No News Isn’t Always Good News…

Ah…you know what I was saying in my video(s) yesterday about being mildly gutted if my fan bit is not in the book…well…

Seemingly those who are in it have been receiving emails about it being confirmed that YES – they ARE in the book and that they can see their piece in the book before committing to buying it.

No such email has arrived in my Inbox as yet. I have a sinking feeling!

On top of that, there was something else I had been anticipating happening that didn’t eventuate either.

Today I feel very dejected AND rejected! I don’t need this two days before my birthday! I feel like I’m being kicked while I’m down!

And this was the main reason I grappled about even submitting anything because I KNEW that if I did and my bit didn’t get to be in the book – I’d be gutted. Better to have not bothered was my reckoning. I couldn’t be disappointed about it then. Save myself the heartache.

Silly, I know, but it was the reason behind not putting something in in the first place. Just all those things… I’ve had my five minutes, Jim’s sick to the eye teeth of me, the fans wish I would fuck off and die, I have no idea what to write about, I’m a johnny-come-lately with no real story to tell.

ANYWAY! You just have to keep on keeping on. You just have to keep holding your head up high and just…push on.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!

I was too good for the book! 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

As if.

Perhaps my email just hasn’t arrived yet? Lol. Yeah…

I know. It is what it is. Never mind. I’ll have all the rest of the lovely thing to enjoy. Signed photos. A lanyard that I should have got at Copenhagen on the soundcheck that couldn’t happen! Or at the meet and greets that didn’t take place. An old poster. The certificate of authenticity! Ticket stubs. The fridge magnet! The badge stickers. I wish one of those badge stickers had been the screenshot of Jim on Top Of The Pops in the white jaiket when they were on doing Promised You A Miracle. Lol – I’ve got to take all the small, petty things that make me happy!

MUSTN’T GRUMBLE…

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.

Extra T Rex

After I had done my post about Ride A White Swan last night – I did a thing I usually do not do and posted to SMOG before researching my topic and then proceeded to make a right tit of myself!

Well, I’ll blame being unwell for that because, normally, I’d go out on the web and search for info first. But last night I didn’t. So, I ended up posting to SMOG saying “does anyone know if SM have ever covered a T Rex song?”

Within a minute of the post being approved there was word back that, yes, they had and it was the song linked below.

I even have the Rejuvenation box set – IN BOTH FORMATS and I still forgot about it! I don’t even think I listened to their version until this morning. Or if I had I must have wiped it from memory.

I love that they do covers, I do. But, like in all things…some things work, others don’t. I know my “art” is not always best. I mean, geez, I probably have a “hit” rate of about one in thirty…if I’m lucky! Very much in dream land to think it’s as low as one in thirty – and to refer to it as “art”.

And right now, I couldn’t feel any more disliked by Jim so it hardly matters what I am about to say about their version of Children Of The Revolution – but I won’t slate it! Although, I feel it is a TAD rich that when I shared a link to the Violent Femmes version of it some years back, Jim replied with “Oh God, that’s rubbish!” Lol

All I’ll actually say is – some covers work and others don’t. Simple Minds have done some really stellar cover versions of other people’s songs. My fave of them all is All Tomorrow’s Parties. And with Jim being the massive Lou Reed and Velvet Underground fan that he is, I know that will make him happy to hear that. Just…you know…stroke the old ego before…BAM!

Sorry! Maybe it was just the choice of song. Maybe you should have plumbed for 20th Century Boy or Jeepster? Or Hot Love? Who knows? I dunno.

Anyway, see what you guys think…

The T Rex Effect

I’m still listening to the MainMan podcast each week. Avidly devouring each new episode every Thursday night (a distraction from an otherwise hollow “Kerrsday”).

This week’s episode was centred around the early career of Marc Bolan – as a rival (but also sometimes collaborator) and contemporary of David Bowie’s and how firstly with Tyrannosaurus Rex and then, latterly, the diminutively titled T Rex, Bolan got the early success.

They spoke with both Tony’s Defries and Visconti about their thoughts and feelings on Bolan. Visconti being the producer of the early Tyrannosaurus Rex albums, first of which was the succinctly (not!) named “My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair…But Now They’re Content To Wear Stars In Their Brows.”

