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rivers of ice

Music by: Maclachlan
Lyrics and arragements by: Simple Minds

© 1991 Copyright Control

This song was inspired by Ian Maclachlan's Dr. Mackay's Farewell To Creagorry although it gained promenance when adapted by David Silver for the BBC thriller The Dark Island. The programme was so popular that Maclachlan's melody also became known as The Dark Island.

It was well known to Mick MacNeil, whose grounding in the musical celtic roots of Scotland made him familiar with the track. In a prophetic piece by Rapido in 1989, documenting Simple Minds preparing for the Street Fighting Years at Loch Earn, Jim opened the studio door to find Mick and Charlie working on an acoustic version of the song, and the narrator even described it as "the new Simple Minds sound." Perhaps it was being considered for the acoustic interlude for the tour - but got nudged out by Gaelic Melody instead.

Charlie picked up the baton during the Real Life sessions. Mick MacNeil may have left the band, but one of his remaining legacies was planting the seeds of this melody.

The song was recorded as a demo at Olympic Studios in London as Dark Isle. Opening with a haunting swirl of Charlie's keyboards and Jim's ghostly studio directions ("Try this Charlie") the intro jumped into a bass heavy thudder, rising to crescendo after crescendo, with Charlie literally working up through the keys. It would've slotted in nicely on Sparkle In The Rain in this guise.

Oddly, for an early demo, it also featured lyrics - which were avery close to the final recorded version. These gave the song its final title, and on some annotated cassette inlays, the title Dark Isle was crossed out and replaced by Rivers Of Ice.

In the end, it was calmed down, the elements subtly redrawn and reworked, and it moved back to its original, gentler form. Session work took place at Loch Earn/Bonny Wee Studios from July through to December 1990, with final mixes at Olypmic in January 1990. The haunting intro from the demo actually survived, neatly snipped from its original placeholding, and added to the intro of Banging On The Door. That brief opening is a rare occurrence of a demo recording slipped onto a commercial Simple Minds record.

It appeared during the Real Life tour as a gentle ballad, serving as a brief intro to Alive And Kicking. It was also later showcased (with a slightly different melody) during the Big Music tours where this time it served as the introduction to Dolphins and as a showcase for Catherine AD. It appeared in the same pairing for the quickly aborted 40 Years Of Hits Tour in 2020 and didn't reappear when the reorganised tour recommenced two years later.

see also:
Dark Isle (Demo)

Don't need the money nothing can buy.
All that I feel under the skies.
Shadows were falling my heart beat inside.
We walk through the fields to the rivers of ice.

Days turn to colour and darkness to light.
She said I want you I need you I want you in my life.
Love in the shadows the blood rushed inside.
Carry on little saviour to the end of the line.

I get high for ever.
Till the river runs dry for every.
Ooh for ever.

It's been so many years now I still can't forget.
Love flew like an eagle in God's wilderness.
Shadows were falling oh my heart beat inside.
We kissed on the bridge above the river of ice.

I get high for ever.
The river runs dry for ever.
I get high for ever.
The river runs dry for ever.

Ooh she tells me.
Ooh she tells me.

Tell the end of the line.
Shadows were falling.
On rivers of ice.

Album Version (4:40)
Producer: Stephen Lipson
Engineer and MIDI Manager: Heff Moraes
Mixing Assistant: Giles Cowley

Real Life Blue Sleeve LP Real Life Blue Sleeve MC Real Life Blue Sleeve CD Real Life Blue Sleeve DAT Real Life LP Real Life MC Real Life CD Real Life US Promo MC Real Life Australian Limited Edition MC Real Life Australian Limited Edition CD Real Life Reissue CD Real Life Disky Reissue CD Original Gold compilation CD Real Life Remaster Promo CD Real Life Remaster Limited Edition CD Real Life Remaster CD Real Life Remaster Dutch Promo CD Classic Album Selection
Live Version (February-May 2015) (3:41)
Recorded: Big Music Tour 2015
Recorded By: Olivier Gerard
Mixed By: Olivier Gerard at Jet Studios

Live Big Music Tour 2015

Live Version (7th April 2015) (3:49)
Recorded: Usher Hall, Edinburgh, UK

Big Music YouTube

live history
Real Life Tour: 1991
Big Music European Tour: 2015
Big Music Summer Tour: 2015
Big Music Winter Tour: 2015
Big Music Western Asia: 2016
40 Years Of Hits Tour: 2020