There’s a new Simple Minds album due out in November. Ten years ago this information wouldn’t have really interested me very much. I’d largely given up on the band and doubted that any real return to form was ever very likely.
Once though, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, they’d been a favourite band of mine when their sound was like Neu meets the Velvet Underground by the banks of the river Clyde.
I Travel, written about their experiences while touring Europe for the first time, was post-punk disco, arty but also accessible – it gave a lyrical nod to Eno’s Music For Airports and used to fill the dance floor in Maestro’s in a flash. Or listen to Theme For Great Cities for further evidence of just how fantastic they could sound, with the almost spectral, sometimes shimmering synth of Mick MacNeil and Derek Forbes’ indestructable bassline.
Like the high-rises in Toryglen where Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill had grown up, the music of Simple Minds gradually fell out of favour. The flats were demolished and at one point the band were left label-less.
Jim Kerr appeared more concerned with opening sushi restaurants and following Glasgow Celtic than making music. Covers album Neon Lights was the nadir, failing to climb any higher than #141 in the UK charts. Simple Minds soldiered on though and, to their credit, refused to join any I Love the 80s money spinning nostalgia fests.
With their 30th anniversary looming, Simple Minds began celebrating their past while also looking to the future, planning to make an album that as Jim Kerr put it: ‘belied the fact we’d been together for three decades’.
2009’s Graffiti Soul, just about lived up to this hope and was their finest for a very long time. The newly recorded tracks on last year’s Celebrate compilation kept up the good work. Although still a little too glossy for my liking, Broken Glass Park showed a revitalised band determined not to just go through the motions. Stagefright, a free download from 2011 also included in Celebrate was even better.
I instantly liked new track Blindfolded when I heard it on Sunday night’s Billy Sloan show on Clyde 2 (and the first live session by Glasgow band Lola In Slacks on the show was superb too incidentally). Anyway, see what you think, shot in Paris and Berlin by Damien Reeves of Noisebox, this is Blindfolded from the forthcoming album Big Music:
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And finally, seeing Toryglen from a distance on several bus journeys some years ago, I couldn’t work out what had happened to the tower blocks there as they suddenly looked distinctly psychedelic.
Nope, I wasn’t on acid or magic mushrooms and I did later discover that, pre-demolition, they had been used for an award winning TV ad: