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Was Neapolis the marmite of Simple Minds albums? It certainly split opinion, with some loving it for its dense, multi-layered textures and mystical lyrics; and others loathing it for the same reason. No other album from the band's history conjures up such diverse reactions and the mere mention of its name can lead to heated debate and disagreement.

Neapolis turned twenty-five this year and it seemed fitting to mark the occasion by updating the album's pages and bringing everything up to date. For an album that seemed to slip between the cracks and disappear quickly into obscurity, there was a wealth of interviews, releases and tour dates to consider. Chrysalis certainly put its promotional might behind it, but nothing ever appeared to stick. The album and its two singles quietly disappeared into the ether and for several years, it appeared to be the band's swansong, a small 'full-stop' on a disappearing career.

Yet it deserves to be remembered. It gaves us the sublime War Babies whilst Glitterball, Superman v Supersoul and Killing Andy Warhol should all be on Simple Minds playlists. It was a brave experiment which didn't quite work - but the back catalogue would be poorer without it.

"In countless conversations the question comes up "So what was your biggest hit?" A far more interesting question I reckon is "So what was your biggest flop?" Tough question. Had many of them and quite proudly so in the case of our album Neapolis. No-one except both Charlie and I seemingly have any time for that record and as unfortunate as that may be - we just don't care. Continuing down our merry path all these years later - still liking it, despite its terrible mix and absurd modern weirdness." - Jim, 13th February 2016.

Simple Minds' Neapolis is out April 22nd, exclusive to Record Store Day UK 2023

Produced by Peter Walsh, the 1998 album, featuring the tracks War Babies and Glitterball will be on vinyl for the very first time.

Press Release
16th February 2023

Given that most of Simple Minds' albums have now retrospectively appeared on vinyl (thanks to reissue campaigns by Universal and Demon), it was natural to mark Neapolis' 25th anniversary by releasing it as an LP for Record Store Day 2023. Neapolis was the first album to skip that format in 1998 and it missed the boat when the multiple-volume album box-sets came out last decade.

Chrysalis didn't hold back when it came to the packaging and presentation of Neapolis. Therefore, it was natural to follow that example when it came to the 2023 pressing, and so it was smartly packaged in a gatefold sleeve and pressed on lime green vinyl. This new LP completed the album's formatting on its silver anniversary and satisfied those who'd always felt short-changed by the absence of a vinyl release back in 1998.

Brian McGee Interview: I Always Thought Simple Minds Would Make It (Part 4/4)

Audio: Don't You (Forget About Me)

RMNP: At what point did the popularity go from 'This is going quite well' to 'This is absolutely massive now?' At what point... where is the switch?
BM: It was such a turmoil in the early years. Because we were under the impression we were going to kick in very early after doing the first album. We were given the Magazine tour, we were on The Old Grey Whistle Test, we hadn't even done a gig in England - the backlash from that in the British press was kind of a bit full on. It was like: 'Who are these guys? They haven't even done a gig in England. And they're on The Old Grey Whistle Test.' It was a mixed emotion.
BM: So, we're thinking 'We're going to kick in. Chelsea Girl's going to be a hit. Life In A Day is going to be a hit.' And it didn't happen. So then we put our heads down and just kept recording and recording and recording. Determined that at some point in time, something's going to kick in. And I think the first thing that ever kicked in was The American. Which was a song written separate from doing any albums. We went to the Manor Studios in Oxford to record a specific single. And then when we put it out, it charted in Canada, it got to number 48. We went 'Whoa! We're actually doing something right here!' And that's when it gave you that feeling of 'Oh God! At last!' Something on the bigger scale of things.
BM: It's cool to be an 'arty-farty' band - or whatever you want to call it - a deep dark band or whatever, but we still wanted success. There's no denying that, we wanted as much success as we could get. But we also didn't want to compromise. If I look back I would say it would be The American, just as The American came out, it charted in Australia I think as well, and then that's when we realised things are cooking, things are getting bigger and bigger.

RMNP: At that point in time, when the record came out, and you had that bit of success, was that a gamechanger for you? Was that when you realised 'This is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. This is who I am?'
BM: I had no doubt that the band would be massive. I had no doubt. Even though you would have doubts on a daily, weekly basis, there was still that inner depth of even if I quit, when or if I did quit, I still knew the band were going to move on to be bigger than they were at that point in time. Just because I knew Jim so well. I knew Charlie so well. I knew Mick and Derek as people. They would get on, and move on, without me. And find some other way of getting through success. There was no doubt in my mind that Simple Minds would ever be... I'll kid on that they would last 40 years because I didn't think it would last that long, but I certainly knew the band would be successful Rory. No doubt in my head that the band would be successful. Even though you go through turmoils of your single not charting, or you get a bad review, there was that determination built into everyone, that no matter what, we stuck together and we would still get there somehow by hook or by crook.
BM: And it was also good management as well. We had good management. Bruce Findlay was unbelievably so honest, and trusting, and just being another fan of the band. But being a great mentor and great for the rest of us, keeping us straight on the business side of things, and as well as being just brilliant at motivating, and being there when you needed him, when you were down, would just say the right things to you when 'It's going to be good. We're going to be fine.' All credit to Bruce.

RMN Podcast Official
16th February 2022

Brian's recollections of the recording of The American shines a new light on the development of the song and helps make sense of the tape trail in the Universal archive.

The ink was barely dry on the newly signed Virgin contract when Simple Minds were sent to The Manor to record their first single for the label. The idea was to record some new tracks, with Steve Hillage producing, as a 'try-out' session for the new album. This is slightly disputed by Brian McGee (see above) who was under the impression that The Manor session was to record a standalone single.

  • The session, which took place on the 21st February 1981, was fruitful and resulted in several tracks being recorded including several takes of The American and League Of Nations. Hillage quickly mixed down the two tracks, working to the original plan to get a single out in March 1981. (And was credited on the tape box as McDonald Simpson).

  • This was timed to coincide with Simple Minds' return from their US and Canadian tour when they were scheduled to begin a short UK tour. This was to build on the exposure they acheived when they accompanied Peter Gabriel the previous year.

  • However the band's US and Canadian tour was cut short, the proposed European tour was abandoned and both Simple Minds and Virgin felt the Manor version of the The American wasn't quite ready.

  • Steve Hillage remixed The American at The Townhouse on the 4th March. This was still unsatisfactory and so a third attempt was made at Odyssey Studios on the 2nd April. With everyone now happy with the master, Hillage created a 12" version from the standard track, instrumental and the drum and vocal stems.

  • The production master was created at The Townhouse on the 4th April 1981. This featured the Odyssey mixes of The American along with the original Manor mix of League Of Nations. The original Manor and Townhouse mixes of The American remain unreleased.

    One of the neglected areas of this website has been the bootlegs. The old Dream Giver site covered them much more extensively, but I've never found the time to update them.

    They often turn up on eBay and other online retail sites and I'm often asked above them.

    To redress this, I've filled out the list of all the vinyl bootlegs. It still needs individual pages for each album, but if you come across something 'weird' online, then this will be a handy crossreference.

    Right: Numbered limited edition of Summertime In Glasgow on double white vinyl. These differ from the other two variants (the normal double black vinyl and the double red and blue vinyl) as they have stickers on the front of the sleeve.

    Bryan Ferry: 'I did a lot of whistling on my paper round as a lad'


    You turned down the option to record Don't You (Forget About Me) for the 1985 film The Breakfast Club. Simple Minds' subsequent version sold more than one million copies in the UK and went to No. 1 in the US. Why didn't you record the song?

    It was just bad timing. We were finishing off [the solo album] Boys and Girls, which was way behind schedule, and we didn't want the distraction. The songwriter Keith Forsey sent me a demo of the song and it sounded like a hit to me. Simple Minds did a great version of it.

    Bryan Ferry Interview
    28th April 2022
    The Guardian

    Many thanks to Dave Parker for the tip-off.

    The 40 Years Of Hits European Tour page has now been brought up-to-date. Many thanks to all those who contributed photos, scans and set-lists. I still have a backlog of email to get through, so I suspect this page will be updated several times in the near future.

  • In the third part of his interview, Brian McGee describes how the band's earliest albums were written.

    Brian McGee Interview: Song Writing With The Minds (Part 3/4)

    Audio: Theme For Great Cities

    RMNP: ... Because some bands you've got the lead singer coming in and that's where it ends. And with other bands you've got to deal with everyone individually. I was always kind of fascinated by that dynamic because that's what splits a lot of bands up, let's be fair: "Oh, I wrote this." "I didn't write that." "Or I haven't got any publishing" or whatever. So, what was the dynamic like for you guys at that point? Before you left. What was the writing dynamic like?
    BM: I'll put my hands up. I was naive. And I think the rest of the band ... We were all young guys at the time, not even realising that you could make a living out of being in a band - other than just doing it for the fun. I never thought for a minute I would get anything other than a wage - £35 a week was my first wage from Simple Minds. And that was amazing.
    BM: Song writing: everybody in the band contributed. I would contribute all sorts of stuff, not just on drumming: singing, I was in your face and I'm still that same kind of guy, lots of energy, touching the keyboard when Mick would say "Beat it. Don't touch. It's my department." Or whatever. I'd be playing with drum machines and I'd just get involved in the whole area. And everyone had an equal share in song writing. Derek would come up with a bassline - in fact the original way we started writing was Derek Forbes, the bass player, and I would go in a room and come up with drum and bass lines before anyone else got involved in anything. Jim didn't sing a melody to us or anything. Charlie would come up with chords sometimes - or Mick would come up with an idea. But originally, at the very beginning of the band, it was Derek and I come up with drum and bass grooves, and then Charlie, Mick and Jim would come into the room and then we would take it from there - jamming for hours on end, making an arrangement, practise it like mad for hours on end. And that's how all the songs - when I was in the band - were created, it was basically drum and bass started the songs.
    RMNP: And that's what - in Sly and Robbie, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, that's what they're famous for, is their drum and their bass, and they're played hundreds of thousands to work with different artists. Sadly Robbie just died just a few months ago. Those guys are famous all over the world because that's the start of a track, that's the foundation of a song, is the drums and the bass. And, surely, is that not an integral part of...
    BM: I think it was the trademark of Simple Minds at that point in time. I don't think so now as much, because, obviously, the song writing's taken on a different process now, you've also got computers where you're just sitting in a room with a bunch of computers just coming up with ideas on a keyboard, so it's not the same song writing process.
    BM: But really the trademark of Simple Minds at that point in time was drum and bass, hypnotic grooves, and then adding some keyboard on top, with guitars - the guitars sometimes sounded like a keyboard, with Jim's vocal always on top. We never had a vocal idea up until after the event so we'd make all these instrumentals up. That's what Simple Minds were always very good at as well. It was instrumentals like Theme For Great Cities and stuff like that. And other instrumentals like Film Theme or whatever which just never reached any fruition to being a song. We just seemed to be able to be very good at coming up with soundtrack music.

    RMNP: Did you get included in the publishing part of the whole?
    BM: Well, you're opening a can of worms here Rory.
    RMNP: I'm just curious because -
    BM: I think you've heard stories [Laughs]
    RMNP: Well, I'm curious. ... I've been in the studio with something that wasn't successful and [then] became incredibly successful. And I know how the dynamic changes. And how the perception changes from the guy that sat in the corner and did absolutely nothing suddenly has got 50% publishing. [Laughs] And yet you're sitting there thinking 'I don't remember you doing anything.' And there you go. So I'm just curious from the dynamic from those studio sessions - naive or not - was it kind of put into boxes fairly?
    BM: When we signed our first big record deal with Arista Records, when there was the five of us as Simple Minds: Jim, Charlie, Mick, Derek and myself, I was under the impression it was going to be a fifth - five guys, 20% each. Well, the first album I didn't even notice. Life In A Day is credited to Jim and Charlie, but Jim and Charlie didn't write the keyboard part of Chelsea Girl, they didn't write all the pieces of music which they claimed to have written - I didn't even notice. [Laughs] I didn't even notice until about five years ago. I thought where did they get away with claiming to have written that whole album when they didn't really? Derek wrote bits and I was involved. So, I missed out on that, and I didn't even notice. But after the event, it was changed again, which again I'm going to put my hands up, I'm innocent to all knowledge about what went on behind the scenes as to what was going on, I was just under the impression that five guys got 20% and I'm just going to say that it didn't end up that way - and that's all I'm going to say.

    Audio: Don't You (Forget About Me)

    RMN Podcast Official
    10th February 2022

    The Academy, New York, USA
    27th February, 1995
    Support: Lisa Germano

    "I met my wife at the Simple Minds concert in New York City in 1995 as the drummer tossed his sticks into the crowd, I caught one and gave it to the girl in front of me when she turned around. Well we ended up falling in love and next month will be our 25th wedding anniversary and we will be in New York City. I looked up that venue and dates with help from your website, but I couldn't find the actual street address for "The Academy". I reached out to some of my friends in the music industry and they told me that it changed to "The Foxwoods" Theater. I thought you might find this information helpful. Unfortunately I don't have any photos, but we still have the drum stick!" - Brad Smith

    An enduring mystery, and one of the rarest items in the discograpy, is the House Of Blues CD and cassette. These were distributed by Virgin in 1995, and featured the band's full performance at the House Of Blues, Hollywood on the 2nd March 1995.

    Why did Virgin press these up? Some ideas are put forward for this elusive release.

    Whilst there was no special pressing of New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) to mark its 40th anniversary, a rare previously unreleased live track from the period was issued for another 40th anniversary event.

    A historic live recording celebrating the 40th anniversary of a landmark cultural moment including performances by Echo & The Bunnymen, Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, The Beat, The Drummers of Burundi, The Musicians of the Nile and many more.

    WOMAD 1982. The Royal Bath and West Showground near Shepton Mallet, Somerset. The heart of the world in the heart of the West Country. A festival of new and traditional arts from four continents and over 20 countries.

    Real World Studios 2021. The process of restoring the 40-year-old audio tapes recorded at the first WOMAD festival began, overcoming many technical challenges to ensure these vital, historic performances were saved. This album is a window onto three days of amazing music - highlights from multiple stages, of artists from many corners of the globe.

    Simple Minds, along with Echo & The Bunnymen, Peter Gabriel, The Beat, The Drummers of Burundi, The Musicians of the Nile and many more performed at the first World Of Music Arts & Dance Festival (WOMAD) at The Royal Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet on the 16th - 18th July 1982. Simple Minds appeared on the Showering Pavilion stage on the Friday night.

    WOMAD, Royal Bath Showgrounds, Shepton Mallet, UK
    July 16th, 1982
    Main Set: 70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall / Someone Somewhere (In Summertime) / Sweat In Bullet / Premonition / Promised You A Miracle / King Is White And In The Crowd / I Travel / Celebrate / The American ...

    They were supposed to be promoting Sons And Fascination but many forthcoming New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) tracks were starting to diffuse into the set. Promised You A Miracle would've been known to some at the festival, as it had charted a couple of months previously. Hard-core supporters would've recognised King Is White And In The Crowd from their recent Kid Jensen session, but set-opener Someone Somewhere (In Summertime) would've been new.

    RealWorld issued a compilation album to commemorate the 40th anniversary of this first WOMAD festival last year and it includes this early live performance of Promised You A Miracle. It's also historically important as I believe it's was first live recording to be officially released with Mike Ogletree on drums.

    Live At WOMAD 1982 was issued in July 2022 on double vinyl and double CD. It cane be ordered direct from the RealWorld Online Store or from the usual online retailers.

    The WOMAD version of Promised You A Miracle is one of a select number of Simple Minds tracks which hasn't appeared on one of their albums or singles. Other rarities include the instrumental version of King Is White And In The Crowd (which appeared on a rare Touch Tape release) or, more recently, the band's cover of Brother In Arms (which was recorded for the Trevor Horn Reimagines The Eighties compilation).

    I've now collected all these rare songs and versions together in the miscellaneous section of the discography.

    It's been over a year since Act Of Love was released as a single, but Merch For Good still have Act Of Love T-shirts in stock if you want to purchase one for a good cause.

    Simple Minds T-Shirt | Simple Minds Merch | Trekstock - Trekstock's Merch for Good

    Simple Minds T-Shirt. Thank you to Simple Minds for this exclusive artwork, designed and donated by the band. "We are delighted to be involved with the Merch For Good initiative by Trekstock and their support of young people living with cancer" - Jim Kerr & Charlie Burchill, Simple Minds. This exclusive Simple Minds T-shirt is the artwork for their new recording Act of Love out now.

    Many thanks to Sadiq Kassam for the link


    The second part of the interview with Brian McGee covers his years with Simple Minds and the pressures he was put under.

    Brian McGee Interview: I Ended Up Six Stone (Part 2/4)

    Audio: Don't You (Forget About Me)

    BM: We met for a coffee and they said "We're going to start a band" and I said " John's not doing much. He's not made any plans. So I'll go with you two." And that's how Simple Minds moved forward into being a band. And then we rehearsed with Tony, the bass player, who's passed away unfortunately - he's the first guy in the whole group that's not here with us anymore. And we did our first gig in a place called Satellite City - I think the anniversary was just recently - and that was the first gig we did as Simple Minds. It was up above the Apollo Theatre - there was a club upstairs called Satellite City and we played up there with Steel Pulse and three or four other local bands. And that was our first gig.

    BM: And, after that, things just went so fast. We were so organised Rory - we had our own lighting, we had our own PA, I was earning £80 a week in my Dad's pub when I was 17-18, and I was putting £60 into the band every week. So the band's coffers kept on getting better and better so we could afford to buy equipment, sound, lighting and we had a good crew around us. Everything was so organised. We were doing gigs in The Mars Bar in Glasgow which was a pub with a back lane, we had a big van with a dressing room in it, and it was like "Who are these guys?" We were so well organised Rory, everything happened so fast.

