The poster arrived today. It looks REAL good! I want it on the wall already but the current frames I have, it won’t fit in properly. I’ll lose detail, I think. It seems wider than the frame so I’d lose detail on Jim and/or Brian if I framed it in one of my current frames. Damn it! I thought I’d be getting it up on the wall in a day or two!
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!
It’s the 18th of November, 1982 and Mel Gaynor is making his live debut for Simple Minds as they play to a raucous home crowd at Tiffany’s in the “Dear Green Place”. Mel’s an accomplished drummer, no question there! But he’s still learning the SM repertoire of songs. Of course he’s familiar enough with what’s on New Gold Dream – it’s his drumming on about 70% of the album’s output. But as for the rest of the Simple Minds catalogue? He had to learn pretty quick!
Mike Ogletree was touring with them through all of 1982 and for whatever reason (he just didn’t quite fit? Who knows? All I know is I have grown a huge amount of respect for Mike over the past six months or so listening to all these bootlegs) they parted ways. I think Mike will always have a subtleness in his playing that Mel lacks (or perhaps just doesn’t use as often – he’s a hitter). And well, I guess Simple Minds probably wouldn’t have sounded QUITE so bombastic on Sparkle In The Rain and Once Upon A Time without Mel behind the kit. It’s an interesting supposition to ponder how things might have progressed with Mike there.
Speaking of Once Upon A Time and the sessions around it (and the reason behind this whole MMM post) – take a listen to this version of Sweat In Bullet from Mel’s debut gig. Is it just me…or does it sound like he’s about to start off playing Don’t You (Forget About Me)? I was genuinely perplexed when the song starts, it’s only when Jim intros it as Sweat In Bullet did I have any idea of what it’s actually meant to be! Lol. Just two nights later at Newcastle and Mel has the rhythm of the song sussed and it’s sounding more like it should. By far one of, if not THE funkiest track Simple Minds have ever produced.
Let me know what you guys think. Do you hear the hallmarks of Mel’s “Don’t You” intro on it?
I’d love to know more about when and where this video of Love Song was done (ie: which music program, which country and when – 1981 is all I got)! Answers on a postcard.
At least I know a tad more about the Hear Here appearance and thank fuck they were allowed to perform live! I’ve never got music shows that have bands on and then don’t let them play live. What is the bloody point of having them on if they don’t play live?!
Anyway, enjoy these two in a bit more clarity than before.
Ever wondered about those two blurred beauties photographed in action on the covers of Love Song and Sons And Fascination (and no, I don’t mean Jim and Charlie. Lol)?
Well, I can tell you they are two 1960s American classic cars. One is a red 1969 Plymouth Sport Fury and the other is a black 1964 Cadillac Fleetwood. I think we can agree that these beauties are as much the stars of the cover art of these releases as much as Simple Minds are themselves, no?
You can read more about the Love Song/Sons And Fascination cover art by visiting the Dream Giver info page HERE
The YouTube clips below show the cars in their glory. Obviously not the EXACT ones on the covers, but the same makes and models. The cars aren’t the same colour but it’s such a fab/naff advert for the Plymouth and PETULA CLARK sings the blooming jingle! And just being able to hear the sound of the Cadillac engine – OMG…pure car p0rn!
Thanks to MX for the additional information on the cars.
In a small village called Little Chalfont, in the Buckinghamshire countryside near the town of Amersham…. five band members and a producer that they (the band) admit to having slight reservations about (they wanted Todd Rundgren but he only worked out of Sigma Sound in New York and Virgin deemed the idea too expensive to hire him, then it was proposed they use Martin Rushent but he was unavailable, or Steve Lillywhite but he was deemed too expensive also at that point in time) enter a recording studio and started to record what would be, for me, quite possibly their most remarkable album(s). There may have been trepidation to start with. And it may have continued to be fraught with indecision, but what sprang forth from it, in hindsight, is…wondrous!
