of a Simple Mind
in the diary... time to write down something
Paul Morley - 'Blitz'
- July 1987 (UK)
More of myself...
After two weeks of struggling through scores
of interviews for European magazines, putting
up with aappalling ignorance and arrogance,
after being bothered with such sick idiocies,
perhaps here I can discover my own reasons and
my own obsessions. My own reason for being...
Whenever I strayed close to wondering about
such things in front of some underpaid, undernourished
journalist, I could see their eyes glaze over,
and they would drag the conversation back towards
the definite... Trapped for fourteen days in
front of a cunning display of Sony microphones
suffering what Cocteau called the eternal inaccuracy
of journalists... Today, I use my diary to get
it all out of my system, the tedium, the quarrels,
the stupidity... Some days are good days, alive
and meaningful, and some days are bad days.
I've just had fourteen bad days.
I remember when
the only thing that mattered for me was being
put on the cover of the New Musical Express...
Back in the days when we were kind of loved
because we were kind of small... because we
were kind of lovable. The days when we were
living from day to day, it was all spur of the
moment, and who knew what was going to happen
to me, to us... If you had asked me back then
what would be happening to me in five years'
time, I think where I am now is the last place
in the world that I would have thought of, not
just in terms of record sales and the ticket
sales, but in my private life, in who I am,
in what I am becoming... all of that is just
amazing. And I have an independence that I absolutely
relish... I now have the tools to do battle
with my own ignorance. If I want to know about
anything, I do it, I don't have to read about
it. I get on a plane and I go to the Sahara,
I don't have to read somebody writing about
nagging on so naively about what it's like to
be famous, to be a rock star... they couldn't
understand that with me there's a graciousness
involved, that I could never sacrifice myself
to the shamelessness that there can be. There
is something within me that will always keep
a distance from the cliches, the obviousness,
and even in keeping a distance, it's done in
my own way, with my own understandings and expectations...
Nothing is so obvious to me that I can slip
through it easily inside forty-five minutes
with some journalist. They probably all thought
I'm over-defensive and much too cautious, but
that's just too bad... My biggest fear when
I do those interviews is of appearing smug.
I must not smug... and then maybe it appears
that I don't really know what I'm talking about.
Perhaps it's because jouranlists are always
interested in the results of something... I
just cannot commit myself to the gross generalisations
that are necessary, or so it seems, when you're
doing the interview... Morley said I was just
being silly, the bastard, that the pop interview
was just a lightweight arrangement of thoughts
and conceits that might or might not be interesting
and that by now I should be in much better control
of the situation. I would have to get Morley
after doing fourteen days of that crap... He
likes to think he's Robin Day or something,
and you can never tell if he really means it
when he asks a question... He even laughed at
me, the bastard, when I said I just wanted to
be as honest as I could...
Maybe I do
take it all too seriously... As a band we
always seem to be too serious. Should I apologise
for that? As people we all have a tremendous
sense of humour, but it never seems to appear
in the music... I could sit in a room until
the end of time and try and analyse why and
never find out. Humour should come through more
in what I do, in the band's music, it would
seem a lot more realistic, maybe I'd be better
off. Perhaps I do worry about things too much,
maybe I should be more at ease during an interview,
when some person is spending a few minutes or
hours with me to then go away and pretend to
completely know what I'm about. I'm ill at ease
during an interview because I can never communicate
properly the organic nature of what it is I
do, what the band does. So I always come across
as being ill at ease.
I'm at ease when
I make and write the music, when I'm with my
wife and children, when I'm travelling, when
I'm performing. That's what I am,
something nobody is ever really going to see.
The interview is a necessary evil, a place where
strangers come along and tell you how you should
be feeling... If you cannot agree with the way
that they see you, and why should you, they
write you off as some confused idiot. Simple
Minds has always been a very organic thing.
It was three people who grew up in the same
street together, went to the same school together,
discovered the same things together, brought
the same records, read the same books, went
to a room together to make music, travelled
to the same places, and it all went on... Nothing
happened overnight, nothing changed miraculously,
and I never ever felt the need to stop and think
about it, to analyse it. It just was... And
so why, when I'm being interviewed, should I
put a pause button on and reflect on it all,
just for the sake of some paper? It all just
flows and moves and I do not feel any need to
articulate the whys and wherefores...
Morley said it
must be quite an easy thing, to sit around and
talk for two hours about yourself, about what
you believe in... That's rubbish. I'm not interested
in that kind of analysis, where you have no
control over the you that
will be presented. I like to be able to rely
on instinct. Instinct takes me to the stage.
Instinct doesn't bring me to an interview with
Paul Morley. Duty does. Morley said that this
meant that my answers were always kind of noncommittal,
or as ambiguous as a politician's... arrogant
bastard. Where I commit myself is on stage...
on stage is where you will see the commitment
and grace of Jim Kerr...
And it's much
more me that it ever was.
It's much more me on stage in front of 50,000
people than it was when I did the Manchester
Rafters in 1979. When I go onto the stage now
I know that 50,000 people paid 10 quid to see
us over three months ago, and there's a kind
of craft that appears. People from the left
side get offended by what we do on stage...
there's a richness to us, a hugeness, a visibility,
there's nothing to be ashamed of. For someone
who never really felt like any kind of rebel,
right now I feel like an ultimate kind of rebel...
because what we do is so big and powerful, and
it's nothing to do with appearing at the Hammersmith
Palais... Morley said it suits me to have this
kind of success and these kind of audiences,
that when I was struggling it looked forced
and awkward. I think he's right.
When we play
now it's a massive show, it's a huge thing,
but actually there's a lot more of me on show
than ever there was. People say that when they
saw me at Port Talbot in front of 45 people
it was more intimate. Rubbish. That's such an
obvious thing to say. When I was playing at
Port Talbot, there was maybe 5 per cent of me,
and the rest was just sheer confusion, confusion
as to whether you're any good or not, confusion
as to whether anyone will really get to love
you... It's actually much more affected when
you're struggling than when you begin to realise
that you actually might have something. In the
early days I knew all the things that I didn't
want to be but I didn't really know what I was,
what I could be. Slowly, in a way I cannot analyse,
in a way that I cannot say dawned on me one
Friday, in a way that is completely mysterious,
in a way that would have happened even if we
hadn't covered a song and got an American Number
One, in a way that makes me feel so certain,
in a way that I can't possibly put into words,
I began to understand what it was I was doing,
why I was doing it...
