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alive and kicking: information

  • With Once Upon A Time completed, Virgin turned their attention to the marketing of both the album and the associated world tour. Whilst the album was stuffed full of potential radio-friendly single choices, Simple Minds hadn't recorded any exclusive B-side material, so Virgin had to bulk up the forthcoming singles with instrumentals, live recordings and remixes.

  • The choice of leading single was easy: Alive And Kicking had been shaped and formed as the natural successor of Don't You (Forget About Me), and was always the contender to be the first taster from Once Upon A Time.

  • Yet the choice of tracks spread across the various formats turned out to be quite confusing. Why was there no extended version or remix? Why was Instrumental the longest mix of all? And what was it an instrumental of? The formatting was strange as well. Why release a limited edition 12" twice, with the same catalogue and matrix numbers, but with very different sleeve finishes? It would appear that there was some back-tracking and odd decisions taken behind the scenes at Virgin which eeked out and manifested themselves on the final pressings.

  • The work on single formatting and the preparation of the masters took place at Masterdisk in New York. The first job was to create a shorter version of the song for the single. So three versions of Alive And Kicking were picked: an edit (clocking in at 4:35) which featured a shorter intro and faster fade - this was probably intended for promotional and radio play, but was never actually released; the familiar edit (4:45) which was used on the 7"; and a copy of the LP master which was labelled 12", so was intended as the "extended" version for the 12" release.

  • Bob Clearmountain also created a 7" Remix Edit (4:45) and 12" Remix (6:21), the latter probably pencilled in for the limited edition 12". I believe both mixes were rejected by the band therefore leaving Virgin the unenviable task of juggling existing material to fill the void.

  • So Virgin fell back on the tried-and-tested instrumental approach. Yet the instrumental version of the song was itself extended - it wasn't an instrumental of the edit or LP version. There's no tape trail to suggest where this new "extended" version came from, or what happened to the vocal version, if it exists.

  • Having exhausted the various permutations of the studio recording of Alive And Kicking, Virgin fell back on the most recent live recordings by the band. The shows recorded at Barrowland in January 1985 were an obvious contender, and so Up On The Catwalk was remixed and edited as the bonus track for the limited edition 12".

  • The artwork was by Mick Haggerty, Virgin's in-house graphic designer, and the Alive And Kicking sleeve was the first time fans saw the new 'compact' Simple Minds logo. This would become synonymous with the band during the mid to late 1980s. The artwork also introduced Anton Corbijn's work to Simple Minds fans as he took the iconic picture of Jim from the back of the Live Aid stage. The shot was not a favourite of Jim's as he was less than impressed with his choice of trousers.

  • The 7" and 12" simply carried the the various available versions of Alive And Kicking. To increase variety, the 7" was largely black with a colour picture on the back whilst the 12" was largely white with a black-and-white picture on the back.

  • The limited edition 12" also included the live version of Up On The Catwalk. To add further interest, the colour scheme was changed again, with the sleeve's background now a dull gold colour. Further copies were printed with a shiny, reflective gold background. It's been suggested that the dull gold sleeves were printed in error. It is odd that two visually different releases had the same catalogue numbers - this further reinforced the printing error theory.

  • Some copies of the 7" were sent out as promos. These can be identified by 'Compliment' stickers on the back of the sleeve (as shown above by the red sticker in the top right corner).

  • The single's production master was created at Masterdisk and indicated how the edit, album and instrumental versions of the song would be distributed across 7" and 12" formats. A 7" promo single was also planned: this would've featured the edit backed by the album version of the title track. But it was never issued. Some rare promotional cassettes featured the planned 7", 12" and 7" promo tracks - these were simply a direct copy of the production master.

  • However, a small number of 12" promos were pressed and these featured the same tracks as the first 12" single. However, someone at the pressing plant was in a hurry, and a batch were mispressed with the instrumental labels on both sides (the record still featured the album version backed with the instrumental version though).

  • Some of these 12" promos also included press releases. (Oddly these were written by Rush Release Limited - I've yet to see an official Virgin press release for this one.)

  • After the success of Don't You (Forget About Me) in the US, A&M were quick to release the single commercially on a 7" and 12", both backed by the live cut of Up On The Catwalk. Oddly A&M chose to include the album version of the title track on both the 7" and 12" - despite having two different edits to chose for the 7" - so both the A&M 7" and 12" featured the same tracks. These were also accompanied by three different promos which quickly found favour with collectors.

  • Strangely a longer version of Alive And Kicking did eventually turn up on a Brazilian 12" promo. Probably intended for DJs only, this exclusive remix extended Alive And Kicking by (badly) combining the album and instrumental versions (the joins can be quite jarring at times). This was not an officially sanctioned mix, but despite its faults, this version is popular with collectors as it's the only source of this version.

  • A month after the single's release, Bob Clearmountain returned to the studio with renouned remixer and DJ Francois Kevorkian to rework the 'rejected' 12" Remix. This resulted in a new remix of the song, which was probably intended to find favour with the band, and then could be used for a subsequent single. However, this recording was also shelved: the band soon amassed enough live material from the Once Upon A Time tour to flesh out the next few releases.

  • Both extended versions of the songs remained in the vaults until they were released as part of the Once Upon A Time Super Deluxe box set.

alive and kicking: quick reference
7"   Alive And Kicking Virgin VS 817
A1. Alive And Kicking[Edit](4:45)
B1. Alive And Kicking[Instrumental](6:05)

12"   Alive And Kicking Virgin VS 817-12
A1. Alive And Kicking(5:24)
B1. Alive And Kicking[Instrumental]   (6:05)

12"   Alive And Kicking Virgin VS 817-13
A1. Alive And Kicking(5:24)
A2. Alive And Kicking[Instrumental] (6:05)
B1. Up On The Catwalk[Live] (5:49)

12"   Alive And Kicking Virgin VS 817-13
A1. Alive And Kicking(5:24)
A2. Alive And Kicking[Instrumental] (6:05)
B1. Up On The Catwalk[Live] (5:49)

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