A Little Night Music – Marc, Lou And Jim Too

I’m still doing a little toe-dip into Bolan and T Rex at the moment. Just a couple of tracks per night. Nothing too taxing or deeply absorbing. I’m not fully immersing myself into the whole thing. Not like I have done in recent times with other musical explorations – Roxy Music, Talking Heads, Magazine – nothing quite of that ilk. But I might end up doing that.

Last night I played 20th Century Boy. I am just really loving the whole vibe of that song. How it starts with that kind of false start. Like, someone trying to kickstart a motorbike and the engine stalling, not ticking over on the first and second pedal pushes. And then it begins and there’s that fabulous gospel choir soul backing vocal wall of sound and such a fabulous rocking guitar riff.

Earlier in the evening before bed, the OH mentioned The Slider. It wasn’t one of his songs I knew at all, so I played it next. It’s quite a slow funk for him. Quite different to what I had expected to get from Bolan. Esp. the singing of it, and the pace. Still a very sexy thing. I have to say the thing I am coming away with from listening to T Rex these past few nights is just how sexy the songs are. Yeah, they may not have the deepest lyrical content, but by word they are sexy!

Towards the end of the song I’m thinking “Oh, I could imagine SM covering this now. Jim, the way his voice is these days…this would be sssoooo frigging sexy!” And then I was like, you know…actually…this is Prince! I hear Prince’s sound all over this track! I’m sure Bolan must have been an influence on The Purple One. I could just hear it SO CLEARLY on The Slider. I could sssooo imagine Prince covering it.

After those couple of tracks, I decided to move on to something else. But..what to listen to? I just never know where I want to go these days. All I know is right now, I have very particular tastes and feelings about Simple Minds. I don’t want to play this mix. And right now, as much as I absolutely ADORE the albums, I am avoiding going to Sons/Sister or Empires and Dance, or New Gold Dream. I play the song itself – New Gold Dream…the German Mix or the Alternate Mix, but I hardly play anything else right now.

I decided on Lou Reed. I didn’t want to go the Velvets route. The previous night I had listened to Nico’s Chelsea Girl album, so I didn’t want to go back to any Velvets stuff. I wanted Lou solo. But not Transformer. I love Transformer…but I know it fairly well. I didn’t want Berlin. No “Oh, Jim” tonight. What had I not played? Moving along chronologically, I’d never listened to Sally Can’t Dance – so that’s what I decided on. I got to Kill Your Sons and started to drift off to sleep. Spotify then did its usual thing of playing a mix of other contemporary artists of Reed’s. I can’t remember too much of who else it was playing but in my semi-conscious state I was enjoying what was being played. I was driven awake by a song that started to play called Range Life by a band called Pavement. I’d never heard of it (the song) or them (the band) before but I really liked it. I thought it was a track from the 70s until towards the end of the song, they started namedropping bands like Smashing Pumpkins in the song.

The next song that played was a track of Lou’s. It was called Vanishing Act. I was really loving how sparse and low it was. I put the screen back on to see the album it came off. It’s off The Raven. An album of Lou’s from 2002. All inspired by Edgar Allan Poe if the tracklisting of the album is anything to go by. It’s a long album – some two hours long! By this time it was already 3am, so I wasn’t going to switch listening to the album.

I actually wanted some Minds. I wanted Jim’s voice. But what? I look through all the SM content on Spotify. The only thing that is kind of pulling me in is Silver Box. I think about playing it. Skipping the first two tracks and just going in from Here Comes The Fool. Actually…live. Live is what I want. Then a brief internal dialogue “Oh, yeah…Art & Talk has put up another bootleg today. The one from Werchter, 1984. The bit that I played of it earlier today, sampling a snippet of Up On The Catwalk, it sounded damn good. Let’s give that a listen!” So off I went to YouTube.