Yes, I get stuck
when I try and explain this in interviews, I
sound vague and out of focus. Morley says it's
that I've got hold of a certain kind of old-fashioned
showbusiness understanding and slapped it on
the back of the vast uneasy pop songs we conjure
up... I'm not sure if he was having a go at
me or not... I think it's much shadowier and
lovelier than that, although I do admit a bit
to the showbusiness idea... If you're going
to be on stage at 8.30 on a Wednesday in Belgium,
I don't care if your Frank Sinatra or Mark E
Smith, it's showbusiness. But when I go on stage,
it's more... splendid than just being showbusiness...
It's natural and it's madness...
It's at times
like that, when you're beginning to talk, as
coherently as is possible, about the astonishment
of performing, the thrill, that some types of
journalists slip in the exasperating question.
Morley asked me if I felt I was good. What a
silly question. No, said Morley, you said you
never knew whether you were good or not - do
you now think that what Simple Minds do is good?
Well, I said, trying to be honest, trying not
to sound smug, I think that we know our weaknesses
and we know our strengths... That, apparently,
was the classic example of a politicians answer.
I told Morley that after being asked that question
five times a day for fourteen days, that was
the best answer he was going to get.
When you're asked
the mundane things, you'll give the mundane
answers. When you're asked a good, unexpected
question, that's great, that sets you thinking,
you almost begin to think that the exercise
might have some kind of worth... What I'm interested
in is always being curious, always searching...
being pushed. To say that I always want to be
restless and uneasy is about as specific as
I will ever get in an interview. Even on a mundane
level, when we were making this live album,
as we were putting it together, working it all
out, living it, it was great. I expected the
whole thing would be retro and uninspiring,
but it was actually a great experience. There
was a chance for the first time to see things
in the music, to stand back, to search through
and find things out about ourselves... But do
I think we're any good? the question barely
makes sense to me. You know, I can hear Prince's
single and I don't think we're very good, Prince
can do everything I would love to do, encapsulate
inside three minutes a time, the heat, the smell...
If I hear Echo And The Bunneymen, then I think
we're good. But, you know, I can listen to Van
Morrison, and I know there is so much to learn,
there's so much experience that I must gain.
Gaining experience is the only real gain, and
how do you quantify that? Experience... that
is what interests me, and that just happens,
it just turns up... If someone asks me if I
think I'm good, I'd rather just answer - I'm
not so much of a voyeur as I was, I'm touching,
I'm grasping, I'm finding out for myself. There's
been a change in me, for whatever reason. I
haven't sold out. I don't care less about things
- if anything I care more. I've just changed,
thank God. People can say that the reason that
I've changed is because it used to be clubs,
and now it's stadiums, it used to be cult, but
now it's big business... but, no, I've changed
because I'm less of a voyeur than I used to
be... I have less patience with just watching.
I have to be involved. That's what's happened.
It's nothing to do with a change in my beliefs,
or a crazed new love for money. It's just that
ten years ago I couldn't have even chatted someone
up, and now I cheerlead 10,000 people, 50,000
I have a quest.
For me, and the band, and for my family,
and for my friends. The results of this quest
will affect a lot of people, so I take it seriously...
Somebody can ask me what this quest is in thirty
years' time, they can ask about the results
of the quest in fifty years' time. I just know
that I'm on a quest. This isn't the kind of
thing that journalists want to hear about, but
that's not too bad. They want to know the specifics
of the quest, or the origin of the quest, or
how it's going, or don't I think it's a bit
pompous. I only know that I'm on a quest. My
dad was on a quest when he was 30 years old
and he decided to stop drinking and start reading.
You couldn't say what the quest was but he was
undoubtedly on a quest. I'm 28 and I know for
sure that I'm on a quest. Morley said did this
mean wanting to sell more records than U2, but
he can fuck off.
Morley said did
this mean that I wanted to be loved by millions
of people and make incredible amounts of money,
but I knew by then that he was just winding
me up. Then again, you can never tell with Morley.
He also asked me if the quest was so that I
could become completely incorruptible, and if
I thought that he was being serious, I might
have answered 'yes'. Then Morley asked if I
was just some pseudo-religious nutcase relying
on the generosity of a vast public accustomed
to the worst. It's no wonder that doing interviews
puts me in such a bad mood.
how all the jouranlists are so keen to find
out how I've changed now that I play in huge
stadiums and sell loads of records. They all
seem to suffer from a kind of deranged, fatuous
curiosity, a loveless curiosity. They think
that everything is like this
ot it's like that... for
me, things arfe either strong, or else they're
worn out... How can I communicate that in an
interview? Morley asked me when I first realised
that Simple Minds were a successful rock group.
Last week, I said. Morley laughed, for some
reason. It was the fucking truth. Lask week
I realised for the first time that we had really
done something... You're aware that you're selling
more and more records, and that more and more
people are coming to your concerts, but last
week I truly understood how successful we had
become. You know, for the last six months I've
just had time to reflect on what had happened
over these past five years, then last week I
saw the advanced orders on the live double album...
Things can happen
to you that must make the outside world think
you've changed, that you're different, but you
can hardly notice. Like, we did Live Aid. People
go on about the magnitude of the event, the
influence, the generosity... At Live Aid I wasn't
thinking about the straving babies, or isn't
Geldof great, or I wonder what's happening over
at Wembley... All I could think was, there's
Jack Nicholson! There was a sense that it was
all getting bigger... but it's only really now
that I can see the size of it. Seeing the advance
orders on the double live albums - and at this
point, before some cheap journalist can say
anything, I shout BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST (Morley,
the bastard, said this was almost my one joke)
- it began to hit home how big we'd become.
Knowing that it will go straight into the charts
at Number One, it made me realise that we had
really done something. I don't know what, I
don't know what it means, I just know that something
has happened... And it feels great.
We've been getting
the accusations of being a dinosaur band since
1979, because of the grandness of the sound...
so we don't give a shit about any of that...
Morley, the bastard, said that we are
a dinosaur band, but we never were until May
1985. Was he determined to get on my bloody
nerves? What was he trying to get me to say?
It's always a bloody worry when the journalists
is obviously a bit clever and keeps nudging
you somewhere... What did he want from me? How
boring and zealous is he going to make me appear
in the article? I don't think we are a dinosaur
band. Next to Age Of Chance it might look that
way to a few warped idiots. But don't make me
out to be a dinosaur because of Age Of Chance's
shortcomings... I'm alive and kicking! I've
got tons of energy! I'm getting stronger by
the day... I don't except the word dinosaur
at all... If bands cannot exist for longer than
sixteen months then that's their problem...
