Once Upon A Time …. I Liked It

It was 36 years since the release of Once Upon A Time yesterday. I find it an anniversary that usually passes me by without any fanfare. Unlike April for Life In A Day. Or November for Real To Real Cacophony. Or even my birthday for Big Music (seemingly deemed to be early November these days as its release but I received my pre-ordered copy on my birthday in 2014).

But especially in September when we get the run of anniversaries just a day apart – Empires And Dance, Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call and New Gold Dream.

This is starting to sound like I am big on anniversaries and know them all….but I don’t. Once Upon A Time is a case in point. It slips my mind every year. Probably because of the time of year it happens. Ten days before my birthday. I’m usually preoccupied with that.

In 1985 I got the album for my birthday…I think. It might have been for Christmas….I have an appalling memory! I know I wanted it though and I did receive a copy of it for either of these occasions. It was the first Simple Minds piece of music I had ever owned. It SHOULD mean more to me! I SHOULD remember the date. There SHOULD be some significance to it, but alas….

Why? Why is that? Honestly? I think I have just grown weary of it. Which is sad. I feel sad that I feel like this. I didn’t feel this way about OUAT in 2014. But the whole Simple Minds back catalogue was so new to me then. I felt a nostalgia and a reverence for the album then. 

Move forward to 2021 and I can’t even play the album these days. Or more, I have little interest in playing it. Unlike with Real To Real, EAD, SAF/SFC and NGD – all of whose songs I never tire of. I just can’t bring myself to listen to Once Upon A Time.

It kind of scares me how tired of Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself, All The Things She Said, and even the title track Once Upon A Time I have become. To a lesser degree it affects Ghostdancing and Oh Jungleland. I Wish You Were Here has been played minimally enough not to be too affected. And when I played the album back in the day I would always skip Come A Long Way anyway, so that’s pretty unaffected too. And I have grown to appreciate the song in recent years.

I rarely talk in the negative like this about Simple Minds. Well…I try very hard not to talk in negatives, anyway. (We are the “meek and unambitious” and we shall not have our voices heard!) But…I do feel mournful that I have grown so weary of OUAT – for without it, I may never have become a Simple Minds fan at all! Either the fairweather fan I had been since the day of its release up until the summer of 2014 – or from that point on until the present day in fervent fandom.

I hope my love returns. I hope with enough of a break, and the passage of time, I will feel able to listen to it once more. It might depend on certain changes to the live setlist though – or my not going to any more Simple Minds gigs. Or fewer of them. I don’t know. 

As soon as I had posted my piece about the “Seven Year Itch” and not really listening to them at all much, it turned it around and I was listening to them again. Maybe just posting and the airing of this will have me listening to OUAT again?

Stranger things have happened…

Simple Minds – Special Rock – Belgian Magazine – 1985

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.

Enjoy!

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.

Minds Music Monday – I Wish You Were Here

It’s the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend in the UK. This involves participants observing their garden – or a local patch of nature – for an hour and recording all the different species (and highest number of each in one gathering) of birds in one hour.

I will probably take part but I know already that my tally will comprise mainly of black backed gulls, feral doves and magpies. But there may just be the odd blue tit, house sparrow or robin – if I am lucky!

It had me thinking about references to birds in Simple Minds songs. Obviously the first one I thought of immediately was Wonderful In Young Life with Jim referencing “crowded swallow skies”.

I felt it too obvious to choose Wonderful In Young Life (again!) for MMM – we all know how much I love it!

The next song that came to mind was their recent cover of Richard Hawley’s Long Black Train. A bird reference right from the opening line – and several more within.

I have now been grappling over which to choose from the others. I needed some help to jog the memory. Song titles were enough to jog the memory while others came to the fore as I made my way to the Dream Giver “songs” section.

Woman is one I could have plumbed for “picture of some strange tattooed bird on her thigh”. Geez, that song is sexy AF! And I loooove Charlie’s guitar on that. But, no. As much as I love Woman…another time.

I pondered If I Had Wings….but it never has been a song that I have ever really been too drawn to. It’s quite mystical with pretty ambiguous lyrics…which I usually love. I don’t know. Reading the lyrics compared to the musical structure of the song, and reading Jim’s words about how the song came to be – it just doesn’t seem to work. The music and lyrics seem disjointed and mismatched. Just my feeling on it. And, well there is no actual mention of birds anyway.

I was left with two big contenders – Wall Of Love or, the song I have finally decided to go with. And there’s a special place for me for Wall Of Love, thanks to Valentine’s Day and SM being in NZ in 2017, and Jim choosing to use some fan art I had done for the song to thank the crowd at the gig in Auckland that night.

