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black and white 050505

JK: "About seven years ago, we turned the car around. Trying to get juice in it to take it down the road and see how far we'd go was another thing. With Black And White, it starred happening. We, as a band, came along as well, and managed to no longer be standing in the shadows. Producer Jez Coad brought stuff in. We thought about going back to work, we amassed this new firepower."

CB: "We got in Eddie Duffy. Eddie lived directly below me on my housing estate. He was a kid when we were growing up. His brothers were friends with my brothers."

JK: "He used to throw stones at us when Charlie and I were loading the van."

CB: "He ended up playing in a band with Jim's brother, with the French artists Les Ritas Mitsouko. He's a great drummer, guitarist and bass player. He's almost like the MD. He actually knows our stuff better than Jim and I. He'll tell us that we were doing it wrong. We have the same thing with Andy Gillespie, our keyboard player, because he's a bit of an anorak and he loves those original records. Between these two, we've lucked out."

Record Collector Interview
Record Collector #364
July 2009

  • "We wanted to make an album once again that was full of dramatic and atmospheric pop music. We felt that we needed an album that proved as much to ourselves as anyone else, that the big beating heart of Simple Minds was very much alive and driving us on once again. Having delivered Black and White 050505, an album that we believe is 'classic Simple Minds, albeit with a whole new energy. We can honestly say that we are delighted with the results and look forward with a totally revitalised outlook to this next phase of our on going creativity. We feel with some certainty that people who grew up with Simple Minds will share our enthusiasm for this new work. While at the same time, given the chance, we also feel that these new songs are good enough to interest a whole new contemporary audience. - Jim

  • Work started on the follow-up to Cry in 2002. As Jim and Charlie were performing at Proms 2002 in the evening, it left plenty of time to compose new material during the day.

  • They had a head-start: material was left-over from Cry including some Mark Kerr/Charlie Burchill songs.

  • And a new song, Freedom Angel, was sessioned on Billy Sloan's show on the 15th April, 2002.

  • Rumours persisted on the Internet that the album was going to be called Scorpio.

  • The working title of the album was actually Central.

  • Sean Kelly, who wrote Spaceface, contributed Light Travels for this album. It was described as " incredible song. We've made something of their own of it. There are twenty songs in the pot - some are 95% completed, some are 20% completed."

  • The album was influenced by the band's live work from 2002.

  • Derek Forbes demoed a couple a tracks. However, his involvement was temporary and he went on to work with Spear Of Destiny.

  • The first batch of potential song titles were: Automatic Love, God Save Us From Our Governments, Dolphins, Underneath The Ice, Light Travels, Scorpio. Written and recorded in Taormina, the band got together in one room to flesh out the songs, rather than communicate using e-mail (which had been the norm with previous albums).

  • "We have one new tune that is very much in the style of something from our earlier album Empires and Dance. The working title of this dark and dramatic piece is God Save Us From Our Governments - it aptly sums up how we feel regarding Tony Blair's stance towards the notion of disarmament in Iraq. Despite the heavy-handed song title, this is not sloganeering for the sake of it. Throughout our career we have within our music tried to encapsulate the feeling and issues of the times that we live in." - Jim

  • Further songs were heard in a bar in Taormina, 2002, a day before the band were appearing live. Precious and So Precious formed a pair (much like Cry and Cry Again) with Jim mentioning the song was strong enough to be a single. Another exclusive new song, Stranger, was also debuted that evening.

  • A vocal version of Somebody Up There Likes You called Easy was also played, and there were whispers of a remix of Speed Your Love To Me. These two songs were probably intended for the Remix Album, a project proposed in 2002, but which never saw the light of day. (At least, not yet anyway).

  • The original plan was to work on the album through the winter of 2003 and spring of 2004 for release in late 2004. However, given the band's touring schedule, it was not to be.

  • Jim and Charlie took stock in mid 2004. Sitting down, they sketched out a timescale for the album, and selected a core set of songs to record. It involved demoing and rehearsing in Taormina in 2004, recording the album in Holland in early 2005, and mixing the album in May 2005. They stuck to this tight schedule. And it was decided "to write a classic Simple Minds record; big, emotional pop music. Dramatic music. Rich atmosphere. All of which is easy to say, but difficult to do without being a parody or an 80's rehash. Which didn't appeal. And which was the challenge of this record".

  • Some of the early material was put to one side. Jim mentioned that they'd tried writing material a year after Cry but it was too premature.

  • Work did start with the live line-up (Jim, Charlie, Mel, Eddieand Andy) in early 2004. They rehearsed for two weeks before recording the songs proper.

  • Jez Coad of The Surfing Brides joined them as co-producer in mid-2004. (Sean Kelly is also a member of the band.)

  • Drums and percussion was recorded first, with Mel and Eddie completing their parts in ten days. The guitars were recorded during the day, whilst Jim was recorded by night.

  • By the time of the 2004 tour, five songs were finished.

  • Tours of Australia and beyond were offered in late 2004. However, the band decided to postpone these trips, and get the album finished instead.

  • Having left Eagle in 2003, Simple Minds signed to Sanctuary Records in February 2005.

  • In early 2005, Jim mentioned several other songs: Immigrants, Home, A Life Shot In Black And White, Stay Visible and I Kiss The Ground.