Up for discussion within it was Ride A White Swan – which I freely admit to not knowing that well. Or at least not as well as I should do, perhaps. Actually, truth be told, Bolan and T. Rex hadn’t been something I have ever much immersed myself in to. Of course I have been aware of Marc Bolan for many years and have known several T. Rex songs. Love several of them, in fact! And I have been long aware (as an avid Bowie fan) of the rivalry, bond and – quite often grudging – respect both men had for each other.

I decided that once I had listened to the podcast, I’d give Ride A White Swan a listen. I would be able to hear it with completely fresh ears as I had never really taken much notice of it at all to be fair. Unlike knowing my way around Get It On, Jeepster, Children Of The Revolution, 20th Century Boy, Cosmic Dancer or Metal Guru…for example.

I did a bit of research first. Just a quick look around the Tyrannosaurus Rex discography, just to see if (at a glance) you could detect the dividing line between what was Tyrannosaurus Rex to T. Rex. The first defining part is when Marc Bolan fires Steve Peregrin Took. The second is the move from acoustic to electric guitars.

So, what did I think of Ride A White Swan? Not a lot, be honest with you. I’m all for nonsense pop. And things that are upbeat and lightweight but. I dunno. It’s quite repetitive and his vocal on it really is the most annoying version of that “baa lamb” singing style he had.

Released almost 50 years to the day, it only seemed to have appeared as a single. It wasn’t a track on the T. Rex album, nor did it appear on Electric Warrior. Tyrannosaurus Rex had THREE albums out before Bolan ousted Steve Peregrin Took and replaced him with Mickey Finn and shortened the band name to T. Rex, went electric and released the fourth, eponymously titled album. In fact, a lot of the T. Rex album had already been written – and some already previously recorded.

I am actually surprised how indifferent I feel to the song as from Hot Love onwards, right up to 20th Century Boy, I love every single there is.

Perhaps I need to do more delving as well? More exploration.

One also can’t help but wonder how things would have continued for Bolan, had tragedy not struck on that fateful day in September, ‘77. Esp. as it had seen Bowie and Bolan back recording together since recording The Prettiest Star together way back in 1970.

Marc seemed less adaptable than David. Who knows how his career would have continued on? Perhaps he’d have found his own way of reinventing himself? We’ll never know.

Anyway, despite my own indifference, I wish a happy 50th anniversary to Ride A White Swan – it’s a whole week older than me!

So…what do you people think of Ride A White Swan? I’d like to hear from anyone reading this on your thoughts about it. Get in touch in whatever means. Comment here on the blog, or if I’ve shared via social media comment there. All thoughts are welcome.

Briefly In Other News…

Someone dropped THIS bombshell this morning as I was preparing my punk themed post…

You guys know where to get all the info from. You don’t need me to update you. This blog would be surplus to requirements if its purpose was to report Simple Minds news! Lol.

The band have that one covered on their social media. Anyways!

Well, wherever he and Charlie may be…it’s bearing fruit.

There they are, offering that “black light” to us. In the heart of darkness, they shine!

Review: In Memory Of My Feelings – Catherine Anne Davies and Bernard Butler

It has been a little over 10 years since Catherine Anne Davies and Bernard Butler first decided to team up with each other and work on producing music together. They quickly felt they had the makings of an album together. Little by little things came together, building on their work together when time allowed. A few years down the track with Catherine working on her on solo career as The Anchoress, and then being part of the touring band with Simple Minds and in between those things juggling with continuing work with Butler on what would become In Memory Of My Feelings. Talk about multi-tasking!

The album was all but completed for a number of years. Davies and Butler suffered knock backs. Record companies would show an interest and then inexplicably go cold on the idea. But both Catherine and Bernard knew they had a diamond here! They just needed someone else to see, feel and hear it! Enter Pete Paphides and his newly established record label, Needle Mythology. He knew the gem that was before him. And so, with one last little hiccup along the way (the test pressing of the album causing a problem which meant a one month delay from the initial release date of September 18th), Friday – at last – saw the release of In Memory Of My Feelings, on vinyl, CD and in digital format and through streaming services.

Was it worth the wait? My opinion – a resounding YES!