We are not dinosaurs. Morley is, for saying
that we are dinosaurs, if he meant it. He claimed
that he was using the word as some kind of compliment,
but I'd had two weeks of fools going on about
Simple Minds being dinosaurs and I'd just had
enough. Morley said that to be heroes for sentimental
reasons cannot be all bad, but there was a strange
twinkle in his eyes as he said it. The thing
is, we're caught in the middle. Either you get
guys ten years older than you telling you that
you're not as good as Hendrix, that you're not
the real thing, or you get guys eight years
younger than you talking to you as if you're
Pete townsend. And none of them really know
what they're talking about. Not liking us, or
criticism, that's fair enough. But to be dimissed
for reasons that are all to do with the journalist's
problems, that's really irritating.
I haven't really
done many interviews before this two week
batch, not for a long time anyway... This set
of interviews was the first real response I
was getting to the fact that we are now a successful
band - maybe I did act a bit defensive. And
it doesn't really bother me, all this pettiness
that piles up. It just gets a bit tiring to
be accused of never changing by a bunch of people
who are completely caught in limbo themselves,
who individually and as a profession never change...
At the end of what I do there is this gorgeous
noise... and it's a marvel. And then you meet
all these journalists, who can't either take
or leave that situation, and you just look into
their eyes and feel like saying, straighaway,
aw, don't talk to me about it...
Two weeks. It's
all over. I got through it, only now and then
losing my patience. I lost my patience with
Morley. He asked me if it's all worthwhile.
What did he mean? Aw, what the fuck, we've made
a record that goes on sale this week and for
whatever reason you cannot buy a record that
sounds anything like it, and that's a fact,
and anything else is just pettiness. During
those two weeks I got across that we'd made
this record, and it was unique, and that it
deserves to be listened to. I did my duty. I
told these journalists what makes me pleased
to be in Simple Minds: getting a letter from
someone who says 'I came to see you but I was
fifty rows back and couldn't see a thing. But
I danced all night', getting a letter from someone
who said that they were lonely until they listened
to our records, getting into a car at an airport
in Australia and hearing a song that I wrote
six months ago in Glasgow blasting out of the
radio, seeing brickies on building sites wearing
our T-shirts... I made it clear that I absolutely
love what I do and that I have all the strength
in the world to carry on and make it clearer,
make it better and bigger...
There is definitely
a loneliness, but I wouldn't want to talk about
that in an interview, I wouldn't want to give
away that... Morley said,
was there anything I was prepared to give away?
Apparently not. Morley said the word he would
use to describe me in an interview was 'vague'.
He seemed a bit upset about it. I couldn't understand
what he wanted to get out of the interview,
not at all. I told him, look, I still have to
pinch myself to make sure that all of this is
true. I don't want to come over self-important
or conceited, I just believe in what I do, and
want to keep on doing it. It is mind-boggling
what has heppened to me, whether that's being
Jim Kerr of The Simple Minds or whether that's
being Jim Kerr husband of Chrissie Hynde. But
in the end it's just natural for me to get on
stage and sing.
There's a certain
kind of magic about it that I just allow to
happen. I do think that there's a lot of magic
in life... I can be in the mid-west talking
to someone at a baseball game and then the next
day I can be talking to a Red Indian and then
the next day I can be talking to a Lebanese
refugee, and I can only put this down to magic.
Maybe that's what makes our music so powerful,
that sense of wonder. We marvel at the size
of our music sometimes, we can't imagine where
it comes from... we marvel at where that music
has taken us. It could be magic. Magic is not
the best word to use in interviews, but I love
the word. Magic. I have to believe that magic
is involved in what we do. It's not natural
for me to say that it is because of any power
that I process that has put me here. really,
i can't watch a video of us all the way through.
I certainly cannot hear one of our records all
the way through. Perhaps I've always got the
feeling that the next record will be better,
I can't wait for that one, so listening to what
we've done makes me feel uncomfortable. It's
already the past, and my enthusiasm is always
for the future.
switched off his Sony, he seemed a bit disappointed.
I couldn't have cared less. Actually, that isn't
quite true. I was a bit annoyed myself. There's
something horribly artifical about the interview.
I could probably sum up what I have to say in
eleven lines. At home I have two film posters
on the wall that inspire me to write the kind
of awestruck songs I need to write - Ran
and The Mission. Once you've
written that song, if you want one person to
hear it, then a million people might as well
hear it. Somewhere in between one person hearing
that song and one million, the problems begin.
The problems, I leave to the journalists. For
me, it's always still a sense that I'm just
beginning. I don't actually feel myself a success.
And whatever it is that I really
am, I want to keep to myself.
I wonder how much
of an idiot or how much of a hero The Journalists
will make me appear.
The Son Of
are currently residing at the top of the charts
throughout the world with their double album
' Live In The City Of Light', but has Jim Kerr
sold his New Gold Dream for a dollar sign? Harold
Demuir met him in Manhattan, discussed former
glories and future projects, and discovered
why Kerr believes Simple Minds have reached
the end of an era and the beginning of something
Harold Demuir -
'Melody Maker' - 1st August 1987 (UK)
Depending on who
you ask, Simple Minds' current multinational
success is either a truimph for thoughtful,
morally responsible music in a cynical, amoral
pop world, or it's a prime example of a once-vital
band neutered by mass acceptance. A conversation
with Jim Kerr, however, makes it extremely difficult
to doubt the man's sincerity, or imagine him
motivated by anything other than a genuine desire
not a musical person, that's why I always talk
about music in terms of images and tones and
stuff. This weekend I've been asked to sing
a line in a Paul McCartney song - he's also
asked Peter Gabriel and Bono and Sting - and
I was told that I have to sing this line in
the key E. I've done nine albums, and I don't
know the key E."
It's Sunday afternoon,
midtown Manhattan is hot and smells rotten,
and Kerr is recuperating from bouts of sunburn
and food poisoning. Despite all this, he's in
an upbeat, chatty mood, pondering the significance
of Simple Minds' latest out-of-the-box smash,
"Live In The City Of Light". The double
LP immortalizes the band's imposing live show,
with a conspicuous emphasis on material from
their last three studio albums, "New Gold
Dream", "Sparkle In
The Rain" and "Once Upon A Time."
disappointment I have with this live record
is that it's only our first. I think we probably
should have done one four years ago. We're a
live band first and foremost, and we're arrogant
enough to believe that, as in the traditional
great live bands, there's a side of us that
hasn't been caputured on our studio records.
We had been taping gigs and listening to bootlegs
for years, and a live record has always been
on the cards. The studio is still very much
a stranger to us, and a lot of the songs breathe
better live, after they've been around for a
'Once Upon A Time' and having achieved success,
we felt that we had come full circle and ended
a phase, and doing a live album was a way of
putting a stop to it. There's been a couple
of times in the past where we've heard a sort
of instinctive voice that says 'Alright, that's
that.' The last time I felt anything remotely
like that was right before we made 'New Gold
Dream.' I knew we'd come to the end of something
then, and it's kind of the same thing now."
