ECR #020: spotlight on Simple Minds

Everyone knows Simple Minds as “that band with that song from ‘The Breakfast Club’, geriatrician eh?”, pulmonologist but Simple Minds has a varied and prolific career way before that, putting out six albums between ’78 and ’82! Not only that, but they’re all pretty killer. I’m shocked that more people don’t know their catalogue like their contemporaries Magazine.

Track listing:
Thirty Frames A Second ["Empires And Dance", 1980]
Premonition ["Reel To Real Cacophony", 1979]
Carnival (Shelter In A Suitcase) ["Reel To Real Cacophony", 1979]
Twist-Run-Repulsion ["Empires And Dance", 1980]
70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall ["Sons And Fascination", 1981]
I Travel ["Empires And Dance", 1980]
Chelsea Girl ["Life In A Day", 1978]

Egg City Radio #020: spotlight on Simple Minds (MP3)

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731 Responses to ECR #020: spotlight on Simple Minds

  1. Monty says:

    A bloody great band…pre stadium, of course…I love that Euro/Art-rock/Bowie/Roxy/Velvets/Prog/Krautrock-influenced sound…Magazine, Ultravox, Japan…it’s a really strange sort of musical dead end…not even a cult sortof thing, really…criminally overlooked. Yeah, I think they were ‘prog’…apart from the glam influences they were also inspired by Van der Graaf and Gabriel-era Genesis…there’s Yes and loads of other obscure stuff in there too…saw them live twice…the U2 thing ruined such a great idea…

  2. Jim Donato says:

    Yes, yes. Early Simple Minds were the bomb! Brilliant postpunk, krautrock influenced dance music. And Derek Forbes fat basslines [equally brilliant on fretted or fretless] all but define the songs!! Charlie Burchill’s guitar was heavily treated in the early days – never content to actually sound like a guitar. I love every album from “Life In A Day” to “Sparkle In The Rain” but after that came nearly a decade of stadium success and a decadent, flaccid musical output with only a scant few songs to recommend it. They started to get better again in ’95 and their obscure “Neapolis” album that killed off their lucrative career overseas in ’97 was a return to “progressive” trance methodologies. Since then, they’ve been better than the mid-80s but not as good as the late 80s/early 80s. My fave of late is the inventive “Cry” where Jim Kerr wrote with outside musicians and really breathed a lot of new life back into the band. Many new directions were explored on that album and the fresh pop sound was miles better than the bloated stadium rock that made their fortunes. They are still active – the only such of my favorite postpunk bands never to have thrown in the towel – and the results are good enough to maintain my interest. Hell, when I saw them for the 2nd time in 2002 on their last US tour they were MILES better than the last 1986 tour I had previously saw them on! They were old farts THEN and hungry young men now! They played excellent catalog material that gave me chills as well as the strong current material. Now if only they can come to terms with godlike bassist Derek Forbes…

  3. Damian says:

    One of the great mysteries of my adolescent life was just how Simple Minds managed to get so good so fast. From “Real To Real Cacophony” straight through to the utterly transcendent “New Gold Dream,” these guys evolved in leaps and bounds, each new album impossibly better than the previous one and sounding like an entirely new band with each release. “Empires and Dance” is one of my top 10 albums of all time. I have fond memories of driving my father nuts playing Side Two over and over – that and “Sound In 70 Cities” from Sister Feelings Call. Ha ha!

  4. Monty says:

    I remember hearing that ‘Neapolis’ was a return to form at the time and then I saw it in HMV for £3.99 or some crazy price but I passed on it … DUMMY!

  5. Alex says:

    I really dig Simple Minds, and I have to admit I love, love, love “Once Upon A Time” their post-”Don’t You (Fuhget Bout Me)” album with “Ghostdancing” and “All The Things She Said” and “Alive & Kicking” on it. It’s totally cheesy and it was when Jim (the lead singer) was wearing long cheesy dusters with big broaches and high waisted pants. But I do love this record. You can totally find it (along with the rest of their catalog) in the cheap bins usually as everyone considers them to be the lesser U2. I guess that’s because they were Irish, and any band that came out of Ireland at that time had to be U2 or tits. Begin stoning now, I’m a cheeseball.

    • Fred says:

      Simple Minds aren’t Irish, they’re Scottish! I like R2R and E&D best, I’ve had them since they came out.

  6. Monty says:

    Simple Minds Irish? They’re from Glasgow, SCOTLAND, man! Speaking of Derek Forbes, I’m pretty sure he was the bassist in punk band The Subs who had a single out on Stiff records around ’77. I’ve got it somewhere in the vinyl pile.They came and played our local town hall back in the day and outraged the local Dr. Hook fans. This must have been just weeks before he joined Simple Minds, if I’m not making this up…and, yeah, ‘Ghostdancing’ is a cracking song. I’ve got the album but I prefer the earlier stuff. They could have been as cool as Kraftwerk.

  7. Jim Donato says:

    Damian:

    You hit the nail on the head as to why I have such continuing devotion to Simple Minds in spite of their considerable faux-pas. For their first 7 albums, each one was better then the last and they evolved dramatically between them! They have the most astonishing artistic development arc from 78-83 – far beyond any other bands I have liked and certainly on a par with Bowie’s development in the 70s. When I was compiling my Simple Minds Boxed Set OF God a few years back [every track not on straight albums + bonus CD-ROM] I had to listen to a LOT of SM as I remastered many a vinyl only track for this comp. I spent about 3 months immersed in Simple Minds and I emerged from this period an even bigger fan! New Gold Dream in particular rose considerably in my esteem – and I loved it when it was released but 1982 was cluttered with fantastic music. 20 Years later it grows considerably in stature as it very much stands apart from the other music of the time. Derek Forbes is a GOD OF BASS and this album proves it! Again, like Bowie, they had a near decade of crap in the mid-80s only to emerge in the mid-90s with a raft of good to great albums and only one stinker each. Bowie = Outside & Simple Minds = Our Secrets Are The Same.

  8. Eric says:

    Wow. This is great. I always kind of liked Don’t You Forget About Me, but I had no idea that they were actually a really good band. Thanks.

  9. Jim Donato says:

    Technically, The Stranglers also never threw in the towel either, but I consider them a different band apres Hugh Cornwell.

  10. James says:

    The sad thing about Simple Minds is that they were a genuinely great band that went on to became this incredibly dismal, sheeny joke that everyone can point to when they want to dismiss music from the 80′s. They really ought to have bowed out with dignity long ago.

    To me, their highpoint was Sons and Fascination, which sounds absolutely fantastic after all these years. Empires and Dance is also amazing. I agree with the praise given to Derek Forbes, and I hope this blog will let people see how good this band really was…

  11. pepper says:

    any chance of uploading the extended mix (6 mins. +) of “i travel”? i know there’s a longer version that was included in some box set, and it bewillders me why virgin records didn’t include extra tracks in their recent simple minds remastered reissue cds.

    “. When I was compiling my Simple Minds Boxed Set OF God a few years back [every track not on straight albums + bonus CD-ROM]”

    i’d love to hear that!

  12. Jim Donato says:

    Pepper:

    Good news. You can get any decent rare track (including the I Travel remix) by Simple Minds on iTunes. All 5 volumes of their Themes boxed sets of singles are all available for download. That cut is on Themes vol. 1 for $0.99. Of course, a few cuts are album only, but not I Travel. The remasters did not include bonus tracks because the Themes boxes are back in print with the addition of a volume 5, that was not issued with the first pressing of the Themes boxes in 1990. You might want to buy those now since by the early 00s, the original Themes boxes went for several hundred apiece when they were OOP.