And it was exactly three decades ago this week that Simple Minds released our Ballad Of The Streets EP.
Released as it was some four months earlier, to be "the taster" from our then planned forthcoming
Street Fighting Years album. And that idea of releasing an EP,
opposed to a catchy single, was an unorthodox decision indeed.
Desiring to try something different than the conventional pre-album type release. Perhaps also a little unsure,
whether we even have any clear cut, "radio friendly" tracks among our new Street Fighting Years collection?
We were still confident in the overall strength and power of the new music that we had worked on over the previous
year and more with visionary producers, Trevor Horn and
Casting fear and conventional wisdom aside, we decided to take a more unconventional route and instead attempt
to cause a different kind of "splash" with both media and fans.
That plan relied on going with a much grander musical statement altogether. Instead, it involved releasing a three
track EP, with a song of epic proportions called Belfast Child, as its centrepiece.
In addition, "the epic" would be defiantly serviced to radio, even in the understanding that many ultra commercial
radio stations would most probably reject our new, dark and moody track, complete as it was with its heavy political
theme and captivatingly haunted melody, based on a traditional Irish folk song and originally composed one hundred
Talk about commercial suicide? Were we really that mad to imagine that we could transport a tune from a hundred
years ago and then somehow breathe contemporary life into it? Hopefully all to be achieved by adapting new words and
an unrecognisably new arrangement? One that incorporated that hugest Simple Minds type heartbeat. An antique song,
suddenly reborn and rebooted, as though belonging only to the times we were then living in?
The answer to all those questions is. Yes, I guess we were that mad. And for my money, true artists always are.
In the end, whoever came up with that ballsy and ingenious idea of releasing the Ballad Of The Streets EP
featuring Belfast Child, literally struck gold. (OK, OK then. It was me.)
The result being that wherever the track was promoted on radio, it went on to reach some of our highest selling positions ever.
That included number one positions both in UK and Germany among others. Meanwhile in France, where
Mandela Day was released as the radio track, also from the
Ballad Of The Streets EP, to this day that track is considered a classic and received rapturously whenever played live.
Alternately in countries where the track and EP received little radio support, eg North America. Guess what?
Both it, and the following Street Fighting Years album, sunk without a trace.
Begging the question equally.
What idiot came up with the decision to suggest Belfast Child as a single from a
doomy EP called The Ballad Of The Streets? (OK, OK then. It was me.)
Fine and good. Time flies in the way that it does, and what fun it is to look back on the glory days.
Janury 11th, 2019