Minds Music Monday – The American – 40th Anniversary

Released in May, 1981 – while the band are still busily recording the Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call albums, the first of the singles of the album is rushed out.

But as “rush jobs” go, it has been a mainstay in the Simple Minds live set…well, since even BEFORE it was recorded in the studio and released as a single.

Well, so the Dream Giver site says but when I look at setlists from the March tour I see Sweat In Bullet on the setlist and not The American. Also there is a mention on the page about the March ‘81 tour that Careful In Career and Love Song had been written earlier in the year and already getting live airings. Which makes The American an odd choice for a first release single. Why not Sweat In Bullet or Love Song? I guess the desire to give a thirsty public something completely fresh and new won out (though you’d have thought only the small-ish contingent of die hard Minds fans would be the only ones familiar with the new tracks from the March setlist?).

Anyway, I suppose I’m splitting hairs. The point remains that the single is braw (“very good” for the non Scots reading this). And if only Simple Minds would give their still incredibly thirsty fanbase new material like this these days – and this quickly! No such luck. It’s all such a corporatocracy now. Music as “commodity”. No. We release singles as one new song tagged on to a “best of” album. Yet ANOTHER “best of” album. Sorry, but, yeah. I never like to criticise the band much but, one “new” song attached to a “best of” album, and a whole tour based around that?! Well, in retrospect, maybe a pandemic was just what this band needed to get a bomb up its arse and think about just WHAT their fanbase wants or DESERVES.

I’m sure Jim will not be best pleased with what I have written just above. But then again, he probably doesn’t give two shits, which is how things have felt this past year in the Simple Minds fandom, to be honest. YES! He keeps talking about new material and a new album, but then it gets handed over to record company fucking bureaucratic red tape shit. FUCK! JUST GIVE US SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO BEYOND PROMISES! JESUS CHRIST!

Hey ho. I guess the Minds story will come to an end soon enough anyway, so why does it matter?

*shrugs*

ANYWAY! The American! Let’s celebrate The American. The rush job of a single that still has the fanbase singing their lungs out to this day. I can’t be begrudging ANOTHER “hits” tour when I have so much love for songs like The American now, can I? It has appeared on many a tour over the years, with short rests during the Street Fighting Years and Real Life tours and just the odd absence from there.

There is a demo version of the song that got a release on the 2004 mega compilation, Silver Box. It’s all pretty much there. The final studio release was refined and honed.

I find the 12” extended version of the song much better than the album version. The album version is great too, just…a bit short. Still, I guess everything that appeared on Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call was pushing for space. So much so that the LEAD single from the sessions doesn’t even get put on the lead album but on its twinned “sister extra”.

The 12” also gets a highlight on the wonderful Themes sets – on Volume 1 of the releases. As well as that, in the late nineties, there is an “Interference Mix” of the song released. It remains a solid favourite of mine of the Simple Minds remixes that have been produced.

The earliest live appearance I can find on a bootleg is at the Futurama 3 gig at Bingley Hall in Stafford on Sept. 6th, 1981. The infamous one where Jim is “as crook as Rookwood”, as we say in Oz (ie: feeling very unwell). It’s audible, to the point where it sounds to me that Jim sings “here comes the meds” during the second run of the “chorus”. There is a lot of dead air where he normally would be singing. And Derek gives the sign off at the end of the song for the end of the gig. I guess Jim is off puking again by this point?

Another favourite involves “early days” footage of the band on French TV performing it live. Jim is partly clothed in my favourite combo, in his riding boots and baggy white troosers. (And in a fairly figure-hugging white t-shirt as well – his chest looks frigging awesome! OMG!) He also does some wrapping of the mic cord around his elbow and he just makes shapes and is just the sexiest thing alive! Beautiful! He’s beautiful.

But I digress!

The most “recent” (some recent to my ears anyway) versions I have really enjoyed have been the live acoustic version (not the studio version on the Acoustic album – that never really sat well with me for some reason) but also the version I heard from the Good News From The Next World tour. It was a return of the song on the setlist after an absence of some eight years. I heard a version of it from the gig at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on 10th September, 1995. Jim actually sings all the BV lines! The “across a curved earth / Nassau club days / in collective fame / the eventful workouts” lines. I nearly lost my shit hearing it for the first time. It was late at night but inwardly I was shouting, “HE’S DOING THE LINES! HE’S DOING THE LINES!” Lol. I was ssooo happy!

