Touching Base With The Anchoress


Yay! It’s Friday – I’m In Love …. is the new Bandcamp Friday offering from The Anchoress. Officially released on Tuesday (don’t ask me, I think it was Bandcamp’s decision as an end-of-the-month special or something?), it’s the latest regular release that The Anchoress has made.

Catherine is currently working on a covers album – covers? “Re-imagines”? Musical homages? It seems the term ‘cover’ has some disdain or condescending tones attached to it (not for me, I’d like to point out!) – until such time as there is deemed a more apt description, it is what I’ll go with.

I digress.

Catherine has been recording tracks like these during the pandemic and making them available at regular intervals.

This time it has been the turn of The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love. It’s a gorgeous thing. All of Catherine’s covers have been wonderful. Keep an eye on her Bandcamp site for more releases at: https://iamtheanchoress.bandcamp.com/

As a personal side note – I am off to Edinburgh tonight to see Jimmy Webb. I’m both looking forward to it but a little apprehensive at the same time. Not about the gig itself just more that – it’s a bank holiday, it’s Edinburgh, and I’m travelling alone and won’t be getting back to Glasgow until well after midnight! Wish me luck!

Review: Sarah Brown Sings Mahalia Jackson


“It’s been a long time coming”, as Sam Cooke sang, “but a change is gonna come.” The time has come for Sarah Brown. Long established as a backing vocalist for a number of world renowned musical artists including; Stevie Wonder, George Michael, Bryan Ferry and Duran Duran, Sarah is currently on tour with Simple Minds.

It is during her past 12 years with Simple Minds, led by bolstering confirmation, mentorship and camaraderie from Minds frontman, Jim Kerr, that Ms Brown has stepped out beyond the backing vocalist background. Afforded the freedom and confidence to take on more of a co-vocalist role within the Simple Minds touring set-up has given Sarah the added confidence she freely admits to have lacked in the past. 

This strength in confidence has led on to Sarah releasing her debut solo album, ‘Sarah Brown Sings Mahalia Jackson’. Jackson was the leading positive figurehead for the young Brown growing up in the quiet Buckinghamshire town of Aylesbury. 

The album is a joyous and empowering homage to a gospel great. 

Opener ‘Nobody Knows’ emulates musically Sarah’s whole journey to this point. Starting so quietly and solemnly until BAM – we get into the guts of it and here she comes, telling us in a not-to-be-reckoned-with style, “You think you’ve had troubles? You ain’t had NOTHING compared to ME, mister! But I didn’t let it get me down. No way, no how! Let’s kick this stuff into touch!”

Lead single from the album, ‘I’m On My Way’, emphasises that in some respects Sarah’s journey is only just beginning. It’s happening! She’s coming for us! Blessed be! 

The standout at this early point in the album not only is very obviously Sarah’s voice, but also the wonderful piano work from Colin Good. It’s an instrument made to accompany Sarah’s voice and Good is masterful in weaving that accompanying instrument around Sarah’s exquisite alto tone. 

‘Didn’t It Rain’ is soul and gospel richness. If I was Noah and Sarah came a-knocking there’d be NO WAY I’d not be letting her in, geez! I could play this track most days in this city I love (Glasgow) and it would be the best response to ward off any ‘blues’ from the endless rain this “Dear Green Place” seems to require to stay green. 

On Sarah’s interpretation of ‘Summertime’, the blend of bass, organ and piano are as heavenly as Sarah’s voice. Kudos to Luke Smith and Tom Wheatley for their musicianship on organ and bass, respectively. This version of ‘Summertime’ is a beautiful mellow, languid piece. An adult lullaby – if such a thing can exist? So soothing. Sublime. Really give it the attention it deserves. Make sure you have a quiet 35 minutes to really immerse yourself in the experience of listening to this album, especially when it comes to this track. 

And if you think I’ve forgotten to mention someone on the musician list? No, no, no…Jerome Brown’s time comes with the next song. I hope you didn’t get too comfortable listening to that wonderfully languid version of ‘Summertime’? Because you’re gonna be getting up out of your seat for ‘Walking Over Heaven’. The second single off the album, released just a few weeks before the album’s release is rally-calling uplifting dynamo of gospel soul bliss. Thumping, hollering glory! And those backing vocals – oh my word! And how great is it that Sarah is the lead having HER vocals being backed up?! About time!

