Glasgow 1978-1979 – Virginia Turbett – Cafe Royal Books

I had this arrive in the post this morning. It’s a piece of sobering beauty of the city’s recent past.

Virginia’s association with Glasgow goes far beyond her work of capturing Simple Minds in the early 80s. Her brother was a social worker in the city and so she would visit often. And her work wasn’t solely confined to rock photography, for she also did a lot of editorial work as well.

In visits to the city during 1978 and 1979, Virginia pictorially documented life in Glasgow. Selected photos now showcased in a photobook published by Cafe Royal Books.

These photobooks are available to purchase through the Cafe Royal Books website (link below) for £6.50 each (plus postage).

Cafe Royal Books

Caught In A Moment

I know I wax lyrical about Virginia Turbett’s photos – but this is why. Apart from every single photo she has ever taken of Mr James Kerr, esq. There are so many other photos of hers I love. And perhaps even above all the ones she has taken of Jim and Simple Minds – this is my very favourite. XTC’s Colin Moulding in a look of both concentration AND consternation.

Whenever Jim wants to do one of his “you think songwriting is easy?” posts? He should just show this photo of Colin Moulding for everyone to see. It’s stunning!

I received my own copy of it today and I am so very happy. One Kerr may just have to go! (For a temporary period of time anyway.)

Minds Music Monday – Wonderful In Young Life – SAF/SFC 40th Anniversary Celebration

I’ve written about this song so much – when I actually COULD write about it! When I could somehow manage to express all that it means to me. 

The first time I heard it I was probably only about four weeks into my fandom. It brought me to tears the very first time. I had not heard a Simple Minds song this beautiful ever before.

It’s not a slow song. It’s very up tempo with a driving beat and bassline and also with a soaring, wailing guitar all over it – but despite that beat and pulse and incredible guitar – despite the pace of it, it is also soft and tender. It has a HUGE heart. It’s sweet. And it encapsulates everything I had wished that life was going to be like for me, except it wasn’t. Not much of it anyway. I had glimpses of it, perhaps, not in the way THIS was. Not in the way Jim had written about it, sings of it and expresses it. 

So, I was just sitting here at my PC, looking at a blank page on the screen and wondering what more there is to write about this most beautiful and poignant of songs. And here I am, already off and away trying to express again all that it means to me and why I am so enamoured with it. 

The bible (Dream Giver Redux) has next to no information about it, other than what I had read on the dedicated (but sparse) page about it…which is either more recent info that has come to light, or this info had passed me by previously. The info being that in its early days, Wonderful In Young Life went by the title of “What Goes?” Strange that I don’t remember having read that before. And also a rather strange title for the song. Thankfully only a working title.

And…so this is the extent of information we have on it. 

The only thing else I have to talk about is the exchange I had with Jim about it a few years back. The band were on the North American leg of their Walk Between Worlds Tour of 2018. They were in Toronto, and Jim had posted about the early days of Simple Minds touring Canada. I’ll post the excerpt below.

I tried to be a little flippant and funny on the tail of that reply. I had said “Is that a “no” to you didn’t know to my praying for the day it gets an airing…or… 😔” and then I got into a bit of a slanging match with someone who felt it rude that Jim had given me a monosyllabic response.

Oh, I had forgotten about him posting my artwork on Charlie the following day! It brought me to tears seeing that. God, I am such a soppy old fool! I was so proud of that photo. I took it in Colchester at the last Grandslam concert I attended, so it was a full, 100% Priptona work and I was so happy. And then even more over the moon that Jim used it for the follow up post about the Toronto gig. Happy days. Happy memories.

Looking back on it, I like to think it was perhaps his way of softening the blow to that reply about Wonderful In Young Life he gave me in the day’s previous post. But I like to read all kinds of daft stuff into everything. You can view that post HERE

Getting back to the song itself.

