RETURN OF THE CONQUERING HEROES
Simple Minds began their summer festival campaign last Friday in their old hometown of Glasgow, supported by In Tua Nua, Hipsway, The Water boys and Lloyd Cole. Barry McIIheney joined the adoring thousands at Ibrox.
Barry McIIheney – ‘Melody Maker’ 14th June 1986 (UK)
The home of Glasgow Rangers football team is a Protestant club for Protestant people. Coming down from the main road, you see this massive redbrick building in front of you, more like a mill than a football ground, the very last place you would expect to find anything even close to entertainment. Inside, it’s all narrow corridors, plush chairs and portraits of the greats throughout the ages. The pitch itself is surrounded by grandstands on all sides so that instead of the traditionally seething Kop ends behind either net, the hapless striker here must feel he’s running into massive banks of seats that stretch somewhere into the sky.
The most obvious manigestation of Rangers’ exclusively Protestant appeal in this football-mad city is its well-documented refusal to sign any brilliant footballers who also happen to be Roman Catholics. But the news is that all this is about to change following the appointment of a new manager, the cosmopolitian Graeme Souness. And if the old faithful are still reeling from that one, here’s another piece of gossip to really rub it in. For a full 12 hours last Friday, the tricolour flew proudly over the beloved Ibrox Stadium.
Calm down. This wasn’t some perverted sectarian gesture from a bunch of local boys who have long outgrown such petty bickering. It was simply that Simple Minds, now Glasgow’s most successful export around the world, were keen to fly the flag, for every country represented onstage throughout the long day and the Irish, as always, were there in force with In Tua Nua and The Waterboys, the latter qualifying under the Jackie Charlton rule of dubious adoption counting for a whole lot more than birth certificates.
Beside the tricolour were the Scottish dragon (Hipsway, The Commotions, the Minds themselves and probably their boys in Mexico into the bargain), the English standard for Lloyd Cole and catlin and the white flag of peace directly over the stage for the 30,000 punters to hopefully get the message. Just in case they missed it, however, the black curtains on either side of the stage had a huge graphic depicting a white dove on a outstretched hand, the worldwide symbol of Amnesty International who weren’t actually getting any cash from today’s considerable gate receipts, but who were persumably meant to benefit from the goodwill by such a gesture and by the Minds’ previous benefits for the cause.
The crowd on the tarpaulined pitch were strangely scattered about all over the place while the stands were already beginning to fill up, a curious sight explained by the offical ruling that only 7,000 people were to be allowed onto the hallowed turf. The sun was directly overhead, a faint breeze blew in from the Clyde, and the men from the Maker were armed and ready to go. Get the picture?
Two minutes to eight and a sign of the times. With Simple Minds not due to go on until 8:15, the crowd on the pitch were reliving Scotland’s better moments against the Danes when compere Billy Sloan came strolling onto the stage, confirmed the fact that we were running early and asked for a big welcome to a band who have played all over the world this year. Pandemonium.
Mick MacNeil, John Giblin, Mel Gaynor, Charlie Burchill and Jim Kerr ran onto the stage, the latter with the mike in his hand and a coat on his back that came straight off the sleeve of the debut album by The Pogues. “It’s great to be back in front of the best audience in the world,” he declared. The best audience in the world obviously didn’t think that this was such a bad idea either. And then the Minds burst into “Waterfront”….
Now Catlin had heard, just a rumour mind, that the first three songs were going to last a full hour. Seriously. Whether or not this was ever more than wonderful gossip, it at least made the eventual reality of three in 20 minutes seem short and to the point. By then, of course, we’d already been introduced to the best drummer in the world, we’d been told the guitarist’s name twice and we knew that we would be spending the rest of the show going up and up with you, Jim.