A simple prayer. A simple wish. Expressed angelically. ‘Just a Closer Walk’ is that most splendid of blues gospel tunes, all in the subtlety of it is its power. One that slowly builds to a modest crescendo. It’s pretty close to perfection, this track. 

There’s a storm brewing. A dark timbre and metre. ‘Trouble of the World’ doesn’t lull you into any false sense of security. It’s straight down the line. These are dark times. What drama this song has! And what an ending! It’s a heavy piece and very dramatic, but again, exquisitely executed. 

‘Joshua’ is a fantastic blend of blues, gospel and jazz. An absolute foot-tapper. Short and to the point. Nothing is wasted here. 

If you aren’t brought to tears by Sarah’s version of ‘Amazing Grace’, you’re made of much tougher stuff than I am. In fact I’d be brutal enough to say that you might like to check if there is a heart inside that chest of yours. 

In all, Ms Brown’s debut solo album is an immaculate homage to an incredible, inspiring woman, who in turn has given us another incredible and inspiring woman in her wake. 

Us Simple Minds fans have been blessed to have experienced and enjoyed Sarah’s voice and spirit for a number of years now and we all feel so immensely proud that ‘Oor Sadie’ has found her wings and is soaring high. 

If you’re seeking music that uplifts and brings you joy and has elements of jazz, blues and gospel to it, I cannot recommend ‘Sarah Brown Sings Mahalia Jackson’ strongly enough.

Sarah’s done ‘Halie proud. She’s done all of us fans proud. Most importantly, she’s done herself proud. Hallelujah, Ms Brown. Hallelujah!

Sarah Brown Sings Mahalia Jackson is out now and available for purchase through Sarah’s website at: https://www.sarahbrownofficial.com/

Cannoli Get Better?

Good news from His Nibs today in his latest post. A number of good news pieces, for him – Villa Angela has once again opened its doors (just in case that whole “being the frontman for the best live band in the world” suddenly starts to go all pear-shaped after 40+ years, like). Whilst it remained closed to the public during lockdown(s), the space didn’t lay dormant, as he went on to explain. The fruits of it in summary – new SM music making its way to the general public imminently. 

If the things I have been seeing bandied about in the fandom are to be believed, somewhere around October is the projected ETA. (Or should that be ETR – estimated time [of] release?) Just in time for my birthday…the final Friday of the month falling on October 28th. That’ll do me just fine, thank you very much! 

With that I am assuming there will be a plan for a tour next year to properly unleash it to the world in a similar vein to how Walk Between Worlds was thrust upon the world? Usually with new music comes a new tour, so I am very much hoping this will be the case. I already have targets in sight for where I’d like to see them play – somewhat dependent upon the venues chosen and my state of health and availability next year. As well as the old financial impact with such things! 

I’m already bringing my mindset back to being of the feeling of ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’ – so, all being good I’d like to do Amsterdam (must be the Paradiso venue though, otherwise…meh) and Berlin. At the moment I am seeing that, from Paris, the tour’s schedule takes them on to Berlin and it’s killing me! Berlin has been my ‘bucket list’ destination for more years than I care to remember now. So, Amsterdam would be nice, but Berlin is a must! And I’m not even fussed by the venue.

Pre-Covid, I could have just thrown caution to the wind and at this late stage had tagged on going to Berlin straight after Paris, but I can’t do that now. After Paris all I have left is Blenheim Palace and the two Edinburgh Summer Sessions shows and they’ll have to suffice this year. I’ve gone to fewer gigs this year than on previous tours, but only by ONE GIG – it just feels so much less this time. In real terms, and if I factor in that I had at least gone to Copenhagen before the tour halted in 2020, I haven’t gone to any less shows on this tour. Actually, with Copenhagen being my own personal SAF/SFC accumulative tally dilemma (ie: do I count it as two gigs or one? Two distinct and separately billed gigs, just on the one night – and a largely separate audience at both gigs, etc, etc – I count it as two) it could be argued that I will have been to TEN gigs on this tour and therefore it will have been my biggest tour yet!

I’ll have to be more concise and restrained next time. A few shows here in the UK, Berlin as my main overseas jaunt – possibly Amsterdam if it’s at the Paradiso…if not then maybe somewhere else in Germany…Hamburg or Cologne? We’ll see. I’m getting ahead of myself. Before moving away from the topic though, I need to factor in where I will be study wise as well and try and work around that also. I’ll have another module of my course to complete next year before I actually DO get my DipHE in English. Then I will be thinking about moving forward to getting an actual undergraduate degree. 

