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faq : simple minds

why did so-and-so leave the band?
This, and many other line-up questions, can be found answered in the family tree section of this website.

where did the name 'Simple Minds' originate?
Being fed up with the lavatorial name of Johnny And The Self Abusers, Jim wanted a name that sounded naive, was non-punk, had no manifesto, and reflected some of the directions of alternative music at the time; Iggy Popís The Idiot is often cited as an direct influence.

The name of the band ultimately came from a line in David Bowieís The Jean Genie:
"He's so simple minded he can't drive his module."

Charlie mentioned at the time that they didn't want a name starting with "The".

were Simple Minds really called Johnny And The Self Abusers?
Yes, and I have all their records. The full history of this seminal (sorry) line-up can be here.

what's the history of the heart, hands and crown logo that appears on many of their sleeves?
It's an old design called a Claddagh. It first graced the sleeve of Live in the City of Light, the centrepiece of Malcolm Garrettís minimalist black and gold design. The heart, crown and hands motif outlived the live album, being discretely used as a logo across the Street Fighting Years, Verona and Themes Volumes releases. For a period, it became synonymous with Simple Minds.

To Irish fans, the design was instantly recognisable, as the famous characteristic ring from the small fishing village of Claddagh near Galway, Ireland. Its creator, goldsmith Richard Joyce, named the ring after the village he settled in (after an adventurous and hair raising life being kidnapped by pirates, sold as a slave, trained as a metalworker by a Moorish goldsmith, and eventually released by a Kingsí mandate).

In addition to its powerful iconography (the hands are friendship, the crown loyalty and the heart is love), the ring symbolised the wearersí status:

  • Those who are unattached and free should wear the ring on their right hand with the heart pointing out.
  • If spoken for, wear the ring on the right hand with the heart pointing in.
  • Moreover, if married (so your heart is taken), then wear the ring on the left hand with the heart pointing in.

Did Jim knew the history or the meaning of the ring before deciding that it would be the crux of Live in the City of Lightís artwork? Malcolm Garrett confirmed that Jim suggested the design, and the artist offered an alternative view, suggesting the fingers formed a heart. However the version that graced the sleeve was definitely a stylised representation of Joyceís design, so an original Claddagh ring was ultimately the basis.

A sketch of the Claddagh by Malcolm Garrett

In 2001, it was resurrected by Bogdan Zarkowski for The Best Of album, a fussy overworked colourised vulgar form appeared which unfortunately continued across Cry, Early Gold and early artwork for Our Secrets Are the Same. Itís become Simple Mindsí global corporate stamp, a move away from the iconic redesigns of the 1980s and 1990s, when a new album meant new exciting artwork and visuals. Virginís latest retrospective releases that aped the original cover of Live in the City of Light looked dull and predictable by comparison.

faq : this site

where did the name Dream Giver come from?
Back in 1995, I was planning the first issue of a new Simple Minds fanzine. When told about it, Jim suggested two potential titles: Who's Doing The Dreaming Now? and Dream Giver.

and redux?
It's Latin for 'rebirth' or 'renewal'. I thought it sounded a little more sexy than "Dream Giver 2".

do you own all the records in the discography?
Yes - unless otherwise mentioned - therefore making this discography the most accurate for Simple Minds. If I haven't got it - it's not going in.

faq : collecting

where do you get all your records from?
I've been collecting Simple Minds records since 1986 and have amassed a huge collection. In the past, it was from the local record shop, record fairs and adverts in collectors' magazines such as Record Collector. Nowadays, it's the local record shop, record shops in Italy (via on-line shopping), Amazon, Esprit and Ebay.

what are the top ten simple minds collectables?
At the time of Neapolis, the editor of Record Collector asked me to compile a "Top Ten" of Simple Minds rarities. As I turned my mind to lists of master tapes, acetates and test pressings, the editor asked me to concentrate on obscure promos and hard-to-get commercial offerings. ďOtherwiseĒ, he advised, ďitíll just turn into a dull list of master tapes, acetates and test pressings.Ē

That was the last I heard of the idea, but I felt it was worth compiling a list anyway. And I was surprised at some of the entries.