    BM: We then approached Bruce Findlay. Bruce had a record shop in Edinburgh, Falkirk and all sorts of other parts around Scotland, and we thought he'd be the right guy to look after us, and represent us. So Jim and Charlie, or I think it was Jim and Jaine Henderson, or Jim and David Henderson, went to Edinburgh to approach Bruce. And Bruce went to see us and he just fell in love with the band. He was unbelievable. He was a brilliant person to get involved. He then represented us, signed us to his own label, it was a label called Zoom which was distributed by Arista Records, who were the original Bell label, which was Bay City Rollers, Gary Glitter... oo-er!, and a few other bands on the Bell label, and Midge Ure's Slik were also part of the Arista label.

    BM: And we did one album and before you knew it, we were on tour, and I'm sitting thinking that that was only a year and a half it took, to two years. I was 18-19 and travelling the world.

    RMNP: Who was the driving force Brian? Because with every successful project - whether it be a band or an artist or whatever - they're always got to be a driving force. There's always somebody that's one step ahead of the game, that's always making things happen, that's always pulling the strings. Was that Bruce Findlay? Or was that Jim?
    BM: Well Jim's the main guy to be honest. Jim did all the planning and thinking. Don't get me wrong Rory, I'm as driven as anyone, I can last through anything and I've got the willpower of a bull - if I say I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it. And I think the other members of the band have to have that discipline as well, or that mentality, in order to continue through the years. But, as you say, you need a captain of the ship, you need a ringleader or whatever you want to call it, and Jim was the main motivator, he thought about the band more often than anyone else, he planned things, he sat on his own or whatever with others, and basically would steer the course of the band. And I give him credit for that. Also, I give credit for Jim and Charlie to still last - they're doing 44 years together and that's an incredible feat for any band to last that long. I know I left the band after five albums, it looked like I gave up quick - I would've lasted a wee bit longer if I'd been healthier, but I wouldn't have lasted that length of time? No chance.

    RMNP: ... It's amazing that when you go on a tour or you go on the road or you have some success, how draining it is. A lot of people don't really see that. They just seen the fun part of the performance or whatever. It's really tiring. And that really took its toll on you. Can you explain what the journey was like for you in that respect?
    BM: Right at the very beginning Rory, I was the only guy with a driving license. So I'd be doing all the driving as well as playing the drums and taking equipment in or whatever. So we'd travel up to Aberdeen for example, play the gig and then I'd be driving all the way back down in a van which did a maximum of 45 miles per hour at the time. And it was also quite a heavy vehicle so I had the responsibility of all the band and Jaine Henderson and David Henderson and other people, and I was so paranoid about having an accident. I drove that van all the way back down to Aberdeen and normally it would take two and a half hours but in a vehicle that only does 45 miles per hour, you're talking three or four hours after a gig. So I had David Henderson at the side of me, sitting with a plastic container full of water, making sure I wouldn't full asleep at the wheel, and if I felt I was going to struggle, he'd come over to me and throw water over me to keep me awake. That's how crazy it was.

    BM: That went through all the tours we did in the UK, all the tours we did in Europe at the time, tours of America and Canada, I was still doing the driving on the first tours to save money, but I ended up six and a half stone at the tail end of 1981. And I knew I was on the verge of a physical and mental collapse and this was just prior to the recording of the Sons And Fascination album. And I approached the band and I said to the band listen: "I'm knackered. I'm going to cave in here. I need a rest." And Jim was like "No. We're going on another tour of America." And I'm sure in hindsight he probably thinks he should've given me time and let me recover but at that time everything was full on. "We can't afford to waste time." But in my opinion, if Jim had been ill and six and a half stone, then I think we'd have took time out.

    BM: I felt quite disposable, running it through my head, and saying to myself here: "I'm going to take a gamble here. If I continue here I'm going to end up maybe dead or have a seizure or a stroke or collapse - or I bail out now before that happens." And sure enough, after I left the band, I took a nervous breakdown - literally right after it. And it was all to do with everything caving in physically and then the mental collapse happened to me and I spent weeks in a house in Glasgow struggling to get back up my confidence. And that was all because I wasn't allowed time. At that time, I was quite angry and bitter about not being allowed the time.

    RMN Podcast Official
    10th February 2022

    After a drought of many years, there's currently a flood of Simple Minds books. First came Heart Of The Crowd, then Themes For Great Cities and now Hector Neira Zubieta's Simple Minds - Travels, Golden Dreams and Love Songs.

    Published on the 6th May 2022, Hector's book weighs in at a hefty 340 pages, and includes the full history of the band. It includes interviews with Steve Lipson, Alfred Bos and Javier Ojeda.

    It's the first full, original Simple Minds biography written in Spanish and is available as a paperback from There is also a Facebook page dedicated to the book.

    "Simple Minds - Travels, Golden Dreams and Love Songs is the first original book dedicated to Simple Minds in Spanish and the first worldwide covering their entire career. 340 pages full of information, anecdotes, record analysis, data, interviews, etc... If you like Simple Minds, you'll like the book. And if you know them, you will enjoy it too." - Hector Neira Zubieta.

    Updates to the discography:

    Those who've read Graeme Thomson's excellent Themes For Great Cities will be aware that one important voice is missing. Simple Minds' original drummer, Brian McGee, was interviewed for the book but then asked that his contributions wouldn't be used.

    However Brian was interviewed by Rory Mhor Nicoll for the RMN Podcast early last year and they covered Brian's history with Simple Minds. So his side of the story has now been told.

    The interview was split into four parts. This is the first.

    Brian McGee Interview: Before Simple Minds (Part 1/4)

    Audio: Theme For Great Cities
    RMNP: Brian McGee, welcome to the RMN Podcast, how are you sir?
    BM: I'm very good Rory. How are you pal?

    RMNP: I'm good, good. I know your background, I know your story, but for the listeners, or for the people who're watching this, let's take it right back to the very beginning. How did you get into music in the first place?
    BM: I was about 14-15 in secondary school and my mum and dad had pubs and newsagents shops and I was very much a geek, I was very academic, and I was planning to become an accountant. And while I was at school I was selling cigarettes from my mum's paper shop and I was making up badges. Mum used to get these promo guys who'd come in with badges for some other product and I would take pictures of Bryan Ferry or David Bowie and I'd put it inside these badges and sell in them in school - try to be an entrepreneur and make money. And I met a couple of guys in school, they came up to me and said "Are you the guy selling David Bowie badges?" And I went "Yeah." And it was actually Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill and Tony Donald.
    BM: I never even charged them for the badges - so they owe me!

    BM: We got talking and they said they were saying they were starting up a band. And they had no drummer. And Tony Donald was the bass player. Jim wanted to be the singer. Charlie had already started the guitar - he was about 15-16 at the time. So they were saying to me "Would you be interested?" And I said "Yeah, that sounds like a great idea." And I said I'd go the drummer. So I went home to my mum that week and I just said "Mum, can I get a drum kit?" And, God love my mum, my mum never questioned anything I said, never questioned any of my plans or anything, she said "How much is it son?" And I said "I don't know. I've not got one yet."
    BM: We bought a drum kit off a woman of 85 years of age for about 40 quid, put it in the basement, and I just started practising on an old stereogram. Just in the basement, myself, to Barry White records and whatever else I could find. No headphones, no nothing. Trying to crank the stereo up so loud that I could hear myself playing and then six months later, or however long it took, I got out... I remember having a eureka moment when I'd had actually played the drums without actually having to think about it. And that's when I realised "Hey, I'm a drummer now."
    BM: During that period we were doing silly wee school rehearsals with Jim and Charlie, kidding on that we were in a band, this was a band called Biba Rom! and it was kind of jokey and wasn't really anything serious. And then punk hit. And when punk hit we went up to a place in Glasgow called Shawlands, on the south side of Glasgow, and told the guy managing the venue that we were a band and we were going to do a gig. And that's how we ended up on stage - I'm talking 17 years of age or something - I didn't start playing drums until I was 16 or 17.
    BM: But, like I say, my mum never quizzed me, never said a word and just carried on. And my aunts and uncles would come to the house and say "Shelia - how do you put up with the racket he makes?" And my mum says "I don't even hear it." That's how cool my mum was.

    RMNP: I mean, everyone's got an influence in music. And years and years ago I worked with Edwin Starr. I was a wee kid. And Edwin's records was around the house, that was the thing. And I got into a position where I was booking acts for all the venues - I booked Edwin a lot because I knew his name and I liked his music - and then I ended up pestering him to make a record with me, and eventually he did. But, the insightful thing about Edwin was, it was his influences that created this sound that he had, his voice was slightly different from all the other soul singers or all the other Motown guys, he had this quite heavy, powerful - "War, yeah!" - really gruff. He could sing the soft stuff as well, but he tended not to use that in his recordings and I was always quizzing him about it. "Listen, Edwin, How did you get up with this sound? Where did it come from?" And he was like "I used to listen to Teddy Pendergrass, I listened to this, I listened to that" and all these other people he was coming out with. And he said, to get your voice heard, you had to shout to the back of the room, and it's all that kind of stuff. And this is what created this sound he had. Which I found fascinating. But what about yourself? Playing the drums, even at a young age, you're saying Barry White, was that the influence? Was it Barry White or Bowie?
    BM: I had all sorts. I wasn't really into Bowie and Madness - like Jim and Charlie and most of the guys at school. My influences were many from my dad, and my dad would bring in Val Doonican records and theatre stuff My Fair Lady and all these kinds of things. And then my dad would suddenly bring in He's Misstra Know-it-all by Stevie Wonder. And I was like "Wow!" And my dad was from Donegal in Ireland so whether he'd think to buy that - we used to go to a place in Glasgow called the Barras and pick up 45 records and albums and this was all coming back from his taste. So that was my early influences. But I ended up liking Edwin Starr, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, all the main big soul artists during the 60s and 70s, Diana Ross (I love female vocalists). But I also liked Bev Bevan as a drummer - I love ELO's music. I love classic music. Actually [the] cello was my first instrument at school. When I was about nine or ten, I started playing cello at school, and I got into the school orchestra, and I've got a thing - if you can see that [shows his little fingers to the camera] - I've got wee bent pinkies and they can't bend to do the notes so I lost interest. And I never played contemporary music - it was all classical stuff - so it got a bit boring. So, I moved off from that. As I said, I was too busy being a geek. I made no plans. So my major influences were mostly soul and my brother John, he was the exact opposite, he was Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, so I didn't want to like the stuff he liked, but I could hear it all the time. I could hear Black Sabbath, I could hear Dark Side Of The Moon playing in his room, and our house was nuts it was like John would be playing all his music loud and I'd be playing my music loud and my wee brother would be playing his music loud. None of us were discouraged. We were lucky to have a big house at the time. My dad was never in the house either so my mum just let us carry on, making a racket.

    RMNP: That's incredible. The thing about drummers though - I've worked with a lot of live drummers in my time and what I find, again, what their influences are, what they've started off with. If they're heavy rock or whatever. And even if they can really drum, they don't have much subtly if that's the influence they started off with. So, a guy like yourself that's learned from those musicals especially, you're learning all the subtleties and all the little nice touches and that must be a fabulous learning curve for anyone out there that's going to start learning to play drums - that's to vary things off and try to learn on different kinds of music and not just the one genre.
    BM: Definitely. I think when you're younger you're stuck in one area, as you say one genre. And, lucky enough, I didn't have that kind of influence by my parents or anyone else around me, other than being in school with another bunch of teenagers of the same age where you couldn't be saying "I like Barry White. And I like Tina Turner. And I like Marvin Gaye" when punk rock was coming out. So, I kept that quiet. But that was quite a lot of my influences. But I learned dynamics fairly early on, so it can start quite soft and build to a crescendo. During my cello days - it wasn't just drumming - it was learning to hone in on songs, specifically soul songs. I always found soul songs so much different: colour and dynamics. All the black artists, like Stevie Wonder and whoever, I used to say "Why does this sound so different to the white artists?" And it was all to do with soul. You use the word soul generally, but it is to do with them having no inhibitions, letting it go, free flow, no scared to let it go, that's so important when you're teaching someone listening to music.

    RMNP: ... I spoke to your brother [Owen Paul] and we did an interview and he said, at the time, when you guys were in the basement, it was like a huge racket. He said all you could hear were all different things happening but the amazing thing that came from it was, obviously, Simple Minds. How did it go from the funny element to the serious element of 'We're having a lot of fun here, guys at school, practicing in the basement' to 'Hey. We're Simple Minds.'
    BM: I lived in a flat at the time, as I was telling you, when we did our first gig, which was the Doune Castle in Shawlands as Johnny And The Self Abusers. And that was just as punk kicked in. Everything happened so quickly. We had a record deal with Chiswick as a one-off record deal as Johnny And The Self Abusers. And by the time the record came out, the band had split. And the band was splitting into two camps. There was the guys from Kings Park and there was the guys from Toryglen. And that was kind of the A class to the B class, kind of thing. But the band was a collective of those two groups.
    BM: While I was living in a flat with Jim, there was a guy called John Milarky, who was in the A class group, John was wanting to start up a band after Johnny And The Self Abusers had split, but John never really quickly done anything. And while I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs, Jim and Charlie got in contact with me and said "We're going to start up a new band. Are you interested?" And I just went with the first person who said "Let's go." That's how my career changed from going that way to that way - never planned it. Jim and Charlie phoned me, or said to me - I don't know how we got in touch because mobiles weren't a thing in those days - we met for a coffee and they said "We're going to start a band" and I said "John's not doing much. He's not made any plans. So I'll go with you two." And that's how Simple Minds moved forward into being a band.

    Audio: Don't You (Forget About Me)

    RMN Podcast Official
    9th February 2022

    Selected music from John Hughes' films were recently collected together for the Life Moves Pretty Fast compilation. The set was compiled by Tarquin Gotch, Hughes' musical supervisor, and a infamous figure from Simple Minds' earliest days, when he was head of A&R at Arista. (His unfortunate interaction with the band during the recording of Real To Real Cacophony was told by both Adam Sweeting and Graeme Thomson).

    When talking about the compilation, Gotch recalled how he shared music with the producer. "Back when we were working on these movie soundtracks, the best way to send music around the world was the cassette, by Fedex. We sent John cassettes of newly released music, of demos, of just finished mixes (and in return he would send VHS videos of the scenes that needed music)."

    A pile of these cassettes was used for the box set's cover. And one cassette spine caught my eye: "Breakfast Club. Won't You." Won't You? Not Don't You? And this alternative title rang a couple of bells - I'd both heard and seen that name before. But where?

    The first reference came from an old Digicam tape in Universal's archive. Interviewed in 1985 or 1986 by Paul Gambaccini, Jim (sporting the same Japanese jacket which appeared on the All The Things She Said sleeve) mentioned being given the Don't You demo tape from Keith Forsey. He said it sported a blank sleeve with just "Won't You" written on it. His description matched the cassette on the front of Life Moves Pretty Fast.

    The two earliest versions of the video in the Universal archive were also titled "Won't You." This included the first tentative edit (completed on the 29th December 1984) and the second edit (which I believe included footage from the film itself and was completed on the 15th January). I initially thought this title was a cataloguing error - but now I wasn't sure.

    I also had a promotional video compilation in my collection which featured Don't You (Forget About Me). This VHS tape featured promotional videos from several Virgin artists - I believe these were sent to record shops for in-store play. The video of Don't You (Forget About Me) included the VT clock - and this also had the alternative title: Won't You (Forget About Me).

    So what was the song's original title? It's clear from the original demo that the chorus was always "Don't You Forget About Me. But the title, both on Gotch's cassettes and for the promotional video, was Won't You. Jim often said how they added various ideas to the song (including the "la la las") but I wonder if the band also suggested a title change? Whoever decided this made the right choice: Won't You (Forget About Me)? Nah!

    I'm continuing to fill in the gaps in the discography. This includes the Australian Limited Collectors' Edition of Real Life. Which, when you think about it, doesn't make much sense from a promotional or marketing point of view.

    Surprisingly Virgin Australia decided to create a Limited Collectors' Edition of the album by packaging the album with the five live tracks released on the Stand By Love. The bonus material was erroneously titled Live At Barrowland as two of the songs originated from the Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, USA. It was a welcome addition to the discography, with its smart, custom, clean white sleeve sporting the album's logo, but something of a puzzle. Previous Australian limited editions had coincided with touring; but Simple Minds had no plans to tour Australia (they were embarked on the European leg of the tour at the time). So the thinking behind this release remains nebulous.

    Other updates to the discography:

    Continuing with the last part of the XS Noize Podcast from last year...

    XS Noize Podcast: Part Three

    MM: To celebrate forty years plus of hits, Simple Minds reboot the world tour in March. How much are you looking forward to getting out there and seeing the fans?
    JK: You know this is what we do. Of course, we're incredibly frustrated. We were only ten days into a world tour which was going to last the best part of a year when we had to knock it on the head as the whole world ground to a halt. Within those two years we've kept ourselves well busy. I think because we've kept ourselves so well busy, I haven't missed it as much - I've missed it - but I haven't missed it as much as I thought I would. And they said 'What does that mean? You don't want to tour?' And I said 'I've just been so busy that the two years has whizzed past.' We're very fortunate - a lot of people have been through hell these two years, but we kept it going.
    JK: However, Simple Minds, going back to the interview, it's a live thing. And it feels so great to be part of something that brings so much joy to people when they come along and get into the gig; and lose themselves in the gig and there's very few things can do what live music does. Especially a certain type of live music where the band and the crowd work together as a communal thing - there's an energy in that going back and forward. There are so few things where that happens - even football doesn't do that because you get beat at football. Whereas you don't get beat with Simple Minds. We win every night.