Briefly on that note – I had a ‘school day’ yesterday. Online tutorials taken as one long block like this, instead of the broken up evening options are referred to as a ‘school day’ as it is a day long set of tutorials starting at 10am and finishing at 3.15pm. I have really enjoyed the previous two school days I had attended and was highly anticipating this one but it left me a little … deflated and unmotivated, sadly. The first tutorial was good. The tutor is very engaging and likes to be very interactive with the students and that’s great. I personally found the topic of this block of four the least ‘interesting’ for me. I don’t know why? Perhaps because I studied the week prior to the block of SM gigs I had coming up, maybe? I should have found it quite interesting as I do love the visual arts, but of the visual arts, sculpture is something that I love most in its modern form and we were looking at Greek and Roman sculpture – from the Archaic Greek (used in its purely academic context), through to the Classical Greek, to the Roman style and only just coming into the time of CE (after the birth of Christ) – to the first and second centuries CE. So…very much NOT modern sculpture. It was enjoyable enough though. 

The next was ‘The Blues’ and this was where my interest lies the most especially for working on my next assessment. I am still weighing up whether to work on my assignment topic as being this, or whether I take a flying leap of faith in myself and take the ‘Writing Stories’ topic and hope for the best? The tutor was engaging but … I didn’t feel like I was getting good guidance or being instructed with much clarity and there were some technical issues that were hindering the tutorial so I came away from it feeling somewhat disappointed. 

We took a break for lunch. The creative writing (ie: Writing Stories) tutorial was next. It was a really tough study week for me, this topic. I didn’t feel any more confident about it being the next tutorial as I took my lunch break. I was dreading it in actual fact. The reality was ssooo different! The tutor scared the crap out of me at the beginning of the tutorial by saying “I am going to give you all time to write something out today”. I had flashbacks of the rare days I’d be in school and we would be given writing tasks and there’s me, staring at a blank page as the minutes tick by and I am paralysed with indecision and inability to put pen to paper on command. 

I embraced it when it came time. We were at least given a starting point. I ran with my starting point and wrote out nearly 200 words in the 10 minutes we were allotted to continue on with one of the story arc options we could choose from. When the tutor returned, we were given another 5 minutes to develop the story from a different perspective. I then wrote out another 80 odd words in the 5 minute allotted block. Both pieces were fluent, linear pieces of imagery and dialogue. Proper scenes. I was really pleased with that. Whether I do anything with it? Whether it becomes part of what I produce for my assignment? At this stage I am unsure. The next assignment is just over three weeks away and although I have done some minor planning (producing a plan is part of the mark for the next assignment), I am still weighing up on deciding my topic.

I seem to have to keep reminding myself who I am. A psychiatrist would have a field day with me, I’m sure! Also…nothing REMOTELY embarrassing revealed in some of the scribble, eh?

Finally, the last tutorial was on reading poetry. I have not studied the unit yet. I will be doing that this week (before Paris!). The tutor was not very engaging and got bogged down on the details of what was required and expected of students if they choose to take the reading poetry unit as their assignment topic. About halfway through I was losing the will to live! I was not engaged with this tutorial at all and I started doodling on this large brown cardboard backed envelope I have on my desk. (See the photo above for all the gory details.) We finished a little early – just after 3pm. I was ssoooo grateful!

Anyway, this was meant to be BRIEF! I’ve taken up half the post with my uni crap! Sorry! It’s the current grapple I have with this blog! I keep wanting to keep this current and fresh with Simple Minds news – but my own personal stuff is occupying my time.

In summary – THERE IS A NEW SIMPLE MINDS ALBUM(s?) TO LOOK FORWARD TO! And…with a new album comes a new tour (one would pretty much guarantee to assume).

YAY!!!

Walk Between Worlds Anniversary And The Continued Viability Of The Physical Format

Yesterday was the anniversary of the release of Walk Between Worlds. It’s been four years now! Where the fuck did four years go?! Bejaysus! Simple Minds fans back in the early days must have felt ssooo spoiled – an album coming out EVERY YEAR! TWICE A YEAR in 1979 (Life In A Day and Real To Real Cacophony) and 1981 (Sons And Fascination and Sister Feelings Call). Not to mention all the touring that went on in between. Holy fuckaroli!

