Sunday, 5 February 2012

Lazy Sunday - Simple Minds

Lazy Sunday and top of the shuffle pile is a track from Simple Minds. Before the film soundtracks , berets , doves, white smocks , famous wives, the U2 aspirations. I love the mumbling lyrics and the shimmering sounds. I'd forgotten how good this and the lp it comes from are

New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) - Simple Minds

You can buy the lp which was the subject of one of the most pretentious reviews I've ever read (by Paul Morley - although at the time I loved it!), here 

I couldnt resist including the original review

THIS RECORD is something of a glow. Whatever your preference you will find it memorable and instructive. Find its qualities and fix your place. Be swept, be drained...This is really all I have to say, but I shall not stop on that account. Indeed, I shall begin again.

MY LOYALTY towards Simple Minds is known to be considerable, yet even I am jarred by the constant beauty of this music. Truly, all I need to say is that New Golden Dream robs me of my breath – but let's continue. Be swept, be drained, believe me.

After their last (double) LP it could be said that despite their undoubted ability the group threatened to settle down into an overwhelming, agitating monotony devoid of nobility: a heat-switch has been turned on, the looming Simple Minds solid has melted, is melting into a bewitching, fresh sound. Suddenly the group sound acutely aware of space and emptiness, and their impact is a lot harder because of that. (When I say harder, I am just as likely to mean "softer" – it depends whether you're stood on your head or not.)

Simple Minds took a certain way with rhythm and motion to its limits; they've now shook away what was becoming a kind of concussion, to be left with a very clear head. And, clearly, a heat. 'Melting' is a useful word to use in connection with this record. Not only are the known Minds cliches melting into new forms and shapes, but also more general cliches melt into new meanings. The familiar deliciously falls in on itself. This 'melting' results in an exotic re-orientation.

Indeed, and this is perhaps because the Minds' aspirations sometimes seemed too great for the pop context to hold, the music contained here is as searching a representation of the meltings between what is 'memory' and what is 'imagination' as that which troubles me in the workings of Beckett and Baudelaire. New Golden Dream is the perfect attack upon those who think pop too small to think big.

The group, confounding banal limitations and their duff reputation as kids muddling in areas roughly outside their scope, have outgrown what was previously their defiant restlessness, a celebrated stoicism, and turned their song into an adventure: an adventure embedded in memory/imagination, patient and dark, as intoxicating as the adventure of Buckley, as personally aggressive as the adventure of Joy Division. It is responsible to no one and nothing, it is sensation for sensation's sake, but it takes the working listener to wherever, it suggests to the working listener that...everything is possible.

Let's face it, it's a glorious achievement to produce something that works generously in the usual sweet way – tucked inside the trivialised pop context, yet that stretches far beyond those coloured walls to stand strong as an exhilarated, canny comment on the "state of the world's flow", on the position of hope and anxiety. There's plenty of light and melody through the Dream to please you; but enough heat to chill you.

There's a number of outstanding instrumental performances to turn to – Forbes' arrogantly commanding bass, Burchill's shrewd and eager guitar, MacNeil's expressive and seemingly infallible keyboarding – but 'Dreams' music is something that succeeds smoothly yet provocatively as 'a whole'. A rippling, humming, beating, rustling, driving, melting 'whole', with Kerr's voice, his glancing, broken words, as if tiny holes allowing glimpses into the worldview that enabled such noble music to appear. The 'whole' is an ardent, tender sound that sweeps and sways between the sly and the open with pleasured mastery; as for Kerr's 'holes', there's nothing wrong with his spelling, his spelling is binding, his images and touches spellbinding. If previously he could be irritating, now he and his words insist on response. And measure the words' intrigue by the depth of that response. The working listener will be quietly, carefully, profoundly re-placed.

The absolutely gripping opening song 'Someone Somewhere In Summertime' immediately announces that Simple Minds have shed old skin. What accounts for this shedding, the 'melting', the shaking away of concussion, is the group swallowing the pill of simplicity: rather than try to make a point or point towards mystery through a rush and rush of overcompensation – this is where many other groups, ie. Bauhaus, flip and flop into the muddle of futility – the group have moved out into the opening of understatement, tweaking will and snatching heart through implication.

It's the kind of simplicity Joy Division smashed into accidentally and to devastating effect: a proof of articulacy and sensitivity through keen selectivity. The two '82 singles 'Promised You A Miracle' and 'Glittering Prize' fit into this record not as blatant shows of concession for the charts but as bright, confident celebrations of this simplicity: the group scatter their assault rather than channel it.

And then when Herbie Hancock glides in to embellish the lovely 'Hunter And The Hunted', one doesn't sense a clumsy, irrelevant intrusion by a name pianist with a huge erratic musical background, just an apt, almost hidden contribution by one musician to the effort of other musicians. It's a fine moment, sealing the group's (radiant) simplicity, and claiming that the group can exist on any terms – no longer must they be locked into a strained-art-pop closet.

So certainly this is Simple Minds' most distinguished collection. It also continues, powerfully, a period of music that melts and scatters around 'For Your Pleasure', 'Correct Use Of Soap', 'Closer', 'Sulk', 'Tin Drum', a music that went to follow through how Iggy somersaulted through good and bad possibilities, how Reed reached below the functional surfaces of city life, how Bowie travelled, how Hamill hoped, how Eno twisted and treated the pop song to the edge of 'the marvellous'. A music swerving and unnerving through recollection and recognition and habit and faded sensations...searching for connections and new vantage points, using pop to mind more about memory than the order of guitar notes.

Simple Minds have produced something as inventive, as cleansing, as suggestive as anything by the musicians, The Heroes, who first inspired them to form around the days and nights in Glasgow. This will thrill them, for it is still in them to be thrilled. And what will thrill you is that it is possible to pluck something as special and triumphant as this out from amidst all the painful failures. Its uses are abstract, but its signifance is universal. And the feeling grows, as I listen, that they're just beginning.


  1. You know what, I could read that review over and over again. Mind you Morely has always been good at saying the same thing endlessly in different ways.
    New Gold Dream is very much a different territory than Empires and Dance or Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. Kerr and Co. were still inspired, still reaching for something rich and satisfying. They were still succeeding.
    I truly love his timeline of For Your Pleasure - Closer - Tin Drum to get to NGD!
    Classic line alert " how Reed reached below the functional surfaces of city life..."
    SM created one more classic album after NGD in Sparkle In The Rain. But then Keith Forsey and John Hughes came knocking with the addictions of fame and self importance.

  2. Strangest thing... I couldn't stop reading! Thanks for defining pretentious!
    PS: I know "Real Life" was dumped on, but I think it's pretty solid... some glorious moments!

  3. Hi Echo

    I'm afraid i swithed off after NGD , the drums just got too big , although listening back Waterfront is a classic

    Hi Tim

    not heard Real Life will give it a go

  4. Real Life the LP I like the less. Black and White probably my favorite - I'll suggest Dophins for drums. Totally agree on Derek Forbes "arrogantly" playing bass. Bass line one of the secrets of the success of this great band - also after Forbes. John Giblin and Andy Duffy my favorites - Sanctify Yourself and Moscow Underground good examples.

  5. Cheers anon I'll see if spotify has black and white. I love the bass line in waterfront it is one of those songs that I like better the older i get if that makes sense (I think at the time of its release i was a bit disppointed that it wasnt as hypnotic os NGD
    Heard JK and CB on bbc 6 msuic the other day and they seem genuinely modest and funny and down to earth blokes


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