But in the end I have gone for this. It started to play in my head shortly after Wonderful In Young Life, because I pretty quickly heard the line (after having just heard “a crowded swallow skies” play in my mind) “birds of a feather always stay together, and never separate no fear”. So it had to be…

I Wish You Were Here…

Before Lostboy! There Was “Special School” Boy! Lol (Pro Synth Network with Mick MacNeil)

I need to explain this post header. Lol

“The Man in the Sky”, Mick MacNeil, was being interviewed….well, more joined in in a live stream chat (with a loose interview in there) for this YouTube channel called the Pro Synth Network. Basically a weekly synth geek’s get together to discuss all things Synth and keyboard based. New bits of kit out on the market, etc, etc.

Once we get the technicals and geek talk out the way, about 45 minutes in, then there is talk with Mick about his time with Simple Minds and just…his background of being a synth player and how it all came to be. It’s a great thing and Mick shares great anecdotes and is a lot of fun. He always gives great banter.

I am going to drop in on the interview right at the point where Mick says he went to see the band before he joined. What he says about Jim absolutely cracked me up and had me in stitches! Which then meant I missed the next minute or so of the conversation. The very interesting point Mick made about Jim and his stutter (or on anyone with a stutter – in the broader sense).

Anyway, let’s cut to it. But I recommended you maybe go back a few minutes on the clip and listen to Mick talk about taking up (or having it thrust upon him, more accurately!) the accordion and sticking with the rest of the video.

 

Simple Minds Top Five

A surprising Simple Minds Top 5, I’d say but probably not from an American fan stand point. And nothing really discussed post 1986 which, well…given the broader subject of this YouTuber’s channel is 1980s music, it makes sense. But…SM did have the high selling Live In The City Of Lights and Street Fighting Years released before the decade was done.

I guess for me, sadly, most songs from Once Upon A Time feel overplayed now. So I do try and limit my exposure to them. I loooooved Sanctify Yourself at the time but I feel overexposed to it now. Which makes me sad that I don’t enjoy listening to it as much as I once would have. The same goes with Alive And Kicking. I need to be reminded of the greatness of some of these songs as the overexposure leaves me jaded. And the less we talk about Copenhagen and “ba-na-na-na”, the better! Lol. I’m sure Jim would LOVE that Otis Reading comparison!

But then there are other songs that I never, ever tire of. And two of the others in his Top 5 fall into that category – namely: Waterfront and Promised You A Miracle.

And there are tracks on Once Upon A Time I still love hearing: Ghostdancing, Oh Jungleland, I Wish You Were Here are the ones I still love to hear.

The thing I will say about Don’t You and all the crap urban myths that abound with this is – some time back (4-5 years ago) I saw Billy Idol tweet Keith Forsey with a question that read “did you offer me Don’t You (Forget About Me) to record?” Keith Forsey replied “No.” And then Billy Idol tweeted – “I REST MY CASE!” Lol

Anyway, see what you think. Do you agree with the Professor of Pop’s choices? Let me know what you think. What would be YOUR Top 5 Simple Minds tracks?

Visual Treats

Well, for me anyways. Quite a number of photos I hadn’t seen before in the pages of this little booklet.

I’m sharing most of the previously unseen (by me) photos within. A few of them have been around before but I just liked scanning them and having a perhaps better copy than I previously did.

I’ve tried to clean some of them up. The print quality of the booklet wasn’t the best so I’ll try to share good, clean scans of the photos.

For now though…

Why I Love…Oh Jungleland

Glasgow is now a city I am longing to live in. The first time I visited Glasgow was in November, 2016. I felt an instant affiliation with the place. It had been many years I had wanted to visit Scotland’s most populous city. My first (and subsequently ONLY one up until that point) visit to Scotland had been a 16 hour whirlwind visit to Edinburgh and, to be honest, Edinburgh really didn’t do much for me at the time, and so I had always wished to see Glasgow to compare and contrast.

Well, it only took me another 15 years to get to Glasgow! It was a “freebie”. I had auditioned and secured a place on quiz show Fifteen To One, so my trip was all expenses paid. I arrived on the evening of November 5th – Bonfire Night. I was up on the 11th floor of the Jurys Inn on Jamaica Street. I may not be a “kid called hope” and the only reason I was holding out my hand was to film the view of the Clyde from “this highrise land”. And I wasn’t seeing the Northern Lights, but I was seeing fireworks being fired off all over the south and east sides of the city. It was beautiful.

Obviously my soundtrack for that night WASN’T Oh Jungleland but Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel.

The first thing I did when I arrived in Glasgow was to get a cab to the Old Dumbarton Road and to Tantrum Doughnuts. I bought three of them to go so I could enjoy them once I got to the Jurys Inn. As I waited for the taxi to come and collect me and get me to the hotel, I was offered a cigarette by a very dishevelled (in all likelihood homeless) but kindly gent. “No, I’m sorry. I don’t smoke, but thanks for offering anyway.” Even a Weegie that hard on his luck would offer a complete stranger a cigarette. Was I a little scared? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. That section of Old Dumbarton Road at that time was not exactly teeming with people and it was already dark and I was alone. Despite feeling a little vulnerable, I felt a huge sense of being welcomed.