There are little things in my head that make me think of it. Snippets of things from my memories of recent years. Standing at the local bus stop in Oz when I was back home with my mum in 2015/16 and seeing the local swallows flying about in the sky. Also in Aix-Les-Bains for the Musilac festival in 2018. The football World Cup was on at the time and as I took an evening wander into the town centre to find a place to eat, “a crowded swallow skies” appeared in front of me. Just as I walked down a side street. It was a very warm night and I walked by a house that had all its windows open. I could hear that the occupants were watching the football and as I crossed the road, suddenly around 20 swifts (rather than actual swallows) came screeching by. Swifts are always a sign of summer for me. I would always see them in the skies around Luton in the summer months – dazzling me with their aerobatics and making their shrill “banshee” call as their flew around, circling ever higher, then plummeting and dive-bombing some prey (such small birds, their main fayre is various insects). Those swifts at Aix-Les-Bains that night felt a marker to me that maybe I had made the right decision to travel all the way to the French Alps to see the band I love perform at probably the most incredible music festival I have ever been to. 

Oh, and I was meant to be getting back to the song!

It is everything I would have loved my young life to be. It’s beautiful, bright and sunny. I see … a picnic going on. A group of friends, a mix of girls and guys, all looking so happy and relaxed. Drinking (not necessarily alcohol, but probably wine and beer, I guess), eating snacks and sandwiches. Joking and laughing. Just so joyful and happy. And Jim is there amongst them. And I would just want to plant myself in a spot right next to him. Just to be sitting there by his side, watching him interact with the others around him. Watching him smile, laugh and joke – to be eating and drinking as well. Life looks beautiful. He looks beautiful. 

It is such a different image to how it sounds to the images he was viewing when he was composing it on those cold, bleak, desolate Canadian roads. Perhaps to get himself out of that gloom of those moments he painted those beautiful pictures for himself?


As for that “live airing” I asked him about? Well, back in the mists of time, Wonderful In Young Life appears to have been performed live. Just once. The gig was at Rock City in Nottingham. The date – September 17th, 1981. That first short UK leg of the Sons And Fascination Tour was barely a month long and the band then went off to Canada and Australia to perform to rapturous crowds. Perhaps it wasn’t even performed live? It’s on the setlist, but perhaps it was merely “outro” music as the gig came to an end?

I do wonder, as Theme For Great Cities is listed as being performed on the same tour – but it’s just intro music that the band walk out on stage to. You can hear that at the recorded gig of theirs at the Musicians Club in Sydney. (Link to the gig HERE)

So there is the strong possibility the song has actually NEVER been played live at all. Again, had it been being used as “outro” music – you would have expected to be mentioned elsewhere on setlists for the is tour? Who knows?

I am happy to report that in recent times I can enjoy it for the beautiful, driving, pulsing, gorgeous, tender, uplifting, joyous song it is.

Forever I will be “singing memories”. 

A final thought on Wonderful In Young Life is from a friend, who says of it: The song’s poignancy lies in its breathy final words: Here she comes, wonderful. In young life.

Minds Music Monday – Seeing Out The Angel – SAF/SFC 40th Anniversary Celebration

“So when I thought Charlie’s guitar in ‘Angel’ sounded like church bells…” – writes Adam Sweeting, having just been given an explanation by Jim of the ideas behind the song. You can read a full extract of that below.

I’d be intrigued to know what the book of short stories was. I thought for a few minutes about asking Derek Forbes if he’d remember it. Even went to Twitter in further contemplation of conjuring up the gumption to ask him…but I can’t. Best to let sleeping dogs lie. And I guess if Jim had remembered it, he’d have mentioned its name or the author back then during the interview. Maybe someone could find out or shed some light on it?

Anyway, let us ‘push on’. 


UPDATE: A regular visitor and reader of this blog – Scott, contacted me about who he thinks the author of the short stories might be and which short story it is! And I think he just may be right. He read on Dream Giver about Jim mentioning Philip K Dick. Well of course I remember that too because of Jim’s reply to me (when I quizzed him about having read sci-fi) about “growing out of things…like drugs, alcohol, hair dye and jodhpurs”. But I didn’t make the connection when compiling this post. A book of short stories of Dick’s is titled “A Handful Of Darkness”. Released originally in 1955, it contains a short story called “Upon The Dull Earth” (that even sounds like a line Jim would use in a song!) – a link to the plot of the story HERE – I think Scott came up trumps with this! Where would I be without him?


