The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sons and Fascination

The prize of the Simple Minds catalogue - this edition of the CD 'rights a wrong' - when it was initially made available on CD, some of th "Sister Feelings Call" songs were missing (2 of them, as I recall) - well, all 15 songs are here - in a reproduction 'little paper album cover CD' from Europe. And it looks fantastic, too - many thanks to Malcolm Garratt of Assorted Images (Hi, Norman!).

How many people noticed that this album was produced by Steve Hillage of Khan, Gong etc.? This was the 80's, so it was after Gong, but before Steve was re-born as "777" or "System 7" - how many people who buy those CD's know that Steve H has a past? Or that he's likely now an 'old hippie'?

Simple Minds came to L.A. a short time after this album came out - they played at The Whisky on Sunset Blvd., in Hollywood. We heckled the band, "Oy, Jimmy! Come have a drink with us! Will ye?" - he paused and said only: "OK".

I didn't care all that much for the debut SM album, but I like it just fine right now (nod to the Incredible String Band, will ye?). Really got into "Reel to Real Cacaphony" - "Shelter In A Suitcase", eh, Jimmy? "Empires and Dance" had some inspired moments too - despite their trying too hard to be obscure - and not really succeeding. I just love "Thirty Frames A Second" - perverse, that. But this album - that's the one. "Sweat In Bullet" is very good indeed (thank you, Ian Dury).

When I started buying vinyl again (over a decade ago, by now, eh, readers?) I made sure to get all of the mighty Simple Minds 12" singles again.

However - I stuck with 'em for the next album - whatever that was - but lost the plot about the time "Don't You Forget About Me" got overexposed.

So, salut, Jimmy!



Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Re: Simple Minds

This album period was my entree to Simple Minds fandom. Apparently many early Virgin CDs longer than 60 minutes were losing track on their 1st CD releases: XTC's English Settlement and most criminally, Japan's Oil On Canvas (which lost my 2 favorite songs) also spring immediately to mind. I later found out that in spite of the 74 minute running time of CDs, these early discs cost a bit more to master once they passed the 60 minute mark, and for that reason Virgin's accountants held sway in the matter. But that was when CD mastering was a black art, practiced by only a few who from the sound of it, were pulling the wool over Virgin's eyes.

So you think Life In A Day sounds like ISB? I always felt it was a big Doctors Of Madness vibe going on there. Admittedly, I've never heard ISB!

30 Frames A Second - The best Simple Minds single that was never a Simple Minds single! (apologies to Firesign Theatre)

Simple Minds were always a priority from 1981 for me but in recent years they have become perhaps my favorite band. The reasons for this are multifold:

1) After making my 9CD Boxed Set Of God I didn't get burned out on SM, as I often do. Quite the reverse! I gained an even greater appreciation for their salad days! Hardly a week goes by when I am not listening to some of their music.

2) Though Empires + Dance/Sons+Fascination vie for fave album constantly in my mind (E+D usually wins) I gained an even greater appreciation for their New Gold Dream album of 82. Though I loved it upon release, I love it more and listen to it more now. It has aged very well for me. The SACD version is radically different with different/longer mixes. Also cool!

3) Hearing web boots of live stuff from the salad days (81-84) have truly astonished me! Live, no band I love could touch Simple Minds at their peak. Inventive and powerful stuff that never stood still to gather dust! As good as their studio albums of the period are, the live stuff wipes the proverbial floor with it.

3a) Bassist Derek Forbes is the god of bass! Fretted or fretless, he rips it up and gives each song a sinuous spine of steel.

4) They are my only favorite band that never quit. That counts for a lot, particularly when their last dozen years made great strides away from their missteps of the previous ten. I am not a fan of their 85-94 output to put it mildly. I castigate them daily for it, but they certainly regained some of their groove. I saw them live in 86 (hated 'em) and again in 02 (loved 'em).

But who's Norman?

8:19 AM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

Norman is / was an employee of Malcolm Garratt @ Assorted Images - and he's an old internet friend of mine.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Re: Norman

Ask Norman to tell Malcolm Garratt that he needs to have a DAMN GOOD retrospective book on his work. I have both Neville Brody books, the Peter Saville book and the omission of a volume of his work is a sticking point with me. My triumverate of top UK graphic designers working in music is seriously askew without Garratt duly represented.

8:55 AM  

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