Saturday, December 27, 2008

Time to reclaim them for us

They may have receievd a lot of flack over the years (a fair bit of which is almost certainly tall poppy syndrome), but I think it's time for people to embrace the music of early Simple Minds. Rather like with Roxy Music, the early stuff was genuinely pioneering, and has dated much better than some of the later stuff. And controversial though this may be for some, I think they were far more pioneering in their early days than U2, with whom they were always compared. They didn't want to be considered Jockrock and the song titles reflected an interest far more in tune with Warhol and European culture.

Take the two early tracks 'I Travel' and 'Theme For Great Cities.' To me they still sound utterly fresh now.

Simple Minds -'I Travel.'

Simple Minds -'Theme For Great Cities.'

This track hints at what was to come later...but also shows that several albums in, they hadn't compromised.

Simple Minds -'The American.'

In 1982, they broke through commercially with the album New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) and attendant hits like 'Promised you A Miracle.' There were celebrity marriages for singer Jim Kerr (to both Chrissie Hynde and Patsy Kensit), a US no.1 single, and huge, massive gigs. An increasing bombasticness alientated old fans, but there were some utter gems later too:

This was the first time I ever saw Simple Minds' music on TV, this made it into the UK charts in late 1986. Their manager of the time, Bruce Findlay, has said that this is a re-write of 'I Travel.'

Simple Minds -'Ghostdancing.'

Please do yourselves a favour: listen to the early albums: Life In A Day, Reel To Reel Cacophony, Empires And Dance, Sons and Fascination, Sisters Feeling Call. You can almost certainly pick these up very cheaply. Simple Minds are still recording and touring. Their manager of the eighties, Bruce Findlay now manages Aberfeldy and reads this blog, too...

Simple Minds' official website/Simple Minds myspace

A link to lots of Simple Minds videos on youTube


entrailicus said...

They simply made the huge mistake of becoming mega famous and selling millions of albums. 'Street Fighting years' was the most pompous album ever, though.

helen said...

My parents were big early Simple Minds fans and I do believe I saw them play in Edinburgh, albeit in utero. They certainly featured in the soundtrack of my early childhood and my mum had a teeshirt that said SIMPLE MINDS but with all the uprights joining adjacent letters.

My dad introduced me to Sound in 70 Cities as an excellent skiing tune- I can also recommend it for train journeys, if you like tunes on trains. An accidental iTunes download means I also own 70 Cities as Love Brings the Fall (which my dad doesn't rate) and I think I probably like it at least as much as 70% as Sound In.

Must crack out the parents' vinyl, seeing as I'm still at home for Christmas, and see if I can't educate myself a bit.

Glad to have you back.

helen said...

Theme for Great Cities also a good skiing track, it should be noted.

southfield cowboy said...


Simple Minds, whom I only discovered with Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call, were a fantastic live band, who practically reinvented themselves with each release through the first five or six albums. Personally, I felt that New Gold Dream was still great, but after that, there was increasing bombast, culminating in the horror that was Belfast Child.
But what wonderful music there was, and yes the early stuff really needs to be rehabilitated. SERIOUSLY good stuff.

southfield cowboy said...

Oh..... and great to see you back!


southfield cowboy said...

and delighted to hear Bruce is still actively involved with great bands! I still remember his excellent publicity coup when he first started Bruce's Record Shop: it seemed as if EVERYONE at the Meadows Festival was carrying an red album bag which said "I found it at Bruce's". Wonderful!

Ed said...

Entrailicus - not a fan of Street Fighting Years either to be honest
: )

Helen - glad to be back -sort of ;)
the site will be relanched very soon

Southfield Cowboy -alas bruce's Records had gone by the time I moved to Edinburgh in 2001, but it's legend lives on...

anglopunk said...

I completely agree with reclaiming early Simple Minds - they had several brilliant albums. I think my favourites are still Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call, but I always said Simple Minds suffered from John Hughes Syndrome - once one of your songs appears in a John Hughes film, you seem to lose your way and lose credibility.

Ed said...

'once one of your songs appears in a John Hughes film, you seem to lose your way and lose credibility.' Possibly very true. Ironically, this song had already been turned down by David Bowie (who was already losing both at that point in his career), Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol. Yes I think you make case very well!

Stevie Rooney said...

First post from Scottish expat in Sydney on this site which I found via Vinyl Villain...was never really a Simple Minds fan but always loved Chelsea Girl and I Travel whilst at school...think it's time I got hold of them. And massive thanks for the Robert Wyatt/SWAPO singers which I have on 12"...gathering dust at my parent's back in Burnside...! What a brilliant surprise to hear it again tonight after all those years. Cheers. Stevie.

Ed said...

You're welcome! For more regular updates, check out the new site at

Thanks for your kind words, Ed