  • The album was written and recorded in Taormina and Glasgow, with the final recording in Wisseloord Studios, Holland, March 2005. The album was mixed by legendary Bob Clearmountain (a suggestion by manager Martin Hanlin) in April and May. Twelve new songs, mainly written by Jim, Charlie and Jez Coad were selected from a collection of twenty-two demos. Other song ideas originated from Gordon Goudie, Emiliano Pat Lego and Daniele Tignino.

  • By this point, all the potential songs were Stay Visible (originally Immigrants), God Save Us From Our Governments, Scorpio, Freedom Angel, Light Travels, Automatic Love, Dolphins, Underneath The Ice, Precious, Stranger, Easy, So Precious, Home, A Life Shot In Black And White, I Kiss The Ground and Fortune Teller.

  • "So for the moment at least, god save us from the madness of our collective governments and the war loving media machines. There is a light for me currently, and it is in the written commentaries from authors such as John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore et al. If any of the above strikes a chord then check out their incredible books. If not, you are free to ignore me." - Jim

  • The album was officially named Black And White 050505 in June 2005. The Black And White title was considered a little too dull to being with, but was kept in the frame as it described the album (half the songs were upbeat and light, whilst the other were darker). By the end of the recording, the engineer asked for the title, but when met with shrugs, he simply put the date: 050505 (5th May 2005). Therefore the mysterious numerical postfix was the completion date of the album.

  • Stylorouge (who produced the band's sleeves from Real Life through to Good News From The Next World), 2fluid_creative (Cry and Early Gold) and Fabrique (Neon Lights) tendered for the artwork. Fabrique won the deal, producing a sleeve deplicting two sets of bound hands making a heart, the basis of the Claddagh which has graced many of Simple Minds' sleeves.

  • (It was a total coincidence that the album artwork reflected the bound hands of Our Secrets Are The Same).

  • The original inspiration of the hands artwork was a graphic on the Swedish website A sketch of these hands was used for the promo artwork.

  • The sleeve for the booklet was far more interesting including bullets with enscribed Claddaghs, razors, barbed wire, hearts and eyes - the most impressive artwork since Good News From The Next World. The numerals 050505 were woven into some of the images: the text across the band's faces was published on the 5th May 2005; the tattooed numeral next to the scar was 050505 (a reference to the Holocaust, as was the shirt).

  • The original sketches for the artwork featured the hands burned or scarred, bound with duct-tape or barbed wire.

  • The first 'hands' artwork turned up with Temporary Image across the bottom of the sleeve (as shown below). A second version was also distributed without this text, and was also subtly different from the one distributed via press releases. And to add to the fun, the version appearing on the German Sanctuary site was different again:

    First artwork, Temporary Image title First artwork, No Temporary Image title Press release version German version

  • Alternative designs included some fan based artwork which was originally used to illustrate this page.

  • Although Jim hinted at Home being the first single, it wasn't confirmed until 28th June where it started to appear in on-line retail stores listings.

  • The Jeweller (Part Two) is a reworking of Jeweller To The Stars which was originally recorded for Our Secrets Are The Same. After appearing on Silver Box, people kept asking when the track would be released properly. So, it was originally re-recorded as a B-side, but ended up being so good that it was added to the album.

  • The album was extensively previewed and played during many radio performances. A month before the release date, all of the songs bar Kiss The Ground had been broadcast. Even the B-sides, Bird On A Wire and Mighty Joe Moon, were given airplay, being the exclusive prize of One Sweet Day 2005 on the 4th August.

  • Another new song, Too Much Television was premiered on Billy Sloan's show on the 9th August 2005. Supposedly a B-side, the song was actually the first from the sessions to be officially released, turning up on a couple of weeks later.

  • The US version was originally pencilled in for release on the 13th September. However, its release was postponed at the last minute to coincide with the US Tour. Promotional copies were circulating and were quickly withdrawn, leaving a handful of ultra rare collectables.

  • Two EPKs were produced: the first included an edited interview with Jim, inserts of the Home video, and extra shots of Jim in a park and record shop; the second, longer EPK was just the full-length interview with caption cards and was obviously intended as a Generic Interview. Both EPKs were released in 2019 on the Rejuvenation 2001-2014 CD/DVD box set.

  • So much material was recorded, many songs weren't added to the final album and were held back. Jim mentioned that they'd recorded one and half albums worth of material and that the songs left behind (such as Light Travels and Fortune Teller) would end up on the next album.

  • The original riff for Big Music was also recorded during this period but Jim couldn't find the lyrics for the song so the idea was shelved.

    black and white 050505: quick reference
    CD    Black And White 050505 Sanctuary SANCD390
    1.    Stay Visible(5.17)
    2.    Home(4.22)
    3.    Stranger(4.07)
    4.    Different World [TAORMINA.ME](4.36)
    5.    Underneath The Ice(4.44)
    6.    The Jeweller (Part Two)(4.17)
    7.    A Life Shot In Black And White(3.34)
    8.    Kiss The Ground(4.04)
    9.    Dolphins(6.13)

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The Jeweller
(Part Two)

Different World

Stay Visible

Too Much Television
(Internet Only)
(Internet Only)