It may have been the (lack of) stage lighting or maybe it was the sparseness of the crowd immediately in front of the stage, but this seemed to be a throughly lacklustre performance from the local heroes, all pomp and ceremony and seriously lacking in any real attempts at breaking down the great divide, twixt stage and the 23,000 paying guests in the stands. It was just a touch unreal, an impression compounded by Jim’s predictions that the Scottish football team would beat Germany 5-0, and Uruguay by at least seven, “cos we deserve it”. Maybe they do and maybe the Minds deserve a suspension of the harsher critical condemnations on their home turf –
almost where it all started for them – but to anyone who ever loved this band only two years ago, for their urgency and lack of pretence above all else, it was not an altogether pleasant sight. “The greatest thing about tonight is that instead of two sides singing different songs, you’re all singing one,” announced Jimbo, no doubt delighted at this rare show of unity through joy and revelling in the only chance he would ever get to play Ibrox. “Promised You A Miracle” was the appropriate signal for a crowd invasion as the bums on seats decided they’d had enough of this charade and rushed into the playing area.
It helped, as did the appearance of Robin Clark on vocals, inevitably hailed as one of the best voices ever to come out of America, but this time it sounded not too far from the truth. She powered her way through “Once Upon A Time”, looked perplexed on “Jungleland” and doubled up to great effect on “Alive And Kicking”, which was certainly the highlight of a two-hour set of less than 20 songs. Still, Jim Kerr now looks like a pop star again after last year’s chins and he must have shed a bit more weight tonight, running down the wings, disappearing every now and then, only to come back with renewed vigour and a few dramatic triple salvoes into the air. Must be something to do with the magic sponge…
Charlie Burchill was Charlie Burchill, the man who was born to play guitar with Simple Minds, Mick MacNeil was Nick Rhodes, Mel Gaynor was the best drummer in the world and John Giblin still looked like an intruder and grimaced his way through the show. The late inclusion of “Sun City” at least gave some substance to the various political references scattered throughout the set, and the exhortation to “get rid of those evil bastards and get involved” was par for the political showbiz course. The final encore of “Dance To The Music” walked off with the most unsuitable title of the day award and then Simple Minds walked off the stage, the crowd walked out of the stadium and we all went home.
The basic argument against Simple Minds is that there is a great conceit at the heart of their music which then touches everything they do. At Ibrox Park, that didn’t really seem to matter so much as the fact that this band seemed hard-pressed to communicate their genuine enthuiasm at performing in front of their own people in this magnificent setting. Instead, they too often fell back on those little tricks and touches used by any old rock band in any old town and the celebrations were put on hold until the Saturday. I know there’s too much football in the paper, but at the end of the day the crowd trooped on to the field and some of them must have thought that it really was all over. I tell you, it is now.
LIVE AND KICKING IN NEW YORK
The plush Roosevelt Hotel in fasionable New York is awash with young music fans with one thing in common; they all work for, with or on their local college radio station and are in New York for their annual conference. Today’s guest is Jim Kerr of Simple Minds, a band who are established favourites with the colleges. Kerr is ushered in through a back entrance to respectful applause. Simple Minds have just kicked off yet another world tour and he’s flown in especially from Montreal. He looks tired but healthy and has already lost a few of the pounds he’s put on recently. The questions come in quick and fast, from an admiring but still critical crowd. The enquires range from the sensible – “Why are you called Simple Minds” – to the ridiculous – “Why didn’t you play such and such a song when you played such and such a place two years ago?”. In between, a good time is had by all.
Paul Bursche – ‘No 1’ 7th December 1985 (UK)
Do you get nervous when you’re playing a big city like New York?
Yes, because you do get all this extra pressure. All the record companies are there, journalists are there – in fact only the other night we had journalists seeing the band for the first time from countries like Germany, Belgium and Holland. It shouldn’t matter but it does matter. I usually find myself feeling nervous for the whole day and then five minutes before I go on I go sod it, it doesn’t matter.
Do you think that with records like ‘Don’t You’ and ‘Alive And Kicking’ Simple Minds are becoming poppier? More Top 40 orientated?
