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Neon Lights album
Quite Great Publicity
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Simple Minds
Neon Lights

"It certainly wasn't easy when we looked at the prospect of doing a cover version album. There have been so many great songs, so many different sounds, so many artists and acts that have influenced our band. We tried to hone it down to the key acts involved, and you could say that Simple Minds came out on a basis of listening to David Bowie, Roxy Music, Peter Gabriel and of course, Lou Reed. On top of that there was always Patti Smith, The Doors and Neil Young as well.

In this collection we have tried to stay faithful to the sentiment of the original songs, but of course we have tried to bring our own heart to the songs. It is never easy to do cover versions. In some ways you are on to a hiding to nothing because the very fact that you're choosing these songs means that you believe that the originals are great in themselves. However, real fans of Simple Minds who want to discover the genesis of our sound, want to hear what we were listening to as fans and understand the excitement that propelled us to make our sound and write our own songs, can trace it all on this album."

Jim Kerr, 2001

Track by Track Synopsis

The album kicks off with the track Gloria, written, of course, by Van Morrison (the Belfast Child himself). It's an absolute classic that has been covered by many rock bands around the world. Simple Minds have played this song live on many occasions sending the crowd wild.[1] The Neon Lights version is an almost futuristic interpretation.

David Bowie's influences cast a long shadow over many bands. It so happens that even the name Simple Minds comes from a Bowie song (Jean Genie). Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill first came across Bowie around 1972. His charisma, his songs and the atmosphere of the show were what inspired Simple Minds to write songs of their own, so it goes without saying that the bands version of The Man Who Sold The World stays pretty close to the original.

Homosapien, written by Pete Shelly of The Buzzcocks, is one of the more obscure songs to appear on Neon Lights, but Jim Kerr always loved this song. "People who knew (the track) would often quote it as being in their Top 5 ever songs, but it was an obscure record at the time. I don't know if there was a chart position but it's a bit of a cult classic, not one of the obvious choices."

The plethora of bands that emerged from New York in the late 70's also had a huge influence. Television, The Ramones, The New York Dolls and Talking Heads all made a big impact, but Patti Smith stood head and shoulders above them all. The song, Dancing Barefoot, was originally produced by Todd Rundgren (another influence on the Simple Minds sound), and has been incorporated into the bands live set on many occasions, receiving a fantastic audience reaction as soon as the initial chords were played.[2]

Those who have followed Simple Minds from the very beginning know that the band initially had a much more electronic foundation and the bands earliest influences were from the German "Kraut Rock" music scene. Although described by many as being 'cold' music, Jim Kerr always felt that Kraftwerk's music had a warm human side and great emotional content, particularly the song Neon Lights, which appears as the title track on this album.

When discussing Simple Minds musical style, in particularly Jim Kerr's own style of singing, you can never ignore the influence of Jim Morrison and The Doors. As one of Jim Kerr's favourite bands, there is rarely a week that goes by when he doesn't listen to The Doors. As one of The Doors better known songs, Hello, I Love You is included as the bands tribute to them.

With an album of this sort, Simple Minds felt it was extremely important to acknowledge a few of their 80's and 90's contemporaries. U2,The Cure and Depeche Mode naturally spring to mind, but another band that fell very much into this category was Echo And The Bunnymen. The song Simple Minds eventually chose was one of their biggest hits, Bring On The Dancing Horses.

The original version of Neil Young's classic Needle And The Damage Done was quite a short ballad and so has been reworked, adding an extra element of drama to the song by highlighting the songs powerful lyrical content.

Possibly the most predominant influence on Simple Minds (in terms of the sound of the guitars, the synthesisers and melodies) were Roxy Music. The band chose to cover one of their darker, more ambient tracks. For Your Pleasure turned out to be one of the most challenging, yet most enjoyable tracks to record during the Neon Lights sessions.

Three chords and fantastic street lyrics by Lou Reed and John Cale: All Tomorrows Parties is a song that true The Velvet Underground fans will recognise as being one of the dark horses of their incredible catalogue. The song itself is about the end of an era, and for this reason alone the band have chosen it to bring Neon Lights to a conclusion.

Quite Great Publicity.

[1] Simple Minds performed Gloria as part of an extended Ghostdancing during the Street Fighting Years tour. It was also performed as a one-off during an Italian TV appearance during the Néapolis tour.

[2] To my knowledge, Simple Minds have never performed Dancing Barefoot live.

Pioneer Promotions

Neon Lights the new Simple Minds album is a record the band felt they had to make. These were the songs and artists that have inspired the band throughout their career and the band felt they needed to get back to their roots. As well as the single Dancing Barefoot, originally recorded by Patti Smith, other highlights include covers of The Doors, Kraftwerk, Neil Young, Roxy Music, The Velvet Underground, and David Bowie amongst others.

There will be a new album "proper" released in March 2002.