“So when I thought Charlie’s guitar in ‘Angel’ sounded like church bells…” – writes Adam Sweeting, having just been given an explanation by Jim of the ideas behind the song. You can read a full extract of that below.
I’d be intrigued to know what the book of short stories was. I thought for a few minutes about asking Derek Forbes if he’d remember it. Even went to Twitter in further contemplation of conjuring up the gumption to ask him…but I can’t. Best to let sleeping dogs lie. And I guess if Jim had remembered it, he’d have mentioned its name or the author back then during the interview. Maybe someone could find out or shed some light on it?
Anyway, let us ‘push on’.
UPDATE: A regular visitor and reader of this blog – Scott, contacted me about who he thinks the author of the short stories might be and which short story it is! And I think he just may be right. He read on Dream Giver about Jim mentioning Philip K Dick. Well of course I remember that too because of Jim’s reply to me (when I quizzed him about having read sci-fi) about “growing out of things…like drugs, alcohol, hair dye and jodhpurs”. But I didn’t make the connection when compiling this post. A book of short stories of Dick’s is titled “A Handful Of Darkness”. Released originally in 1955, it contains a short story called “Upon The Dull Earth” (that even sounds like a line Jim would use in a song!) – a link to the plot of the story HERE – I think Scott came up trumps with this! Where would I be without him?
The original working title for the song was “Petrocello” – a word entirely made up it would seem. A portmanteau of the words “petronella” and “Limoncello”, perhaps? Or maybe of “petronella” and “uccello”? A portmanteau of those two words could translate as “dancing birds”. For “petronella” is a style of Scottish folk dance while “uccello” is the Italian word for bird. That would be lovely if it was a combination of those two. I’m always trying to put romantic connotations to everything.
Again it was one of the songs that Mick gave to Jim to listen to on cassette and obviously he could hear such potential in all the pieces. I guess had Mick not heard the potential in the music himself first, he’d have not passed it on to Jim to pass his lugholes over it.
I can’t claim to know about music or its structure and complexities (or otherwise) and what it is to describe something as “melody” as opposed to labelling it an “arpeggio” – but what I do know is those chords, those notes from Mick MacNeil’s synths are some of the most beautiful pieces of musical notation you will ever hear. And that Adam Sweeting is right, that Charlie’s guitar chords do sound like church bells.
As it started life as one of Mick’s workings, it may have initially been going to remain an instrumental. Who knows at what point during recording proceedings Jim was ready to provide lyrics? He seemed quite the procrastinator back then – leaving lyrical input until pressed to provide it. Then again ‘Angel’ was seemingly one of the earlier tunes to be formed so maybe it was a rare time in which Jim was ready with lyrics fairly early on but he just delayed putting them across in the studio? All supposition by me.
The song had a brief run of being in the live set during the opening part of the Sons And Fascination tour in Aug/Sept of 1981, performed just a handful of times before leaving the set altogether. Never to reappear again until 2006 on the Black and White tour. And not on a set list again since.
The only live recording of it that exists from those handful of 1981 shows is from the Royal Court in Liverpool on September 22nd. It’s performed in Edinburgh on the opening night of the tour on August 28th – it doesn’t seem to go too well.
The next two shows, it’s off the set list – the reason for the Bingley Hall absence I guess would be to how ill Jim was on the night. The next gig in Nottingham, was the one and only time that Wonderful In Young Life was performed. Ironed out, perhaps? It was then back in the set until the final gig of this first short leg of the tour at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on September 25th. A total (potentially – as some set list information is unavailable) of seven shows that it was performed at. Amazing then that there is even one recording to exist of it. I’m sure that given that the gig was recorded for the specific purpose of putting out some live content, that a recording of it being performed at Hammersmith must exist somewhere in a vault.
It was a fairly prominent feature in 2006, particularly during the first part pf the year as the band tour around Europe. It makes its last appearance during the opening gig of the Australian leg of the tour in May. There are several live versions to be heard. The pedant in me couldn’t really stick with any of them. I am terrible for that. I love lyrics as they are. As they’ve been written and intended to be heard in the first place and when that doesn’t happen I find it annoying. Yes! I know. There is the excuse that the band hadn’t actually performed the song 25 years by that point – I could give them a break! But my counter argument would be one – they would have given themselves time to rehearse before going on tour. Also, the element about it that leaves me disappointed has nothing to do with the music. It’s being played very well from the examples of performances I had heard. My gripe is with Jim and the lyrics. The version I can listen to that plays furthest along in the tour is in Rome on March 19th. Some six weeks into the tour. It’s the 34th performance of the song.
I will say no more of it because I know where he’d tell me to stick it – esp. after given a critique of something some 15 years after the fact, but I can’t help being a pedantic c*** about these things.
All I know is that as a track to end an album with? Very few match it for statement and feeling, to summerise and sum up all that has passed in the album that has just been experienced. The melody. The “church bells”. The amazing bassline. The underplayed drum beat. The beautiful backing vocal. It’s exquisite. As delicate and as haunting as the angels it is depicting. That daydream, vision, visitation – whatever it was that Jim experienced as a child certainly left its mark on him. And all these years later it still lives on and will live on eternally in the mindset of Simple Minds fans. Those angels are with all of us. For many of us they feel like guardians. Guardians of the thoughts and feelings we hold so very precious. If what Jim experienced was indeed “a vision”, then it was definitely meant to be. They wanted to be seen, and they wanted Jim to see them.
What an absolutely sublime piece of work to finish an album on.