Well. That all depends on how you define ‘Pop’. Take ‘Don’t You’ – let me tell the story for the first time – last year a guy called Keith Forsey got in touch and asked us to get involved in this movie, Breakfast Club. Right away we thought ‘yeah’ because we’d always wanted to get involved in movies in terms of writing soundtracks. I think Charles Burchill and Michael MacNeil (guitarist and keyboards in the group) do excellent theme music but Glasgow being a long way from Hollywood it’s not easy to get in there.
So when Forsey came along we relised our chance had arrived. But when I heard this tape I didn’t get that excited. So he waited until we’d finished a tour and then came back at us with great enthusiaim, and he’s as big a fan as can be, and finally he came over to Britain and we worked on the song. And after that it moved really fast. It came out a month after it was recorded and was quickly Number One. That’s the way it happened. We got sidetracked and we got a Number One. It’s a twist of fate. I did a few interviews where I said I didn’t like the song but I’ve said that about other songs when they’ve first come out. I always feel very self conscious. I admit that the lyrics to ‘Don’t You’ aren’t lyrics that I would have written but that’s that.
I don’t know about being pop-orientated but Simple Minds should always be in the Top 40, there’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve got this thing at the moment where our ‘cult’ audience is spreading into everday people – record buyers. And it has been great having cult fans but when you want to try and do something different they get really precious. Why don’t you play ‘Love Song’? Why don’t you play ‘King Is White And In The Crowd’? See, I’ve always hated elitism and cliques. Simple Minds should be like the Doors where you could like a song like ‘Light My Fire’ without having to go into the depth that was undoubtedly in that song. Our music isn’t a secret, it’s good soul food and deserves to be heard by everyone.
Now your music is more acceptable you’ve started playing larger venues. Does that effect your show?
We played in Montreal last night. I think two years ago we played in Montreal to sixty or seventy people, last night we played an ice hockey arena! And on the way down on the plane today I read a review of the show and it really slammed us. It was all this Simple Minds have gone big time and are playing stadium rock and all these other derogatory terms. The fact is it’s a challenge to play anywhere, from the smallest club to the biggest stadium, and I think we can handle it.
I saw The Jam play in a club and they were fantastic and I saw them play a stadium and they were awful. Their music doesn’t have the size or scope to fit in these halls. Our music is suited to these halls and it’s where we’ll probably be for the next period. I’ve seen bands in these halls and it doesn’t always work but then you can go and see someone like Peter gabriel who brings you to the music and you forget you’re in an auditorium. You feel you’re in a much smaller place and if the band can do that it’s a good thing. In our case, to deny the music that and to deny the people that would be wrong. If 12,000 people want to see us we’ll play a 12,000 seater, if 200 people want to see us then we’ll play somewhere smaller. We can handle it.
Your music is uplifting, almost religiously so. What are your feelings on religion? Do you hide your feelings?
I don’t think it’s hiding, just that I’m still in several minds. And trying to speak about things you haven’t really worked out inside can be stupid.
How did it feel doing Live Aid and how did it feel being part of such a noble cause?
It felt great, it really did, but on the day things moved so fast that… even now it’s hard to recollect any memories or anything. I was just really chuffed that I got Jack Nicholson’s autograph! I met Jack Nicholson 20 minutes before I went on stage and that’s what was going through my mind a lot of the time we were playing. The rest was just a haze.
On the outside you could imagine what the backstage area was like and a few people have said to me it must have been terrible with all those egos, but it wasn’t like that. At night when Duran Duran and Mick Jagger came, suddenly you needed three or four passes to get places instead of one pass in the day, it was great. My heart went out backstage to Madonna. She was just about to get married and she turned up with Sean Penn and everyone was just like a swarm of flies around her. At that time she was probably the biggest star in the world yet she was just sitting there putting on her mascara like there was no big deal. It was really good.
You seemed to be one of the bands that really struck a chord with the audience that day?
I had watched some of the British bands at Wembley before we went on and the contact the British bands had with their audience seemed so much greater than the American leg of the event and we made our minds up before we went on to really try and get into the crowd. The bands before us had just come on and did their thing but there didn’t seem to be any closeness with the audience and we wanted to change that.