I was really enjoying it. I was particularly enjoying the original arrangement of Book Of Brilliant Things and hearing all the lyrics that no longer get sung on the current version of it. I don’t get why it has changed so much from how it was…but hey, it isn’t up to me, is it. And plenty of other fans love that old “5 to 1” version of it. And I do appreciate all that Mick added to it with that opening of it on the OUAT tour. There was just such lovely things with this version from Werchter. Jim’s intro of it, “We grew up last year. Let’s grow up together.” Aawww! And just him singing “my heart beats like the wheels of a fast train”. I just feel sometimes the way the song got rearranged that it lost some of its beautiful sentiment. But Kerr would no doubt tell me to “do one” and “stoap talking keech”. Lol. Sorry, Sir!

Anyway…the night got later and as much as I was really enjoying it, I started to drift off during Waterfront. I cannae BELIEVE I didn’t hear New Gold Dream! Lol. I shall listen to it again later on. In the meantime, here it is linked below.

Punk – A Dirty Word?

Over the past week, I feel the word “punk” has been sullied by a couple of people. One retrospectively. Let me explain:

In a previous post here on the blog, I talked about a letter that John Foxx had shared on his FB page. The letter was from David Bowie to Tony Visconti of a shopping list of new singles and albums DB was keen to get his hands on. Within it he talked about punk and flippantly used the words “pink, peak poak, pan” and then said “Oh, yes. PUNK” in brackets referring to the shop that Visconti may find the records that were on said shopping list. I felt DB’s flippancy was about the stupid labels and pigeonholes we place upon things – but I could be wrong? Perhaps by this time for Bowie “punk” was indeed a dirty word?

The other has been in recent days. A fan on SMOG talking about the influence punk had on early Simple Minds. He seemed to talk about it with much disdain. Saying stuff like “thank God you guys moved away from punk.” I didn’t get involved in it because, well…to each their own what they think about particular genres of music. I thought their ideas and opinions were rather misguided but…it’s not my place to educate anyone on anything. He ruffled enough feathers to even have Jim himself (? It’s a bone of contention, actually. I was led to believe by a certain source that this account *is* genuinely Jim but…I dunno. Who knows? I’m trying to get myself away from all this “hanging on his every word and feeling like my life isn’t worth living if he doesn’t speak to me” bullshit that I keep cycling through endlessly and doing my own fucking head in with!) reply to him.

The guy followed it up with a further post about the hypothesis of what/where/how things would have panned out for SM had they stuck with punk. This was when I came in on things.

For one, punk started much earlier than its deemed apex in 1977. I definitely hear and feel and get a sense of punk from Velvet Underground recordings. Listen to the album with Nico – the Warhol banana covered one. Where is the maestro musicianship on that? Tell me! No one plays THAT well on it. Lou Reed is not exactly the best singer in the world. Nico does that kind of – and there is an actual German word for this that eludes me right now – “speak singing” she does. The only one that sounds like he tries to hold a note when singing is John Cale. The Velvet Underground is DEFINITELY punk. In its truest context. That the music, the story, the telling of the tale is MORE important than the musicianship. Or that…it’s okay not to be perfect, if the message is conveyed right.

Because, Lou might not be the best singer in the world – but he’s a poet and a realist and an orator for the time. And, a damn incredible songwriter. A filter. A channel for the message to be projected through.

Likewise, Nico may not have the voice of an angel, as such – but she certainly conveys emotion and she makes you take notice.

The Stooges were formed in the late sixties. Iggy Pop by much touted definition is deemed the “Godfather of punk.”

The New York Dolls were punk. Well, perhaps straddled punk with aspects of glam. I mean, nobody ever sees Slade as glam in terms of their musical output compared to their wardrobe. Well, for me it’s the same with New York Dolls. To me they are 100% punk. They just didn’t dress punk.

The Ramones – punk all the way. But there is sssoooo much rockabilly in their sound too. Listen to Rock n’ Roll High School, FFS. It’s far more 50s throwback rockabilly to my ears than what the UK brings forward as punk.

And as I said to Philip – there is so much more to the word “punk” than a strict musical styling. It’s a culture. A mindset. An ethos. An attitude. A banner. A proclamation.

And there’s also one of its earlier exponents too! MC5 – Kick Out The Jams! Released in 1969, my friends. NINETEEN SIXTY NINE!

When I saw Alice Cooper last year, they were on the bill of support acts as (as they are called these days) MC50. They still have it.

