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act of love

Kerr, Burchill

Copyright Control

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

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.

see also:
Act Of Love (Demo)

The lyrics have never been published.

Demo Version (4:18)
Producer: Lex McEwan and Simple Minds
The Early Years 1977-1978 CD

live history
Simple Minds: 1978