You’re a band that seems to be influenced by your surroundings in your music. You spent the summer in Woodstock, (site of the famous 60s hippy festival) did that affect you?
In some ways, yes. The studio down there was great and the countryside around was wonderful, really beautiful. I remember we used to go out at night after working and just lie on the ground looking at the sky – and one night there was a meteor shower which was awesome. The LP wasn’t directly affected but it was a wonderful place to be.
OUR MUSIC WILL BECOME SO BIG IT CAN’T BE STOPPED…
When Jim Kerr talked to Smash Hits back in July, the feature began “It’s been a quiet year for Simple Minds”. Things have certainly changed since then. They’ve had their first American number one, their biggest hit so far in Britain, recorded and released their eighth LP and started on the American “leg” of a world tour that will bring them back home in February. Somewhere in the midst of all this – New York, to be precise – Jim found time to chat to Tim De Lisle.
Tim De Lisle – ‘Smash Hits’ 6th – 19th November 1985 (UK)
Countrary to what some people will tell you, Jim Kerr and his wife Chrissie Hynde don’t live in America: the Hynde-Kerrs, as America likes to call them, have just moved to a house on the shores of the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh (“What a place,” says Jim. “I mean, what a place”). One way and another, though, they’re not there very much. Scotland, it seems, is one of the few places where Jim didn’t work on the new album. First there was Nice, where he went on his own to do some writing: then (a shade less glamorous) Esher, in Surrey, where he and Charlie Burchill and Mick MacNeil rented a house for a month and worked out the melodies. recording was done in London and then it was off to New York State for the mixing, and finally New York itself for a spot of “fine-tuning”.
All this work and travel seems to have been worth it, though – Jim is delighted with the “Once Upon A Time” album. “We’ve better melodies now,” he says, “and we’re arranging the songs better. I just think it’s a glamorous noise – it really uplifts.” A touch of arrogance here? “Well, I think we always had a rather nice kind of arrogance. Ten years ago, there were bands doing a lot of talking and all they did was talk and talk, make a few records and die. But we’ve always had the belief that in the end our music will become so big it can’t be stopped…”
We’re talking in Jim’s room at the moderately swish Mayflower Hotel where three-fifths of Simple Minds are staying. They were at much swisher Morgan’s, the hip new place for pop stars, but they didn’t like it. It may or may not be significant that three-fifths of Duran Duran are staying in Morgan’s while the only other pop personality at the Mayflower is John Lydon. (Simple Minds like him, “he’s really funny”.)
Chrissie’s at home with the children and Jim is sharing his room with only his suitcases. “I think when the rest of the guy’s came out here they’d all got a suitcase and a shoulder bag, and I had seven suitcases.” The contents of these include not very many pairs of socks but absolutely hundreds of tapes, among them Talking Heads, Bob Dylan and a Russian choir. Jim has a wide-ranging musical taste, it seems. He likes Prince, he likes Dusty Springfield – he even likes Bruce Springsteen. “It’s absolutely brilliant that Springsteen is so huge yet has almost no sign of ego,” says Jim. “It’s fantastic ’cause you’re brought up thinking, y’know, the good guys don’t get it.
He makes very big music as well, a very big sound. I think there’s a beauty in that size but there’s also a fear of pomposity and it’s a thin line between them. But I’m not afraid of size, y’know. I remember being a kid and for 18 years I lived in a high-rise block and I used to stand at the bottom of it and look up and wonder, but I never felt in awe of it or anything.” What does Jim think of U2, with whom Simple Minds are so often compared? Well, it’s clear that he feels a certain affinity.