The band's next
move is still undetermined, but they definitely
won't be touring behind the live album, thus
breaking the stifling album/tour/album/tour
cycle. Another possible departure is the instrumental
album which Kerr wants the group to record and
release simultaneously with their next album
first time ever, there's absolutely nothin on
the calendar. We've got no obligation to make
a record in any given time, so we can go away
and come back when we feel that we've got something
more to give. I think there have been a few
things lately where we've sort of cut ourselves
short or neglected certain sides of ourselves,
and now we want to go away and come back with
a body of work, as oppossed
to just eight or nine songs to put on an album.
it's great at the moment, because there's not
the pressure of having a limited amount of time
to make a record. But there is so much
pressure, because we want to become better songwriters
and make much, much better records."
The fact that
Kerr's been residing in Edinburgh has given
rise to all sorts of speculation about the state
of his marriage to Chrissie Hynde. He politely
deflects questions about his personal life and
seems thrilled to be back in his homeland.
of the General Election is that 90 per cent
of the people in Scotland are living under a
governemnt that they don't want. There's a lot
of heat and a lot of talk there right now, so
it's a very interesting place to be. And personally,
it great to be there, walking down the street
and not having to be part and parcel of anything."
next musical phase, Kerr feels, may be a crucial
one for the band. "I don't think we've
ever been in as much danager as we would be
now if we were to go and make 'Twice Upon A
Time'. We've never had to be conscious of that
before, but at the moment it's a real concern.
We've always known that as soon as we try to
write a particular type of song, it's gonna
be the death of us, because we're gonna be denying
the organic thing that I've always said is the
heart of us.
A Time' was the most contrived record we've
made, in the sense that for the first time we
wanted to make a very upfront, modern, contemporary
rock record. It was a challenge for us to do
it that way - we already knew
that we could do it the other way, sitting around
writing steam-of-consciousness lyrics. On 'Once
Upon A Time', it was like, we're here, and the
industry's here, and are we gonna shy away because
we think it's gonna corrupt us, or are we gonna
go inside and decide what's what?
it's completely normal to do something good,
then do something not so good, then do something
great, and then do something terrible. If you
ask me, it's almost to the detriment of Elvis
Costello that he puts out an album or two every
year and they're all brilliant. It's like, blow
it once! Two weeks ago in Dublin I saw Lou
Reed and spent the night talking with him, and
it was just fantastic, all the lows and highs
of the stuff he's been through."
There are those,
of course, who maintained that Simple Minds
were more interesting and satisfying in the
days before "Don't You Forget About Me"
(a counterfeit Simple Minds track with the band
making a game effort of sounding like itself)
sealed the quintet's status as a transalantic
"A lot of
people who'd seen us seven years ago say, 'Well,
I preferred you then,' and I can't really understand
why. I mean, I can - I think the music had some
sort of charm then. But we were ice cold. We
adopted this aloofness, which came from a complete
lack of confidence. It was really a big mask;
we were standing there thinking 'Don't move
cause you're gonna get it wrong.' Believe me,
I was there, and we weren't very good at all.
come up to me and say 'I used to like the band,
but...' I usually will try and work it out with
them. If it's a genuine thing and we just don't
please them anymore, I'm often pretty sad and
I say, 'Look, at least we shared something in
the past, and that was good.' But when it smacks
of elitism, and when they don't like us because
they just aren't willing to share us with the
mechanic down the road, I just say 'Get the
fuck out of here,' because I hate that."
something very attractive about a young, unformed
band that's still groping for an individual
mode of expression, which is why a lot of people
find records like 'Empires And Dance' and 'Sister
Feelings Call' a good deal more compelling than
Simple Minds' better-organized recent works.
Kerr, however, is not persuaded.
associate groping with not being able to play
your instruments. But man, I wasn't
groping then, not to the extent that I am groping
now. There's always the image of the struggling
young artist that the rest of the world doesn't
understand, but in the early days I was more
a voyeur and a dilettante than anything else.
I was just a big fan of bands, and I was lucky
enough to find a guy, Charlie Burchill, that
lived in my street and played guitar and liked
the same bands that I did. There was never any
big thing; I was kind of running and tripped
and fell into this band.
a point, somewhere between 'Sons And Fascination'
and 'New Gold Dream', where it became a quest
for something. That was when we actually realized
that there was something special at the core
of our music. It's even more like that now,
and we're amazed at how music seems to find
us - we'll go into a room with no clue, no masterplan,
and we'll come out a couple of weeks later with
something very forceful.
before 'New Gold Dream', to me, was very dense
and claustrophobic. It was kind of like before
a thunderstorm, when the air's clammy and there's
a lot of tension and it feels like something's
gonna break, and after it does the air is a
lot cleaner and clearer. We always had a lot
of fears, but with 'New Gold Dream' we got more
comfortable with ourselves as people and put
those fears in sort of a perspective, as opposed
to just dwelling on them.
up in Britain's a very claustrophobic thing,
and for us to get into a band and go across
Europe - or even for Charlie and I to first
go to Europe to hitchhike - it was a real emancipation,
getting outside of Glasgow and beginning to
see how Britains's hardly the world, despite
what we were taught in school.
we had no audience in Britain when we started,
we found ourselves spending our last two or
three teenage years in Europe, and that made
us think a lot differently. We were one week
in Munich when this Baader-Meinhoff bomb went
off in a train station a few blocks from our
hotel and five days later in the area we were
staying in Paris, a bomb went off in a synagogue.
And I think that the music we were making at
the time, particularly a record like 'Empires
And Dance', reflected a lot of that turmoil.
did 'New Gold Dream', we went back home to Scotland
for the first time in years, and spent a lot
of time in the most beautiful, mystical part
of Scotland. All these words started flowing,
and they all seemed to be of a positive nature.
That record kind of made itself, and now a lot
of people ask why we can't make 'New Gold Dream,
Part II'. I wish we could, but we can't. All
the inspiration, all the clues - they just arrived
on that record."
Upon A Time" led many longtime supporters
to assume that Simple Minds had permanently
abandoned spontaneity for sterile AOR professionalism,
Kerr considers the album a one-off departure.
Future studio projects, he predicts, will make
better use of the band's creative chemistry
- which Kerr claims is as mysterious as ever.
at the stage where we've kind of given up on
trying to work it out, because I think you can
destroy it when you try nd conquer it or understand
it. Why do some tones make you think of other
images? Why is instrumental music so potent?
I think we realize now that you don't have to
understand it. People often live together for
20 years without understanding each other.
different types of songwriters. I can imagine
Elvis Costello sitting up late at night, working
out all different rhymes and puns - Chrissie
Hydne's like that as well. And then there's
others who seem to write from some other space,
like Van Morrison. When he writes, it's like
he's got a direct connection to the centre of
the universe, yet the guy has trouble saying
hello to you walking down the street.
