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pleasantly disturbed

Composers: Kerr / Burchill
Authors: Kerr / Burchill

© EMI Music Publishing Limited: (1979 - 2007)
© JKMC-Bucks Music Group Ltd / Hornall Music: (2008 - 2014)
© BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd: (2015 -)

"It has suddenly got chilly in Glasgow, and thereís plenty of frost around outside right now. It was not the weather that caused some sort of pleasurable shiver within me last night however."

"No. That was all to do with the realisation that the crawling end of day traffic, had caused me to pause for a couple of minutes directly outside the very space were Simple Minds had gathered for one of our very first rehearsals. Precisely on this same week 40 years ago."

"There were always 7 in the room back in those days. The original Simple Minds of course. Meaning that apart from Charlie and I, Brian McGee, Tony Donald and Duncan Barnwell were present. As was both David and Jaine Henderson, always ready to help out in whatever way they could."

"Predictably the weather on that day was also heading towards zero, but undoubtedly no matter how cool the temperature was outside on the streets that we walked taking us from Toryglen down to the Gorbals/Oatlands district. It was even colder inside the crumbling rehearsal space that we nonetheless felt so grateful to have at our disposal."

"Situated at the back end of a red brick, factory building. It would have been a handsome structure when it was conceived most probably near the start of last century. However, like much of the Gorbals 40 years ago, it was by then just another crumbling building, hanging on to its last days of use. A relic among the newly constructed tower blacks that were so much a part of own childoods."

"Leaking icy rain and featuring plenty enough broken skylight windows, it of course came without any kind of heating system whatsoever. But! And this is a very big but! It had both a roof and walls, and was secure enough to allow us to store what little equipment that we owned. That meant we had no need to own an expensive van to transport our stuff. And even better in terms of any other kind of finance problems that all start up bands had to endure, the owner Jim Duffy, had ever so generously, gifted us itís use absolutely free of charge. And what a Godsend that was!"

"After all, having recently given up our previous jobs in a bid to gamble our individual futures on becoming a successful rock group, we had not a pot to piss in - between us! (For those who are not entirely familiar with that expression. It means we had no money at all.)"

"I guess reading this, plenty will surmise the I am going out on an edge to describe the bleakness involved in trying to get Simple Minds initiated. They would be wrong though. We were ecstatic with our situation in fact. Because really, all we wanted in the beginning was some free electricity and a space that allowed us to make as much noise as we wanted."

"And as for that noise? The aforementioned shiver I experienced last night really was connected to recalling that day 40 years ago, where within the walls of that freezing room, Charlie Burchill sat on top of his Carlboro amplifier, and began slowly picking out, vibrato style, the hypnotic opening intro to what I still consider the first ever great Simple Minds song."

"A death trip, the soundtrack to an opium dream? Within that evolving song we were writing about heroin just as it was insidiously finding it's way on to the streets of Glasgow."

"Only 18 years old, but we had vision of the shape of things to come. And we also knew even then which way we were heading. We still do!"

8th November 2017

Pleasantly Disturbed, a dark anthem about the spread of heroin through Glasgow, was the first song Jim and Charlie wrote for Simple Minds. It was inspired by performances by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, especially epics like Sebastian. Written in the last cold months of 1977, it was the epic final song played at their first ever gig at Satellite City, Glasgow on the 17th January 1978.

It soon became a staple of their earliest set-lists throughout 1978, the dark anthem which closed the show. So it wasn't surprising that it was also the closing track on their first real demo tape as Simple Minds, cut in May that year, and used to attract record company interest and potential management.

Pleasantly Disturbed, and Chelsea Girl, convinced Arista to sign the band.

The song was formally recorded at Farmyard Studios on the Rolling Stones Mobile on the 28th January 1979. To give the track extra promenance, producer John Leckie pulled out all the stops and arranged for a full orchestra session at Abbey Road the next month, with Haydn Bendall arranging.

"The original version was recorded at Abbey Road in 1979 with a full orchestra playing Charlie's violin parts with a string arrangement by Haydn Bendall."

"My bass runs at the end were echoed by the cello players which made the track so much more grandiose and anthemic. We spent two weeks at Abbey Road - I went on to do six months at Abbey Road with Propaganda. Thank the Gods for The Beatles."

Derek Forbes
June 2016

With all the elements in place, Leckie was now able to mix the final track, and a rough of Pleasantly Disturbed was committed to tape between the 19th and 23rd February 1979. Parts were still missing as some of the Street light backing vocals had yet to be recorded, and the orchestra was mixed in differently at the start of the track. Most interestingly, the orchestra wasn't used for the breaks between the verses with Mick MacNeil playing a different melody for those sections. This suggested that the sessions with the orchestra took place mid-to-late February 1979. Futhermore, some out-takes, collected on a tape dated 27th February 1979, show off the song in its final form, pushing back the orchestrial recordings to mid-Feburary.