“I think we share a vision and we share a clumsiness as well, and we share the same kind of blood. When I first saw U2 on TV, their expressions looked like the ones I see on stage when I look around me. I really, really admire them and we’ve become friends – Bono came over and stayed with me in Scotland at New Year. But I think there’s also a big difference between us – I think our music has a sort of fermininity that theirs lacks and personally I’m really glad about that…”
As Jim pauses for breath, I ask what else he has in those seven suitcases. Books. They aren’t rubbishy books, mind, but proper literature, matey – not that he’s got very engrossed in any of them. “I’ve read like the first 30 pages of all of them, but to be honest the past six months I’ve been absolutely obessed with the album. In fact, often I’ve been going to amovie and I’ve walked out and then gone back two nights later to see the end of it, because as long as I have a verse to finish or something it’s very hard to concentrate.” He can’t concentrate on films or books and he’s not even allowed to read newspapers.
“Chrissie banned them… we didn’t want our kids to grow up and open the Daily Mirror or something and see that junk. That’s the process I’m at in my life just now, eliminating. Good; and bad. I hate those papers. The people who read them are just tranquilised people it seems.” Talk of Chrissie and child leads to my asking whether family life has altered him. Jim ponders the question… “I think I’ve always been conscious of being part of a family, and perhaps I’m a bit more conscious of it now but to me it’s all one family, the family I came from and the family I’m now in…
I guess it has affected me. I was reading an interview in an American magazine, it was two or three years old and it was with the wife of the Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa at the time when he had been taken into captivity. And reading it made me think about women in general, the wives of the miners as well… I began to think what it would be like for me if for some reason I couldn’t see my daughter. And I would never have thought about that this time last year. It inspired me to write ‘All The Things She Said’ (a track on the new LP).”
Chrissie, meanwhile, has been making some rather less serious music – i.e. her Number One duet with UB40, “I Got You Babe”. “That’s a great song,” says Jim. “But I personally thought they should have made more of it… That’s me in the dog house for a couple of weeks!” Jim tidies away his suitcases and gazes out at the New York skyscrapers shimmering in the heat – it reminds him of an Ultravox video, he quips with a chuckle. he is clearly a happy man, and he’s not ashamed to say ao. “‘Luckiest guys on earth’ sounds a bit gushing, but I really don’t think we’re far from that. We’re so lucky in what we do and the people around us and the friends we’ve made, and if I decide to go to Jamica or Moscow, I can, and I love that…” Jim Kerr’s only problem in life right now is a shortage of socks…
ONCE UPON A TIME
CMJ New Music (US)
The evolution of Simple Minds (a quick head count makes this their ninth album) is fascinating to watch, twisting among atmospherics, dance tracks, grand pop songs and the like. On Once Upon A Time they seize on the break point reached via “Don’t You” ‘s smash success to strike off again.
Jimmy Iovine (Tom Petty, Patti Smith, Dire Straits) and Bob Clearmountain (Bryan Adams, Jim Carroll) produce, throwing aside Steve Lillywhite’s excesses and David Foster’s calculated pop sound for a sophisticated, dense mix where all the instruments are crystal clear, with Jim Kerr’s vocals pulling it all together.
Once Upon A Time is surely Simple Minds’ most consistent album, with hardly a weak track, and a few possible singles. The first, “Alive And Kicking,” is one of their best ever, starting with a “Don’t You-style drum pattern but striking off in many directions, featuring vocal harmonies and soulful backup singing. “Ghost Dancing” is the hardest cut, most likely to please their early fans. “Wish You Were Here” and “All The Things She Said” are also recommended.
MILTON KEYNES BOWL 21ST JUNE 1986
Jonathan Thomas – Simple Minds fan club News 23 (1988)
The scene was exhilarating. It was just after 8.20pm and the lights dimmed. The huge bowl was filled with the chants of approximately 50,000 fans waiting patiently to spend the rest of the night with their idols. Suddenly a small figure jumped out on the stage. It was the magnificent looking Jim Kerr, wearing black ski-pants and a trendy purple silk jacket. A spotlight picked him out and the crowd cheered as a strong Glaswegian voice boomed “Hello Milton Keynes”. The rest of the band ran out on stage with their hands in the air, then grabbing their gear as the bassist erupted to the roar of the fans. “Let me see your hands” shouted Jim, then everybody clapped, not always in time but it was still very enjoyable.