In light of what I said earlier in this post, The American is one song I would be happy to keep on the setlist. It is a firm favourite of mine at gigs and one I am guaranteed to dance and sing along to. But I would be absolutely OVER THE MOON if more tracks from Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call were performed. The only tracks with almost concrete affirmation to stay on the setlist are, The American, Love Song and Theme For Great Cities. The only other track I’ve had the privilege of hearing performed live in front of me from the albums is This Earth That You Walk Upon. I’d love to hear Sweat In Bullet or Sons And Fascination itself, or Seeing Out The Angel or In Trance As Mission. Anything really.

Speaking of “rush jobs” – the cover! Malcolm Garrett was given just 48 hours to come up with something for the cover of the single – his first design for Simple Minds. His time at the cover design helm for the band saw a number of iconic covers produced, the pinnacle of these, for many, being New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). But the start of the working relationship with Assorted iMaGes the band had was through the first work of The American. The cover holds personal significance for me, given how Malcolm collected the images together and how I make my own art.

Overall, the 12” version as well as many live versions are my favourites of The American, so for this week’s Minds Music Monday, let’s say happy (almost!) 40th anniversary to the AMERI-AMERI-AMERI-AMEREE-AMERICAAAN!

Sunshine On A Rainy Day

It started last night with another piece of “art”…

And then there was joy in the post this morning. This man and the music he helps to make is the biggest bit of sunshine Glasgow has.

I held off buying the 40 Silver vinyl edition and then when it was being sold at a reduced price, I was never quick enough to grab a copy before it sold out. I had been watching several on eBay…biding my time. Some were being sold with some cosmetic flaws to the packaging but the price wasn’t in any way reduced so I just kept waiting…

In the end I got it for £24 with free postage and it seemed a pretty pristine copy. No cosmetic damage and still new and sealed.

As for the photos of Jim – these are ones I have been coveting for some time. Taken in April, 1982, Virginia seemed to have the most wonderful photo session with Jim in Kensington Gardens that day. I never really ask her anything about the photoshoots. One) I know she’ll never really remember much, and two) I don’t want to drive the poor woman crazy going on and on and on AND ON about Jim. 😂😂😂😂😂

She already endures so much from me as is.

Anyway, I actually better wind this post up now! There’s a Minds Music Monday post to come. Worry not!

Glasgow is ALWAYS sunny with a bit of Jim Kerr around ❤️😊

Minds Music Monday – The American (Interference Mix)

I think sumbliminial thoughts play so much a part in one’s thought processes. I suddenly thought about the word “interference” and how much relevance it has to me right now.

Yes.

Anyway, this is “uber” dancey, and not to everyone’s liking, I appreciate, but I love it. The pace of it. The way they’ve chopped Jim’s lyrics and voice.

I haven’t played this much in recent times but I used to really play it a lot for a long while. It is one of my very favourite extended remixes of the band.

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!

A Chemical Reaction

Ever heard of Galaxians? Nope, me neither until Field Music’s David Brewis mentioned them on the Field Music Instagram account on Friday.

A new album of theirs (Galaxians) had been released and he was recommending it for your weekend listening pleasure. He said “our Leeds compadres Galaxians (he actually tagged their Insta a/c) have a new album out! Features the finest synthesizing this side of Bernie Worrell’s most-holy ghost.”

A person leaving a comment quoted that last part with a “SOLD!” at the end of their comment.

And I was really taken by the cover art. With me still in the middle of reading Lanark, there was something of the Alasdair Gray to the album cover art. So I thought “I need to give this a listen.

And for the past two nights I have done. Wow! Not just synths. Drums! E-drums. Linn drums maybe? I’m no expert. The vocals! Wow! And the style/genre – harking back to real PROPER funk, soul and r&b. I’m not sure about the Bernie Worrell reference. I am yet to see exactly what that pertains to. All I know is – THIS is a summer album! AND IT COMES FROM LEEDS?! It’s like that constant mindfuck of knowing that Average White Band hail from Dundee. Lol. You never expect these kind of sounds to spring forth from the UK.

Anyways, I am with David Brewis firmly on this one. You could do worse things on a rainy Sunday in Glasgow (or wherever else in the world you find yourself in currently) than listening to Galaxians new Chemical Reaction album.