At this point in time four years ago, I was recouping from a whirlwind visit to Glasgow to be at the HMV in Argyle Street for the album signing. Us fans were all lined up early. I was maybe third or fourth in the queue. That’s the WRONG place to be for an event like that. I soon learned – the rookie that I am – when it comes to signing events, you want to be towards the back. More time is afforded to you then when you get to the front. Instead of what happens to those at the front of the queue, which is to be hurried along. 

As we are stood there waiting inside the store, Jim and Charlie enter the room from my right side. Jim sees me in the queue and says hello to me. I immediately want the ground to just envelop me whole. I was standing their with my OH and with Alison Carroll. I’m in my heavy raincoat. Undrerneath I am, for me, “dolled up”. I am a complete nervous wreck. I can remember both my OH and Alison saying to me “do you want to take your jacket off?” “Nah, it’s fine.” I didn’t want to make a fuss or cause a scene. All I could see in my head was the commotion I’d make, handing all the stuff I was carrying over to them, taking the coat off, then getting all the other stuff handed back to me and it all just being a ruckus. 

Can one be both hot AND cold at the same time? Because it was a freezing day and that was also partly why I didn’t want to take my jacket off. But I was warm in the store. I was just, as I say, a wreck. I just wanted it over with. All this stuff is racing through my head standing there as we are waiting to be passed by Jim and Charlie. “He probably thinks I am the saddest, grossest thing he has EVER seen. I look like Edith from Still Game standing there in this coat. A fucking bag lady! Look at me! With all this shit in my hands. What do I look like?! TAKE YOUR FUCKING COAT OFF! YOU IDIOT! Why did you even bother to wear this fucking dress if nobody is going to see it?! What am I going to say to him? Don’t forget to ask if they’ll sign the Virginia print!” Ya da ya da. On it went.

Do I have good memories of it? Yes and no. The bloody sherbet straws thing will forever be immortalised. Stupid. Just stupid. I wish I had some really sharp, funny thing that I did or said or whatever. But no…I’m there looking like a bag lady and throw him a bag of sweets. WHAT ON EARTH WAS I THINKING? Socially inept to the highest degree. I couldn’t have been any less cool if I tried. 

Anyway, the retelling of that nightmare was fun! 

I guess that is why maybe he didn’t check with me on how to spell my name? Either he thought “near enough will be good enough” or he believed he could remember it. Or…he genuinely thought that’s how it’s spelt. Or, that is how Larelle looks when he writes it? Nah – because he has spelt it out clearly on the Hunter And The Hunted piece. He probably was just sparing me the hell of tripping over my own name to spell it out. 

ANYWAY – enough mental scars of that day. (And I am willingly putting myself through MORE meet and greets!? How?!)

Since then, there really has only been two official Simple Minds releases – the 40: The Best of 1979-2019 album which saw the release of For One Night Only, and then just over two weeks ago with the release of Act Of Love. There have been a couple of side projects. A release of a symphonic version of Alive and Kicking in 2019, as well as Trevor Horn’s Reimagines The Eighties album in which Jim, Charlie and Mick MacNeil collaborated with Trevor for a recording of Brothers In Arms.

Other than those lean morsels, it’s been slim pickings. And it’s been a long wait from October, 2019 to January, 2022. 

In Jim’s recent interview with Mark Millar of XS Noize, he alluded to the idea that there is so much new material that has been recorded, we COULD see a double album!! Sons/Sister for the 21st Century? Dare we even dream it?!

Also with that, he was being very pragmatic about even hinting at a release date of new material. So many factors in the mix. Least of all the state of the production of vinyl records right now. 

We need to be honest with ourselves with the future viability of the production of vinyl. It’s not a sustainable thing. It’s not a clean process and not something that as environmentally conscious people we really should be reverting back to. Nostalgic ideals can definitely have negative effects. CD production is probably only nominally cleaner. As wonderful that the experience of listening to things on a physical format is – we really need to weigh up whether it is TRULY worth it. Would you prefer to wait another 12-18 months to hear new Simple Minds music for the sake of having it on CD or vinyl? 

Digipaks were great ideas. And there is no reason why that can’t be done again. I think Simple Minds were pioneers when it came to that kind of thinking. To be able to go to a gig and then at the end of the night, leave the venue with a SD card with a recording of the gig on it? Fucking brilliant! Why did they stop doing that, I wonder? 