From then on Jim had the crowd in the palm of his hand, turning them into a frenzy of joy. The crowd pushed and encouraged Kerr and company to the very limits, so they gave all they had, plus more. Then playing a tribute to the back of the crowd, and who could forget, the front, they then launched into ‘Book Of Brilliant Things’ and that’s just how iw was, brilliant. “You know something, one of the things that makes us one of the luckiest bands in the world is that we have a good audience like you”, said Kerr, obviously taken aback.
Then Mick MacNeil started the introduction to ‘Once Upon A Time’ as fans mumured “Where is she?”, obviously talking about Robin Clark – the sweetest voice in America – as she usually joins the Minds in their latest songs. Then dressed in white she appeared as Jim introduced her as one of America’s best female singers. She sang with them for more than half of the concert, backing up Kerr’s vocals with her own powerful voice as Simple Minds played a collection of songs from their latest album, including ‘Alive & Kicking’ which really got the crowd clapping and dancing around the fires they had made, now that the air was getting cold.
They played a lot of songs from the ‘New Gold Dream’ album including the beautiful ‘Big Sleep’. Although they didn’t write it they played a fantastic ‘Don’t You (Forget ABout Me)’ which got the fans sining the strong chrous as if they could sing it forever. They finished off with a wild ‘Sanctify Yourself’ as the crowd gave all they had in voice. Simple Minds left the stage but only to come back on to sing ‘Someone Somewhere, In Summertime’, with Charlie Burchill’s guitar blasting around the bowl. They left again, then came back on for a second and final encore.
Kerr now wearing a red tartan jacket sang ‘East At Easter’ sitting down with his hand in the air, as a huge smile grew on his face as he realises the special relationship he has with his fans. After an excellent duet with MacNeil on ‘Love Song’ and a couple of cover versions of ‘Sun City’ and ‘Dance To The Music’, Simple Minds left a buzzing bowl of more than satisfied fans to go home with memories never to forget. Simple Minds can now look forward to future dates knowing that they will be a sure success.
NCE UPON A TIME
MacKenzie Wilson – All Music Guide (US)
Riding the coat tails of the John Hughes flick The Breakfast Club, Simple Minds finally broke America with their theme song “Don’t You Forget About Me,” and their 1985 release Once Upon a Time captured the heart-wrenching excitement found in bands such as U2. They were now one of the biggest names in music and Jim Kerr’s thirsting vocals became the band’s signature. Once Upon a Time, featuring producer Jimmy Iovine (U2, Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen), showcased more of a guitar-driven sound.
The band’s heavy synth-pop beats had relaxed a bit and Charlie Burchill’s charming playing style was most noticeable. Also enlisting the choir-like beauty of Robin Clark, Simple Minds’ popularity was expounded on songs such as Alive & Kicking” and “Sanctify Yourself.” This album was one of their best, most likely leading the pack in the band’s album roster, because it exuded raw energy and solid composition not entirely captured on previous albums.
ONCE UPON A TIME
A&M Records Press Release October 1985 (US)
1985 has been Simple Minds’ year – and the year this Scottish quintet has taken America by storm. They’ve had a Number One single with “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” They appeared at the Live Aid extravaganza – in Philadelphia, instead of their native Great Britain. They’ll open their next concert tour in this country. And to top it off, SImple Minds have made their first recording with American producers: “Once Upon A Time,” their third album for A&M and eighth overall.
A shift in producers, from Steve Lillywhite to Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain, isn’t the only change Simple Minds have made. Vocalist Jim Kerr, guitarist Charles Burchill, keyboardist Michael (Mick) MacNeil and drummer Mel Gaynor have been joined by a new member, bassist John Giblin. The group met Giblin, who has played with Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Kate Bush and others, when Simple Minds opened for Gabriel on tour four years ago. It just so happens that Giblin is also Scottish.
