’s like he wrote a love song to his younger self! It’s beautiful and nostalgic. For a man who doesn’t like to dabble in nostalgia, he seems to get caught up in it quite a bit! Lol

There are subtley different lyrics printed on the album sleeve –

Never understand you with all those crazy plans,
You lost boy, lost boy.
You’d never try to please with all that energy,
Lost boy, lost boy.

But he DEFINITELY sings “always Julius Caesar” instead of “with all that energy”. It’s certainly more ambiguous – what the hell does he mean by THAT? He was a military man, feeling as though he was marshalling his troops? Beware the Ides of March, Jim? Maybe when he returns to FB, I’ll have to ask. Always love learning. At least I can try asking the man himself :-))

The Lostboy! album has wonderful artwork inside the gatefold. That’s Jim understanding the aesthetics that vinyl records can give. It’s not just an aural experience, but a visual one as well.

Bought this today. Lostboy! aka Jim Kerr on vinyl.

By sheer coincidence, it’s the 5th anniversary of its release, so Jim said in a post on the SM FB wall a short time ago. How amazing for me to buy it today. What are the chances? (as Harry Hill would say. Lol)