The original working title for the song was “Petrocello” – a word entirely made up it would seem. A portmanteau of the words “petronella” and “Limoncello”, perhaps? Or maybe of “petronella” and “uccello”? A portmanteau of those two words could translate as “dancing birds”. For “petronella” is a style of Scottish folk dance while “uccello” is the Italian word for bird. That would be lovely if it was a combination of those two. I’m always trying to put romantic connotations to everything. 

Again it was one of the songs that Mick gave to Jim to listen to on cassette and obviously he could hear such potential in all the pieces. I guess had Mick not heard the potential in the music himself first, he’d have not passed it on to Jim to pass his lugholes over it. 

I can’t claim to know about music or its structure and complexities (or otherwise) and what it is to describe something as “melody” as opposed to labelling it an “arpeggio” – but what I do know is those chords, those notes from Mick MacNeil’s synths are some of the most beautiful pieces of musical notation you will ever hear. And that Adam Sweeting is right, that Charlie’s guitar chords do sound like church bells. 

As it started life as one of Mick’s workings, it may have initially been going to remain an instrumental. Who knows at what point during recording proceedings Jim was ready to provide lyrics? He seemed quite the procrastinator back then – leaving lyrical input until pressed to provide it. Then again ‘Angel’ was seemingly one of the earlier tunes to be formed so maybe it was a rare time in which Jim was ready with lyrics fairly early on but he just delayed putting them across in the studio? All supposition by me. 

The song had a brief run of being in the live set during the opening part of the Sons And Fascination tour in Aug/Sept of 1981, performed just a handful of times before leaving the set altogether. Never to reappear again until 2006 on the Black and White tour. And not on a set list again since. 

The only live recording of it that exists from those handful of 1981 shows is from the Royal Court in Liverpool on September 22nd. It’s performed in Edinburgh on the opening night of the tour on August 28th – it doesn’t seem to go too well.

The next two shows, it’s off the set list – the reason for the Bingley Hall absence I guess would be to how ill Jim was on the night. The next gig in Nottingham, was the one and only time that Wonderful In Young Life was performed. Ironed out, perhaps? It was then back in the set until the final gig of this first short leg of the tour at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on September 25th. A total (potentially – as some set list information is unavailable) of seven shows that it was performed at. Amazing then that there is even one recording to exist of it. I’m sure that given that the gig was recorded for the specific purpose of putting out some live content, that a recording of it being performed at Hammersmith must exist somewhere in a vault.

It was a fairly prominent feature in 2006, particularly during the first part pf the year as the band tour around Europe. It makes its last appearance during the opening gig of the Australian leg of the tour in May. There are several live versions to be heard. The pedant in me couldn’t really stick with any of them. I am terrible for that. I love lyrics as they are. As they’ve been written and intended to be heard in the first place and when that doesn’t happen I find it annoying. Yes! I know. There is the excuse that the band hadn’t actually performed the song 25 years by that point – I could give them a break! But my counter argument would be one – they would have given themselves time to rehearse before going on tour. Also, the element about it that leaves me disappointed has nothing to do with the music. It’s being played very well from the examples of performances I had heard. My gripe is with Jim and the lyrics. The version I can listen to that plays furthest along in the tour is in Rome on March 19th. Some six weeks into the tour. It’s the 34th performance of the song. 

I will say no more of it because I know where he’d tell me to stick it – esp. after given a critique of something some 15 years after the fact, but I can’t help being a pedantic c*** about these things.

All I know is that as a track to end an album with? Very few match it for statement and feeling, to summerise and sum up all that has passed in the album that has just been experienced. The melody. The “church bells”. The amazing bassline. The underplayed drum beat. The beautiful backing vocal. It’s exquisite. As delicate and as haunting as the angels it is depicting. That daydream, vision, visitation – whatever it was that Jim experienced as a child certainly left its mark on him. And all these years later it still lives on and will live on eternally in the mindset of Simple Minds fans. Those angels are with all of us. For many of us they feel like guardians. Guardians of the thoughts and feelings we hold so very precious. If what Jim experienced was indeed “a vision”, then it was definitely meant to be. They wanted to be seen, and they wanted Jim to see them.