Anyway…on to the song itself!

Uplifting from the get go with a fun little keyboard melody and a great guitar riff from Mr Burchill. Subtle yet perfect basslines from Mr Giblin and immaculate Gaynor drumbeat.

Only Jim could make a bleak and cold winter in Glasgow sound romantic “you’ve got the long nights” – put a parentheses of lines around it “you’ve got the love drugs” and “you got the heartbeat that spirals to heaven” and you have an irresistible romantic image of the city.

It has been a favourite Simple Minds song since I first heard it back in 1985. The only album I ever had of Simple Minds’ for many years was Once Upon A Time. I played the whole album regularly once I had it…but I never really kept up the momentum of being a Simple Minds fan. Never felt compelled to explore the back catalogue. Lost touch with them after a year or so after OUAT was released. Remember liking Belfast Child a few years later…but that was it.

Oh Jungleland to me is much more a homage to Glasgow as a whole. Waterfront concentrates more on the Clyde to me. Mr Kerr may tell me otherwise.

It’s uplifting and gives a sense of belonging. It feels like it says within the context of the lyrics…“This is my city. My people. It’s the city that made me.” The place has a beauty all its own. I see it every time I’m there. And that phrase…the city’s moto has never been a truer symbol of a city I have ver seen “people make Glasgow”. They do.

They place I grew up in is an area of south-western Sydney called Busby. On a street called Ayrshire Street. The family surname is McInnes (that’s the Scottish version of the spelling, either this or Mac). I have a mixture of Irish, English, German and Aborigine (the Scots blood is in my siblings – I should have actually been a Lawson, but took the McInnes name for convenience – well, more had it foisted on me). I can’t tell you what kind of annoying hell that was growing up – having the name Larelle – which NOBODY in Australia seems able to pronounce properly! – combine that with McInnes – then put Ayrshire Street, Busby into the mix and I DREADED being asked for my name and address over the phone! At least in person I could just ask for a pen and spell it all. Phone calls that I knew I needed to make where these questions would be asked became ritual “Larelle = L – A – R – E – double L – E. McInnes = M – C – I – double N – E – S. Fifteen – ONE FIVE Aryshire Street: A – Y – R – S – H – I – R – E street. Busby = B – U – S – B – Y. I DO NOT miss those days! And, yes, I still do have to do spelling of my name and address, but now in the days of the Internet, not so much. Phew!

Back then I would have NEVER foreseen the notion that one day I would be moving to Scotland. It was never really something on my radar. There was always more of an allure to the UK, culturally. The music in particular. I think I would have described myself as (erroneously) as an Anglophile. But I suppose the pull was stronger to England, initially. But the pull to Scotland gained more force. And over the past 10 years became a pipe dream of getting out of England and moving to. But it never seemed something remotely tangible until about 12 months ago.

So soon, somewhere in Scotland will be home. And with any luck, “Oh Jungleland” will be the place I call “home sweet home” – or as a little plaque I saw in the market stalls in Merchant City on my most recent trip up had said “Hame Sweet Hame”. I was SO tempted to buy it, but I didn’t. Hopefully the market seller will be there in several months time when there is a wall to hang the plaque on.

And that is a rather personal account of why I love Oh Jungleland.

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Mick Produces Tales

Mick MacNeil’s show last night on Indy Live was the most brilliant one so far. If I had asked to interview him myself, I could not have asked for better. He literally picked up where I had finished off with my interview with Bruce – for Mick talked about the producers of Simple Minds albums, namely John Leckie and Jimmy Iovine, but he also brushed upon the Steves – Hillage and Lilywhite.

The anecdotes that came with them had me in stitches. I was enthralled with it all. I could listen to tales of the early days of Simple Minds for eternity and NEVER get bored. It’s the only way I have, personally, of getting a sense of being there and in amongst it. I find this stuff ssooo exciting and wonderful.

Thank you for last night, Mick (hmmm…that’s not sounding quite right…you know what I mean! Lol). I know you may not be able to continue doing the show EVERY week, but I hope we will still continue to present some kind of thing. Perhaps a monthly podcast would work? You definitely already have one subscriber right here! And I am sure you will have many others besides. Please consider continuing a show in some capacity or other.

I have truncated last night’s show for you guys here on the blog. Just concentrating on Mick’s chat, because that is, for me, the most interesting part of the show. Mick feels he waffles on and bores the listeners. He definitely doesn’t with me! The anecdotes. The technical talk. I find all of it fascinating.

UPDATE: All three of Mick’s shows can be heard in their entirity HERE – the audio below is an edited edition of last night’s show.