Have acquired these over the past few days and looking forward to devoting some time to them very shortly. Already have spent some time perusing the Bryan Ferry Lyrics book. I didn’t realise there was a foreword in it and a short piece by Bryan himself.
Mother Of Pearl has been a firm favourite since my very first listen to it. Over You was my favourite Roxy song before delving into their catalogue some time back – fuelled mostly by Jim waxing lyrical about Bryan and what a consummate performer he is.
I was unaware, really, that Bowie was that much of a fan. Dunno why. And it’s been a lot of David’s more wordy and wonderfully intricate songs like Cygnet Committee, The Bewlay Brothers and Teenage Wildlife that have been particular favourites of mine over the years. I have always found a certain link between Cygnet Committee and Mother Of Pearl, if for no other reason than to be determined to know the songs well and recite the lyrics word for word. And well, this piece in the book really DID make my day. For like I had done with Cygnet Committee, I was determined to know Mother Of Pearl ‘off by heart’. To read that about David was just so wonderfully endearing.
“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!
I used to do this with the video blogs (aka vlogs) last year. There was a series of them and I ended up referring to them as the “Sunday Waffle” for, as the name suggests, I’d post the vlogs on a Sunday. Of course I would post other vlogs on the days inbetween too! But the Sunday vlogs tended to be the most “waffling” – on any subject. Not just Simple Minds based.
I do have a personal blog but I haven’t used it for a long time. I just keep invested in the domain names for it. But something I want to talk about today *IS* Simple Minds related, but I’ll talk more about that shortly.
Firstly I want to talk about the “off topic” subject of catfishing. This word started to be used more liberally in the early 2000s, after the release of a documentary about a woman “catfishing” a guy she was interested in. The connotation of catfishing in this first instance was that you deceive people into thinking you are living a life that is false. That you’re successful, you have money, you have children, etc, etc. It’s a very toxic thing and in that context should be taken as an absolutely abhorrent, deceitful thing to do to people. I would never do that myself! And I am not condoning anybody else doing that.
Conversely, I will say that it isn’t black and white and people who feel compelled to do these kind of things deserve some level of compassion and understanding. Unless armed with the full details of individual cases, it’s very easy to judge and make assumptions.
More and more at the moment I see the term “catfishing” being used to describe women who use makeup to alter their appearance. I think the term is being used erroneously in this respect. The original use of “catfishing” had a far more deceptive and toxic definition to it than merely making yourself appear different and “better” in an aesthetic sense.
It’s a reflection of the world we currently live in, one in which women deemed “ugly” use makeup to make themselves appear as they are not (supposedly). But this isn’t in any way a new thing! And women have been using makeup in some form or other for HUNDREDS of years.
Here is a case of “catfishing” that happened centuries ago. A well known case, if you know your history, esp. your history of Tudor England. And it goes right to the top of the monarchy. I daresay that EVERY PERSON in Tudor times would be deemed to have “catfished” under its current broad definition. Portraits made of the monarchy were deceitful. Nobody was ever portrayed as they actually were back then.
Ever heard of the term “warts and all”? It was attributed as being used by Oliver Cromwell when he was having his portrait done. He is reputed as saying to commissioned artist Sir Peter Lely, “Mr Lely, I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.”
Back to the Tudor case of the catfisher being catfished.
Henry VIII took MUCH liberty in how he was portrayed. Painted most times to look taller, thinner, more athletic, healthier, and more attractive than he actually was. At the time I am about to refer to, he is 49 years old. That is quite an age in Tudor times! And he’s had some hard and fast living by now. He is not going to be looking ANYTHING like Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who portrayed Henry in The Tudors television series made during the 2000s), okay?! (Meyers today is only 44 years old.)
Jane Seymour has passed away, and after a very, very, VERY brief time of grieving, Henry is on the lookout for wife number four. He is told of Anne of Cleves and is assured by his courtiers that they’re an exemplary match. Anne is a young maiden of 25 years of age. Henry’s already sensing doubt as to be 25 in Tudor times and unmarried – something has to be up with that, right? They show him a portrait of Anne. He is smitten! He cannot wait to meet her! He’s literally married himself off to her as soon as he sees her portrait.
Come the day they meet face to face, Henry is outraged! As far as he is concerned, Anne is NOTHING LIKE the portrait he was shown and he makes it known quite emphatically what he thinks of Anne, referring to her as a “Flanders mare”. Nice one, Henry! Never mind what Anne must have thought seeing the sight of you for the first time, given the portraits she’d have seen of this unbelievably ageless, athletic, virile “studmuffin” when the reality was you’re a badly aging, gammied leg, portly hypocrite! And you probably haven’t had a bath in about 7 months on top of that!
