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cocteau twins

Kerr, Burchill

Copyright Control

The Cocteau Twins enjoyed an odd contradictory duality within the Simple Minds' canon: it was both one of their most obscure early songs and simultaneously one of their most well-known.

Musically it was a frantic, bold blast of post-punk, pub-rock which wouldn’t have been out of place in the Abuser's repertoire. Featuring frantic drumming by Brian, furious scale-tripping by Mick and stabbing guitar line by Charlie, the song lurched from its frenzied verses to slower, punctuated choruses where Jim repeatedly emphasised the song's title: "The Cocteau Twins."

The writing of Jean Cocteau heavily influenced Jim during the period 1978/79 and several of the songs of the period were inspired by the author. He'd just read a compilation of Cocteau's works, including Les Enfants Terribles, and he related the protagonists to two flatmates, hence the Cocteau Twins. (The play was also published in English as Children of the Game which became the working title of their debut album and the title of another Simple Minds song.)

A live favourite, often appearing mid-set, it was officially demoed for the band's second demo tape.

When formal recording started for Life In A Day, John Leckie guided the removal of most of the excesses of the song, tidying it up and slowing its manic tempo. Jim also took the opportunity to reshape the lyrics, and all connections with Cocteau were removed in the resultant No Cure.

(Whilst some songs kept their titles during the recording process, and were even logged on the tape boxes with them, the Cocteau Twins was obviously reworked early in the recordings, as the title doesn't appear on any of the tape boxes.)

The Cocteau Twins would've remained an obscure rarity if it wasn't for Liz Frasier, Robin Guthrie and Will Heggie who named their nascent band The Cocteau Twins after hearing the song. Hailing from Grangemouth, the trio would've heard the track at one of Simple Minds' late 1978 shows. (Most probably the show of the 28th December 1978 when Guthrie and Heggie were supporting Simple Minds as The Heat). This would've also been one of the last live performances of the track, as Simple Minds didn't play it after 1978.

The original live version of the song is only available on dodgy, badly recorded cassette bootlegs. Part of the demo was aired on BBC Radio One as part of The Street Fighting Years retrospective, but it wasn't until 1998 that the full demo was officially (and fleetingly) released on The Early Years 1978-78.

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.

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

see also:
Cocteau Twins (Demo)
No Cure

The lyrics have never been published.

Demo Excerpt (1:35)
Producer: Lex McEwan and Simple Minds

Street Fighting Years Limited Edition MC Box Set Street Fighting Years Limited Edition CD Box Set

Demo (3:51)
Producer: Lex McEwan and Simple Minds

The Early Years 1977-1978 CD

live history
Simple Minds: 1978