I'll hear a note or a chord and it kind of takes
me back into the labyrinth of my memory. It
could be a childhood thing or even a racial
memory, if there is such a thing. When Van Morrison
did it, people called it a Celtic vision. I
think Bono has that too. A lot of it's to do
with where we're from, and the images and landscapes
we were brought up with. If you'd asked me about
it five years ago I wouldn't have known, but
now I'm sure about it.
"On a lot
of our songs, the chords come from our keyboard
player Michael (MacNeil). He's a quiet little
guy and he doesn't talk much about the big picture,
yet he usually comes up with these very grand
chords. I always wondered why that was, until
a few years ago when I went with him to where
he was born and lived the first 12 years of
his life. It's the furthest island out from
Scotland - there's only the ocean between his
island and America - and there's just sky and
rocks and huge landscapes, and that's very much
a part of him. People never talk about the ethnic
side of rock music, but I think that's a very
big part of us."
long-term involvement with Amnesty International
has helped raise that worthy organisation's
public profile and its bank balance, and postcards
collected by the band at a California concert
are credited with gaining the release of a Sri
Lankan political prisoner.
I work with Amnesty intially had nothing to
do with the fact that I was in a band. I was
a member before that, and my dad was a member
when I was a kid. And as I began to realise
that the band was getting closer to mainstream
success, I realised the kind of media a mainstream
band had access to, where you can take a minute
on prime-time TV to say 'Hey, check this out.'"
Kerr has no patience
with pop people who opt out of the political
arena because "they are only entertainers
rock music should be entertainment first and
foremost, and I want to be an entertainer. But
the best entertainment is the entertainment
that carries a grain of information and lets
you go away with something. I want a guy to
come home from the factory and be entertained
by me, but I hope I have something more to give
him thatn just a box that's beautifully packaged
and has nothing in it.
"(which Simple Minds cover on "Live
In The City Of Light") "for me, is
the greatest rock song in years. It's got a
fantastic tune and a big chorus, it's emotional,
it makes me want to dance. Musically it's all
the things great rock music should be, and it
also manages to take two or three hundred years
of South African history and say 'That's good,
that's evil, and I'm gonna have nothing to do
with this. 'You can't tell
me that's not fantastic entertainment.
me, you don't have to be any mental genius to
be a great player or singer. But there's no
excuse not to know about acid rain or political
prisoners. You can't say 'I haven't got the
time' or 'My manager doesn't let me.' I'm very
wary, and if this thing was to fall through
in two or five years, I'd want to be sure that
it had been used to a postive end, because I
a cerebral type or political type, and I certainly
haven't got any secrets or answers. I have no
time for the left, the right or the centre -
I'm absolutely sick of the lot of them. I'm
just pro-life. Iv'e travelled the world 12 times
and I've experienced all sorts of people from
different backgrounds and cultures. I love being
28 years old, I love having a kid, and I love
information. I want to learn. I guess we are
on a crusade, but it's basically a battle with
our own ignorance."
Since Kerr has
always seen Simple Minds as a rock band, for
him there's not contridiction in the group's
presence on the arena circuit. "I think
I'm one of the few in Britain that still believes
in the rock monster. I don't think it's a dying
dinosaur at all, and I really believe in it
as being a great form of communication. It's
just that there are very few people in it now
that are working against the dinosaur image.
The Who made a living out of saying 'I hope
I die before I get old,' and that quote haunted
them for their entire career. Whereas if you
ask me I'll say that I would like Simple Minds
to stand for the idea of life and living and
growing and learning. And if you say something
stupid when you're young, you should be able
to turn around and say 'Yeah, I blew that' or
'God, I was naive when I said that."
pretended to be anything other than a rock band.
The first interview we ever did, with NME, they
made fun of us because we said we liked Pink
Floyd and The Rolling Stones and The Who. The
whole punk idea of throwing out everything from
the past was a bit Khmer Rouge,a bit Year Zero,
and I always said I wasn't gonna throw out my
Leonard Cohen records or my James Brown records
or my Bob Dylan records.
we identified with certain aspects of punk -
the fire, the energy, and the fact that you
didn't have to be Steve Howe to get on stage.
But I think we were always very conscious of
what made sense and what didn't make sense about
it all. Everyone in London was just tripped
out on the fashion and energy of punk, but 400
miles away in Glasgow - which in Britain is
like the other end of the earth - we had a better
perspective on it. We could tell what was genuine
and what was fuckin' hokey."
Kerr makes no
apologies for Simple Minds' success, but acknowledges
the contradictions inherent in the situation.
as an organic thing, and the more we can keep
all the industry stuff at the door, the more
chance we have of that organic thing continuing.
We have to admit that we are right in the centre
of the industry now, whereas when we started
off we were not even within a millions miles
"I just don't
see what there is to be afraid of. We want to
try all the different levels, from the clubs
to the stadiums. We just have this impulse to
try it all, and then stand back and see what
is worthwhile and what is bullshit. I'm definitely
not afraid of success or failure. The only thing
I would fear is running out of challenges, because
it's the challenges not the results, that interest
me. Because when you look back on it later,
something that seemed a positive result at the
time can no longer seem positive, and something
that seemed a failure can turn out to be quite
good. So the results are neither here nor there.
I'm more interested in the challenge of things,
and the potential of things."
Jim Kerr came
from the kind of Glaswegian council estate that
tended to frown on artisic endeavour, especially
when it wore a touch of eye-liner. Now SImple
Minds' giant clamour is a staple of the world's
arena circuit. Life's been good, he tells Adam
Adam Sweeting -
'Q' Magazine - August 1987 (UK)
He has heard the
big music, and he'll never be the same. "At
the end of the day we are a hell of a noise,"
Jim Kerr says, "and it's gonna get out
of hand sometimes, and then it's gonna be really
good. It's very simple really."
But this year,
the giant clamour of Simple Minds is off the
road, following almost a year and a half's touring
on the back of the group's 1985 breakthrough
album, Once Upon A Time. It eventually sold
four million copies around the world, well short
of a Thriller but substantial enough to tip
Simple Minds out of the "respectable"
category and into the world's first division.
Simple Minds used to hang out in the rock 'n'
roll never-never land of the Columbia Hotel
in Bayswater, a twilight zone of pop stars on
the middle rungs of the ladder, but Jim and
his wife Chrissie Hynde spent last New Year
with Bruce Springsteen.
It's a bright
summery day over the Firth of Forth, a coll
breeze blowing in off the sea to whip up small
white peaks on the water and to fill the sails
of the boats tacking
up the channell. From Jim Kerr's kiving room
window you can see the water, the road bridge
and, right outside, the fabled railway bridge.