Punk, as a word that became a touchstone, is ssooo much more than music. Look at all that it gave to a generation of the UK as a result! An attitude, a mindset that said “I have creativity inside of me. I don’t need a fine arts degree to be told I am good at this. I’ll get ahead and make my own way!” It gave the working classes freedom to believe they could express their creativity and pursue a future in the arts without – one: feeling they needed a financial foundation – because frankly – there was NOTHING to lose and two: that they should suppress what they feel they want to express due to their background.

Vivienne Westwood is punk.
John Cooper Clarke is punk.
Smash Hits magazine is punk.
Postcard Records is punk.
Factory Records is punk.
The Hacienda is (was) punk.

Anything that you can think of…not just in music…all if it that comes out from the late 1970s, it’s all rooted in that punk spirit.

As Jim said in his reply to Philip: “without the punk ethic we would never have begun and evolved into Simple Minds. That is a fact!”

Punk was a gateway to so much more.

Photo by the wonderful Laurie Evans

Is it a dirty word? It seems to be for Philip. Why? I’m not quite sure. I just don’t think he sees the fluidity in the word itself. To him, I am guessing “punk” is this awful style of music that he doesn’t like very much and that’s that.

Oh, but it is ssssooomuch more than that! It is all of the above! And – it is Simple Minds! Even their name is rooted in punk. Yes, it may have come from a David Bowie song but…just listen to it. Really take in what the name sounds like.

I’m not sure I have put this post across as I wanted to. SOMEONE came along throwing a spanner in the works this morning – distracting me with a post just as I was getting my brain cogs in motion and piecing together this post – making bullet points to it and giving myself a bit of dictation on my phone so I would stick with how I wanted this post to go.

Oh, well. He can disturb and distract me whenever he likes! I shouldn’t be bloody complaining that he distracted me now, should I? Geez! Lol. Cry out for the man’s attention and then when I got something from him, I’m there saying “Fuck off, Jim! I’m busy. Do you mind, pal?!” Lol. Hilarious!

And hey, I just remembered – I’M “Punk”! Lol. This silly nickname my brother David gave me many moons ago. When he wanted to antagonise me. Wind me up. He’d call me “punk”. With a kind of spit of disdain he’d say it to me. “Go away, punk”, when I was annoying him. Lol. Oh, god I loved him! ❤️

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!

Street Fighting Years Box Set Reissue Reviews

A couple of reviews of the SFY box set have been printed in both Mojo and Uncut magazines this week. The Mojo one is particularly scathing but the “fortune cookie wisdom” in regards to Jim’s lyrics in the Uncut review isn’t exactly complimentary, either! Although overall, it is a kinder review.

The reissue lands in two weeks time.

Mojo magazine review.
Uncut magazine review.

Lou Reed By Laurie Anderson

Featured article in the current issue of Mojo magazine (Dec. 2019). Images can be enlarged by clicking on them and choosing the image sizes at the bottom right of screen.

The Master Of The Art

I’m always flicking through the pages of the music mags. Not much really has me stopping for too long. (Perhaps to my detriment? A slow reader’s curse that to be drawn in to read something, you REALLY have to grab their attention – going by my own experience anyway.)

I suppose I am finding myself studying Lou Reed quite a bit of late. Not in an involving and methodical way like I have done with others who end up deeply piquing my musical interest. Bowie very much became a study piece as much as a musical exploration. If I’d have taken an OU degree in English Lit. say, Bowie in some way or other could have ended up the subject of my thesis.

I can feel it possibly going that way now with Lou Reed. Exploring his work deeper. I am certainly starting to feel that sense of the story itself being as important as the music. But I think that is what usually pulls me in to those musical artists I admire and covet most. They are great storytellers, either by encapsulating the narrative verbally, or creating a visual palette of what is being told with an inner visual artist flair. (John Foxx’s description of Jim Kerr being the “the best internal movie director” always springs to mind. It is my favourite description of Jim as a songwriter and it is just so…”on point”, as the whippersnappers say these days).

I really am starting to get that there is much more to Lou than meets the eye.