My initial 1998 list was:

  • Real To Real Cacophony UK cassette. (Arista TCART 1109)
  • Donít You (Forget About Me) German CD promo. (Virgin 665 640)
  • Donít You (Forget About Me) UK limited edition uncut disc. (Virgin VSS 749)
  • Good News From The Next World German promotional cassette.
  • Glitterball 12" single. (Dance Factory 8852686)
  • Live In The City Of Light promotional box set.
  • Neapolis UK promotional box set.
  • Glittering Prize 81/92 UK album. (Virgin SMTV 1)
  • Sweat In Bullet UK 7Ē single. (Virgin VS 451)
  • 81-95 DJ Copy Japanese promotional album. (EMI PCD 0557)
And I've now revised the list for 2009:

  1. Spaceface CDR Promo Eagle
    discography entry

    Eagle and Sanctuary Records both epitomised the cheep-and-cheerful approach to promo production and left the manufacture of their promos to the CDR duplicators and laser printers in the Duplication Room.

    Whilst this left collectors feeling somewhat short changed, it allowed the record companies considerable flexibility in the number of different promos and quantities produced.

    Pressing up a handful of copies in a custom sleeve was quick, easy and cheap. And so the Cry discography became peppered with short runs of interesting CDRs featuring unique combinations of tracks.

    This Spaceface promo appeared in June 2002. It featured the exclusive combination of the title track with Disconnected and unique artwork (arguably better than the packing case shot which was used for the commercial release). One copy was auctioned on eBay and none have surfaced since; thus making it one of Simple Minds scarcest releases.

  2. Promised You A Miracle French Promo CD. Virgin SA 3265
    discography entry

    Whilst the compilation album Glittering Prize 81/92 didnít set the collecting world on fire, its associated singles appear three times in this top ten.

    Whilst Love Song and Alive And Kicking were the promoted tracks from the album (being used as a double-A side single around the world), Virgin France decided to back two different horses and issued two separate two-track promos featuring Promised You A Miracle and Donít You (Forget About Me) as lead tracks.

    The Donít You (Forget About Me) promo CD was scarce but the Promised You A Miracle edition, with its unique custom colour card sleeve. was even scarcer.

  3. Stay Visible Promo CD. Sanctuary SANPX 390X
    discography entry


  4. Donít You (Forget About Me) UK Limited Edition Uncut Picture Disc. Virgin VSS 749
    discography entry

    I once asked a record dealer at a record fair (who claimed was a major Simple Minds fan) if heíd ever come across the uncut version of the limited, and slightly uncommon, Donít You (Forget About Me) picture disc. Whilst he waxed lyrical about other bands and labels, he concluded with absolute certainty that no unaltered versions ever escaped from the pressing plant. Virgin never issued any and that was the last said on the subject.

    A year later, at the same record fair, I picked one up. At that point, I decided to forget everything he told me (including some silliness about a promotional Cheslea Girl mug of which he had the handle). Uncut versions do exist, with three or four appearing in the last ten years or so.

    (Note: the disc is transparent like the cut versions. It appears white in this shot. However, thanks to Virgin using non-UV stabilised polycarbonate, most picture discs are suffering from sunburn and are starting to turn yellow-brown. Keep them out of daylight!).

  5. House Of Blues CDR/MC Virgin
    discography entry

    The last months at Virgin Records were filled with rumours of new singles and albums to quickly fill the void after the Good News From The Next World Tour bade farewell. CD promos of potential third singles appeared in several countries but these releases were common compared to the House Of Blues release.

    Several CDRs and cassettes appeared on the market soon after Simple Minds left Virgin Records. Were Virgin considering the bandís live performance at the House Of Blues (2nd March 1995) as a potential new live album and follow-up release for Good News For The Next World? If they were then nothing else came of it.

    This recording was edited and mixed for a syndicated radio broadcast by the Album Network and subsequently bootlegged as 95 Sunset Strip. The radio broadcast transcription CDs and bootleg CD still surface, but the limited numbers of House Of Blues CDRs and cassettes quickly disappeared into fanís collections and werenít seen again.

  6. Don't You (Forget About Me) Promo CD. EMI 378938 2
    discography entry


  7. Graffiti Soul Hungarian Promo Box Set Universal
    discography entry

    Universal in Hungary were persuaded that Graffiti Soul could do with a deluxe promotional treatment and a tasty multiple CD box-set was just the thing to impresses journalists and DJs alike.

    In a homage to previous Simple Minds album promotional sets (such as the Street Fighting Years box set), they designed a multiple CD package, with the albumís core eight tracks spread across separate CDs, each housed in a glossy colour sleeve, and all packaged in a compact CD box.

    Only thirty boxes were produced: twenty were distributed to the journalists and DJs (who were no-doubt impressed), five were given away as competition prizes and the remainder were kept by Universal.