    MM: You must've played every venue in the city over the years. You've always had a great relationship with Belfast - you even wrote a song about it. But Belfast is a lot different now - it's a much better place than what it was when you wrote Belfast Child. What memories do you have of playing in Belfast over the years?
    JK: Some of the best ever. And I say that without exaggeration. We had the greatest times in Ireland: both Belfast, Dublin [and] Cork. Belfast particularly in that Belfast and Glasgow are so close - the industries, the cities grew up on... Not all the good stuff as well. It is what it is. So therefore, it'll be too sentimental to say home away from home, but going there, meeting people who we became pals with, instantly and still do. The first guy we met in Belfast was Terry Hooly who stayed up with us -
    MM: Legend.
    JK: Absolute legend. He stayed with us night and days when we were there. But again, all the gigs we played were great. There was something different with the audience. Even the last time we played there - it's the Waterfront venue - I talk a lot more on stage now. I don't know if everybody loves it. But I think a lot of people appreciate it. And we give good banter in Belfast. They'll always be someone in the audience giving out and we enjoy that. But these are the sacred places to me. It's Belfast - fantastic.
    MM: They've even made a film about it. [Laughs]
    JK: I haven't see that yet. [Laughs] I was there first - surely!
    MM: I'm surprised they didn't ask to have Belfast Child on the soundtrack.
    JK: They'd be too cheap to pay for it. [Laughs] I'd be too tight to give it for free. My great grand-da is from Strevan.
    MM: You have Irish blood in you?
    JK: Yeah. The Scots [and] Irish, all that cross fertilization. You've got Scottish names in Ireland and Irish names in Scotland. But I would hope, in terms of Simple Minds, we've got great affection for that part of the world, going way back to when we first played there. Amazing, just great encouragement.

    MM: Simple Minds have played the smallest clubs in front of the smallest crowds, and the biggest stadiums with thousands of people. Where do you feel the most comfortable?
    JK: I like them all, I really do. We've had the greatest nights in both of them and some of the worst nights in both of them as well. I think if you have aspirations to be a good live act, you have to be good in front of two people, you have to be great in front of two people, you have to give your all in front of two people; or in front of twenty thousand people. And when we play, when you're in the song you're oblivious to the numbers, you normally focused on one or two people anyway. Of course, there's a different approach, you might set up the stage and production differently and all that - but that's not really what I'm talking about. I'm talking about when you're inside yourself. You know - whether it's a birthday party or whether it's Wembley Stadium - you should be able to do your trick and make it come off.

    MM: Briefly talking about the acoustic show, last weekend the BBC showed your stripped down acoustic show at the Hackney Empire. And what I found interesting was that I went onto Twitter and it was trending - lots of people were talking about how great it was. Were you aware of that?
    JK: It's funny. I saw Charlie Burchill last night and I hadn't seen Charlie since - I was telling him - I'm in Italy right now and I didn't know it was on last week. Whenever it was - Friday night - I think I got four or five texts from people. And it was usually my pals saying - not saying the gig's great or you're on TV - but saying 'Any chance of getting me a date with your drummer?' And I thought 'What's everyone talking about? The drummer?' [Laughs] And then I found out that they were showing the acoustic gig - which was first shown about four years ago, and it was our drummer - Cherisse Osei - her first show, I think we'd done a warm up, and we were in at the deep end, here we were on BBC TV live and the set began with her. How do you start an acoustic set? With a drum solo! But I think everyone was so blown away by her - that was the highlight. I thought the highlight was me saying to the audience, because it was live on BBC TV, 'We're called Simple Minds. If you've just walked in, we're a rock band from Glasgow. Just in case you think you're watching Taggart.'

    MM: There's a new album coming soon? The last time I spoke to you, in 2019, you said the new album sounds like a dance album but not rave. It's Simple Minds dance as in rhythmically, it has great bass lines. Is it still like that or evolved?
    JK: Well I think, although Act Of Love, the riff is obviously a rock riff, if you look down the bottom there, the way the bass, the drums are - dance as in Simple Minds dance, we have carried that through for some of the songs. Where we are now with the album - it could be a double album the way it's gone on - after the first year we thought 'Yeah, we're going to have to go home for a couple of months' and here we are two years later. But we finished what we thought was the album, not November then but November before. And it turns out we have another year with everything on hold. Let's just keep writing. So we have this chunk of stuff, I mean there's a possibility of it being something monumental.
    MM: That would be exciting because your previous two albums, Big Music and Walk Between Worlds, were highly acclaimed and successful worldwide. Charting album three years. So, because of the success of those two albums, did you feel any pressure going in to record the latest album?
    JK: There's all manner of pressures. But really there's only one pressure. And that's you just want it to be great. Our job is to deal with the stuff we can control. And, not so much focus on all the other stuff, although maybe there. You can only really only work on your side of the stuff and we'll write a song, not that we're dithers or prefectionists or anything, but we'll write a song and we'll put it down and we'll think it's really good and spend the whole week on it and it'll feel really good but sometimes it's not until you've been away from it for a few days or a week or ...
    MM: Forty years!
    JK: Or forty years. And you know what? There's a good distance between good and great. And let's see if we can make it head towards great. So it's that kind of pressure.
    MM: And do you think we could hear it this year?
    JK: We've been having conversations about that with everyone here. We haven't been in the UK for - we're due to go very soon to have meetings and plan with the record companies. The whole thing - and you know our audience - they still like the vinyl and all that stuff. And because of the shortage of vinyl, there's a year long queue - there's a year long queue for vinyl records now. Due the whole COVID thing. And there's a thing with oil, vinyl and all that stuff. And the point I'm making is there's all these other factors. We have to first, get out and get moving again - that was the great thing about having Act Of Love out - at least you're symbolically kick starting things back with a high energy song, classic Simple Minds, get the fans talking. And fingers crossed, first day of spring, 1st March, our tour is due to start, and it'll take us through most of the year and that's a tour that's been postponed twice. So, not only do we want to do it, we're obliged to get that out of the way.
    JK: It was promoted as a 40th anniversary tour, essentially a greatest hits tour. Bringing out a new album amongst that, it could get lost, if you know what I mean. A really good record deserves its own space. It deserves the focus on it alone. So, it's doubtful the record could come out. But, it doesn't mean to say we couldn't put out songs as we got along.

    MM: This week has seen the release of Themes For Great Cities: A New History Of Simple Minds by music journalist Graeme Thomson. Are you aware of that? Or have you been involved with it?
    JK: I've been told it's great. Some of the guys including myself participated in it - Graeme came to me a while ago with a proposition of doing a book together. I just felt I wanted to do my own thing, I wanted - I wasn't quite sure what it was going to be, but I wanted to do my own thing. And I've been working on that. I work on it every day actually. But Graeme's idea was to do a book on the early days of Simple Minds - I mean he didn't mean to get permission, but everyone who met him, or spoke to him, liked him. And he had a good track record as well on previous books he'd written. And so they sent me the book but - because I'm working on my own, I don't want to be influenced so I, myself, haven't read it. Charlie hasn't read it either because he's just not interested in himself or ... [Laughs] he's just not interested. But we've been told by people - Bruce Findlay and Billy Sloan and people who were [there] - local people who were around us at the time, they've all said it was really good.
    MM: And how's your book coming along?
    JK: What I wanted to do - I mean I - anyone in a band now, publishers offer you - It's a bit like starting a band or - it's a bit like we were saying earlier - you can write and stuff, but you want to find your own voice. You want to find your own personality. It's not so much a memoir - it is anecdotal but I'd like to think it's humourous as well - I'd like to think that it's - I have to say 'self help' - but self help in the sense that if you've experienced something, why not pass it on? If you've made a huge error or something - some regret - why not pass - I'd advise you not to do this - so it's not - it kind of incorporates a load of different things. In doing that, it might end up being a wee bit more unique than the standard rock-and-roll biography or even - if you're from Glasgow, invariably, the books about your 'hard time in the Gorbals.' Jesus - I've had enough of that even though [laughs] it's very much the background we're from. So I think the answer to your question is that I'm being hard on myself. Whether it sees the light of day, or anyone gets to read it, I don't even know, but I'm enjoying the writing as much as I'm enjoying the song writing. So that tells me something.
    MM: I look forward to seeing it someday.
    JK: I've got the title.
    MM: Oh, what's that?
    JK: I cannae tell you. But I've got it. It's a beauty. Someone might nick it!

    MM: Simple Minds have had many line-ups in your long career. But you and Charlie Burchill have always stuck in there. What's the secret of your long lasting releationship?
    JK: We're incredibly fortunate, Charlie and I, we were fortunate even from the start when our parents moved into houses in the same street. It's a well documented story, especially for people who know Simple Minds but I've known Charlie since I was 8 and we moved from the Gorbals to this new housing estate in Glasgow - Toryglen - and Charlie's family had moved in a few months previously. I was in the high rise. His family were in the maisonettes. And, on the very first day, as Mum and Dad were a flittin' - do you call it a flittin' in Belfast when you moved houses? We called it a flittin' - where you flit from there to there -
    MM: Yes.
    JK: So they were taking the furniture up the elevator. 'Get out and play.' And they were still building the housing scheme. Or the housing project. And it was still like a building site. We went down the road. And there was a gang of kids playing on a sand castle - cement and all that. And Charlie was the king of the castle. He was sitting up top. I met him the first day we were there. And then we later on went to school and - we weren't always best friends, we were a gang of friends. But by the age of 14 we had the same taste in music and, I guess, an excessive passion - and that passion, its highs and lows and - it's the passion or the desire to do - in our own little heads we see Simple Minds as a crusade, we're not quite sure what it is. We're Don Quixote or [sounds like Pancho Villa ???] - I'm not sure which one is Don Quixote though. I think it's me. He thinks it's him. We're still tilting at windmills. This is our thing. I mean I'm looking out over a terrace now - the same terrace where him and I had a screaming argument a few weeks ago. We stepped outside so that the people in the room working with us wouldn't have to witness it, because we knew we were going to have one of our annual scraps. The unfortunate thing is going out on the terrace, the whole building heard it. And it lasted for about 20 minutes. The great thing is that we were able to put it behind us. And no-one takes the hump the next day. Or gets bitter or any of that stuff. And also, how great that after 40 years, that we're still that passionate. Because we fight about music - we don't fight about who has the biggest room in the hotel or who has the most money or - we're fighting about the music. It's still that passionate to us even though we're best pals and we'll have a right fight about it. The fight usually comes from frustration - it's a piece of art - although 90% of the time we're on the same page, you're not always on the same page.

    MM: I always like to ask my guest the following questions: Out of all the albums in your collection, who do you have the most albums by?
    JK: It would be either Roxy Music or David Bowie. Probably joint both - I would think. I have about every song that Motown recorded. But that's more a label than an artist. But yeah, between them.
    MM: Which song, or album, is your guilty pleasure?
    JK:I don't know. You could have a guilty pleasure single, I don't know if we've got a guily pleasure album. I guess some people would say Abba. The guily pleasure would be some of the prog-rock stuff I guess - I guess people living now are a bit less harsh on it. Even when we first started, our first interview, with the NME, I told them how the first gig I saw was Peter Gabriel with Genesis and they slated me for that: "How could you be so uncool to admit to liking prog rock?" I still love those early records by Genesis. I don't know if I play them but they're a part of me. So, maybe some of the prog-rock stuff.
    MM: Thanks very much for taking the time to do this.

    Jim Kerr and Mark Millar
    XS Noize Podcast Episode #63
    30th January 2022

    Updates to the discography:

    My thanks to Gerd Van Poucke who has filled in many of the missing set-lists of the tourography. His numerous corrections and additions can be found for The New Gold Tour (1982-83), Tour Du Monde (1983-84), Once Upon A Time Tour (1985-6), Street Fighting Years Tour (1989), Real Life Tour (1991), Good News From The Next World Tour (1995) and Neapolis Tour (1998)

    I recently had the opportunity to view the original Chelsea Girl video from the archives. Whilst the video itself is well known, I was interested in the VT Clock at the start of the recording. Would this finally reveal the producer and director?

    The post-production house Molinare are still going strong in London. I suspect they created the animation sequences in the video - and probably edited the final result. Rock Biz Pix were a short lived production company, filming live concerts and producing video promos in the late 1970s.

    The director still remains elusive however!

    Continuing with the XS Noize Podcast from last year...

    XS Noize Podcast: Part Two

    MM: Simple Minds released five albums from 1979 to 1982 - that's only three years, whilst you were still in your early 20s. Which is an amazing work ethic. So what was pushing the band forward then?
    JK: All we wanted to do, twenty four hours a day, and sometimes it was twenty four hours a day, stay up all night and play music, we couldn't believe having a record deal, which meant we didn't have lousy jobs. When we rehearsed, there really wasn't the facilities in Glasgow, and London freaked us out, because we went - when you're from the provinces you got to London, very few just slot in, so it was a bit overwhelming. So we would rent rehearsal places in the countryside like Rockfield or some of the other places - they were normally farmhouses with a barn where you could rehearse night and day. And so, when we weren't touring, that's all we wanted to do and also although the band started with Charlie and I writing songs, pretty soon Derek Forbes, and Michael MacNeil - everyone was chipping in with ideas. So that's just - we did it night and day.

    MM: Would it be fair to say that it wasn't until New Gold Dream that you found your voice and the Simple Minds sound arrived?
    JK: It's funny with New Gold Dream and what it's about - that title and all that - I always found it hard to articulate it. I still do. But you're right with what you say. Because for me, New Gold Dream, I felt when we were making the record, I felt 'OK. This is us. We've got our own thing here. This is the sound of Simple Minds. Our influences - we were still wearing them on our sleeve. Our influences were still there. But we'd grown something that was very much intrinsic to ourselves out of it. And for me it was almost like the alchemy, the mix, it was all these things. The previous years had come together, it would meld, it was in this mould, here it was, it was the sound of New Gold Dream. This was us producing our own gold. This was us producing our own metal. And that was our fifth album. Which was amazing - you wouldn't get the chance to do that now. But that's what it was like back then - record companies took a shot on you, and quite a lot of those bands, our contemporaries, The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen, U2 and Depeche Mode - well, Depeche Mode got off to a quicker start - but just about all of them didn't really break through and have hits - real hits - until their third and fourth records.
    JK: The good thing about that is when they got the success, they were better prepared for it, than had you been ... And also it was a genuine success. Everyone one and ourselves I mentioned there, all the time touring and building up this solid ground. It wasn't just a hype hit, it wasn't just a fashion hit, you'd build up a name for yourself and then the right song comes along where the mainstream can find a way into it.

    MM: It's interesting you mentioned those bands because, like yourselves, they're still around today.
    JK: Yeah, they are. And we - some of the crew we work with, work with them, and they've been with Depeche Mode last year or our tour manager would've worked with The Cure and who would've thought? But it's absolutely amazing. It's amazing there's an audience that still wants to plug into that, especially live. People turn up in their thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands.

    MM: We were talking about New Gold Dream. The first big hit single from that album was Promised You A Miracle. And it was your first Top Of The Pops appearance: you wore a white leather outfit with black boots. When you were on Top of The Pops, surely you must have found 'We've made it here.' What can you remember about that show?
    JK: To people outside the UK, or people who don't even know what Top Of The Pops was, for our generation that was it. If you were on Top of The Pops it was like ... Growing up in Glasgow we didn't even know anyone who was in a band. We hadn't met anyone who was in a band. Some of the guys stole their brother's guitar or maybe someone played in a wedding band or something but we didn't know anyone who wrote their own songs. There was no scene to talk of, because you still had to go to London then. So, if you were from Manchester or Liverpool - just prior to our time, everyone left to go to London because it was so London centric. Punk changed that. And Indie changed that. So you couldn't go along the road to the woman whose son had been on Top Of The Pops - you had more chance of being an astronaut or equal chance of being an astronaut. So got get on Top Of The Pops - but it's like all these things, when we turn up, it's the most iconic thing when you go in, and the studio's a tatty, wee place and it's all a bit plastic and cardboard and you've got five minutes and the camera crews are a bit bored and they don't care. You're just another [band]. But at the same time, it's Top Of The Pops and you better deliver. So all of those things were going through my head at the time.