"It's great to get out of London sometimes,
isn't it?" he asks, gesturing around him
at lonely sea and sky. The Glasgow where Kerr
grew up is only a few miles away but the metaphorical
distance is massive. As we talk, trains pass
above us, clattering Intercity 125s and gasping
local diesels. Flying Scotman Kerr surveys the
elemental scene, breathes in some of the healthy
Scottish ozone coursing through the open windows
and pours some more wine with the largesse you'd
expect from the local laird. "Life's been
good," he murmurs, humming Joe Walsh's
slide guitar lick and grinning with the school-boyish
cheek wihich, fortunately, he hasn't lost. Completely
vanished, though, is the shy, stammering Jim
Kerr of the primitive Simple Minds of Life In
A Day, their 1979 debut album. The current transalantic
rock star model has a little more flesh on those
once all-too-visible bones and the black futurist
quiff has given way to stringy brown new-hippy
locks which tumble round his ears and over his
collar. Today Kerr is crisply confident and
never at a loss for words. He has money; he
has fame; he has a wife and family.
To launch Simple
Minds' live double album, In The City Of Light,
Kerr has been jetting round Europe, both to
tackle the hacks and to drop in on his wife
whenever he can. When she takes The Pretenders
on the road Chrissie also takes the kids. There's
four-year-old Natalie, her daughter from her
previous life with ray davies, and Jasmin, who's
Kerr's and is two. The girls have a nanny each
out on tour with them so that Mum can get on
with mundane things like interviews, soundchecks
and playing gigs. Must be a bloody funny way
to grow up, I suggest.
"I had them
here last week," he reveals. "I'm
very determined that in a sense they get a grip
on reality as well. You can't say 'that's reality'
or 'that's not reality' but I would like them
to get the benefits of the good things from
my background: the idea of community and the
idea of friends, as opposed to an idea of rich
suburbia or the idea of isolation, sitting watching
videos and you don't go out and don't mix.
love being on the road. We discovered that the
kids are fine. They can handle anything if there's
a lot of love. If there's love there, they can
go on tour for eight years. They love it. They
go to the soundchecks; they eat with the road
crew - all those big roadies, people from different
backgrounds and cultures and colours of skin.
After the soundcheck they play with the spotlights.
They just love that. To them it's the biggest
Christmas tree ever.
"We try to
keep them on what we think are solid ethics
but it still beats us sometimes. For instance,
I had them myself up here at Easter and I was
in the swing park with them. I was lying on
a bench and Natalie said to me, What are you
doing? I said, I'm sleeping here. She said right,
I'll put you to bed. She's pretending she's
putting me to bed and she says, I'll tell you
a story. She says, Once Upon A Time there was
this little girl who was so eensy-weensy, tiny-tiny-tiny
that she didn't even have a nanny..... I was
pissing myself laughing. The difference between
my reality of being brought up and theirs! As
far as they're concerned everyone has a nanny."
to Chrissie in 1984, in between batches of Simple
Minds dates in Europe and Britain, took everybody
by surprise except, aparently, Minds' guitarist
Charlie Burchill. "I never asked the band,"
says Kerr. "Charlie knew, and he had met
Chrissie and thought it was a brilliant idea,
so that was sufficient." The pair had met
in Australia a few months before, resulting
in a whirlwind affair which surprised not only
people aware of Hynde's long-standing relationship
with Ray Davies but also anybody familiar with
the rootless, fast-moving lifestyle which Kerr
and Simple Minds had been leading uninterruptedly
up to that point.
Simple Minds were
just on the point of releasing Sparkle In The
Rain, an album which caught them in transition
between the luminous subtlties of New Gold Dream
and the stripped-down large arena clout of Once
Upon A Time. They'd been working too hard for
too long. Kerr fell ill in the middle of their
British dates and their live performances were
tawdry and shrill.
"I was ill
in every sense of the word," he says now.
"There was an emptiness around that period
and it was time to ask questions. I think we
had taken a form to the extreme. New Gold Dream
was very complete and we didn't want to do more
of that. It was a growing thing as well. The
band and the music are the utmost but it was
time to get involved with people as well. Wives,
girlfriends and that. You're not some kind of
a fucking machine. We're from a very traditional
background. If we went out just now and drove
for 30 minutes you would see. As far as the
British landscape goes, I don't think there's
a more traditional background than the one we're
friendship are big ties. No matter how much
we abused them before or took the piss or tried
to escape from them, they are the solid roots
and the values that we still respect. The thing
is we want to have our cake and eat it. We want
to be thoroughly traditional and have all the
traditional values and also be totally contemporary
and cosmopolitian. And the clash is there."
It's glib but
true to say that Kerr and Charlie Burchill formed
Simple Minds at least partly in an attempt to
get away from their closely-knit claustrophobic
background. They were catholic and working class,
accustomed to the kind of social cohesion in
their council housing estates that tends to
frown on artistic endeavour, especially when
it wears eye-liner and nail varnish. It's a
solidly Labour-voting background but in the
sense of old-fashioned grassroots socialism.
Bernie Grant or Derek Hatton wouldn't have got
a look in, and today Kerr can't find many good
words to say for Red Wedge. "Because of
where I'm from I agree I should be right in
there, but they just seem such a miserable lot
of bastards," he observes. "It seems
very very English as well. There seems to be
The teenage Kerr
found escape through the glam-rock of Bolan
and Bowie, as well as in the lavish theatrics
of Genesis and the cultivated nihilism of the
Velvet Underground. His father's a bricklayer
and jim briefly worked as a joiner's apprentice
before deciding that music was the only thing
that really motivated him. This caused some
soul-searching at home but, seeing that their
minds were made up, all the band's families
chipped in as much money as they could afford
to help them buy a van and some equipment. After
New Gold Dream, Kerr and his younger brother
paul, now the band's tour manager, repaid some
of the debt by buying a large house in one of
Glasgow's more affluent suburbs, where his parents
He hasn't found
his new family life easy. When he first met
Chrissie they didn't see each other for months
because their respective bands were on tour.
Then Simple Minds supported The Pretenders around
the States, where they were overshadowed by
the headliners and were largely ignored by press
and public. Being at home with the wife and
children away had been, if anything, even worse.
But he must have
foreseen these kind of problems, so why get
married in the first place?
that's the only thing I don't feel the need
to explain. If I felt like talking about it,
I would. I think I got married for the cliched
reasons that most people get married. I saw
it as an immense challenge and I knew it would
be tough. I didn't know it would be this tough.
thing is missing people. Like any love or friendship,
it's an organic thing as well. It's very plant-like.