Yes, it’s the monarchy and there was obviously more to it than that. The courtiers were making Anne look, particularly aesthetically (because they obviously knew that Henry likes a “hot chick”) attractive to Henry because they (and he) wanted to secure a political and religious alliance between England and Protestant western Germany.
In the monarchy then NOBODY married for love. Everybody was catfishing the heck out of everyone else. Powerplay.
I despair that the word “catfishing” is being used to now make women feel and appear even MORE untrustworthy than they are currently being portrayed in the media. I have little sympathy for the men being “catfished”, if all their attraction to a woman is based entirely on her looks. Good! Get fucking catfished, you superficial asshat!
I know when meeting someone for the first time face to face our first impression is the way a person looks. It is, by nature, our first marker. We SEE someone first before we speak to them or anything else. But that is why anyone with a modicum of self-respect and decency would not just think, “She’s fit. Shagging her later.” And if it is what you think and you get your stomach turned by what you wake up to next to you the following morning – I don’t pity you. You are far more abhorrent than you THINK the person next to you is.
So can we stop using “catfishing” to describe women who want to make themselves look more attractive? I wish we didn’t live in a world where this kind of stuff has to go on! Where women could actually feel like they deserve love no matter how they look. That people could see beyond the superficial and the aesthetic! I’m not saying we’re not allowed to appreciate those things. I mean, geez, how hypocritical is my blog, with all these pictures of Jim all over it?
Anyway, let us move on.
This is going to be a more personal aspect of today’s waffle. And it is Simple Minds related because it’s about Jim, and my “letting go” of this desire for friendship that has been churning away within me these past two years especially.
There were two distinct markers of when this became something that became incredibly “all-consuming” within me – Jim sharing his dad’s cancer diagnosis with us, and my mum passing away.
I am still very disappointed with myself for allowing myself to get so…dependent and needy. For holding on SSOO tightly to all the early (early in my fandom) interactivity that I had with Jim. That I SSOOO misconstrued what it was and how long it has taken me to “let go” of it.
I need to talk about the past few days. Enrolling (still not confirmed yet as I have to do some initial part of the application process first before I can actually enrol in the course I want to study) in the Open University and my readiness to “fail better”.
Last night I suddenly remembered that Jim had quoted the Beckett words in a post he did some time back. So I used the search feature on Facebook to see where and when. And there was part of me convinced he must have interacted with me on that post because I had such a strong recollection of him using the Beckett quote. I would usually only remember something like that if it felt it impacted on me directly.
I find it. Posted to the SM page on July 11th, 2019. It’s a post about … well … failing, funnily enough. But Jim’s first own personal example was when he first felt “failure” in a major way, playing football as a young boy. Playing for the local Cubs and losing HUGELY to a rival team of, quote “hairy-legged” older boys. He then lists other perceived “failures”. Leaving school with no formal qualifications, being divorced twice, investments in failed businesses. And then things that are now not even seen as failures, but initially were – Simple Minds’ early releases not being commercially successful. I’ll link to the post HERE so you can read it all for yourself.
Then he asks us about our “failures”.
At this point, before reading the comments, I was convinced he must have responded to me. Possibly one of the last times he ever did respond to me. I read the comments. I try to find mine first. I had left two. One was me asking for clarity on what he meant by “no qualifications”. Was he implying he left school without a single O Level? And, you won’t be surprised to hear that I waffled. And even apologised for “waffling”. Lol. Then there was my actual reply to his question about our failures. Or more accurately, our perceived failures. My reply was basically – “How long have you got, Jim? How long is a piece of string?”
There were no responses from him as I had imagined. Nothing, on either comment. Not even a Facebook “like” on either of them. Sometimes a “like” I would deem an acknowledgement from him that he had at least read the comment. Nothing. For either comment. No like. And certainly no reply comment. And it was at a time when he was still around. Many other comments received “likes”.
What I do see in one of my comments is a response from people who I now have no dealings with. One person I had already had that cutting off with, but the other person I didn’t realise had any involvement with what the crux of the matter is, so I had naively responded to them not knowing any better at the time. Perhaps Jim saw that interaction and thought it best to avoid my comment altogether? Or…he just wasn’t interested in responding to me. Which would happen sometimes. But I would usually get a “like”.
But there was nothing for either of my comments.
This morning I was thinking about “Jalopy”. It was one of the last “interactions” I ever had with Jim on Facebook. The final one being one I had to try and backtrack to and find via looking back through my blog.