    MM: You mentioned about David Bowie being a hero, Iggy Pop being a hero, Simple Minds took the name Simple Minds from a lyric in The Jean Genie 'So Simple Minded.' So how amazing what it when you got the same backing vocals on a song with Bowie and Iggy Pop - almost by accident at Rockfield Studios in 1980 [sic]. What's the story behind that?
    JK: Well, you're right. Bowie and Iggy Pop and Lou Reed... Towards the end of going around with that demo tape, and dropping it off and all that, it lit a flame because all those A&R guys used to drink together in the same bar in the same pub. So, as soon as a couple were talking about you, everyone wanted in on the action. And before we knew it, we had the choice of labels to sign to. And I wanted to sign to Arista because they've got Iggy Pop, they've got Lou Reed, they've got Patti Smith - Jeez, they're the people. Let's go with them. So we signed with Arista Records and they came up to Scotland and we were playing at Dunfermline or something - got up the next day for breakfast, signed it, wow! Worldwide record deal. They said to come down to the building in January, we'll have a talk about producers and all that. So we go down to these record company offices, London, Arista who we've signed to and I'm thinking Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Lou Reed. Cannot wait to be there. Go down there. They've got these plush, marble offices across from Hyde Park - we go in. There's two hug portraits on the wall: Barry Manilow and The Bay City Rollers. [Laughs] And I think 'What?' I said to the guy 'Why are they up there? You've got Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.' 'Because they make the money.' [Laughs] I was like 'Ah. That's how it works.' It didn't dawn on me that Lou Reed didn't make any money for the record company. Because to us they were giants - they're still giants. But that was a lesson to us on how it worked. But ... what was your question again? [Laughs]
    MM: About the time at Rockfield Studios when you sang backing vocals.
    JK: Ah. Yes. Turns out we're there and Iggy's tour manager was there - turns out he's a guy called Henry McGrogan from Glasgow. And we're like 'You're Iggy's tour manager!' He said 'Yeah. I'll sort it out so you can hook up with him one day. He's a great, great guy.' And lo-and-behold, a year later we're in Rockfield Studios in Wales and we're in the wee studio. We turned up and can't believe it. Of all the people who should be in the Welsh countryside: Iggy Pop! We said 'Who's in the big studio?' and they said 'Iggy's there.' And I think what happened was that he was on the wagon and they were trying to keep him out of nightclubs and all that stuff so they put him in the middle of nowhere. And once he saw that we were there - I think he had gone down there to get clean and all that stuff. But we were young lads and we were turning up with young girls and quite a lot of goodies and stuff so Iggy was climbing over the wall to come into our studio at the end of the night. And one night he said 'David's coming up at the weekend' and we're like 'David?' and he's like 'Yeah. Right.' And we were trying to be cool and thought 'I hope he's talking about Bowie.' And he was. And he brought him in as well. I remember this most unlikely scene because it turned out that about midnight, the two of them staggered in - Iggy we were used to but Bowie came in - and he was just as you would imagine. He was just cool as could be, wearing a black jumpsuit. He had this small tin of Heineken in one hand - well, fair enough, nothing unusual about that - but he had a lump of cheese in the other hand. I think he had the munchies. [Laughs] And he said, and I think Bowie had taken over across the road, he said 'We need a lot of people to come in. We're doing this chorus thing. Come in an join us.' And, can you believe I'm telling this story all those years later, none of us had a camera. No-one had a camera, no-one had nothing, you didn't have cameras then. And as I'm telling this, I'm thinking 'This all seems a bit unlikely' but if you read the credits on the album, it's there.

    MM: And you also had Lou Reed on the song This Is Your Land from Street Fighting Years.
    JK: Yeah, that was an amazing thing as well. To us those people are legends. Like Picassos, to us they were the read Godfathers. They still are. Same thing really, we'd played some festivals, you start playing and we'd be added to a festival and go on before Van Morrison or going on before Lou Reed or going on before - sometimes you'd get to talk to them and they'd remember you and Lou was more talkative then you would imagine. Van was not - well you can imagine what Van was like. But it was cool just to be in that show. So although we would never look on those guys as ilk, cause they're the daddies, sometimes you got to, if you were in the same studio or something, they would come in or whatever - that was just a piece of opportunity with Lou. And it was like a cameo.
    MM: And did you have a camera?
    JK: No! [Laughs] And I'll tell you something else. It was in Paris and I thought - He likes food. He likes the really best restaurants. And don't ask how I was able to do this again - this guy from Glasgow. I can't remember the name of the restaurant, it was one of these places where you needed to book a year and a half in advance, no-one could get in. But I knew a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a guy, and I got a table. And I said to Lou, 'We're going to this place.' And he was like 'Wow. How did you do that?' And I said 'Do worry about it Lou. It's sorted' and all that. Dinner with Lou Reed must've been amazing. It was the longest night of my life. The only thing he spoke about was amplifiers and guitar pickups and - just stuff that does not interest me one fucking bit. I couldn't wait to get out of there.
    MM: You just spent the night nodding?
    JK: Exactly. [Laughs]

    MM: I must confess, my introduction to Simple Minds was Alive And Kicking. I even had the 7" single. And I would flip it over to the B-side which was an instrumental. And I used to sing along, terribly, trying to hit the same notes as you. Although I was too young to understand what 'you turn up on' meant. But it's such an epic song and I love it to this day.
    JK: It was never meant to be - how can I put it - When we were writing some of the songs, just to move things along, we would essentially write the music first and then it would be left up to me to - A lot of our songs came from jams. And when the guys were playing, I'd be taking it all in, and inhertantly thinking 'That bit at the end is the intro' or 'That chorus is a middle-8'. I had a good way - I still do - I can see where the pieces go, I don't come up with the pieces but I can see where they go. And they would say 'Can you sing something on it just now?' and I'd say 'I haven't got any words yet.' 'Well, just put a voice on it. Vocally, just put something on it to get it moving. It really doesn't matter what the words are'. And, in the case of Alive And Kicking, the opening line 'You turn me on' [laughs], it was almost meant to be replaced. It was meant to get things going, and we'd go back, and in my mind I'd come up with something much more mysterious. It's the kind of thing Marvin Gaye would've sang in his dreams or whatever - it just wasn't us. But Jimmy Iovine just wasn't having it. Once it was out, I rewrote the thing and he said 'We're keeping that line. That's the line. That's the line that got my girlfriend interested in this. She keeps saying to me: 'Play the You Turn Me On song.' And now you're just going to discard it. I'm not having it.' And - I guess he wrestled me to the ground in the end and I gave in and it just works.

    MM: Absolutely. In all interviews I read and heard, people always ask about Don't You (Forget About Me). I'm not going to ask - I know all about that. I want to know about Banging On The Door from the Real Life album. It's a beautiful song and one of my favourites. What can you tell me about writing that song?
    JK: It's an absolutely beautiful song and the album it comes from Real Life. The pressure was on because that was the first album we worked on essentially - by that time Michael MacNeil had decided he no longer wanted to play and be a part. Mick had brought so much to us - he was the keyboard player and stuff. But the last couple of years when Mick was around - the technology was changing a lot. And everyone - Charlie had his own little home studio, Charlie was interested in playing the piano much more and writing with the piano. He wasn't looking to play keyboards live or in the studio, but he was using that as his writing tools and a lot more songs that Charlie was coming up with - prior he'd come up with a guitar riff or something - but now he was coming in with, everyone had their own little Portastudio and when we got together the guys would have a cassette or ideas, and just as Mick was making bit a bit obvious that he wouldn't be around much more, Charlie was coming up with this stuff that had not just guitar; but guitar and keyboards.
    JK: But I was still thinking 'How are we going to do this if Mick goes?' Who are we going to get to play?' It was so hard to fill those shoes. And it turns out, the first session we did without Mick, Charlie had songs like Let There Be Love, Banging On The Door, Real Life itself, See The Lights - all the keyboards. And all beautiful keyboards and beautiful guitars - he'd kept it quiet, the progress he was making as a keyboard player. As well as being a brilliant guitar player.
    JK: And so Banging On The Door - to answer your question - is a Charlie Burchill composition from top to end and in my opinion - I'm glad you pick it up - it's one that we play live, a beautiful, beautiful song.
    MM: I love it. It's one of the lesser known Simple Minds songs but it's a great tune.
    JK: I like the intro as well, the beautiful intro. It sounds like a cloudscape and out of that comes this whole world of music from Charlie. That's the way I see it.

    Jim Kerr and Mark Millar
    XS Noize Podcast Episode #63
    30th January 2022

    Banging On The Door was also one of the many highlights of Real Life for me. But the intro, which Jim mentioned, was one of the rare instances of a demo turning up on the final, polished album.

    In March 1990, Jim and Charlie were back at Wisseloord Studios, formally demoing more ideas for Real Life. This session was extremely productive and several versions of Banging On The Door were recorded along with a ballsy, up-tempo version of Maclachlan's Dr. Mackay's Farewell To Creagorry called Dark Isle. The haunting introduction of Banging On The Door was actually the start of Dark Isle - lifted from the demo recording and placed as the prelude of Banging On The Door during the final mixing sessions at Olympic in March 1991.

    Has anything happened recently?

    I find myself in the rather bizarre situation of being six months ahead of everything (due to the future releases I help with) and simultaneously being six months behind everything (due to a lack of updates here).

    There's a lot to do. As a lecturer of mine used to ask: "What's the best way to eat an elephant?" Complete silence. "One mouthful at a time." So, rather than spend more time on a huge update to cover everything, I'll just take it step by step. Or mouthful by mouthful.

    So, let's start filling in the gaps...

    Full details of 5x5 Live Limited Edition Vinyl issued for Record Store Day 2022 back in April 2022 is now online. Collectors should note there are two stickers to collect here: domestic UK versions have stickers with DECREC991 catalogue numbers; whilst exported copies have stickers with DECREC991X catalogue numbers. And that's the only difference!

    Sound and Sense

    Turning up in Sicily 18 months ago, at the height of Covid and the ensuing restrictions, we could sense the worry and sadness around Taormina.

    Still beautiful with its omnipresent blue skies, our hometown, one that lives and depends almost entirely on tourism, had been forced to close its doors entirely as indeed had our favourite place Hotel Villa Angela.

    Normally full of visitors and guests, like hospitality venues around the globe, its rooms and corridors had lain ghostly quiet for months on end. Heartbreaking for all involved, no more so though than for the hotel staff who have for two decades prior had worked to create the small hotel's warm and welcoming reputation.

    Not for much longer though. Or, at least not for much longer once we arrived with the notion that rather than leave the building dormant, we should put it to use in a way the architect would never have imagined.

    As a result, within a couple of weeks, Charlie Burchill had organised the delivery of speakers, microphones, computers, screens, guitars, keyboards, and all the other paraphernalia and equipment Simple Minds amass when working together on creating new music. And suddenly, what an unbelievable place we had for ourselves to work in!

    Don't get me wrong. Nothing can compete with the history that surely reverberates inside the walls of say, Abbey Road studios In London, or other legendary recording studios around the world. Nothing can compete either with the design and technological expertise that those places pride themselves on.

    But tell me another recording studio that overlooks a still active volcano - Mount Etna, and a stretch of blue sea where the ancient Greeks first arrived in Sicily, followed by Romans, Byzantines, Arab, Vikings, Bourbons, Aragonese etc.? (Now that's what I call history.)

    Then again, I suppose Abbey Road has a famous zebra crossing outside its windows.

    There's a happy ending to this story and I'll make it brief.

    Over the next year, we worked continually in Villa Angela.

    Actually, that's not true. In the peak summer months we went to the beach most days. In the evenings we drove madly through the hills on our vespas, arriving at the peak of Monte Venere to catch the sunsets. Soon enough though, the walls inside Villa Angela were bouncing to the sound of Simple Minds' music as a handful of new anthems began taking shape.

    The results? You will have the chance to listen to in the not too distant future.

    Happier still! A couple of days ago, for the first time in almost two and a half years, Villa Angela opened its doors once more. The impromptu recording studio is no longer there of course. But the staff are delighted to be back at work and the guests are arriving by the hour.

    Meanwhile, the recording of our new album, also worked on in Hamburg and London is now complete - and Simple Minds are thrilled at being back out on tour.

    Life goes on!

    Jim Kerr
    1st May 2022

    All the UK set-lists are now up on the 40 Years Of Hits tour pages. But here's the set list and various pictures and scans from Cardiff. Many thanks to Huw for sending them in.

    Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, UK
    14th April 2022
    Main Set #1: Act Of Love / I Travel / Celebrate / Glittering Prize / Promised You A Miracle / Book Of Brilliant Things / Hunter And The Hunted / Love Song / Belfast Child
    Main Set #2: Theme For Great Cities / Dolphins / Waterfront / She's A River / Once Upon A Time / Someone Somewhere In Summertime / See The Lights / All The Things She Said / Don't You (Forget About Me) / Let It All Come Down / Ghostdancing
    Encore: Speed Your Love To Me / Alive And Kicking / Sanctify Yourself

    "Wales will always mean a lot to Simple Minds - going way way back to our very beginnings when we used to play pubs and clubs in places such as Newport and Port Talbot etc - finding audiences willing to encourage us even when we were 'still learning our trade.' A packed arena in CARDIFF last night left us feeling humbled by the reaction they gave to this latest version of Simple Minds. There are some cities you wish that you could play every week, the Welsh capital is definitely one!" - Jim, 14th April 2022

    I've blown the dust off the old copies of The American single and revisited Simple Minds' first Virgin single. Original press releases and the session tape trail through The Manor, Townhouse and Odyssey studios reveal how it took several attempts to get this one right. It also reveals how Simple Minds were due to play a short tour of the UK and Europe after their US and Canadian jaunt - but that was not to be.

    And it cost £1.15 - that's for both the 7" and 12". Bargain!

    Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    19th April 2022
    Main Set #1: Act Of Love / I Travel / Celebrate / Glittering Prize / Promised You A Miracle / Book Of Brilliant Things / Hunter And The Hunted / Love Song / Belfast Child
    Main Set #2: Theme For Great Cities / Dolphins / Waterfront / She's A River / Once Upon A Time / Someone Somewhere In Summertime / See The Lights / All The Things She Said / Don't You (Forget About Me) / Let It All Come Down / Ghostdancing
    Encore: Speed Your Love To Me / Alive And Kicking / Sanctify Yourself

    Many thanks to Martin for all the pictures.

    "Simple Minds will play to over 15,000 people tonight in Amsterdam's Ziggo Dome. Amazing, especially when considering that there were less than 15 people in total at our very first gig in Amsterdam in 1980 - playing in the tiny Melkweg club. Regardless of how few people were there on that night, those that were encouraged us immensely, and from then on Simple Minds' Dutch fans have never let us down. For that our gratitude knows no end! Expect 100 percent effort from us tonight. Heart and soul!" - Jim, 19th April 2022

    One of the best interviews from January was The XS Noize Podcast. Host Mark Millar asked the standards, but also went off-piste and fielded some very interesting and unique questions as well. So, it was well worth including here. It was a long interview - around an hour - so the transcription will be published as separate parts.

    XS Noize Podcast: Part One

    MM: Formed in the 1970s, Simple Minds have been one of the most successful bands to come out of the UK, selling over 60 million records worldwide, having number one singles on both sides of the Atlantic and number one albums the world over. Including five UK number one albums. To mark the anniversary of the band's very first performance, Simple Minds have released Act Of Love, as a one-off single. I caught up with Jim Kerr to talk about the new song, the early days of the band, their upcoming tour and much more.
    MM: So welcome to the XS Noize Podcast Jim.
    JK: Yup, thank you. A pleasure.

    MM: Simple Minds have recently released Act Of Love, a one-off single to mark the anniversary of the band's very first performance at Glasgow's Satellite City on the January 17th 1978. Before we talk about the song, what can you remember about that night?
    JK: I remember it very vividly. [Laughs] The overriding thing was the before and after. Because to say I was nervous personally would be the understatement of the century. Both Charlie Burchill and I - and actually Brian McGee as well - prior to Simple Minds and prior to our debut gig, we had spent the summer being in this punk band called Johnny And The Self Abusers. And we probably did about 20 gigs. So, although that hardly made us veterans, we had a taste for it. And even though Johnny And The Self Abusers was a bit of a joke outfit, we always got a great reaction. So we were doing something right. And we were hoping to ...
    JK: With Simple Minds stakes were high. This was serious. After sort-of putting our toe in the water, after the amount of enjoyment we got from Johnny And The Self Abusers, it was like 'Yeah - but can we really do something for real?' And, we'd just had that first gig in Satellite City you mentioned there - if it hadn't gone well, who knows? And just to set the scene for you, Satellite City was - the famous gig in Glasgow was a place called The Apollo Theatre - it was the Green's Theatre - that was the temple. The theatre itself is where we saw Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and all the prog rock bands. Glasgow was then a back water culturally, it's not the Glasgow we know now. But when the bands came to town, that was the place. And the audiences were great. And to us it was just the temple. But there was an attic space above the theatre that had this ballroom - or as they used to call them 'discotheques' in those days. And we could never get in to it - we were never cool enough. You'd go up with your best clobber on, hoping to get in, but we were still young and the bouncers were like 'Not tonight lads.'
    JK: So somebody from the local record shop - I believe- punted up the money to put on a gig. I mean, a discotheque on a Monday night on the 17th January [Laughs] - and there were four local bands - we were one of them - making our debut. There was a band called Nu Sonics, who quite soon afterwards went on to become Orange Juice. And a couple of other bands that didn't really go on.
    JK: Anyway, we were somewhere in the middle of the bill. And we had rehearsed / worked for the six weeks in advance to come up with a set of mostly original songs. And the first song was this song called Act Of Love. You know, judging the fact that no-one had ever heard you or knew you, your first song was really important. Because people decided within a minute whether they were going to hang around or give you their attention. So, your first song, you really had to make a statement. And with Act of Love, our career began that night and, although I said we were frigid with nerves before going on, as soon as Charlie played the riff, I could feel the adrenaline go through me and -
    JK: Can you swear on this podcast Mark?
    MM: Go ahead.
    JK: This sounds fucking great. And I was away. And the band sounded great. Of course, me thinking it sounded great is one thing, it remained to be seen what the audience thought.
    JK: But anyway, the long and short of it was, we played about a 30 minute set, walked on to the sound of our own feet, and when we left there was mayhem - mayhem in a good way. And to get mayhem going on a cold January night, an unknown band, a Glasgow audience, I remember coming off thinking 'The future's bright.' Now, when I say the future's bright, what I mean is 'We might get a gig in Dundee, or Edinburgh, or Aberdeen or whatever. I mean, that would be amazing. And then we'll see how it goes.' And here we are, 44 years later, on this week, or last week, still really pursuing the same things because I think if you'd said to us back then, if you'd said to me 'What do you want out of this?' We'd no image of the fame, or the riches, or the rewards that might come - or the experience in its wake - but I'm pretty sure we would've said to you 'We want to be in a great live band. And we want to take it around the world.' Because we really did. 'And we want to try and get a life out of it.' And here we are, as I say, more than four decades later, still attempting to do that.