“However,” says Jim Kerr, “Simple Minds have always considered themselves an International band.” But when it came to production, they found themselves noticing “the vibrancy of American recordings versus British and the others you hear on British radio. I think that’s what sparked us to look for American producers. Of course, Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain are two of the best America has to offer.”
Iovine (Tom Petty, Bob Segar and others) and Clearmountain (Bryan Adams and others) offered Simple Minds a distinct balance of discipline and spontaneity. “Jimmy gently bullied us into focusing on our songs in their entirety,” Kerr explains. “Before now, we generally wrote songs from the standpoint of melody first, lyrics later. Charlie and Mick would go into the studio and jam until they came up with a melody; I’d absorb the feel and write the words later. “This time, I considered the whole style and makeup of a song from the beginning. That resulted in more formal song structures and tighter, more tangible arrangements instead of our usual atmospheric approach. I think ‘Alive & Kicking’ and ‘Oh Jungleland’ are especially good examples of that.”
Clearmountain, on the other hand, helped Simple Minds acheive a goal on “Once Upon A Time” that they had long sought: translating the spirit of their live performances to vinyl. “There’s a certain spontaneity of feel that can only come from a band that has played together a lot and is really a unit,” notes Kerr. And while Simple Minds’ records have always sounded good – the subtlety of ‘New Gold Dream’ and the spaciolus power of ‘Sparkle In The Rain’ to mind – that “live feel” has been just out of reach. “Achieving that with Bob was really a career dream” Kerr adds. “In fact, I think ‘Once Upon A Time’ overall is the album we’ve been dreaming about for three or four years.”
“Don’t You (Forget About Me),” a track from A&M’s soundtrack album for “The Breakfast Club,” was written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff. And while Simple Minds were certainly happy to reach the top of the charts with that song, it’s clear that their ultimate aim is to succeed here with their own material as they have everywhere else in the world. As for 1985’s American emphasis, be assured that the band isn’t about to trade in their British citizenship. “I don’t think we’re making a deliberate attempt to ‘conquer’ the U.S.,” says Kerr. “America has indicated a fondness for the band, and we’re doing our best to respond.” You could hardly hope for a better response than “Once Upon A Time.”
ONCE UPON A TIME
Andrea Merribelle – ‘World-Music’ (US)
Clean, upbeat music with inspired lyrics After revisiting this album for the first time in eleven years, I cant imagine why Id forgotten about it to begin with. Perhaps the fact that I had owned it on LP originally, and my record player has long since bit the dust? Anyway, now that my collection has been updated completely to CDs I have been regretting my absence; Once Upon a Time by Simple Minds is simply amazing. Because Im just a music fan who cant sing or play anything worth a lick, I lack the musical language to describe Simple Minds style beyond comparing them to other bands of their time. Superficially, this collection sounds like early U2 with a little more emphasis on the synthesizers and backup singers.
The lyrics even have a similar quasi-spiritual overtone, poetically borrowing phrases that could have been Praise and Worship quotes but are probably used to describe human relationships. For instance”You lift me up like the sweetest cup I share with you” is from Alive and Kicking, and from Sanctify Yourself: “So you cant stop the world for a Boy or a Girl, Sweet victims of poor circumstances But you can pour back the Love, Sweeping down from above, giving hope and making more chances Well I hope and I pray that maybe someday Youll come back down here and show me the way…Open up your heart, Sanctify yourself.”
The title track also refers to Love as a white dove and repeats that God Only Knows. Honestly, I dont know if the band professes any specific faith, but as a Christian myself I find their style truthful and uplifting indeed. If Simple Minds have been often and unfairly compared to U2, then that is a deserved compliment in my opinion. But as much as I like those other guys, Once Upon a Time has its own brand of charm and energy that makes it a great stand-alone. It almost got my complete five-star vote if not for the fact that at only 8 tracks, I felt it was a bit too scant. That may not bother everybody as much as me, however. So, whether youre just looking to complete an 80s collection (which would be missing a great deal without at least one Simple Minds cd), or whether you like its style-brethren, Once Upon a Time has my full blessing.