Steve Hillage sounded the least authoritarian producer you could wish for, which one could argue wasn’t what a still fledgeling Simple Minds needed at that point – their three album recording history with John Leckie meant that it was an entirely unknown dynamic for the boys when they entered Farmyard Studios with “old Cabbage Head” to record their 4th and 5th albums. They sounded as if they needed the discipline that Hillage lacked giving them – at the time – but it also released something profound too. Perhaps a modicum of freedom that they needed? Yes, it meant they were indecisive about which songs to work on, but wow! I mean, talk about spoilt for choice when you feel your hands are tied and say “we’ll take them all in!”
Perhaps this is why we’ll never see a Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call boxset? Do we have it all already? Well…I can’t imagine that is true! Just last night on the Dream Giver site I read about demos that were recorded at CaVa Studios in Glasgow. And when I interviewed Jaine Henderson a couple of years back she had told me that initially Love Song was offered to her by Jim to perform and record. Imagine it! What would be their biggest hit of the time – until Promised You A Miracle is released 12 months later – might not have even been a Simple Minds hit! Jaine wasn’t persuaded. She wasn’t a singer or performer.
I’m guessing those CaVa demos are what ended up on the Silver Box set that Virgin brought out in 2004? There are demo versions of Love Song, The American, Careful In Career and Sweat In Bullet on there – as well as (dare I mention it?) the forgotten Life In Oils – which fell somewhere between the tracks of Empires And Dance and Sons/Sister. Already too much new stuff they were working on as the Sons/Sister sessions started, it got ditched, much to mine and John Leckie’s consternation.
They nearly called him (Leckie) back into the studio, they ended up so directionless with Hillage – but would we have ended up with what now feels like such a rich tapestry? The album needed to formulate and end up shaped in the way it was. A bulging overspill of creative energy. A band oozing with an abundance that sees them on the cusp of something grand. You can feel it. You can almost taste it! With long hindsight, and even with its (SUBTLE) imperfections both Jim and Charlie value it for the creative tour de force it was.
For your listening pleasure – a fantastic recording of them made in San Fransisco while they were on tour. Recorded by Frank Gallagher, no less, and aired exclusively on Billy Sloan’s radio show for Clyde Radio back in July, 1982. I’m assuming the recording was made the previous November as they played San Fransisco on November 7th, 1981. They didn’t tour the U.S. again until 1983 and SAF was no longer on the the setlist by then.
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.
As I said yesterday in my Sunday Waffle Vlog post, I went looking through the Art & Talk YouTube channel for something else to listen to, having been enjoying his more recent offerings.
I gazed upon the one below and thought “well, it’s only a few weeks prior to one of my most favoured gigs – one that helped to cement my uber SM fandom – Rockpalast in Cologne” so to me it had the strong potential of being a goodun’.
I was NOT disappointed! Right from the get go! Changeling – Jim just spits venom and vitriol. God I bloody LOVE IT when he performs like this. I find it absolutely as sexy as fuck! It’s just so…visceral and guttural and just….I just want to lick him from head to toe!
Then Thirty Frames and the switching of the lines – Jack comes back earlier than normal. Lol. But then, almost in a way angry at himself mabbies for fluffing up and putting the lines in the wrong place, he follows it with a “fuck you, Jack!” Lol
Premonition next and a fab version. Sweat In Bullet also. Then early outings for Promised You A Miracle – already been out as a single and FINALLY, Simple Minds score strong chart positions with a single. King Is White And In The Crowd follows, and Jim continues to spit venom with the “Wire them up! Fire them up!” lines.
The wonderful pairing (still being paired together to this day) of I Travel and Celebrate. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a crap version of Celebrate. JIM – I WANT TO BE YOUR RAG DOLL!!! Jesus fucking christ this man is so fucking sexy! Ermaaaaageeeerd! Had I actually been around for these gigs in 1982 – I think I’d have melted in a puddle most nights.
Then what is always my favourite at gigs – The American. Then finally, a fabulous version of Room – a shame it fades out towards the end….but we probably got 80-85% of the song.