What an absolutely sublime piece of work to finish an album on. 

Photograph of Jim by Virginia Turbett
Angel wings vector graphics: Bastian Schwind
Additional source information: simpleminds.org

The Little Things That Make Me Happy

Proud of my collection of photos. Changed the ones I had on display today. Had pages of the 40 Tour Program on display but decided to go for some favourites of Jim from my Virginia Turbett collection.

I want to be surrounded by things that make me happy. And ssooo many photos that Virginia took of Jim make me happy.

Don’t worry about the sound on the video – I’m not talking at all. All you’re going to hear is my damn creaking floor.

Perks Of The Job…

That I get to share lovely photos that Virginia took of him. In all the many wonderful things that have happened in the past seven – YES SEVEN – years of my Simple Minds fandom, few have been more wonderful to me than becoming friends with Virginia.

Not only is she one of the best photographers ever, she’s a fabulous lady to know. I regard her as one of my dearest friends. And I can only hope she thinks likewise of me.

As much a celebration for me being a Minds fan for seven years today than it is in honour of His Kerrness’s birthday, I share these photos.

I have all four in my collection. The one of him smiling away with the rest of the boys behind him, near Duddingston Loch, within Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, taken in 1981 is a firm favourite. I don’t think there has ever been a man with a more beautiful smile. (Fuck, I talk such mush!) It’s on permanent display on my wall. The others are on rotation as part of my absurd collection of others (never taken an official count but it currently stands at around 160 photos – approximately).

You can always check out a sample of Virginia’s collection at www.virginiaturbett.com and make enquiries about prints.

Virginia Turbett Interview With Artefact Magazine

I am very proud to know this lady and call her my friend and to do the tiny bits of work I do for her. It’s a privilege. And I don’t know how she puts up with my endless sycophantic, forlorn “I love Jim” crap but she does and it means the world.

So here I am, on this blog, waxing lyrical about the lady whose photos of Simple Minds and of Jim have always been and always will be my favourites. But not just those, so many others of hers too. And not just of pop stars and punk bands, either.

You can read Virginia’s interview with Artefact magazine by clicking the photo below…

You can always check out Virginia’s social media pages on Facebook and Instagram – just search for “Virginia Turbett Photography” on FB and IG to find her. Prints are always available to buy via her website at www.virginiaturbett.com

Today we commemorate the achievement of Simple Minds being at No. 1 in the US chart in 1985 with the ubiquitous Don’t You (Forget About Me) with some archival camera trickery. Or is it? Did she take a tumble? Did Jim trip her up? Or…as I suggested to her…did she finally fall under his spell? Lol. No! This is the lady who told Iggy Pop she was too busy working in her dark room (she was working when he called to be fair) to go and “hang out” with him!!! (I know!!!) I doubt Jim had much of a chance.

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 ❤️😊

Save Carlton Studios Fundraiser – Auction Of Virginia Turbett Prints – Scottish Music Scene

FURTHER UPDATE – MARCH 4th: The crowdfunder campaign has been extended for two weeks – which I think also extends the time of the prize draw. The announcement of the winners won’t happen until April, so one can assume the prize draw is still active right now. If you’d like to make a donation and be in the prize draw, check with Carlton for certainty.

UPDATE – MARCH 2nd: Prize draw donations will be closing in a couple of days from now, so if you want to be in with a chance, be sure to make a donation ASAP!

Carlton Studios in Glasgow is a rehearsal space and professional recording hub for local bands within the city. As far as I am aware, Kenny Hyslop was involved in the set up of the studio.

Due to the lockdown restrictions that have gone on over this past year, the studio is in real danger of permanent closure. It needs funds to stay afloat. It needs our help.

Virginia Turbett has donated eight A3 sized prints to Carlton Studios to help raise funds. The prints are being auctioned off. The prints centre around the Scottish music scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s and include images of Simple Minds, Bruce’s Records, The Skids, Alex Harvey and The Rezillos.

Please take a look at Dennis Ramone’s video in the Facebook link below….

You can donate by clicking HERE – please consider donating anything you can to this. Rehearsal and recording space such as these are vital for cities like Glasgow, where music is one of the major driving forces of the community.