It needs to be watered. I definitely didn't
get married in the rock 'n' roll sense - hey,
it was a wild and crazy thing to do! - and get
our photos taken and have them in all the papers.
I think we got married in the traditional sense,
and trying to keep that traditional sense inside
a lifestyle that is hardly traditional.....
Though the couple
share a commitment to environmental awareness
and ecological consciousness raising, Jim received
a minimum of pratical advice from Chrissie about
what the big time would be like and how to deal
least self-aware peerson," he says. "I
have to tell her. She doesn't know how many
records she's sold, how many tickets she's sold,
why she's playing in a certain place at a certain
time. She doesn't know and she doesn't care.
And she thinks the idea of even bothering about
it in the first place is really queer."
For Once Upon
A Time, the Minds made as sure as they could
of hitting the mainstream rock crowd by bringing
in Jimmy Iovine as producer. Iovine's track
record of work with artists of the stature of
Springsteen, Tom Petty, John Lennon and Patti
Smith made it pretty clear from the word go
which way Simple Minds were heading. Hitherto
the group had worked with a string of producers
from a thoroughly English background, including
John Leckie (XTC, Magazine) with his Abbey Road
pedigree, and Steve Lillywhite (U2, Peter Gabriel,
Joan Armatrading, XTC).
"It was great
to get away and work with somebody who wasn't
neccessarily from this kind of English public
schoolboy type of tradition, Iovine's dad was
a docker, and he's very much a New Yorker. Also
the great thing for me is he's just not musical
at all, which I could relate to, not being able
to play a note on anything. His instinct is
great, knowing what the band is capable of,
judging people's performances, knowing when
something could be better.
liked the sound of records coming out of America
much more. I'm not necessarily talking about
the content of the music but you could listen
to a John Cougar Mellencamp record and hear
that it had a great sound in terms of the snare
drum or something, and that's very important
And that's the
kind of remark the Jim Kerr of five years ago
wouldn't have made, isn't it?
he retorts. "So what? You fucking probably
wouldn't say a lot of things you said before.
That's the thing all you people forget."
For an unguarded
moment I appear to have become a room full of
hostile journalists, all whinging and carping
about Simple Minds and their new American sound.
were important to you then and are not now,
and vice versa," Kerr resumes. "It's
just that we're much more honest about it. Or
it's just there with us to be examined much
Simple Minds might
still be struggling in the States had it not
been for the cruical success of Don't You (Forget
About Me), their big and unexpected hit from
the movie The Breakfast Club. The band had to
have their arms twisted to record the song in
the first place, feeling that the film was likely
to be crass and unrepresentative of the way
they saw themselves.
big record company pressure, 'try this thing
and you'll get offers for more film work'. Originally,
much bigger names than us were pencilled in.
We were just going to be one of a series - Bowie
was gonna do a track, so-and-so was gonna do
one. We knocked it back, I think, a handful
But Keith Forsey,
who'd written the song, refused to take No for
an answer and turned up at a rehearsal studio
in Surrey where they were writing material for
their next album. He talked them into at least
giving the song a try.
it away, wrote the coda with the whole breakdown
thing and the la-la-las, which are very Simple
Minds, and recorded the song in about two hours
in a studio just outside Wembley. Horrible place.
We were desperate to get away from it. That's
the irony - you work your balls off and we'd
done this thing in a couple of hours. Maybe
it's a very Catholic thing that for something
to be a success you've got to put all your efforts
into it. We thought it would be part of a movie
with about 14 other bands. There was no talk
at the time of it being a single and certainly
not of it being the title track of the movie."
And the rest is
hysteria. American radio loved the song, it
stormed up the charts and eventually Kerr decided
he was being stupid not to allow it to be released
in Britain and Europe. "People can say
what they like. As soonas it started to sell
and as soon as people started to get immense
enjoyment from it, I didn't want to say this
is a piece of crap and we could do it with our
eyes closed. Really, we were looking a gift
horse in the mouth. And if you're gonna use
it, at least we pulled it off in style. At least
it went Number 1 in America, it never stopped
at 52, and it got a lot of people into New Gold
Dream and Sparkle In The Rain."
Kerr sees the
new live album as a full stop at the end of
a cycle in the band's development. It's been
impeccably recorded and edited and brings together
the best-known songs from the Minds' career
so far. Thanks to what Kerr describes as "fixing
and mixing", In The City Of light presents
the essence of the band's performances without
the Milton Keynes-style bombast.
a lot of research around people who were involved
in good live albums, namely, for me, The Who
Live At Leeds, the Stones made good live albums,
of course Springsteen made a great live album.
And The Rolling Stones records that you probably
think are fantastic live albums are all overdubbed.
So you know the sort of illusion before you
go in. The live thing is the live thing and
the album is to be played in somebody's house."
The plan now is
to concentrate on studio work for at least the
next year, perhaps releasing a long-discussed
album of instrumentals. The only live work in
prospect is a trip to moscow in the autumn,
where they'll appear at a giant Greenpeace show
alongside Peter Gabriel, The Pretenders and
others. They've already made hefty contributions
to Amnesty Internationsl and as much as anyone,
they've come to represent the new model of global
awareness which has turned rock inside out since
of these dreams, no matter how naive they are,
of some universal freedom, an ideal of universal
peace or whatever," as Kerr puts it, "it's
alright writing about that and singing about
it every night, but putting it into practice
is something else."
Live In The
City Of Light
Dave Rimmer - 'Q'
The bottom line
for Simple Minds is that their songs are uplifting.
There's a kind of blind optimism to their music,
an optimism that shines through even if it's
never clear exactly what one is supposed to
be optimistic about. Take a song like Waterfront
(included here on side one). Is it a song about
the future of humanity? Is it something to do
with the rapidly yuppifying Glasgow district
where the video was shot? Is it a load of bollocks?
Who can tell? Singer, lyricist and spokesperson
Jim Kerr-the only properly visible member of
the group-uses words like heart and soul and
love and peace. He sings of new gold dreams
and books of brilliant things. He urges you
to sanctify yourself and promises you a miracle.
He sees himself, it's clear, as a bit of visionary.
Meanwhile the rest of the group write suitably
dramatic music to match. A fiercely big beat.
Chiming major chords. Widescreen melody. Though
they've come a long way from Glasgow and their
early days of what someone once described as
dance and trance music, there is still within
the stadium scale of things plenty of room to
At times this
stuff works on record, but it's always much
better medicine when taken live. It's dead easy
to be cynical about all this. Where once, at
the tail end of their art rock period, Simple
Minds were as hip as hell, these days it seems
more fashionable to remark that the only song
of theirs you like is the one they didn't write:
Keith Forsey's excellent Don't You (Forget About
Me). That's the one that was number one in America
and that's the one which leads off side three
of this double live collection, the entire French
audience singing along with all the la-la-la-las.