The Breakdown: It’s beautiful melancholia. Catherine has a knack for that. Its sparse chords and mirrored vocal harmonies exude fear and regret but…there is light. The best melancholic songs always bring a hope with them. There is hope. It ends in hope. There is love. Strength. And the offering of courage.

Ten Good Reasons: It has been my earwarm all day! There is sass and sensuality and sultriness. Relationships when they hit the rocks and flatline. Do we push on? Is there any sense in doing so? That’s what I hear in this song. Again, impeccable harmonies and fabulous guitar work from Butler. The final 30 seconds of the song is just…perfection. That repetition of “what a mess we’re in” and then the ending piano chords. Geez…I know that is something. Or is a nod to something familiar but I can’t put my finger on it! (Catherine might tell me if she sees this?)

Sabotage (Looks So Easy): Rocking. Just – pow – straight in! Intelligent lyrics. Just punchy and ballsy. Again full of sass and attitude. We’re not gonna take deceit lying down.

In Memory Of My Feelings: It’s like three songs in one! What a break up song! Just, the musical weaving and blending, ducking and diving. The harmonies! My god, the harmonies on this album are flawless! Delivery on the lyrics “because you can’t take it back / you’ve done it now / and that is that” during the bridge breaks (right term?) are just beautiful. This could be my favourite track on the album. It just has such layers to it. And the dark and light of it. It interplays with mood and colour. Light and shade. It’s fabulous!

I Know: Or is THIS my favourite track? THE HARMONIES! I want to die! And with Butler’s guitar riding it all underneath…geez! It really is a beauty this one. Tenderness. Such tenderness to it! A love that is blossoming yet already faltering? Everything is all tentative. It’s beautiful, this. Just really beautiful.

Judas: LET’S ROCK! Just to dry up those tears shed from the beauty of the previous track. It’s a rollercoaster, this album! A rollercoaster of gems! Just absorb the sensuality and sultriness of this one. And just eat up that jangling guitar. Sell it to me, brother! (I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. Lol)

No More Tears To Cry: It’s almost a gospel tune. What fabulous lines “here in my mouth / here in my heart / is the place where the hunger starts”. And fabulous guitar work for BB. Esp. on this track. His guitar work is strongest on this. Great middle solo. Oh, it’s SSOOO good!

The Waiting Game: I don’t usually hear much of Manic Street Preachers influence on Catherine, but I hear it really strongly on this track. Abandonment? It’s the worst! It’s the daisy petal game, this song. “He loves me. He loves me not.” We’ve all done it, even if just metaphorically most times…picking them petals off the daisy. Life is a waiting game…for buses, trains, planes, people to tell you they love you and want to be with you. This song is catchy AF.

The Patron Saint Of The Last Cause: When you don’t feel you are worthy of anyone’s attention or interest or kindness. Melancholic again, but delivered to sound lighthearted. “Hey, I’m a fuck up. Don’t be bothering yourself with me” to an upbeat tune.

F.O.H.: Again, those bloody harmonies. Hell! And then…
To be honest…this is the only track I am kinda grappling with. I don’t know what to make of it still. I am not saying I don’t like it. I just don’t find it so easy to express how I feel about it/what I’m getting from it. The jury’s out a little…but that’s okay. If we say this is one only song I am really not gelling with that well with then, that gives this album a massive 9/10!

The Bonus tracks:
Live To Tell is a stellar version of the Madonna original. Much more emotional to me. Catherine’s vocal performance utterly perfect. Lovely space left on the track too. Excellently executed. Better than the original.
The Patron Saint Of The Lost Cause (Harmonium Version) the air of lightheartedness on the album version is diminished somewhat by the barebones harmonium sound. It isn’t a bad thing. I really like both versions.

Why this album was such a long push to get to be released is truly perplexing having listened to it several times now. The rejecting record company’s loss and Needle Mythology’s gain. Congratulations to Catherine and Bernard. And well done to the both of you for having the courage of your convictions to know that what you had produced here deserved to have an audience because you were both SSOO right!

In Memory Of My Feelings is a very strong album. Great lyrics, fabulous harmonies, musically “on point”. Everything just fits.

I can’t recommend this album enough!
It’s near faultless.
It has to be a 9/10!

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! ❤️