When the LP's running order was assembled, Pleasantly Disturbed was chosen as the majestic closer for the first side. (The LP's other lengthy track, Murder Story closed the other side). Although impressive, the newly polished recording (complete with slightly different lyrics from the demo), lost some edge.

However it remained a live favourite, and often closed the main set of their 1979 gigs. Whilst being often paired with Murder Story (the other monolith from Life In A Day), the band played around with the song on stage, often adding Bowie's Memory Of A Free Fesival to the second half of the song. (Interestingly Memory Of A Free Fesival shared a similar structure to Pleasantly Disturbed, being made up of two different parts).

Its live run stopped after the Empires And Dance Tour as newer songs elbowed it out of the set. Pleasantly Disturbed then disappered into obscurity except for a new updated version which was played for the Cash For Kids concerts of 1987, a treat for the home crowd. During these shows, it was uplifted and given a Once Upon A Time vibe, becoming one of the most memoriable versions of the song. Unfortunately it appears these gigs weren't professionally recorded and it can only be heard on bootlegs.

Surprisingly most of the demo was broadcast on BBC Radio One for the The Street Fighting Years documentary in 1989. This gained an official release in December that year, as part of the Street Fighting Years Box. But fans had to wait another ten years before the whole demo eventually turned up on The Early Years 1977-78.

It was then totally forgotten for over a decade until the reissue of expanded versions of their first albums in the X5 boxset. This prompted the 5X5 tour of 2012 and Pleasantly Disturbed was one of the showcases of the set - complete with Charlie picking up a violin for the first time in years. This new, back-to-basics version was released on 5x5 Live the same year, being the first time it gained an official live release.

It eventually disappeared from the set-lists again, apart from one glorious outing, where it was performed at Koko in London on the 7th November 2013 and closed the main part of the set. It's inclusion was a nod to the band's history and that of Virgin Records, who arranged the gig as part of their 40th Anniversary celebrations.

see also:
Pleasantly Disturbed (Demo)

Black lines call out from his face,
Oh his heart beats staccato pace.
She says he's not killing time.
I just don't want him for no friend of mine.
Meanwhile Susan goes out all alone,
So many reasons but they're not all her own.

Bend till you break,
Scream if you must,
Someone's in her room,
Someone she don't trust.

Can you see me? I'm in the lukewarm rain
Try so very hard,
You know I just can't explain.
Think of a colour,
Tell me what you see.
That colour's red,
You can take it from me.

Take it from me.
Take it from me.

I've seen the streetlights,
Shine on the underground.
I've heard the dead fight,
When there's no other sound.
I've seen the streetlights,
Shine on the underground,
I've heard the dead fight,
When there's no other sound.

Streetlight sweetlight.

Album Version (8:00)
Producer: John Leckie
Engineer: John Leckie
Arrangement: Simple Minds/John Leckie

Life In A Day Promo LP Life In A Day LP Life In A Day MC Life In A Day LP (Virgin Mid-Price Reissue) Life In A Day MC (Virgin Mid-Price Reissue)> Life In A Day LP (Virgin Budget Reissue) Life In A Day MC (Virgin Budget Reissue) Life In A Day CD Compact Collection Life In A Day Reissue CD Life In A Day Disky CD Life In A Day Remaster Promo CD Life In A Day Remaster Limited Edition CD Life In A Day Remaster CD X5 Life In A Day Promo CD X5 The Vinyl Collection (79,84)

Demo Excerpt (5:49)
Producer: Lex McEwan and Simple Minds

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

Demo (8:10)
Producer: Lex McEwan and Simple Minds

The Early Years 1977-1978 CD

Live Version (24th February 2012) (6:39)
Recorded: Academy, Birmingham, UK
Recorded by: Olivier Gerard
Mixed by: Olivier Gerard
Engineered by: Rudy Coclet
ISRC: GB01A1201416

5X5 Live Promo CD #1-1 5X5 Live Promo CD #2-1 5X5 Live 5X5 Live Irish Promo CD 5X5 Live LP 5X5 Live Export LP

live history
Simple Minds: 1978
Life In A Day Tour: 1979
Real To Real Cacophony Tour: 1979-1980
Empires And Dance Tour: 1980
Cash For Kids: 1987
5X5 Tour: 2012
Festival Tour: 2012
South Africa / Europe: 2013