    MM: You certainly did. You recently released a reimagined version of Act Of Love, one of the first songs you wrote with Charlie, and you opened the set that night. It's an amazing riff. So why did you choose to go back to it after all these years?
    JK: Well, the mistake we made I think, it wasn't a mistake - what happened was it was the first song we played that night we established, it was the first song on our demo cassettes that I - about a month later we went into a little studio, CaVa, there was only one in Glasgow and - it was usually accordion bands and stuff that were there - but we went in and recorded six songs. And I hitch-hiked to London with the cassettes. A guy in the record shop said 'You just go down and ask for the A&R guy - I'll give you the address of the record companies and I'll even find you their names.' I said 'That'll be great.' So with these cassettes, Act Of Love was the first song on the cassette.
    JK: So I hitch-hiked down to London. I've got the address, I've got the guy's name. It'll be easy! Of course, couldn't get through the door. But somehow I managed to drop the cassettes off. Then I went to see my pals who were living in a squat in Kilburn - by the time I got back, about two weeks later, I was still living at home, I was a kid, Mum said 'These record companies have been phoning.' I said 'What? Which ones?' She said 'Oh, son I don't know.' I said 'What do you mean?' She never took a note or anything. She said 'Would it be BYG?' I said 'EMI'. 'Oh, maybe EMI son.' 'Or was it CBS?' 'Or DKB? 'Oh Mum!' But she said 'If they really want you, they'll phone you back.' And they did.
    JK: Act Of Love was the first song on the cassette and so between the gig, the first song and the cassettes, it was the first anyone heard of our band. A year later, by the time we had a record deal, we'd moved on and we'd written a ton more stuff. And I think we had got bored with it. Amongst the stuff for the debut we recorded, it just kind of got left out. And I always thought that that was an error. I always thought it was a brilliant riff. It wasn't a brilliant song but it was a brilliant riff. And given time, one day, we should go back to it. But time passes, and you never do.
    JK: And then, at some point during the whole Covid thing, we're working on stuff and I said 'Let's get to this riff. Let's work out how we can capture the juvenile spirit. But I think with experience and song writing craft now, they'll be missing parts, let's see if we can stick some new bits in it. And try and make it seamless. And it seems to have worked out.

    MM: It took 40 years to get there and it sounds amazing. Are there any other songs from that era you'd like to revisit?
    JK: There are songs from the first ten years, maybe. You know, you hear it, and you think 'That's a great riff that.' Or 'that's a fantastic feel or something.' With the benefit of song writing skill you feel that either the arrangement's wrong, or ... To answer your question, there's plenty. [Laughs] But, who knows? The good point is just now is - they're the kind of things you usually do in a period where you're maybe you've not been that active with new stuff, you're just not that inspired. Sometimes people do a covers record, and I think they're all great things, to keep the muscles going and all that but we're just so potent just now with new ideas that there's not really been that much time. You've got a notion: 'Oh, we could do this or we could do that.' But I think while you're still potent with new stuff, you should get that out first.

    MM: One of the songs from those early demos was a song called The Cocteau Twins which caught the attention of Liz Fraser, Robin Guthrie and Will Heggie who named their band The Cocteau Twins after hearing the song. So Simple Minds were inspiring artists from the very beginning.
    JK: That's true. We used to go through to Grangemouth to play and Guthrie's brother was the promoter. And he would get us gigs. And we would get to open up for some other bands that were the original prototype for us, really early on, Ultravox and Magazine, and all that. He was putting them on in Grangemouth - Grangemouth Town Hall - he knew that was our kind of thing. And, obviously we would send him the cassettes and stuff. So I can only assume his younger brother, got to cop onto that. But if we have inspired others then, that's a great thing. Because we were certainly inspired by a whole host and we still are. We still refer to the people: Bowie and Roxy and Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground. The song we spent ages the other day trying to get The Velvet Underground piano sound, on a new thing we're working on. So it shows you.
    JK: You know, your DNA. You take things to begin with and that's the soil you try and grow something of yourself out of.

    Jim Kerr and Mark Millar
    XS Noize Podcast Episode #63
    30th January 2022

    Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg, Germany
    21st April 2022
    Main Set #1: Act Of Love / I Travel / Celebrate / Glittering Prize / Promised You A Miracle / Book Of Brilliant Things / Hunter And The Hunted / Love Song / Belfast Child
    Main Set #2: Theme For Great Cities / Dolphins / Waterfront / She's A River / Once Upon A Time / Someone Somewhere In Summertime / See The Lights / All The Things She Said / Don't You (Forget About Me) / Let It All Come Down / New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)
    Encore: Speed Your Love To Me / Alive And Kicking / Sanctify Yourself

    Many thansk to Karsten Kruse for the set-list and the photos. Although the set-list shows Ghostdancing they played New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) on the night.

    "After Hamburg last night (thanks to all who came to the show) we get a bit of a break over the next couple of days before popping up in Portugal (Porto) on Sunday night followed by Lisbon on Monday." - Jim, 22nd April 2022

    Full details of 5x5 Live Limited Edition Vinyl issued for Record Store Day 2022 back in April 2022 is now online. Collectors should note there are two stickers to collect here: domestic UK versions have stickers with DECREC991 catalogue numbers; whilst exported copies have stickers with DECREC991X catalogue numbers. And that's the only difference!
    International Centre, Bournemouth, UK
    1st April 2022
    Main Set #1: Act Of Love / I Travel / Celebrate / Glittering Prize / Promised You A Miracle / Book Of Brilliant Things / Up On The Catwalk / Hunter And The Hunted / Love Song / Belfast Child / The Walls Came Down
    Main Set #2: Theme For Great Cities / Waterfront / She's A River / Dolphins / Once Upon A Time / Let There Be Love / Someone Somewhere In Summertime / See The Lights / All The Things She Said / Don't You (Forget About Me) / Let It All Come Down / New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)
    Encore: Speed Your Love To Me / Alive And Kicking / Sanctify Yourself

    "It is said that in space no one can hear you scream! Back on earth no one could hear us play one note of our precious (to us) music over these last two years. Hence the joy felt at finally being able to return to performing live concerts, where looking out from stage it's apparent that we are not the only ones feeling that joy. I had never taken for granted the sensation of witnessing arenas full of people jumping up and down and singing along to our songs. Energised by the music, and for all I know, possibly forgetting their problems of the day; or the problems of the world dammit? In any case, it's been nothing short of wonderful to be able to experience all of that once again. Off to a great start then! Thanks to all in both London and Bournemouth for making us feel so good these past two nights. Hope to see you out there somewhere!" - Jim, 1st April 2022

    The hits! The moves!
    Simple Minds have still got it

    Jim Kerr should take out a patent or two. The Simple Minds singer may be 62, but the stadium rock shapes he endlessly threw throughout this (delayed) opening night of the band's 40 Years of Hits Tour perfectly sum up his oeuvre and era. Simple Minds' music is - just like Kerr's cavorting - dramatic, preposterous, overblown and wildly entertaining all at the same time. As a pop cultural snapshot of the bombastic Eighties, a Simple Minds concert can't be bettered.

    But, as this career-spanning show demonstrated, there's also more to Simple Minds than Don't You (Forget About Me) and arena earnestness. Before they became global stars in 1985 (five albums into their career), the Scottish band were post-punk innovators, as aligned to Joy Division and Kraftwerk in their early years as they were to U2 in their later years. And we got the full gamut here.

    The 26-song show opened with recent single Act of Love, followed by two tracks from 1980's Empires and Dance, an album now hailed as a Krautrock-influenced new wave classic by fans including the Manic Street Preachers. The band were fantastically tight. Original members Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill were joined by five other members, including Cherisse Osei on drums, who at times brought a propulsive energy redolent of Prince's drummer Sheila E, not something one would usually associate with Simple Minds. The hits soon came. Glittering Prize, Promised You A Miracle and Belfast Child were dispatched as though the Nineties never happened.

    It was a ballsy move to open a long tour at Wembley Arena, particularly as it was the band's first live show in more than two years. "Wembley Arena - what a warm-up for Bournemouth tomorrow," Kerr joked.

    The show was split into two halves, partly because there was so much to pack in and partly, one suspects, to give the band a breather (Kerr admitted to being "knackered" at one point). It wasn't surprising, given those moves of his. His trademark stances included what I'm calling "the blinding light" (hand hovers above head to protect eyes from unseen glare, accompanied by backwards shimmy), "the pretend lasso" (microphone is twirled above head, accompanied by backwards shimmy), and the "the knee-in-invisible-groin" (knee is violently raised and shoulders lowered, accompanied by backwards shimmy).

    At one point, Kerr did the splits in his skinny jeans, a move that was both astonishing and perhaps inadvisable for a man who'd be eligible for a free bus pass in his native Glasgow. But Kerr has always been something of a rock god (as marriages to both Chrissie Hynde and Patsy Kensit - before Liam Gallagher - would attest). Age is just a number, after all.

    What prevented the concert from becoming pompous was the humour with which the band carried themselves. It would be easy for such a show to sink under the weight of its own occasional grandiosity, but there was levity here too. "Sing it to me in French!.. In Italian!" Kerr implored during the "La-la-la-la-la" refrain of Don't You (Forget About Me).

    In recent years, Simple Minds have undergone something of a late-career critical re-appraisal. And rightly so. This concert was a lesson in how it takes patience, astute musical and political antennae and gifted writing chops to shape a legacy. And, of course, ridiculous stage moves.

    4/5 Wembley Arena
    James Hall
    The Daily Telegraph
    4th April 2022

    Brighton Centre, Brighton, UK
    3rd April 2022
    Main Set #1: Act Of Love / I Travel / Celebrate / Glittering Prize / Promised You A Miracle / Book Of Brilliant Things / Up On The Catwalk / Hunter And The Hunted / Love Song / Belfast Child / The Walls Came Down
    Main Set #2: Theme For Great Cities / Waterfront / She's A River / Dolphins / Once Upon A Time / Someone Somewhere In Summertime / See The Lights / All The Things She Said / Don't You (Forget About Me) / Let It All Come Down / New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)
    Encore: Speed Your Love To Me / Alive And Kicking / Sanctify Yourself

    "Transformation is a recurring theme within Simple Minds. Starting out we wanted to live our lives being punky, promiscuous, and rampantly hedonistic - and there was an edge of darkness attached to those times. But that's a whole other story! Talking of transformation - of a different kind? We sense it happening in the audience each night of this tour as the music works its spell." - Jim, 5th April 2022

    The first Virgin press release for Simple Minds was a slightly bizarre missive. The final sentence was one of Bruce's more fantastical quotes that Arista were too big for both Simple Minds and Barry Manilow - so the Minds had to seek pastures new. And then Virgin, anxious to highlight all the successes of their new signing, ended up promoting the band's last Arista singles, namely both I Travel and Celebrate.

    The mention of Celebrate forced a reappraisal. Later discographies gave an April release date, suggesting the single was issued to divert attention away from The American, which hit the shops a month later. Given its mention in this Virgin dispatch, then it was obviously released before that date. This worked well with the timeline: the master tapes were prepared in January 1981, the single was issued in February 1981, and a stock of several thousand were sent over to America to catch the excitement around the band's mini American tour. This made much more sense. Hopefully that wraps up the Empires And Dance era.

    The press release also mentioned a short UK tour hot on the heels of the USA/Canada visit. This shows why Virgin were so keen on a 'try-out' session at The Manor in February 1981 with Steve Hillage to quickly record a new single. But events quickly overtook these plans: I don't think anyone was happy with The Manor recording of the The American so it was put on ice; and the situation with Brian temporarily halted any immediate touring plans in Europe.


    Simple Minds having split from Arista have signed a long-term worldwide recording deal with Virgin Records. Scotland's premier disco rockers resisted the offers of several major companies to sign their lives away with Virgin. Virgin views the signing of the band as a major coup, and confidently predict Simple Minds will become one of the most important and successful bands in the U.K. by the end of the year. The band has just recorded a new single which should see release around April, and depart for a 20 date tour of the U.S. and Canada immediately after their only scheduled London appearance this year at The Venue on Tuesday, March 3. It's the band's first American tour, having previously only played two dates in New York in November '79. The band's last single I Travel has just entered the American disco chart in Billboard first week at 80 - purely on import sales. Several thousand copies of the new single Celebrate have also been imported into the U.S.

    The band then undertake a quick sprint around Europe to follow up interest generated by their major European tour late last year with Peter Gabriel. Simple Minds return to the U.K. to begin work on their first album for Virgin with a tenative release set for around Augsut. The band's manager Bruce Findlay commenting on the band's decision to sign with Virgin, says he's naturally delighted to be with the label after considering a number of highly enticing offers from several major companies. "We are tremendously impressed with Virgin's impact on the U.K. market and the enthusiasm shown by the label towards the band," he said. "Also we have built up a marvellous understanding with Ariola and we are particularly pleased that Virgin is licensed by them in Europe which means we can continue to build on the good work Ariola have already done in helping to break the band in a market which we feel shows enormous potential. But what really convinced us to go with Virgin was the eventual realisation that as Arista already had Barry Manilow and the label wasn't big enough for both of us, Virgin sorely needs a middle of the road disco band like ourselves to grab our own slice of the Manilow magic!!!!!"

    Virgin Press Release
    20th February 1981

    And so, the long delayed 40 Years Of Hits tour has finally started again. As I write the band are on stage at Wembley Arena. And as a reminder...

    SSE Arena, Wembley, UK
    31st March 2022
    Main Set #1: Act Of Love / I Travel / Celebrate / Glittering Prize / Promised You A Miracle / Book Of Brilliant Things / Up On The Catwalk / Hunter And The Hunted / Love Song / Belfast Child / The Walls Came Down
    Main Set #2: Theme For Great Cities / Waterfront / She's A River / Dolphins / Once Upon A Time / Let There Be Love / Someone Somewhere In Summertime / See The Lights / All The Things She Said / Don't You (Forget About Me) / Let It All Come Down / New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)
    Encore: Speed Your Love To Me / Alive And Kicking / Sanctify Yourself

    "After a long break - it's going to feel like the first day at school again. Or rather it will tonight! For tonight is when we thankfully get to begin our tour. And we really are going to have to go and learn how to do it all again."

    "Learn what? Learn how to be a great live band once again of course."

    "Not that we haven't been doing some studying in advance. 'Rock school' began for some of us a heck of a long time ago; and having already performed thousands of concerts, it means we already know a few things about how to put together 'a good show.'"

    "Or at least we did in the past. What about now? Well, you can be the judge of that. But go easy at first please!"

    "You remember the first day of the new term at school right? It took you a little while to get your bearings again; and how you needed to get back into the rhythm of things. Your new blazer and new shoes all felt a bit stiff etc. New books and school bag needed to be worn-in a little. You know what I'm talking about, that's how opening nights on tour feels."

    "What else to say? We could not be more excited at the prospect. Absolutely fresh and ready to go! So thanks to all of you who are planning on coming to see Simple Minds, especially those who are travelling from far and wide. Hope to see you out there somewhere!" - Jim, 31st March 2022

    BBC Radio Two's Piano Room provided Simple Minds with the opportunity of picking up the pieces of the stalled 40 Years Of Hits Tour, and reboot the whole process with a performance of three songs with the backing of the BBC Concert Orchestra.

    There was no hiding in the shadows of a smaller, provincial radio station; or warming up with a series of smaller venue shows. Piano Room thrust Simple Minds back into the limelight, onto slightly unfamiliar ground with a new orchestral backing, and provided them with a national showcase for their first live performance in two years.

    I had a nagging worry that Jim and Charlie might have used the Proms arrangements of their hits for the Piano Room. That would've been the easy way out, giving them time to concentrate on the constantly rescheduled forthcoming tour. Such concerns evaporated with the first notes of Alive And Kicking, as the song received a 'gentler' rearrangement than the full-orcehstral bravado of the Proms.

    Under the guidance of orchestral arranger and conductor Sam Sparrow (who'd worked with the band on Walk Between Worlds and Alive And Kicking for 80's Symphonic), a stripped down version of Simple Minds (Jim, Charlie, Berenice, Cherisse and Sarah) performed several songs with orchestral backing.

    The format required three tracks: a classic, something new and a cover. Simple Minds bent the rules slightly by performing two classics (Alive And Kicking and Someone Somewhere In Summertime) and a 'new' cover; a version of The Call's The Walls Came Down.

    They were loosely linked by a theme, that of the reopening of the world, the removal of the restrictions of the last two years, and, hopefully, a return to 'normal'. This was introduced by Jim when he spoke to the host, Ken Bruce, about Alive And Kicking:

    KB: That takes you back to 1985 that song.
    JK: Yeah, it does. Last night I was thinking 'Gosh. In at the deep end tomorrow' because we haven't played for two years. Hopefully it didn't sound like it? We haven't even been in a room - it's been that awkward over these two years, as we all know. But it just felt right. And kind of symbolically as well. I think everyone was kind of feeling - some of the songs and another song we're doing later on [The Walls Came Down] - has kind of sentiment about it [that] finally we feel alive in the way we used to.