Live In The City Of Light (1987) - a typically
epic, religious-sounding title - was recorded
last August at a couple of concerts at Le Zenith
in Paris set up specially for the purpose. All,
that is, except for Someone, Somewhere In Summertime,
which comes from a show at the Sydney Entertainment
Centre, Australia. Its 15 songs span the period
from 1981's Sister Feeling Call LP up to last
year's Once Upon A Time (1985). As double live
albums go, it's pretty good. The live atmosphere
and acoustics remain, most of the applause and
all the waffle between songs has been removed.
the new slow intro to Book Of Brilliant Things,
the new slow fade from Promised You A Miracle
and tough, rousing versions of most of their
best songs. Duff moments include a hamfisted
version of Sly & The Family Stone's Dance To
The Music and a weak though well-intentioned
version of Sun City. As a testament to the kind
of group they've become-an international act,
fillers of huge venues, more in common now with
your U2's or Bruce Springsteen's than with the
Philip Glasses or Brian Eno's they used to refer
to in their early days-it can't be beat. But
however you balance it up, this is not a record
that will challenge anyone's opinions about
Simple Minds. If you think they're God's gift
to modern popular culture, you will continue
to find them inspiring. If you find them pompous
and preposterous, you will carry on grumbling
about Jim Kerr's pretensions. If however, like
this reviewer, you hover, fascinated, somewhere
in between, then though at times all the mystical
stuff will annoy the hell out of you, at other
times these songs will lift you up a treat.
(4 out of 5)
New Gold Dream
'Fan Club' (UK)
He was only 10
years old, and yet he was filled with determination
and a strong sense of justice. Little Jim Kerr
had a friend in Glasgow who had a huge bird
house full of prize birds. And everytime Jim
would visit, he would stand in awe in front
of that cage, obsessed by the incessant fluttering
of hundred of wings. One day, he just couldn't
stand it; he made sure nobody was around and
freed all the birds. Needless to say he took
a serious beating after that, but until today,
Jim still believes he did the right thing.
This passion for
freedom is still very much alive in Jim today.
A freedom in terms of human dignity and pride.
As many of you know, Jim is a very active member
of Amnesty International, an organization that
seeks the release of political prisoners the
world over. But to a lot of fans, it seems that
Jim's interest in politics is new, that he's
just jumping the "good cause" bandwagon.
"It's just that I have the means to speak
out", he explains. "With our music,
I can touch a lot of people and make them aware.
When we started, I didn't realise that. I guess
if I remained an ordinary person, I wouldn't
be able to do anything about it". Has getting
a message across to his fans worked? "I
think so. At every concert, we ask people to
send postcards to governements asking them to
free prisonners of conscience. I just learned
that four prisonners we were sponsoring have
Since they were
first known as Johnny and the Self Abusers in
1977, Jim Kerr and his friends Charlie Burchill
and Michael MacNeil have come a long way. They
have had a new drummer, Mel Gaynor, and a new
bass player, John Giblin. Having two "strangers"
in the band hasn't been that easy. "In
the last tour, I've realised that Simple Minds
are divided in two factions: Charlie and I have
the dreams and create the visual and conceptual
aspects of the music, whereas John and Mel are
an incredible rhythm section and they know how
to add the reality to my visions," says
Jim. Knowing that these two sides exist to the
Minds, the working relationship between the
five musicians has greatly improved. And Jim
intends to make the most out of it.
There have been
rumours about the Minds recording an exclusively
instrumental album titled Aurora Borealis. "It's
not done yet; we wanted to keep a tight lid
on this project, but somehow the news has leaked.
You know what my dream is? I'd love the Minds
to release two albums on the same day: one with
only instrumental music on it, and the other
made up of songs. Then we would tour without
an opening act, since we'd be doing the show
in two parts: first for the music, the second
for the songs. We'd be our own opening act!"
Nearly three hours of SImple Minds live. To
good to be true, but a dream fully alive!
Live In The
City Of Light
'CMJ New Music'
When you listen
to In The City Of Light, think of all the disappointing
arena bands that you've seen in the last few
years (they know who they are). Think about
their inability to live up to a picture-perfect,
digitally recorded masterpiece. . .Now juxtapose
Simple Minds' animated, vibrant live performance-they
have the glitter and the class to necessitate
the attention that this two-record set has received
from A & M (one of the nicest packaging jobs
we've ever seen) and programmers who having
been sitting on the edge of their mailboxes
waiting for this package to arrive.
All but one track
were recorded live at Le Zenith in Paris, France,
August `86 ("Someone Somewhere In Summertime"
was done at the Sydney Entertainment Center,
Australia) and all are crystal clear digital
masters that leave nothing to the imagination.
Standout tracks span the career of the popular
Scottish five-piece; priority inspections should
include "Ghostdancing," the last British single
from the Once Upon A Time LP; the creeping beat
of "Waterfront"; and a fresher-than-the-LP version
of "Alive And Kicking." But given the fact that
all of the tracks are already new music standards,
find air time for the entire two-record set
won't be difficult.
A Miracle (Live)
'Smash Hits' (UK)
best works are now shrouded far back in the
swirling spirals of time and, as if to acknowledge
this, the group have just released a live double
LP of their 'greatest' moments, from which this
single has been snipped. Trouble is, live records
only work if the performance adds something
to the original.
Such things are
possible, the Minds' live version of 'Hunter
And The Hunted' (on the b-side of 'Waterfront',
fact fanatics) has a freshness and grandeur
which makes it far better than the LP version,
for instance-but, apart from some annoying 'audience
participation' and a general fuzziness, this
slightly thin rendition of 'Promised You A Miracle'
gains nothing whatsoever. In fact, it's rather
Live In the City Of Light
'Smash Hits' (UK)
Anyone who saw
Simple Minds on their tour of outdoor British
venues last summer will know what to expect
from this double LP. 'Live In The City Of
Light' recorded live at Le Zenith auditorium
in Paris (hence the name!) in August 1986,
faithfully reproduces a typical performance
from that tour, right down to the supposedly
spontaneous versions of 'Sun City' and 'Dance
To The Music' near the end, just before the
final blast of 'New Gold Dream'.
you enjoyed those shows, you will love this
LP, particularly the inspired versions of
'Don't You Forget About me' and 'Alive And
Kicking', the two Simple Minds songs best
suited to the big stadium environment. If,
however, you regarded those Simple Minds 1986
shows as just a touch pompous, dull and boring
then you would give 'Live In The City Of Light'
less than 7 out of 10.
(6 out of