It’s been over a year now. The very last token piece of interaction I had with Jim via the Simple Minds Facebook page was a post he did about the release of Heart Of The Crowd – the book. He said he felt “misty eyed” and I had replied saying was he sure his “misty eyes” were from the book being released rather than the Scottish football team having just secured their entry into the Euros? He replied with a “They’ll be coming!” and a link to YouTube of The Tartan Army singing “We’ll Be Coming Down The Road”.
I can’t tell you how happy that made me! Well, I probably could. But this post is getting VERY long and I must get on with my point. Whatever my point is.
It’s this. I think I am FINALLY, slowly, coming to terms with not wanting to seek reaffirmation from Jim for every single damn half-decent thing I feel I do. There are actually not many things I feel I do well. Very few things at all! But I got ssoo caught up in wanting to impress him and wanting to keep this ever so deluded sense of a “bond”, of a “connection” – I lost myself. And I lost the ability to “let it go”.
I was also thinking about the story I shared about Rodney Johnston and the dog bite. Of my first “serious” relationship. Of my first and only “long-term” boyfriend. The memories of them are really, really strong. And although I am holding on to certain aspects of those relationships – I really did let them go quite successfully.
I’ve never mentioned him by name before on here. I usually give him some coded name. But the guy I had my first “adult” relationship with was called Brendan McDonagh. It was a relationship I kept going in the hope it would turn into something else. For him all it ever was was sex. And sadly I was the instigator every single time. No self-worth, see? Convinced that if I kept sleeping with him he eventually would want to be with me. It wasn’t until I met my actual first and only “proper” boyfriend, Roger, did this very tenuous “relationship” with Brendan end. I didn’t miss him. I didn’t even think about him. I totally moved on. Roger became my focus.
I don’t even know when I started thinking about Brendan again. Long after my breakup with Roger. It took me a long time to get over the breakup with Roger. But I was able to walk away in the end. I mean, there were complications. After a time, Roger and I were “seeing” each other again but it was short-lived. And I don’t really want to go into a lot of detail about that here. The point of it is – despite how it sounds typing this out – I could let them go. I could let these relationships go.
I feel really disappointed in myself with just how much emphasis I have placed upon seeking all this reaffirmation from Jim. I feel sick from it. That I have felt so little of myself that I have spent the past two years just PRAYING for this man to like me, wanting him to interact with me, wanting him to make me feel like I was his friend, making me feel like I was “worthy”. I shouldn’t have to beg. And if I genuinely meant something to him…then I wouldn’t be needing to beg.
It’s been the hardest these past two years. I think it’s because of mum passing away. I don’t think I knew what to do with my grief. And I think I didn’t feel like I needed to grieve? Like, I thought I was viewing her death rather pragmatically and came to terms with it very quickly. On the other hand there were things like Falling Leaves. Not remembering to tell my sister that mum wanted it played at her funeral, it slipping my mind and not remembering until the day after the funeral.
I’m thinking about next year and my diploma and how much study it is going to take and how much focus I need. I need to start concentrating on me!
Next year is going to be a test. My course will start in February. Weeks later, I’ll be at a Simple Minds gig in Paris (all being well and good with international travel by then – I must admit, I have my reservations about getting to Paris even coming to fruition right now). And then a month after that, another bunch of Simple Minds gigs. Then another in June, and one final one in August.
I admit to still grappling with the “he’s just a man” aspect of Jim. I really wish I could see him like that! But in some ways I think it is probably better that I don’t. That I see him as completely out of reach. Completely in another realm.
It’s hard because…it’s those things – it’s the things that reveal that he is “just a man” that make me wish for the impossible. It’s the “ordinary” within the extraordinary. It’s him being just Jim. Just “the normal guy” that brings the yearning.
But I shouldn’t need him to like me. And … he doesn’t have to like me. He doesn’t have to like me for my life to have meaning and importance. I know!!! That should be a REALLY EASY concept for me to master, right? But it hasn’t been. It really hasn’t been. And I am ssooo disappointed and perplexed with myself about that. Bordering on angry. But I have to be kind to myself! To heal. To overcome it. To conquer it. I need to be kind to me. To accept it. To say “Hey, it’s fine. You’ve been dealing with a lot of shit these past two years. And this man sparked up so much positivity in your life. It’s okay that you wished for an attachment that wasn’t there. That you desired a bond. We all hope to be liked. We’re social animals. Our ‘raison d’etre’ is to make bonds, friendships, and to love. And to want acceptance.”