  8. Neon Lights Original Versions Promo CD Eagle
    discography entry

    Questions have to be asked as to the point of this promo. Someone at Eagle decided it would be a good idea to produce a version of Neon Lights and include the original songs as performed by the original artists. The bottom-line being a Simple Minds promo which featured no Simple Minds.

    Only twenty five copies were produced before it fell foul of copyright issues and/or someone at Eagle saw sense and pulled the project.

  9. Graffiti Soul Sampler CD Universal
    discography entry

    Before the release of Graffiti Soul, a handful of fans attended a listening party at Universalís offices in London. Everyone was given a "goody bag" containing choice tour merchandise and a Sampler version of Graffiti Soul.

    Illusions were shattered when the samplers were played and each of the five tracks was limited to a paltry thirty seconds. But these CDRs housed in custom graphic paper sleeves were a thoughtful gift and offered a memory jog of the full tracks played that day.

    The samplerís contents were released digitally on the official site, but any other physical samplers have yet to appear. I wonder if these promos were made especially for listening party, in which case, it was a limited run of about thirty copies.

  10. Good News From The Next World German Promo MC Virgin
    discography entry

    Good News From The Next World was partly a celebration of corrugated cardboard packaging: the limited edition of Sheís A River was the first to feature this novel packaging followed by the tour programme, promotional calendar and all the press packs for the album.

    The most desirable was the German press pack. Not only was it stuffed full of press releases, pictures and interview transcripts, but it featured a unique packaging of the commercial cassette pressed into a cardboard surround and fronted by a unique postcard featuring the albumís artwork.

    Whilst the promo press packs for Good News From The Next World were produced in huge quantities and often turn up (with varying amounts of contents), the German edition remains strangely illusive. Iíve only ever seen one for sale.

  11. All The Things She Said / Alive And Kicking 7" Pack Virgin VS 860 / Virgin VS 817
    discography entry

    There was once two niggling questions about the Once Upon A Time discography which refused to go away: why didnít All The Things She Said include a limited edition release and what was the story behind the legendary Alive And Kicking double pack which was rumoured to exist but no-one had a copy?

    There was one neat answer to the question: Virgin packaged stock 7" copies of Alive And Kicking and All The Things She Said together as a limited edition double pack. These didnít survive long as most fans wouldíve torn through the limited edition sticker and separated the pack when they got home.

    Copies turn up from time to time and reach three figure sums; which is a lot of money for a simple "limited edition" sticker.

  12. Sweat In Bullet 7" Virgin VS 451
    discography entry

    Whilst the 12" was common, collectors usually warmly patted themselves on the back after picking up the Ďlimitedí and rather Ďhard-to-getí 7" double-pack. With that, the story was felt to be complete, and everyone got down to the tricky business of trying to find Live In The City Of Light box sets.

    This was the first case of the power of the Internet. After developing the first discography in 1994, I received my first mail about Sweat In Bullet a couple of years later. A plain 7" did exist. Then another mail arrived complete with a scan. Followed by another. Followed by a copy of the extremely rare 7" itself.

    So, the discography was rewritten, and collectors started to scour the 7" racks again. To this date, the plain 7" copy of Sweat In Bullet remains stupidly rare and fetches three figure sums when it does surface.

  13. One Step Closer Promo CD Eagle EAGXS 244
    discography entry


  14. Love Song/Alive And Kicking Green Promo 12" Virgin VSTDJ 1440
    discography entry


  15. Graffiti Soul HMV Slipcase Universal
    discography entry


what's a test-pressing?
This is the first record, tape or CD produced before the full production run kicks in. They're normally played and then discarded - in other words, a quality assurance check. Because it's merely a check of the replication processes, a test-pressing has no label artwork (normally just having white labels - hence the name "white label") or sleeve (white paper sleeves are normally stamped with the date). Test pressings are very, very rare and are searched out by hardcore collectors only.

Test pressings are often sent to the band's management for checking and approval.

Some test pressings feature different tracks or ordering than the final release.

And some releases only reach test pressings before being abandoned. The third issue of I Travel by Virgin reached test pressing stage as a 7" - but was never released in that format.

what's a white-label?
This is a record which has no label artwork - the labels are simply white pieces of paper. There are two types of white-labels:

1. A test-pressing. The label is white as the artwork hasn't been prepared, or as it's a test-pressing, no label is going to be added.
2. A promo. No artwork has been prepared, nor will be, so several hundred promo copies are pressed up with white labels. Some of the 12" releases from Street Fighting Years were pressed up as white-labels. With the advent of dance, white-labels are becoming very common and Absolutely have issued several of their promo Simple Minds releases as white-labels.