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the devil came down to moscow

  • The artwork shown here is not official.

  • "Mikhail Bulgakov's devastating satire of Soviet life was written during the darkest period of Stalin's regime. Combining two distinct yet interwoven parts - one set in ancient Jerusalem, one in contemporary Moscow - the novel veers from moods of wild theatricality with violent storms, vampire attacks, and a Satanic ball; to such somber scenes as the meeting of Pilate and Yeshua, and the murder of Judas in the moonlit garden of Gethsemane; to the substanceless, circus-like reality of Moscow. Its central characters, Woland (Satan) and his retinue-including the vodka-drinking, black cat, Behemoth; the poet, Ivan Homeless; Pontius Pilate; and a writer known only as The Master, and his passionate companion, Margarita - exist in a world that blends fantasy and chilling realism, an artful collage of grostesqueries, dark comedy, and timeless ethical questions."

  • "Although completed in 1940, The Master and Margarita was not published in Moscow until 1966, when the first part appeared in the magazine Moskva. It was an immediate and enduring success: Audiences responded with great enthusiasm to its expression of artistic and spiritual freedom." - Amazon description

  • Whilst working on their 2005 album, Jim and Charlie worked on a parallel project. By working on both, they allowed themselves the luxury of avoiding writers block on both, switching when ideas or concepts weren't working.

  • As a project, its idea was more heavyweight than the usual loose themed collection of songs comprising the usual Simple Minds album. Basing their work on Bulgakov's The Master And The Margarita, a book steeped in history and allegory, the Minds were working on musical narrative.

  • Written during the Soviet crackdown of the 1930s, the book wasn't published until the 1960s, partly due to its strong anti-Stalinist message.

  • Simple Minds' version, entitled The Devil Came Down To Moscow, took formation during 2004. However, with top priority given to the new album, a tour, a live DVD and a historical documentary of the group, this collection might take a long time to see the light of day.

  • The book can be purchased from Amazon.

  • "It was spring ‘02; we had been on tour in North America and feeling pleased to be back touring internationally after a hiatus of a few years. Both Charlie Burchill and I had taken advantage of the day off in Los Angeles and in doing so decided to visit our favourite local restaurant before having a wander into the adjoining bookstore, just as we had done so many times over the previous decade."

  • "That was the day when Charlie pressed into the palm of my hands a copy of Bulgakov’s The Master And Margarita, a book that I already knew to be a huge favourite of his, one that he had outlined to me so repeatedly that I had the feeling of having already read the novel without having done so."

  • "That may have been the case up until then, but less than an hour later as I settled onto the hotel room sofa and let my eyes flit over the opening pages, I knew that this book that Charlie had gifted me would live with me from that day on. And that by enlarge is exactly how things have turned out."

  • "Among many other things the novel centres on a tale wherein the Devil, in the guise of a raffish music hall entertainer, comes to Moscow on a pre determined mission, bringing as much hilarity as he does chaos to the Russian capital, most of it is projected towards the greed and ignorance of the then newly moneyed, metropolitan elites."

  • "Full of metaphors and allegory, in flitting spontaneously between time and space, it reaches out to dreamers and madmen, presenting them as both sides of the same coin. My description of this expansive masterpiece – and it truly is – neither remotely fits nor is a worthy attempt, but should it poke your curiosity enough to make you want to investigate for yourself then I would have been doing you a massive favour. Least I believe so!"

  • "Musicals are a thing that I neither like nor know much about, apart from the fact that they have spurned some wonderful songs especially from Porter, Berlin, Gershwin, and obviously Rogers and Hammerstein. However if there is one book that has created a notion in my head that it is crying out to be given a musical treatment it is without doubt The Master And Margarita - I know that I am not the only one who has thought about this. But on the other hand with the book already being the most perfect thing of beauty etc, maybe better to leave well alone and all intact. After all who in hell needs another musical? (Apart from the billions who lap up the genre perhaps!)"

  • "Naming a singularly favourite anything is always a banal task, whether it is a song, film, city, piece of art, you name it! And especially so as on any good day it genuinely does seem that the world we live in is layered with things that are able to astound. Such was the case for me when I entered the world of “The Master.”" - Jim

  • "Been in the news a lot recently, has Russia. Then again, throughout my life it always has, and in one way or another the dramas seem set to continue. The Citizen's Theatre, situated in the Gorbals, Glasgow, minutes walk from where we record our albums, was a popular haunt of ours in the early 70's. Only teenagers at the time, but our hunger and vast developing curiosity for music also stretched into the worlds of books and theatre. Via its groundbreaking productions, "The Citz" went a great way towards feeding that hunger, and among so many other things it became for us a gateway into the world of Russia's most brilliant playwrights, Chekov and Gogol in particular. The pleasure involved in knowing some of those classics continues. Yesterday alone I spent a couple of hours with some of those classic short stories. And to this day both Charlie and I coincidentally consider The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov as one of our favourite books. So good, it should surely be in everybody's read-before-you-die lists. It was our passion for that book that led to experiencing a couple of magical days in Moscow some years ago. Those days were spent traipsing around the city, visiting many of the landmarks in which Bulgakov's surreal story takes place. More thrillingly we got to visit the apartment where the author lived, even had the opportunity to sit at the desk where the story - that means so much to us - poured out. It felt ecstatic for us to do that. We are fans after all! Other highlights? The Moscow River cruise was unforgettable. As was our "midnight walking" around St Basil's Cathedral, Red Square - Jim, 28th March 2018