Why not Simple Minds be the pioneers AGAIN!? Jim stick with his “fuck nostalgia” line of thinking and ditch the physical format like they have done with Act Of Love? Continue with that. Please!

I know it’s tough, people! But, honestly, when you think about it, how many of you actually sit and play your vinyl records every day? I bet that the majority of you still don’t even have a turntable. We can have everything but! There can still be lovely presentations of the thing. Something that arrives in a 7” or 12” presentation package? Take a look at these examples below. Lovely little presentation boxes. That one of the Greatest Hits+ Live, with that military pilot statue figure on the cover of Empires And Dance then used as a colourful shaped USB stick is just INSPIRED! Even if what we got wasn’t anything at all physical when it comes to receiving the music – that it was just an access code for downloading. It could be done – and it could be presented in a wonderful way – so it still is something collectable and a wonderful keepsake. It doesn’t have to be wrapped up in the environmentally damaging nostalgia trips of owning and playing vinyl records or CDs. 

Just a thought. 

Back to the excitement of the thought of the new music itself. And the notion that, unlike Mr Kerr taking of the previous release of Walk Between Worlds and that being “less is more” with there only being eight tracks on the standard issue CD, Jim in his ever mercurial fashion is now talking in terms of “more is more” – and the proposal of a double album! And with him being as mercurial as he is, I am taking what he says with a pinch of salt. It is just supposition on his part. Something to incite a potential frenzy amongst the fandom.

By the time it comes to pass. If we will be asked to wait about for physical format releases, wait for the end of this tour, etc, etc, it’ll by then be nearing five years and another Olympic length wait.

We’ll see. We can but see.

Finally, Happy Anniversary for yesterday, Walk Between Worlds.

This is still my favourite track from the whole Walk Between Worlds recording. Not filler!

“New” Music News!

After a long, dry spell… (the last new release from Simple Minds being the release of For One Night Only for the 40: The Best Of Simple Minds 1979-2019 release towards the end of 2019) THERE IS NEWS! A new release from Simple Minds in celebration of the band’s debut gig at Glasgow’s Satellite City on January 17th, 1978.

To mark the 44th Anniversary of the gig taking place, the band have re-recorded the first song they performed on the night, Act Of Love.

Act Of Love was previously recorded as a demo. The band’s CaVa demo that secured their initial recording deal.

You can pre-save the recording on your chosen streaming service by clicking on the following link – https://SimpleMinds.lnk.to/ActOfLoveFA

You can also hear the previous incarnation of the song below.

Next week we get the Minds Music Monday to end all Minds Music Mondays! YAAAAS! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

You can read much more by visiting the band website HERE

New Release: Sarah Brown – I’m On My Way

There was new music news yesterday. Sarah Brown shared details of her debut solo album. The album is a tribute to the music of the wonderful and inspirational Mahalia Jackson.

The first single off Sarah’s album, I’m On My Way, will be released on the same day as Themes For Great Cities, January 27th. The date is significant to Mahalia, as it is the 50th anniversary of her death.

The album is set to be released later in 2022 and will be titled “Sarah Brown Sings Mahalia Jackson”. When talking about the song on her social media, Sarah said as follows…

The seed that grew ‘I’m On My Way’ and then the album was planted back some 20 plus years ago, when I was singing backing vocals on the Roxy Music reunion tour.

Waiting for soundcheck, I stood on the stage as Roxys’ pianist Colin Good was warming up on an old blues tune by Ma Rainey. And as he played I was immediately transported back to when I was eight and in church on a Sunday and these matriarchal figures, these big black mamas dressed like Audrey Hepburn, were bellowing out their Mahalia Jackson hymns, they were crying out from their very souls and as I listened to Colin I was crying too, lost in the music and I vowed I’d pay my own homage to Mahalia one day…..

I am really looking forward to hearing this music from Sarah. You can keep up-to-date with Sarah by following her on social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Photo of Sarah by Andrew Cotterill.

New Memes – Heavy Night

Off topic for a reputed Simple Minds blog but… I think this band is just about my favourite of the young Glasgow bands about at the moment and ONE DAY I’ll brave going to see them live.

Over the past couple of years they’ve released several singles. Billy Sloan has been a champion of them and that’s how I got to hear of them initially. New single is out today called “Heavy Night”. The video is awesome as well. Who disnae like to have a wee dance around the Clyde with a paper bag over their heid? Lol

Anyway, enjoy Memes with “Heavy Night”. It’s a catchy little fucker.