I’m working on it. I’m working on not dwelling on it. I’m working on it not taking up so many hours of my day. And it’ll be hard because aspects of it keep me going. This is a case in point! Writing! The joy and catharsis I take in writing. And so much of it over the past five years has been either directly or indirectly involving Jim. He has sparked so much creativity in me! But that is what it is – a spark. And I need to be mindful to accept it as a spark. The catalyst. The spark- not the whole damn fire! Not the whole nuclear fusion! That the actual fire comes from within me!
But, Jim. Thank you for the spark.
Interesting that I should close this with the talk of a “spark” because when I was initially looking into study for next year, I was looking at doing a Creative Writing course at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Strathclyde. It was broken down into modules that were titled “Kindling”, “Ablaze” and “Inferno”. Jim has been an inferno for too long. Kindling. Back to kindling. The spark.
A spark is enough.
Lastly – this has been the earworm for the past few days, particularly as I awake in the morning. Make of it what you will…
I posted this onto SMOG earlier this afternoon – but I get the feeling it is going to be somewhat overshadowed by a wonderful post about Jim, which I am sure he will love (who can blame him?). Anyway, I thought I’d also post it here as well. (I haven’t altered the words I posted.)
Back a few years ago, I posted something on the Simple Minds visitor wall. I think it was a review of a gig. It came from an independent fanzine. Jim replied to my post, saying he had fond memories of some of the guys who set up these kind of publications, recalling the names of Johnny Waller and Lindsay Hutton, particularly, on this occasion. Hutton had started a fanzine called “Next Big Thing”.
Well I stumbled on to a copy of Next Big Thing today, and there within the pages was an advert for Empires And Dance, as well as a glowing review of the album by Lindsay himself. (Albeit if he is somewhat disparaging to Roxy Music and Gary Numan in the process. Oops!)
It took me on my own little nostalgia trip. Of a time that I particularly loved being a Simple Minds fan. Thanks for those wee chit-chats, Jim. They’ll always be super special to me. I loved putting on my “researcher’s hat” for that one as when you replied to me you had said “I wonder what happened to Johnny and Lindsay?”, which had me off and searching for you. A time you made me feel both happy and purposeful.
If it doesn’t come out too clear for reading, then here is a transcript of what is written below.
“The danceable solution to teenage revolution? If Roxy were still any cop they’d be making albums like this. I don’t altogether go along with the belief that synthesisers always ruin things. There’s ample proof of the reverse here, but the fact that idiots like gerbil face Numan seem to represent the genre, mean that there is no media indication that there is life after electronics. ‘Empires’ is the 3rd Minds elpee and places them well up the league. Especially tasty are the opener ‘I Travel’ and the Jeepster style backbeat of ‘Celebrate’. If you’ve been put off by the moderne talk of Morley then think again kiddo, because this sound can co-exist with rock ‘n’ roll because it’s performed from the heart. Can you afford not to own a record by a band whose singer drew Noddy on the Berlin Wall in lime green chalk? Good wee group this.”
This year’s RSD takes place on Saturday April 18th. There are some things that have piqued my interest, pictured below.
There is also a Steven Wilson mixes edition of Roxy Music’s eponymous debut album. For me, Field Music and kd Lang’s All You Can Eat and Drag would be lovely on vinyl. I used to play those and the Ingenue album SSSOO much. I absolutely ADORE her voice.
There is also the tenuous Simple Minds connected offering of Corporation Of One’s The Real Life – which as I understand it, oddly enough samples the title track from SM’s 1991 album.
Something for the purist, I guess. I can’t say I am that enthusiastic about it, but now I’ve said that, I’ll probably by it. Lol
The list for Record Store Day 2019 (the day itself being Saturday, April 13th) was revealed early last night and Simple Minds are offering up a 10th anniversary limited edition (limited to 2000 copies only!) 2LP coloured vinyl of Graffiti Soul.
There’s quite a list of stuff, of course, and if money was no object, I’d try for other things…but the only other things I’d really want to go out of my way for are these.
The Roxy Music debut remixes 12″ set looks wonderfully packaged. The contact sheet photo cover looks brilliant.
The other I’d like is this lovely looking gatefold double 7″ of The Police’s Meaasge In A Bottle. If I can get all three things, I’ll be chuffed to bits!
You can view the full list here if you haven’t seen it already.
The only pages I didn’t save were the ones giving me a link to my Top 100 Songs of 2018 playlist – which you’ll find a link to below – and the final “share” page to share your Spotify stats rundown via social media.