Spotify link below…

You can buy their music from Bandcamp also. I’ve just gone and bought the album in vinyl. Bandcamp wording is a clickable link directly to their page.

Happy Release Day – Flight Of Ideas!

The day has arrived! Sadly, my copies are in lockdown as currently Monorail are only open as an online store and I ordered my Dinked LP and CD to collect from in the store itself. I’ll be waiting some time to collect, methinks! In the meantime, there is Spotify and the digital download copy to buy.

Check Warm Digits’ social media channels and website for details.

As a consequence, today’s music aperitif is Fools Tomorrow. Strangely timely for the perplexing time we find ourselves in.

Rare, Rarer, Rarest – Punk 45s

From the latest edition of Long Live Vinyl. A timely nod to Pripton. I guess he’s the reason this blog exists after all…

Personally, I still think Dead Vandals was the better song, but was obviously less ‘punk’ in the strictest musical notation terms. Thank god it was the B Side at least.

Turn Up The Funk – Warm Digits: Flight Of Ideas – Album Review

The follow up to 2017’s Wireless World sees the Newcastle duo expand on the lyrics and guest vocalists and they take the funk up a notch too! A fantastic trip into the topical point of how not every idea we have is the right idea and should be executed blindingly.

Following is my track-by-track thoughts on the new album.

Track one – Frames And Cages: Bang up-to-date but with undertones of Eastern mysticism and the soft wave of the signature Warm Digits sound. Pulsing rhythms through it. Love the ending. A strong album opener.

Track two – Feel The Panic (feat. The Lovely Eggs): First time I listened to it I felt it should have been the lead single, just my opinion. Great catchy lyrics. “Are you infallible? Or just gullible?” Andy’s drumming is a highlight on this. Great guitar licks from Steve as well. They bring out such a big sound for a duo. This track could currently not be any more topical!

Track three – The View From Nowhere (feat. Emma Pollock): A bit more of a laidback groove from the guys this track. Again, great lyrics. Great guitar licks from Steve.

Track four – I’m Okay, You’re Okay: The melody! I love this track. I actually find it very emotional. It’s reminiscent of something off Autobahn for me – just….the emotional impact of it. Gorgeous electronica. But also very organic. A very signature Warm Digits track for me.

Track five – Fools Tomorrow (feat. Paul Smith): Wow! What a track! The funk weaving through and Paul Smith’s voice works ssooo well with the sound. And the beat break around the three minute mark in the song? Divine! Again, tracks on this album are becoming incredibly topical.

Track six – Replication: Again, the melody that starts the track just pulls you in and then Andy drums like an animal. Great bass work and then manic but gorgeous waves of melody and riffs. Something pentatonic with the beat at times. Then another gorgeous beat break around the three minute mark. The bass on this is sublime!

Track seven – Shake The Wheels Off (feat. The Orielles): More funk coming along, but perhaps toned down a little compared to others. Great electronics on it and fab hooks and riffs going on in it. Again very catchy. “A real bone-shaker”, as the song says.

Track eight – Everyone Nervous (feat. Rozi Plain): Beautiful electronics and Andy’s drumming on it is fab. Great guitar reverbs towards the end of the track as well. Rozi Plain’s voice is so wonderful emotive. I find this a wonderfully soft and emotional piece. It actually gives me those goosebump chills of electricity when I play it.

Track nine – False Positive: TURN UP THE FUNK! Wow! Was blown away by this when they performed it at St Luke’s in Glasgow back in February. Great synth melody over the top too. Something you can really just funk out to. Might actually be my fave track on the whole album. If not then…it’s really up there!

Track ten – Flight Of Ideas: These guys really are the modern masters of the looped groove for me. I just love absolutely everything they produce. And – hidden singing sensation on the track – the one and only Steve Jefferis!

A cohesive collection of songs. A maturing of sound, I feel. A little less emphasis on the more motorik sound they had. They have certainly increased the funk ratio and the influences of the electronica that the band originally sprouted from has returned somewhat, but also matured.

Standout tracks for me are: Fools Tomorrow, Replication, Everyone Nervous and False Positive.

A very solid 4.5 stars out of five.

Flight Of Ideas is released on April 3rd, 2020, on the Memphis Industries label and can be pre-ordered online at the Warm Digits store. Click the LINK HERE for details.

Record Store Day 2020

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