    This was reinforced when Jim spoke about the 'new' song:

    KB: What's the last song going to be for us today?
    JK: It's a song called The Walls Came Down. And it also ties into what we're saying - that walls are coming down, and hopefully we're all going to get on with life as we once knew it. It's a cover of a band called The Call, an American band, and we used to tour with them a lot. And they were one of many opening bands who used to blow us off stage [laughs] and still do. But it's a great, great song and sadly Michael passed away a few years ago and we still love to keep his spirit alive. And keep the music alive.
    JK: This is the first time we've played this in public. So this is a genuine debut.
    All-in-all, it was a graceful reappearance of the band into the public sphere after two years of relative silence. And a useful reminder that the tour is about to start.

    bbc radio two: the piano room
    Broadcast: 22nd February 2022
    Producer: -
    Engineer: -
    Arranger: Sam Sparrow

    Alive And Kicking (5:50) [Orchestral]
    Someone Somewhere In Summertime (4:36) [Orchestral]
    The Walls Came Down (3:55) [Orchestral]

    The Walls Came Down kept close to The Call's studio version, but Jim didn't sing the last verse:

    I don't think there are any Russians,
    And there ain't no Yanks.
    Just corporate criminals,
    Playin' with tanks.

    Perhaps the mention of Russians and Yanks was a little too 'cold war' and Jim wanted to skip those references. Yet, even as the song was being performed, tensions in Europe were running high after the build up of Russian troops on the borders of Ukraine - and the Russian army invaded two days later. The song, and the timing of its performance, took on an unexpected, unintentional new relevance.

    Larelle (Priptona's Simple Minds Space) suggested that the pictures taken at the Old University Refectory, Brisbane looked like they came from 1982 (and so the the New Gold Tour) and not the tail end of the Sons And Fascination Tour where I'd placed them. Angelina, who originally sent me the photos, couldn't remember the date; and discussions around the photos suggested 1981.

    The earlier 1981 date worked as Simple Minds embarked on their own little mini-tour of several venues after the major attraction of the Icehouse and Divinyls tour finished. This mystery Brisbane gig would've fitted in nicely here.

    But I believed Larelle was right. So I trawelled through the archives. And I found the following old advert:

    This confirmed the end of the Icehouse/Divinyls tour. The Adelaide dates were left vague as the venue had been firebombed and alternative arrangements were being arranged. And there was the final night at Selma's, which must've been added at the last moment, but this seemed to clear up the Sons And Fascination Tour. No mention of Brisbane gig though.

    So, that left the New Gold Tour. I recalled I had a pile of Australian press releases in the archive, and looked through those. And, a list of the Australian gigs was included - along with the illusive Queensland gig. Mystery now solved - it was a 1982 gig. So those early Australian gigs are now much clearer.

    I'm still filling in the gaps throughout the webiste. And the latest single to get a new, full write-up is Glitterball.

    Summer Sessions, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, UK
    13th August 2022

    "We can think of no better way to bring our upcoming UK/European Tour to a climax than performing not one - but now two shows at Princess Street Gardens, Edinburgh. Maximising on that rare opportunity, we aim to make the additional show even more special for our fans by playing in full a one-off performance on Saturday 13th August of our career landmark New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) plus our greatest hits. All profits from that show will go to UNICEF - FOR CHILDREN IN UKRAINE." - Simple Minds

    Don't forget. Simple Minds will be the guests on The Piano Room tomorrow, which will be broadcast during Ken Bruce's BBC Radio 2 show.

    Simple Minds will perform three tracks - a new song, a classic, and a cover - with members of the BBC Concert Orchestra accompanying them.

    5x5 Live, a triple CD box-set momento of the celebrated 5x5 Tour, will be issued on vinyl for the first time as part of Record Store Day 2022.

    Formed in Glasgow in 1977, Simple Minds are one of the UK's most successful bands, having achieved critical acclaim and a number of chart-topping albums. First released in 2012, 5x5 Live is a live album recorded across Europe, featuring recordings of five songs from each of the band's first five albums as well as a selection of bonus tracks. Highlights include performances of classic songs including Someone Somewhere (In Summertime), Glittering Prize and Theme For Great Cities. The complete album is now released on vinyl for the first time, pressed on three 180g red, white and blue vinyl exclusively for Record Store Day 2022.

    The colours picked for the vinyl has caused some comment. The question you want to ask yourself is: What is the colour scheme of the album's artwork? Red, white, blue and black. And issuing black vinyl is nothing special. So, red, white and blue it is.

    I am indebted to Robert Struthers who sent me some early album and concert reviews from Musicians Only. These include reviews of Real To Real Cacophony, The Marquee (14th December 1979), Empires And Dance and The Lyceum (20th June 1980).

    Billy Sloan Show

    Audio: Someone

    BS: From the album Life In A Day in 1979. The first song I ever heard from Simple Minds[1], the opening track from the record, a great song called Someone. And it's brilliant to welcome back to BBC Radio Scotland Jim Kerr - how are you?
    JK: Good Billy. Pleasure to be here. You might have to go easy on me because I think this is the first interview I will have done in 18 or 19 months. So, as you can see, the brain might take a wee bit to get up to scratch. I'm sure once we get going, we'll get into our old selves.

    BS: Another thing you've not done for something like 18 months - through no fault of your own - is like in common with just about every other band out there - you've not stepped on a stage. And for Simple Minds who spend a lot of their waking hours living out of a suitcase and going from city to city - has it been tough for the past 18 months in the middle of all this COVID madness? Not being able to get out and face your audiences?
    JK: Well it's been mind-blowing. I mean I was saying to you there - this is the first interview I've done in 18 month. The last interview I did was in Copenhagen[2] and it was the night before we played what was going to be - well, we did two shows actually. We did a matinee and also an evening show - and we knew after that, that things were grinding to a halt. Covid had really kicked in then. Places were starting to close down: UK hadn't yet; but Scandinavia which is where we'd been and where we were - they had already taken the decision; Germany... As we were getting out of countries the borders were closing three hours later. It was... you just couldn't believe it.
    JK: But the last interview I did the previous night and it was with the New York Times. And [laughs] the guy said 'So, how do you think this will pan out? How are you going to get by?' And I said 'Three or four weeks and we'll be back. They'll sort it out.' And lo-and-behold, as you've just pointed out there, it's coming up for almost two years. We're still on tenterhooks that this year will allow us to get out and play and do what we do best. And do the thing that we're most known for.

    BS: But during that eighteen months, you and Charlie Burchill, the guitar player from Simple Minds, have not been idle. Because you've actually been working on new songs and looking ahead to the next record, haven't you?
    JK: Well that was the instant challenge. As soon as things ground to a halt, we're not good at not doing anything. And really, you couldn't do anything for the first three or four months because I went right back to Scotland and - I can tell people the night before I left home, I had dinner with you - actually you're a jinx [laughs] and I think I said to you 'Well, see you in a year's time.' Because that tour was starting in Scandinavia and it was going to end in Australia in December - ten months later. Well, lo-and-behold, I was back about 10 days later! I just couldn't believe it. And so [laughs] like everyone else, we were like 'What are we doing?' We were locked up down here - getting out one hour and stuff.
    JK: But, as you know, I've got a place with a studio in the countryside in Scotland, and we had songs to work on. As you also know, I've been working on a book for the longest time. And within a few months, Charlie and I managed to - Charlie was in Holland at the time - we managed to organize some time in a studio in Hamburg - it was still open and you could still go into Germany at the time - and it was one of the few places where you could work without too much restrictions. And as you quite rightly say, we pushed on with a record that we keep thinking we've finished, but every time that happens, and we're just about to go out of the door, and Charlie will come up with a new idea. And we think 'Hang on a minute. That's really good.' But, for all intents and purposes, we've do have a record finished, I think!

    BS: On Monday of this week, you released a single called Act Of Love which we're going to talk about in detail a bit later on in the interview - and it marked the 44th anniversary since your first ever gig - which again we'll talk about a bit later on. And I guess that it's just an achievement in itself that 44 years on from this crazy notion away back in 1977/78 that you're still writing songs and you're still performing and you're still as hungry as you were then now.
    JK: Every time you put out a new record, every time you put out a new song, you feel excited, you feel - in your own little way - you feel another milestone passed or another chapter in the story written. But this one really does feel something because the numbers start to stop me in my tracks now - as you say 44 years. Not only just to still be playing and performing but you're putting out a record - or putting out a song - with the attitude of Act Of Love. We just love it. I don't know if you're meant to say when you put out a record that you love it, but the energy, it's classic Simple Minds.
    JK: If you wanted a new song to kick start a new phase, hopefully kick start a new year, much better than the past two years, a feel-good song, full of energy, optimism, a young spirit. I think we managed to get all of that in the song. And it's a good taster - even though the song itself won't go into the story - even though it was one of the first songs we ever wrote, it says a lot about where we are, once again, right now in terms of the sound of the other stuff we've been working on.

    BS: Let's go back to the very beginning because we're going to be talking about the early years on the program tonight. How did music start for you? How did it come onto your radar? I know that Charlie had an older brother who had a record collection and he had access to that - he could dip and out. But you were the oldest child in your family - so were you watching Top Of The Pops? Was it Whistle Test? Was it going into town on a Saturday and scraping up money to buy a record. When did it kind of start for you in serious terms?
    JK: I suppose it really started - I'm not an obvious Beatles fan in the sense that there's real Beatles fans and they know everything about The Beatles and all that - I don't think I've ever, in all the times we've spoken about music - I don't think I've ever discussed a Beatles album with you but - I was a Beatles fan. Because my mum was a huge Beatles fan. And she would get the records and [laughs] well you knew what she was like, she was a young woman at the time, she'd put them on and she'd dance and jump around. So it started with that.
    JK: But my Dad, on the other hand, I don't know where he got it from. My Dad knew some guys that were in the merchant Navy and we know the story that a lot of those guys - those Glasgow guys - they went all around the world and they came back with records - the blues, soul, country. And I think my Dad worked with a few guys who introduced him to it. So, on one hand, with The Beatles, we had Johnny Cash and Hank Locklin and Patsy Cline - actually Glasgow's very big on that, Glasgow's huge on... we called it Country and Western then, Country Music - so our house was a mixture of that. Really my Dad's idols were Fats Domino and Little Richard - so it from that, it was just music in the background, music you jumped up and down to, and music - you know your neighbours and everybody and aunties and uncles would come on the Saturday night when the pubs shut - the pubs shut in Glasgow then at 9 o'clock - everyone would go up to each other's house and have a sing-song. They would be the artists, that would be the music.
    JK: But by the age of eleven and twelve - you're right, I didn't have an older brother - it's funny that, I was thinking of the other guys in Simple Minds, they were all the babies in the family, I was the only oldest brother. They'd gone into music through their brothers but - as you well know, I lived in this high-rise block in Toryglen, Glasgow, I was really lucky because the elder guys - when I say elder guys it was three or four years older than me - they were all into music. You know you got in the elevator and some day he would be holding a T-Rex album Electric Warrior or they would have Yes or, of course, Zeppelin. I remember going in one day at school and died: this guy was holding something under his arm and it was the first time I'd ever set eyes on Alice Cooper Killer. And he said to me 'Are you going to see this guy? This guy hangs himself on stage... there's skeletons, there's snakes.' What's going on here? But those elder guys were 'Come up and listen to it.' So my education into music came through all of them. Going right up through Springsteen - I remember hearing Springsteen way, way before Born To Run. It was Asbury Park. Sparks, another of our favourites, I knew them from two albums prior when they signed to Island and all of that. So, it was really through that.
    JK: My first - and I don't mind saying it was a crush because it was a crush - was Bolan. It was like 'This is our Jesus.' Well, that's what it seemed. There was nothing like seeing Bolan on Top Of The Pops. Just nothing like it. We thought it was Jesus. But somebody says 'It's only John The Baptist.' Jesus was coming a year later. [Laughs]

    BS: We're going to talk more about the early years but let's have the earliest track we ever heard from you in a musical sense, let's go back to 1977, on the Chiswick record label, a single by Johnny And The Self Abusers, this is the classic sound of Saints And Sinners:

    Audio: Saints And Sinners

    BS: We're talking about your early musical education Jim. In 1977 there's the punk rock explosion. You think 'I wanna be in a band.' What gave you the confidence to do that? Because you'd had a stab at it. There was the famous, or the now in-famous, Biba-Rom!, who, once upon a time, played the children's Christmas party. What made you - because you were a pretty shy guy by your own admission - what gave you the confidence to think (a) I'm going to write songs and (b) I'm going to stand up in front of an audience, in front of an microphone, and be the singer in a band.
    JK: I don't think I'll ever be able to work that out. Because, to put it in context, it's different now. And it's been different for a long, long time. But, back then, we didn't know anybody who did that. It's not like 'Well, we saw your cousin doing that' or your sister's boyfriend was in a band or something - we didn't know anybody who did that. Well, I think what it was, was we were a gang from school. I can't really separate myself from Charlie, Joe Donnelly, Tony Donald and those guys who were in my class at school - Brian McGee. Everyone was starting to get into the music then. But they were going the extra mile. They were buying guitars - well, their Mums and Dads were buying them - guitars and basses and drum kits and all of that; and at the same time, the real big thing was going to see bands play live. Because Glasgow now - and the way Glasgow's been for the last few decades, you know everyone wants to go now, it's a happening city: a city of arts, culture and all that - but, you'll be my witness, it wasn't like that back then. There really wasn't much going on.
    BS: We did have the famous Glasgow Apollo.
    JK: That was the temple. So we had this concert hall and we had the audiences as well - because still - between the venues I say it really was the audiences - the audience really made it. It seemed to be that a lot of bands would start their tour in Glasgow. I remember right you'd maybe see Roxy Music on The Whistle Test on the Tuesday night or Genesis with Peter Gabriel and then the Wednesday the music papers would come - each day there would be another paper in - NME, Melody Maker, Sounds - and then Friday - I think the agents said 'Send them off to the Jocks to start it, you'll be a bit rusty the first night' and stuff. On the other hand, the opening night, arguably, was the most exciting night of the tour. So I just started to go to gigs then - there was nothing like it before and there's been nothing like it since. There's nothing to touch it. A great music concert, to watch great, great performers.
    JK: I certainly didn't think 'I'm going to do that.' Nothing like it. But I did think 'I'll do anything to be involved in this world. This planet. I'll do anything to be involved in it. So, lo-and-behold, the guys at school - I just started off by, you could say, encouraging them, maybe, get it together, find the rehearsal place. We used to rehearse in St. Bridges School - the primary school - I was always pushing for things to happen. And we got all the pieces together. The one thing we couldn't find was a singer. And one night - I guess Dutch courage - or maybe I'd been drinking too much cider - I said 'OK. I'll sing. But as long as you promise not to tell anyone' Because it was so embarrassing. Charlie reminds me that we're still waiting for the real singer to come. I was just keeping someone's seat warm. [Laughs]

    BS: And when you moved on from there to Johnny And The Self Abusers, it was almost like two bands in the one. Did you think you had a serious chance of doing something? Because, of course, famously when you signed the record deal with Chiswick, which was a pretty happening little indie label in West London at that time, Saints And Sinners was released on the day that the band split up. So why did it never go beyond that?
    JK: The Johnny in Johnny And The Self Abusers was John Milarky, who everyone in Glasgow knows, and was then in the Cuban Heels and a really talented guy. It was his band really - he sort of pulled Charlie and I into it. He knew we were into the same kind of music. By this time we were hitchhiking up and down to London to see Doctors Of Madness and Ultravox and it was just the start of the post-punk - and John had this vision for a band and the same thing - got the gig and then said "It's happening in two weeks' time. Are you in?" And I think we were the first, or the only punks in Scotland - that side of the city. And before we knew it, he'd drafted Charlie and I in. And I have to say, usually when people start a band, and usually when they talk about their first gig, it's terrible because there's two men and a dog there. And it all goes badly. And nobody cares. And you find out the reality and your dreams are shattered - and that's the first gig.
    JK: However, in the case of Johnny And The Self Abusers, you'll remember this, again the hand of fate came in - there was a technicality at the time in Glasgow where there'd been a bit of a riot at The Stranglers gig...
    BS: At the City Halls, yeah.
    JK: And the city fathers had taken it upon themselves - it was a technicality where visiting punk bands had been banned. Well, we weren't visiting. [Laughs] We were from there. And so this Johnny And The Self Abusers - we put our posters up all over the record shops and all that - had our first gig and I thought 'There'll be two men with a dog and some of their pals.' And we turned up - I just wanted to get in the van, it was McGee's van, and drive away, because there was a queue around the block. Because every punk in Glasgow who'd been starved of that kind of vibe, had turned up. From the very first chord, the place went mental - it just went mental as an expression: 'Here it was, punk, local punks.' To say we were bad is an understatement but that didn't' matter.
    JK: I maintain that within that moment - Charlie and I knew the band was a bit of a joke - that wouldn't go anywhere. But there was something in that first minute - we maintain that we looked at each other and went 'Hang on a minute. Imagine you could do this for real.' And so I maintain that the summer, for then on in, was a bit of a learning curve to what would be the real thing - which was Simple Minds coming six months later.
    BS: We're going to talk about that in a few moments time but let's go back to 1979, the band's debut album was a great record called Life In A Day, and this is one of the big singles from it, Simple Minds and the sound of Chelsea Girl:

    Audio: Chelsea Girl

    BS: We were talking just before Chelsea Girl there Jim about you thinking - looking at Charlie and thinking 'This could be serious' but when you sat down with him, in the high flats of Toryglen, and to write songs, which I presume was something neither of the two of you had never done before, there was a bit of the old Lennon & McCartney about it, inasmuch as it was quite literally nose to nose. You would sit at the kitchen table, and he would have his guitar and you would have your notebook and you would try and come up with something. How did it work?
    JK: Well it was very much like that. And to add to it, we had no recording equipment. This was before the Walkman. And we didn't have the money for a reel-to-reel tape and all that stuff. So we would sit on the couch at my Mum and Dad's house - in Charlie's room, his brothers had guitars so we'd go over there - really depending on when the houses were quiet. Charlie would have a few chords and I was 'What about this bit? And what about this bit? Maybe if that middle bit was the start bit?' We didn't know what a bridge was, we'd hardly know what a verse and chorus was, we had no teaching of any sort, there was no mentors.
    JK: Then we'd go back to it two days later. And we would have an argument. Because we couldn't remember what bit was what bit. Somehow, we managed to get these songs, one by one, that excited us. Really to this day, that's the only thing you can go on. Because music's subjective. Nobody knows. You think you know.
    JK: That was really the genesis of our song writing partnership. Which I have to say, pretty soon afterwards, Act Of Love which I guess you'll come up to, I think was about the third or fourth song we wrote. It's time to confess - people would say to me 'At what point did you think Simple Minds had a chance of going beyond just being a local band?' I always used to say 'We didn't think like that. It was just the next gig and all that stuff.' But with Act Of Love, and the riff in Act Of Love, when Charlie came up with that, I remember thinking 'Well, if Charlie can come up with this stuff then maybe there's a chance.' So I guess people talk about football players, they see a young kid, and you say 'It's there already. It's already there at that age.' And I would say, in the case of Charlie Burchill, it was just there.