Photograph of Jim by Virginia Turbett
Angel wings vector graphics: Bastian Schwind
Additional source information: simpleminds.org
In my vlog post yesterday in discussing my visit to the record fair on Saturday – I mentioned that I had picked up a copy of Ken Lockie’s album The Impossible. I had very little knowledge of what I was buying. Only the vague idea that somehow Jim was involved in it. That he provided backing vocals on it was what I believe it to be. On that hunch I bought the album when I saw it there in the rack.
Even the guy whose stall it was was flummoxed when I presented him with the record asking him how much he wanted for it. Flipping it over and perusing it he says “where did you get this?” (ie: from where within the boxes on his stall had I retrieved it.) I showed him where. “Is he Scottish?”, he enquires further. “Erm…maybe? I’m not sure.” It was like the blind leading the blind. (In actual fact he’s a Geordie.)
When I got home, I looked over the sleeve notes. I see Jim’s name on the back, still at this stage none the wiser as to what his exact role is. I also see to my surprise the name Steve Hillage on the production side.
And here we are! Yes! This MMM has yet ANOTHER loose Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call link. I’m not sure of the timing of the release of the album – most things about it just show a release date of 1981. Jim’s appearance on the album on the credit notes shows he appears “courtesy of Simple Minds”, so I am guessing it was released as Simple Minds were still negotiating their deal with Virgin?
It’s a bit of a “who’s who” list of guest appearances on the album. I mean, geez, Nash The Slash is on the track with Jim! John McGeoch and John Doyle (both former bandmates in Magazine and later in The Armoury Show) both guest on the album as well. And former bandmates in Cowboys International appear too.
So I guess this is where Jim got his first exposure to “Old Cabbage Head” as a producer? I really would love to ask him about it. If he had any recollection of it at all. I mean, was he even in the studio with Ken to lay down his BV? Or was it just done elsewhere? Another studio in another part of the country? Did he meet Hillage then? Or was the meeting up with Hillage not until they actually started working with him on SAF/SFC? I guess these questions are like peeing in the wind and will have to remain as ambiguous as his lyrics. Guesswork.
The sum of Jim’s contribution is on this track linked below. The lead single off the album – Dance House. Lockie of course returns the favour by being a backing vocalist on SAF/SFC.
I’ve got to say, this track has become quite the earworm – hence the artwork it inspired last night. Enjoy!
I never shared this one properly before, so here it is fully scanned. God I love those Sheila Rock photos. Jim is utterly lickable! Him being photographed without a shirt on (not that you can tell it much from the way it’s printed in the magazine) is ALWAYS a bonus! 🤤🤤😛😛😛
And so you can use the zoom feature better, I will add the pages again in a gallery – then you can click on the thumbnails and use the feature on the bottom right of the page to see the full scan.
I am very proud to know this lady and call her my friend and to do the tiny bits of work I do for her. It’s a privilege. And I don’t know how she puts up with my endless sycophantic, forlorn “I love Jim” crap but she does and it means the world.
So here I am, on this blog, waxing lyrical about the lady whose photos of Simple Minds and of Jim have always been and always will be my favourites. But not just those, so many others of hers too. And not just of pop stars and punk bands, either.
You can read Virginia’s interview with Artefact magazine by clicking the photo below…
You can always check out Virginia’s social media pages on Facebook and Instagram – just search for “Virginia Turbett Photography” on FB and IG to find her. Prints are always available to buy via her website at www.virginiaturbett.com
Today we commemorate the achievement of Simple Minds being at No. 1 in the US chart in 1985 with the ubiquitous Don’t You (Forget About Me) with some archival camera trickery. Or is it? Did she take a tumble? Did Jim trip her up? Or…as I suggested to her…did she finally fall under his spell? Lol. No! This is the lady who told Iggy Pop she was too busy working in her dark room (she was working when he called to be fair) to go and “hang out” with him!!! (I know!!!) I doubt Jim had much of a chance.
I’ve been meaning to share this here. Someone posted it on the SMOG FB page and…well, look at the photo. Jesus, he’s such a flirt! God, I’d give anything!
You beautiful man, Mr Kerr. I wish I didn’t adore you so much.
I love the story behind the crane. I never even thought about it being that – that he bought it for that reason. That’s frigging adorable!
It’s these things! These kind of actions! It’s not just the aesthetic of him. It’s all of it. His words. How he sees the world. How he relates to things. How things impact upon him. All of that. All of that makes me love him.
Not just him being a singer and lyricist in a band. That’s almost irrelevant – it’s only relevant in terms of making him known to me. It’s the person he is – the character. He’s beauty personified.
Jim Kerr, you are just the most beautiful thing to me and you bring me to tears.
You can read the full post about the time NZ music journalist, Helen Collett, met up with the Minds (and the resulting Kerr/Collett flirtathon) by clicking HERE
Won this magazine on eBay. Came from a seller in Belgium. I have scanned the whole magazine and will share it soon. In the meantime, I just wanted to share the images that I scanned of the magazine. I tried to clean them up and stop them from looking like little black and white Lichtenstein’s. I’m not sure how successful I’ve been. Some I’ve never seen before, hence I was so keen to get this magazine.
Etienne Tordoir was obviously on the set when they were recording Someone Somewhere In Summertime and Glittering Prize for that Belgian TV music show. Nice to see a still photo from that.
And I’d never seen half of those Corbijn photos from the OUAT recordings in New York. I know several of them where in the tour program, but some of these I had never, ever seen. Not sure who’s with Jim in the studio photo, whether it’s Bob or Jimmy or neither of them as it really doesn’t look like either of them – but I don’t know who else it would be.
I’d try and ask Jim but… there is just no point. He’s not around. And I am really not wanting to go anywhere NEAR the fan pages at the moment. And, well, he probably wouldn’t remember or be able to tell who it is anyway.
Maybe if someone else knows? Answers on a postcard.