Let’s move away from me concentrating on Jim’s performance and my…stirrings and talk about the quality of the recording and the rest of the band performance. The band – all tight AF. A really good turn from Mike O on the drums. The more I get exposed to Mike’s performances, the more I am coming round to appreciate him. Derek and Charlie both solid as ever. Mick was probably great too – but some of the keyboards got lost in the mix. Other than that, the sound quality is pretty ace. I mean, I proper recording as I guess it was recorded for a radio station as this version of the gig was recorded off Dutch radio by a fan. Jim sounds very strong and clear – hence all the visceral sounding stuff coming to the fore soundwise.
I really loved this gig. I found adrenaline pumping – if for no other reason than Jim’s vocal performance and his absolute SEX GOD appeal! Be still my beating ovaries! GODDAMN!!
A “new” recording from Art & Talk was dropped late on Monday night. A true bootleg, recorded from within the crowd. For a bootleg, the quality is absolutely AMAZING!
They open with Waterfront. Jim intros it with “this is Barrowland, this is Christmas, you’re Glasgow and this is Waterfront.” Later on in the song, Jim says “this song is about Glasgow. There’s something about Glasgow, and other cities like Glasgow. People say Glasgow gets you down but I believe in Glasgow things are gonna turn around and go UP”.
That vision. That faith he has in the city it just feels sssooo contagious and beautiful. Even though in latter years he’s talked about it being all monochrome and that he and Charlie wanted to get out – not so much because they hated Glasgow – nothing like it – but that there was just a big old world out there to see and they wanted to see it. It was Wanderlust. And Glasgow is definitely not monochrome any more.
The love he has for Glasgow is so palpable in this.
Then on to The American. “Tonight’s a special night. It’s the first night of this new venue. The best venue. And this song is called…The American.” LISTEN TO THAT CROWD GO MENTAL!
The real special treat? Hearing White Hot Day. As it started to play I was thinking “what is this? It must be something off Sparkle, right? Or is it? Perhaps a different start to East At Easter? Maybe a different start to Book Of Brilliant Things? No… what is it?” And then Mick’s keyboards and Charlie’s guitar riff kick in and wow! “IT’S WHITE HOT DAY! OH MY GOD!”
Just beautiful! And Jim sings with such passion! The energy is astounding! It’s 3am when I’m listening and I just want to fling myself out of bed and just dance and scream and sing at the top of my lungs. Lol
Track of the track, it just builds and builds.
Up On The Catwalk – Jim changing the words to say “Get out of Glasgow, go up to Brixton”. I love those little things.
The intros of the songs are just so lovely. Promised You A Miracle and then Someone Somewhere In Summertime. During PYAM, he says, “I spoke to some people today. People who traveled from London and Birmingham and Manchester. People who traveled from France and Belgium. And I asked them ‘why’d you come to Glasgow?’ Do you know what they said? They said they’d heard it was the best audience in the world. (Crowd cheers) I’ve told you that before but you don’t believe me. And you’re right not believe me because I’m biased.”
Someone Somewhere In Summertime intro “for this next one, you’re gonna have to use your imagination. It’s cold outside but this is called…”
The interaction Jim has with the crowd throughout this gig is just so amazing. Even 12 months prior to this he seemed to struggle to be this engaging with the crowd. You could see and sense him slowly getting more comfortable during the New Gold Dream tour but I think the festivals in Europe during the spring and summer of 1983 really helped out with that. At least in part. A culmination of New Gold Dream being so well received, the band being so tight and on it, Mel joining – I think he gave Jim an added backbone of support. You can really feel that point Jim made when talking of Mel when he first joined the band. He said of him “with Mel behind me I feel 10 feet tall.” You can hear it!
Speaking of New Gold Dream – this version of the song is OUT OF THIS WORLD!
Finally, the fun of Love Song. Dedicating it to all the people who traveled to see them at Barras, and for all the local Glaswegians. And I loved the alternating line of “Scotland’s a boyfriend.”
An amazing, wonderful gig. I’ll stop waxing lyrical and let you enjoy it for yourself.
Thanks to Art & Talk for the upload – he promises a second night for us shortly…
P.S. Jim – I adore you, you beautiful man! Thank you for being the most amazing frontman ever! ❤️❤️