    BS: Things happened very quickly. You released Johnny And The Self Abusers' Saints And Sinners in November of '77, split up that day, and then on the 17th January 1978, you get your big real break when you were part of a four band bill - a punk rock show at Satellite City in Glasgow. And top of the bill were Steel Pulse who at that time were in the lower reaches of the charts with a single called Ku Klux Klan. Second on the bill were Rev Volting and the Back Stabbers, who a few years later morphed into James King and the Lone Wolves, first on the bill were a group called The Nu Sonics who went on to become Orange Juice and sandwiched somewhere in the middle was Simple Minds. First of all, how did you get the gig because it must've been a big deal because Satellite City would've been the biggest place you've ever played.
    JK: I remember David Henderson - you know David and Jaine Henderson were a big part of our gang -
    BS: Your sound engineer and your lighting engineer.
    JK: Exactly. [After] Johnny And The Self Abusers, the summer was over. And it was time to get real. And we found ourselves rehearsing in this dilapidated factory in the Gorbals where the guy very kindly let us use the attic to make as much noise - more importantly it was free. And I remember we'd only been in about two weeks. And, by this time, it's possibly the start of December. And David comes in and say "I've got a gig for you. I've got a gig. It's Satellite City on the 17th January" - which was just over a month away. If David hadn't done that, I think there's a lot of people, sometimes they start off, and giving up on doing it for the first time, which is so important. And in our case, to be up there - I remember how much it meant to us. I mean, did I think we were ready? Probably not. But with songs like Pleasantly Disturbed which I still think, arguably, is still one of Simple Minds' greatest songs, and Act Of Love was our opener. It was always important to have ... your first song was really, really important and Act of Love was the first song of the set - because when people don't know your stuff.
    JK: I remember walking on that night. We walked on to the sound of our own footsteps. But Charlie hit that riff. And I could feel the energy in me straight away. And before I knew it, we were off. And although I say we weren't ready, I think we already had something about us. We had a look - all those years going to watch great bands... When I say going to watch great bands people say 'What is a great band? What makes a great band?' You well know, that after three years of going to The Apollo, you could tell the difference between a good live band and a great live band. And if you were a front person, you have to have something a wee bit different from you - I mean years of watching Alex Harvey and Steve Harley and Bryan Ferry and all of that. You had to have an attitude and you had to have a sound. I think we already had that, under our belt from our first gig. And fortunately, people responded to it.
    BS: Now you opened the show with Act Of Love. It was one of a six song set that you played. And you weren't very punk rock. You were more art rock than punk rock than anything else. And shortly afterwards, a few months later, you found yourselves in Ca Va studios in the basement of St. Vincent Street, Glasgow, and you actually recorded some of your first ever demos. We've actually got the Act Of Love demo and I'm going to let you hear a little of it.

    Audio: Act Of Love [Demo] [Excerpt]

    BS: What was going through your mind? Because 18 months earlier you hadn't been anywhere near a recording studio. And you're suddenly in a proper place with proper equipment, there's an engineer through the glass, and you're essentially making a record. So when you hear that early recording of Act Of Love, what goes through your mind?
    JK: Well, a lot of the things you say summon up the excitement of that. Here you are in these hallowed places: In a recording studio. Again, we'd never met anyone who'd been in a recording studio. And there we were, not only with the clock ticking, I think we had two hours, maybe three hours. I mean, most of us were on the dole so I think my Dad gave us some money, Brian McGee's Dad put up money - so all of that's great, but on the other hand you think 'This is it.' So it's your O-levels, it's your Highers, it's your driving test. It's everything at the one time. Because coming out of there - in your hand with a cassette that's... Again with David Henderson, we hitch hiked to London, and went round dropping the cassettes off. And everything that's happened in our life is a result of what happened in that day, in that moment, in the track you just played there.
    JK: But for me, listening to it there, I think they already sound great. They sound great. McGee sounds great. Duncan Barnwell ... Maybe it's just me, maybe it's because I'm a big fan of Simple Minds - I dunno - they just sound great. And that's a demo.

    BS: A few months later you were lucky enough to get a record deal with Bruce Findlay's label Zoom that went through Arista. And you find yourself in The Townhouse in London, which is a real proper studio, you're there with a named producer John Leckie. And you start working on songs for what became Life In A Day. Why did Act of Love not make it on the album? Did it fall through the cracks or did you just think at that time you had better songs and it was just pushed aside.
    JK: I think that's exactly what happened. It was our opening song - it was our big attitude song. It always went down well live. You made a statement with it. But I think we started being so prolific that every time a new song came up, well another song would get shunted to the side. 'We'll look at it later'.' And quite often that happens. And you always think 'I'll go back - we can always go back to it - that's a great riff' and invariably you don't. But, finally, we had the opportunity to do so.
    BS: Well, let's hear it now. Released on Monday to celebrate the 44th anniversary of that now legendary gig, on the 17th January 1978, at Satellite City in Glasgow, here's Simple Minds with their brand new 2022 version of Act of Love.

    Audio: Act of Love

    BS: Things really took off very quickly in 78 going into 1979, you're recording an album, you're going out on tour, you played the Apollo - I remember you playing the Apollo one night - I was there - with Siouxsie And The Banshees with Spizzoil and then I think - I'm correct in saying - you put the gear in the van and went to another gig in Falkirk - is that right? JK: In Edinburgh we opened for The Pleasers - they were hot to trot at the time, front cover of the NME and such. But within a few months of signing to Arista Records, we found ourselves on The Old Grey Whistle Test - the iconic, legendary music show that we had sat - as I mentioned earlier - and watched all these amazing people. And there we were under that iconic sign, still not having played a gig outside of Scotland. Our gigs were still in Alloa, Arbroath, Stonehaven, Aberdeen, Falkirk, Stirling.
    BS: And you played with Generation X sometime didn't you?
    JK: We played with Generation X in - we opened for Generation X in Falkirk[3]. And I remember, they were the most glamourous thing I'd ever seen. We stood with duffle coats on, watching them getting off the bus. I mean, Billy Idol, he just looked like a Greek God. It took us about ten minutes to blow them off stage, it just ... they weren't very good.
    JK: You and I'll have an argument now [Laughs]
    BS: We'll be arguing into next week. It'll go on for hours and hours. But it happened very quickly for you. And you get to the 1st April - April Fool's Day - that's got to be prophetic, in 1979, and you release Life In A Day and it's got the title track on it. And it's got Someone which we played at the start of the program. And it's got Chelsea Girl, it's got Wasteland on it. And a whole load of other great tracks. But it almost seemed very unusual that within three or four months, you were releasing another album, in September of 1979, Real To Real Cacophony. Did you think at the moment the record came out, you'd already almost outgrown Life In A Day.
    JK: I can tell you the story on that. When we were making Life In A Day: on one hand it was really exciting - you mentioned earlier being in these amazing studios and all the equipment and hearing your sound coming out of this - this beautifully produced sound - and John Leckie, famous producer, all that was great; but I had this inkling - there was something about it I didn't like - and I couldn't articulate it. I just didn't know what it was. But everyone was coming down and saying 'It sounds good. Cheslea Girl sounded good.' And it did sound good in a way. But it just didn't - Simple Minds also had a darker side, Simple Minds also had an art rock side - I think, for me, it pushed too much the pop side. You could see why people would want to do that. But I couldn't articulate it until we'd finished the album, we'd mixed it, we were getting in the van to drive back up to Glasgow, and somebody said 'Have a listen to this on the way up. You'll like this.' And it was Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures. And I just thought 'Awww, Jees. We've blown it.' It was raw, it sounded like it was done for a fiver [laughs] - well, it was done in Stockport Studios or something. And some of it reminded me of some of the demo recordings we'd done, or some of the vibes we'd created live.
    JK: So I got back after listening to Joy Division and thinking 'We're so not happening. This is what it should be.' It reminded me of our earlier recordings and some of the vibes we'd created live. And I just felt our debut had been over-produced: it was too shiny, too glossy, too well-done, too poppy - they said there's no way they're going to ditch the album, you're crazy, you'll have to go on and write your next one and perhaps bring out all these other dimensions that you're talking about. And, so as you say, within six months, we had Real To Real and that started to establish us as, not just being a mainstream fodder.

    BS: We're going to be seeing you very, very soon because after a long, long period you're going to finally be playing, with a lot of luck, fingers crossed in Scotland. Looking forward to being back on stage in Scotland again?
    JK: Absolutely. I mean we're just looking forward to playing of course. Let's go back to the start of the interview, about how much it means, if you'd asked us, when we made our debut that day, if you'd said to us then 'What's your hopes? What's your dreams for this? What's your desires?' We didn't know about record sales then, we didn't know about the riches, we didn't know about the rewards. But I think we would've said to you, 'we want to be in a great live band. We want to take it around the world. And, [laughs] we want to try and get a lifetime out of it.' I'm sure - I don't think we would've been able to come up with the third, but I'm sure it would've been in the back of our mind and the fact that, thanks to our fans, people like yourself who's supported us throughout, all that has come to pass.

    BS: Well, forty-four years and counting. I'm sure there's a few more years left in Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill. We're going to finish, Jim, with a song and all that you were saying, that you thought Life In A Day was the more poppy side of Simple Minds, you walk on stage on the 17th January 1978 at Satellite City in Glasgow, there's three to four hundred punks there, they just want to hear punk rock. Charlie's got a violin and a Flying-V guitar and you play an eight-minute long song called Pleasantly Disturbed.
    JK: [Laughs]
    BS: Now if that wasn't taking a chance, I don't know what was. I mean, it was a very adventurous song not only for your record but your first ever gig. Where did it come from?
    JK: Well, you know, he's a good friend of yours now, but Steve Harley was a huge influence on Simple Minds. And songs like Sebastian and some of his epics - I have to think although we could never play like Cockney Rebel, we never had that kind of talent - but somewhere within the epic-ness in some of his songs and the drama. Unfortunately, just at that time, Glasgow was a bit on its knees, and drugs, and all that, that had become an everyday norm now. It was just kind of starting then and the tragedy of it and we pulled Pleasantly Disturbed out of that.
    BS: Let's hear it now then. We'll see you very, very soon. And thank you very much indeed for joining us on the programme. Don't forget Act Of Love, the brand new single from Simple Minds was released on Monday. And let's go back to 2012 the 5x5 Live box-set and this is a brilliant version of Pleasantly Disturbed.
    BS: Thanks very much Jim.
    JK: Thank you.

    Audio: Pleasantly Disturbed [Live]

    Billy Sloan Show
    BBC Radio Scotland
    22nd January 2022

    [1]: Surely, the first Simple Minds song Billy heard was Act Of Love which opened the show at Satellite City?
    [2]: I believe the last interview Jim had was with Todd Richards in September 2020. Which matches up with the 18 months quoted.
    [3]: Can't confirm a gig at Falkirk. Generation X yes, but at the Astoria in Edinburgh on the 10th August 1978. And, Johnny And The Self Abusers also supported Generation X at The Pantile Hotel in East Lothian on the 19th August 1977.


    A New History of Simple Minds

    Graeme Thomson

    27th January 2022 - hardback/eBook - £20.00

    New Light On Old Ground

    "This book will not endeavour to tell the entire story of Simple Minds, an epic tale spanning more than four decades. It is foremost the story of a band becoming a band, celebrating the work they made while still finding out what they were capable of. It covers a period of transition that lasted several years, a time of constant change and almost continuous playing. Within that, naturally, resonances travel and reassert themselves. There is much here, I hope, that is relevant to the Simple Minds of today, to their journey to a still-evolving present, and the music and creative choices they continue to make. I hope these pages facilitate a wider understanding and appreciation of a band that has rarely settled into being merely one thing."
    Graeme Thomson sets out his objectives and scope in the prelude of Themes For Great Cities: A New History Of Simple Minds. But he could've simply replaced it with one stark assertion: that a new serious biography was long overdue, and he was going to deliver it. A stalwart of noted musical biographies, including Kate Bush and George Harrison, Thomson's name would've been familiar to readers of The Spectator, The Guardian and Uncut; and for the latter, he took on the recording of Promised You A Miracle, part of the promotional gossip around Celebrate: The Greatest Hits +. Therefore, he was exceptionally qualified for the role.

    It's a substantial book, weighing in at around 350 pages, almost double the size of the previous contenders to the band's biographical crown. These two main references, namely Alfred Bos' The Race Is The Prize (1984) and Adam Sweeting's Simple Minds (1988), were penned decades ago. Both rode the meteoric rise of Simple Minds' popularity in the mid-1980s; and both were constrained by the (then) short duration of the band's existence. Yet, at the turn of that decade, and - as it turned out - the turn of the band's fortunes, the serious biographical contenders dried up. Thomson's new biography is the first in the last three decades and he has the advantage of the group's lengthy longevity, and the relatively new reappraisal of their early works, to fall back upon. Early Simple Minds is hip again; thanks to a new wave of musical devotees and Simple Minds themselves embracing their early catalogue. It was time to look back.

    Kerr sets the stage in a conversation with Thomson: "The Simple Minds story has been too condensed. After Live Aid and Don't You (Forget About Me) there hasn't been quite the credit for those first few records. I think they contain some really special music. I can hear the flaws but there's something about the spirit and imagination in them that feels good. They draw upon such a wide range of influences ... but the spirit of it was always Simple Minds." And so Kerr sets the scope of the book: the first few records, spread across three hundred pages, given a chance to breathe again.

    It's a fast ride through the band's initial eight years, first describing Kerr and Burchill's forays onto stage (as the sketchy and previously undocumented Biba-Rom!) to the globe-trotting stadium tour of Once Upon A Time. Ian Rankin, quoted on the dust cover, describes the book as "Thrilling" - an odd adjective to use for a band biography, but perfectly apt. Thomson's prose never lets up and he has made the band's journey thrilling and exciting - the book does deserve the well-worn epithets of 'page turner' and 'couldn't put it down.' Even those who know the story will find a new sense of urgency within the writing.

    The narrative perfectly hits the right tone, adding colour to Sweeting's straight prose and culling the unnecessary digressions of Bos. The breathless retelling of the band's history is punctuated by guest chapters, where other luminaries such as Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), James Dean Bradfield (The Manic Street Preachers) and Iain Cook (Chvrches) wax lyrical about the band's earlier records shaping their work and careers; whilst Malcolm Garret flips through the artwork and expands on his classic sleeve designs.

    The narrative is also interrupted by two sets of colour pictures. These are mostly completely new: either candid shots from band members, hired hands and producers; or from unused and rejected photo sessions. There's little of the glossy PR that fans will know well and even die-hards will be surprised at some of the hitherto unpublished images. Even the familiar photo opportunity on the freezing Renfrew ferry for the Waterfront video offers a new perspective with a shot of the crew in front of the band.

    The question for the devoted fan is whether Thomson steps in Bos' and Sweeting's footsteps or dramatically takes his own course. Sweeting's unofficial Simple Minds, published in the post-euphoric fall-out from Live In The City Of Light, became the definitive guide; a steady-as-she-goes foray through the band's history, not accustomed to the flights of fancy indulged by Bos's often baffling official biography. Thomson charts a steady course between these extremes and picks up enough additional flotsam and jetsam to embellish the narrative, or in some circumstances, rewrite it afresh.

    But there is a problem. Bos and Sweeting were not dealing with a span of four decades, grappling with a potential, hefty volume, so could fit the band's history within their slimline books Thomson's solution was to limit the scope, focus on the bare necessities, the adventures of five working class lads from Glasgow who took on the world and succeeded. Yet his jumping off point seems arbitrary, abandoning the band after the worldwide domination of Once Upon A Time, with the live album reduced to a mere couple of lines. Although he left them at the height of their success, it feels that he jumped too soon.

    Perhaps the place to stop would've been when the collaborative unit, the seeds which produced those early influential and ground-breaking albums, actually collapsed, revealing just Kerr and Burchill in the dust. An extra chapter to examine Street Fighting Years, the further erosion of the band, and the departure of MacNeil has he literally drove into the sunrise after the tour, would've sealed the deal and concluded with a more satisfying 'End Of Part One.'

    There's very little here for those wanting the history of Simple Minds over the last three decades: a postscript picks up the story with 5X5 Live and mentions Big Music and Walk Between Worlds - but it's almost as if Simple Minds didn't exist been 1990 and 2010.

    There's more than enough new material to make this book indispensable for the die-hard fan. As an early history of Simple Minds during their first decade then it's now the authoritative, definitive guide. I hope there are plans to continue the story into the 1990s but until then, Thomson's biography has shed new light on this old, much traversed ground. What is needed now is the demystification of the 1990s and beyond.

    Simon Cornwell 2022

    The forthcoming Themes For Great Cities by Graeme Thomson gets the full-page review treatment in the latest Mojo (March 2022, #340). Under the title Urban Legends, Tom Doyle reviews the lastest biography, giving it an enthusiastic thumbs-up with 4/5, along with a brief description, and three facts pulled from the pages under 'What We've Learnt.' (Apparently The Cocteau Twins naming themselves after that song wasn't such common knowledge after all).

    I've also got a review copy and will be posting my thoughts soon.

    And - a first for Simple Minds - was a lyric video for the new single. This took its cues from the single's artwork, having the look of a lo-tech animated punk fanzine.

    Plus Act Of Love also received its first radio play, with Steve Wright exclusively playing the song on BBC Radio Two that afternoon.

    "My special guest on this week's show is Jim Kerr of Simple Minds who joins me to talk about his band's great new single, Act Of Love."

    "It was released on Monday which marked the 44th anniversary of their first ever gig at Satellite City disco in Glasgow on January 17, 1978."

    "Jim talks about his early days in punk band, Johnny and the Self Abusers, before going on to form the Minds with guitarist Charlie Burchill."

    "And he looks back at those early days playing in venues like The Mars Bar, supporting Siouxsie And The Banshees and Generation X with Billy Idol before recording their classic debut album Life In A Day."

    "So join me - in conversation with Jim Kerr - on BBC Radio Scotland this Saturday (22nd January) at 10pm."

    Billy Sloan


    "If you're going to dream... You might as well dream big. Dream impossible dreams even!"

    As always, I enjoyed talking to journalist/radio presenter Billy Sloan. Few know our story as much as Billy does. He was there at our first ever gig - and I've no doubt he'll be there again this year when we get back out on tour.

    Coinciding with the 44th anniversary of Simple Minds' debut gig, we reminisced about events leading up that night, as well as the formative days of Simple Minds. Discussed also the progress with the recording of our next album, as well as the desire to revamp/rewrite Act Of Love - released earlier this week.

    For all this and more, check out Billy Sloan on BBC Radio Scotland this Saturday (22nd January) at 10PM UK - Jim, 20th January 2022


    'Act Of Love'
    New single released January 17

    The year is 2022. The year is 1978.

    On January 17, Simple Minds release Act Of Love as a one-off single to mark the anniversary of the band's very first performance - at Glasgow's Satellite City on January 17, 1978.

    Mixed by Alan Moulder (Suede, Arctic Monkeys, The Killers), Act Of Love is a vivid reimagining of one of the first songs Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill wrote together. It speaks of where Simple Minds have been and where they are heading. Honouring the youthful passion and belief which sparked the band into life, it pulses with the desire which continues to drive Kerr and Burchill to create thrilling new music.

    The track is an act of time travel, sweeping across four decades in just a few exhilarating minutes.

    Jim Kerr explains: 'Over the years people have asked: When did you think Simple Minds had the potential to make it? My stock answer was always, Oh, we didn't really think about that. But I realise now that I wasn't telling the truth. I believed we had something special as soon as I heard Charlie play the riff on Act Of Love.'

    Act Of Love is synonymous with the beginning of the Simple Minds story. It was the first song played at the Satellite City show in January 1978, and the opening track on the demo tape that won the band a record deal later that year. 'I always loved the song,' says Kerr. 'To all intents and purposes, it was the first thing anyone heard of Simple Minds. It became our rallying cry, our banner.'

    As Simple Minds established themselves as the hottest property on the Scottish post-punk scene, Act Of Love became a live favourite. 'We believed in it, but would anyone else?' says Kerr. 'It was so great when they did. It was the oxygen we needed to continue.'

    Life moved fast back then. By the time Simple Minds recorded their debut album, Life In A Day, early in 1979, the song had 'disappeared into the mist' without ever being properly recorded. 'Through the years, I always wanted to go back to it,' says Kerr. In 1980 the singer recycled the title phrase as the opening line to Celebrate, the electro-blues juggernaut from Simple Minds' extraordinary third album, Empires And Dance. Meanwhile, bootlegs of the 1978 demos ensured that Act Of Love was treasured among diehard fans.

    Four decades, numerous hit singles and 60m record sales later, Kerr and Burchill have finally returned to the song. A couple of years ago, while Burchill was in Thailand on a busman's holiday, he sent Kerr the outline of an updated version of the track. 'It was Act Of Love with a new bit, and it sounded great.'

    While recording the next Simple Minds album in Hamburg during 2020 and 2021, the follow up to 2018's acclaimed Walk Between Worlds, periodically they returned to Act Of Love. 'We tinkered around with it,' says Kerr. 'When we listened to the original demo, we loved its spirit and its general form, but it sounded like a youth club band song. How could we do that now, adding extra pieces without losing the essence?'

    Act Of Love takes the 1978 version to new places. The original rattled along with the youthful energy one would expect from fans of The Velvet Underground, Magazine and Roxy Music. In 2022, the killer riff and chorus melody remain, bolstered by pulsing synths and a surging new section in which Kerr sings poignantly to his younger self: 'A born believer / Head full of plans / Got nothing to lose / So much to reveal.'

    'I was thinking about the excitement of what we were setting out to do. We would rehearse in the afternoon in a derelict building in the Gorbals and I'd walk past Govanhill Library, thinking about the idea of the muse: a voice within that will appear and provide inspiration. That's what the song was about originally. Now I'm looking back, reflecting on how the belief was real. When Charlie played that riff, it made me think we could do this. From that belief becomes your attitude, your body language, the whole culture of the band.'

    A bridge between Simple Minds' glittering past and still-evolving future, Act Of Love is a reassertion of faith. The song has again become a 'rallying cry', this time for fans who have waited two years for the group to re-commence their world tour. Curtailed in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, it is due to start again in the spring.

    'What a thing: merging the very first Simple Minds song and where we are now,' says Kerr. 'There's a story there. I think we've managed to tell it well.'

    Act Of Love is released via BMG on January 17

    Simple Minds 2022 UK Tour Dates

    31 MarchThe SSE Arena Wembley, London
    01 April International Centre, Bournemouth
    03 April Brighton Centre
    05 April P&J Live, Aberdeen
    06 April OVO Hydro, Glasgow
    07 April Resorts World Arena, Birmingham
    09 April First Direct Arena, Leeds
    10 April Utilita Arena, Newcastle
    12 April Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
    14 April Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
    15 April Bonus Arena, Hull
    16 April M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool
    18 June Nocturne Live, Blenheim Palace
    09 August Custon House Square, Belfast
    12 August Summer Sessions, Edinburgh
    13 August Summer Sessions, Edinburgh

    JK: However, we'd written these songs, one of which was called Pleasantly Disturbed which - and I can say this, because I'm talking musically more than lyrically so I'm not being big headed - but I thought it was a master piece that Charlie had written. He'd really come up with something there. So I knew we had a great end to the set but I wasn't quite sure about the 25 minutes previously. However, a couple of days before the gig, Charlie came up with this riff for a song called Act Of Love and just hearing it coming out of the amplifier for the first time, I just thought "I think we're going to be OK here. I think this is going to work." But it's not until you walk on stage, to the sound of your own feet, and welcomed with two hand claps...

    Interview with Billy Sloan
    BBC Radio Scotland
    2nd November 2019

    'Over the years people have asked: When did you think Simple Minds had the potential to make it? My stock answer was always, Oh, we didn't really think about that. But I realise now that I wasn't telling the truth. I believed we had something special as soon as I heard Charlie play the riff on Act Of Love.' - Jim.

    Act Of Love was one of the first songs written for the first post-Abusers line-up of Simple Minds. It was written by Charlie's in early January 1978, a couple of days before the band's first gig at Satellite City. It was completely dominated by one of Charlie's distinctive guitar riffs, which drove the entire song, and underpinned the verses and its limited choruses. It opened their first gig at Satellite City, therefore becoming the first ever song played by the fledgling group.

    Unfortunately no recordings of Act Of Love by the all-guitar early line-up of Simple Minds exist. By the time it was demoed in May 1978, both Mick MacNeil and Derek Forbes had joined the group, adding their own signature parts to the track's basic sound. Their limited time with the band showed, particularly with MacNeil's arrangement, which was just a staccato single-note for the versus, and a straightforward follow of the melody for the choruses.

    The unofficial recording from the Mars Bar in July 1978 revealed how much the song had evolved. Not only were MacNeil and Forbes filling out its simplistic structure with more elaborate lines, but a police siren was added to parts of the song, adding to its urgent, hurried progression. Whether this was prompted by, or prompted, the use of a blue police light in a translucent head which spun around as an early, primitive light show is unknown.

    The song's gradual relegation through the set-list during the rest of 1978 suggested it was slowly falling from grace. From pole-position in January 1978, it had dropped back to mid-set by July 1978, and had disappeared from the ranks altogether by the winter. By the time of the recording of Life In A Day, it was either forgotten or dropped. Tape box logs from the album sessions reveal that Act Of Love was never officially recorded.

    It was formally officially released on the The Early Years 1977-78 CD in March 1998. Questions over legalities, especially the financing of demo tape, saw the CD being swiftly withdrawn.

    It wasn't entirely forgotten however. One possibly extremely oblique reference was found in the run-out groove of Lostboy's debut album where an extremely knowledgeable engineer wrote 'ACT OF LOVE' in the run-out. Alternatively, it could've been a nod to the first line of Celebrate. But given Lostboy's reference to early Simple Minds, especially by covering such rarities as Someone and New Warm Skin, then the etching was probably a homage to this song.

    And Jim, probably searching as far back as possible, namechecked Act of Love in a Walk Between Worlds interview, suggesting it had early potential and could be reworked and recorded in the future. This was in response to some criticism of using ideas and shelved demos from older albums for new releases - in doing so, Jim probably picked the oldest bona-fide Simple Minds song he could think of.

    "Two nights ago Charlie and I were coming back from a radio interview we did in London. In the car, we started talking about the first gig we ever did which was forty years ago last week. And we spoke about a song we opened the set with. It was a song called, Act Of Love - it never made it onto an album. But a light bulb went on in our heads, and we thought "That was an amazing riff. We should go back to that." And we really can't wait to go back to it. That song could be the record breaker that could turn up forty-two years later on an album if we sort it out. You're right some songs do have a long gestation period, but that doesn't mean that they are old songs - it just means that they are works in progress."

    Jim Kerr interviewed by Mark Millar
    31st January 2018

    One of the ideas for memorabilia to be included with the Heart Of The Crowd book was a one-sided 7" featuring a newly recorded version of the song. Unfortunately the concept was dropped; either it was rejected out-of-hand or the COVID-19 pandemic made it too logistically difficult to record.

    But the genie was out of the bottle, and the long-forgotten song, which Jim had always wanted to return to, wouldn't leave them alone. While recording the next Simple Minds album in Hamburg during 2020 and 2021, they periodically returned to the song. 'We tinkered around with it,' says Jim. 'When we listened to the original demo, we loved its spirit and its general form, but it sounded like a youth club band song. How could we do that now, adding extra pieces without losing the essence?'

    It was finally nailed by Charlie on a holiday in Thailand. He sent Jim the outline of an updated version of the track. 'It was Act Of Love with a new bit, and it sounded great.' It was recorded during the album sessions in Hamburg in November 2021 and released in January 2022 as the band's first post-COVID single, and promotion for the resumption of the 40: Best Of tour.

    A new live music initiative is coming to BBC Radio 2 in February with the launch of Piano Room Month.

    Twenty artists will perform accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra live from London's BBC Maida Vale studios. The gigs will be broadcast live in Ken Bruce's Radio 2 show from Monday 31st January to Friday 25th February.

    Each artist will perform three tracks - a new song, a classic, and a cover - with members of the BBC Concert Orchestra accompanying alongside them.

    Following the live shows, each performance will be available to watch live on BBC iPlayer then on demand from 6pm that day and available for 30 days afterwards.

    In addition to the live broadcasts, an hour-long special will be broadcast on Radio 2 each Sunday (7-8pm) featuring highlights from the previous week's performances (Sunday 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th February).

    Jeff Smith, Radio 2's Head of Music, said: "At Radio 2 we pride ourselves on providing our music-loving listeners with the widest range of songs and live music to be heard anywhere on UK radio.

    "We worked hard to offer incredible performances to our audience throughout the past two years, and I'm thrilled to bring 20 live sessions to each of Ken's weekday shows next month.

    "I'd like to thank all of the artists, most of whom will be performing their first live session of 2022, as well as the BBC Concert Orchestra, who have been busy rehearsing a vast range of different songs. Tune in live, watch them all on BBC iPlayer or listen on BBC Sounds."

    Ken Bruce said: "I predict cold, rain and possibly even a smattering of snow this February, so what better remedy than to sit back with a warm brew and join me and some of the finest musicians in the world for Radio 2's Piano Room Month."

    The artists performing are:

    Monday 31st January: David Gray
    Tuesday 1st February: Jack Savoretti
    Wednesday 2nd February: Stereophonics
    Thursday 3rd February: Anne-Marie
    Friday 4th February: Katie Melua
    Monday 7th February: Clean Bandit
    Tuesday 8th February: Joy Crookes
    Wednesday 9th February: Will Young - performing on the anniversary of him winning Pop Idol in 2002
    Thursday 10th February: Rebecca Ferguson
    Friday 11st February: Tom Odell
    Monday 14th February: James Morrison
    Tuesday 15th February: Ella Henderson
    Wednesday 16th February: Craig David
    Thursday 17th February: Natalie Imbruglia
    Friday 18th February: James Blunt
    Monday 21st February: Tears For Fears
    Tuesday 22nd February: Simple Minds
    Wednesday 23rd February: Emeli Sande
    Thursday 24th February: Jamie Cullum (pre-recorded)
    Friday 25th February: Ed Sheeran (pre-recorded)

    Bill Chandler, Director BBC Concert Orchestra, says: "The BBC Concert Orchestra takes great pride in its Radio 2 home and is excited to collaborate with such a range of world-class musicians for its Piano Room Month.

    "As the UK's most versatile orchestra, we're thrilled to help bring these extra-special live performances to audiences across the month of February."

    Given the ongoing situation with Covid, please note that artists are subject to change at short notice.


    A New History of Simple Minds

    Graeme Thomson

    27th January 2022 - hardback/eBook - £20.00

    "Graeme Thomson's will be the definitive biography of this most mercurial of bands. Thomson knows how to take it apart - without demystifying the mystery, he gives us the art school band that never had an art school, but went instead on an endless adventure and took a bit of all of us with them." - Alan Warner

    "They did wonders." - Bobby Gillespie

    An illuminating new biography of one of Britain's biggest and most influential bands, written with the full input and cooperation of Simple Minds, shedding new light on their dazzling art-rock legacy.

    Emerging in 1978 from Glasgow's post-punk scene, Simple Minds transitioned from restless art-rock to electro Futurism, mutated into passionate pop contenders and, finally, a global rock behemoth. They have sold in the region of 60 million records and remain a worldwide phenomenon. The drama of their tale lies in these transformations and triumphs, conflicts and contradictions.

    Themes For Great Cities features in-depth new interviews with original band members Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Mick MacNeil and Derek Forbes, alongside key figures from within their creative community and high-profile fans such as Bobby Gillespie, James Dean Bradfield and Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite. The book reclaims and revivifies the magnificence of Simple Minds' pioneering early albums, from the glitchy Euro-ambience of Real To Real Cacophony and Empires And Dance to the pulsing, agitated romance of Sons And Fascination, New Gold Dream and beyond.

    Themes For Great Cities tells the inside story of a band becoming a band. Inspiring, insightful and enlightening, it celebrates the trailblazing music of one of Brtain's greatest groups.

    Graeme Thomson is the author of several acclaimed music books, including Under The Ivy: The Life & Music of Kate Bush, described by The Irish Times as 'the best music biography in perhaps the past decade', and Cowboy Song, the authorised biography of Philip Lynott, published by Constable in 2016. In 2020, Small Hours: The Long Night of John Martyn was a Book of the Year in the Sunday Times, Financial Times, Telegraph, Evening Standard and MOJO. Graeme is pop columnist for the Spectator and writes on music, literature and popular culture for a number of publications, including the Guardian, Radio Times, Uncut and Pitchfork.

    On the subject of press releases, I've now uploaded press releases for the Empires And Dance era. This includes three press releases for the album along with a press release for I Travel.

    They've revealed new details about these releases which I've yet to add to the discography.

    Namely the tour with Peter Gabriel brought the release date of Empires And Dance back to the 12th September, with Arista offering the first 10,000 copies at £3.99 as an extra incentive. (Which explains the stickers on some copies of the album).

    Also that I Travel was issued to promote the UK leg of the tour. This means it was released in October 1980, not September 1980, as published in previous discographies. This is confirmed by the Universal Tape Library as masters were not prepared for its release until the start of September - with a month's lead time.

    The discography will be updated with this new information when I next update.

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