Simple Minds – Big Music and Continual Exploration…

I’ve now advanced more into the journey of my Simple Minds fandom and have become a fully hooked, dyed-in-the-wool, paid-up member of the Simple Minds fan set.

Since writing my first blog post regarding the re-energising and impassioning of my fandom, I’ve bought magazine clippings, an Empires And Dance t-shirt, CDs/DVDs and CONCERT TICKETS!! I’ll be going to my first EVER Simple Minds gig at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on April 21st, 2015 – and I am BEYOND excited!

After writing my previous piece, re: SM, I’ve obviously done more exploring of the music. I’m dipping in slowly because I don’t want to be greedy. I don’t want to OD on it all too quickly. When I became a Bowie fan in 1986, I devoured so much so quickly, having such a strong back catalogue – even by that date – that he had. Never Let Me Down came out in 1987 and I didn’t even buy it (man, was I disappointed once I finally did, though! – there are guilty pleasures to be had from it, though “87 And Cry” is NOT one of them) because I was so fixed on the back catalogue, I didn’t want to delve into Bowie’s new stuff then.

I’m trying hard not to be too greedy with the Minds’ back catalogue. It’s as numerous as Bowie’s catalogue was in 1986. Yet, what is different for me as a SM fan is that I *want* to explore what’s current! With next year’s concert tickets I ordered the deluxe CD set of Big Music, Simple Minds’ first new studio album in five years. The guys really are masters of modern marketing. The album is available to listen to on SoundCloud as a sample.

You can listen to the Big Music album sample here.

I am really excited about this album. Many people are, including “fans” who haven’t liked anything they’ve done since New Gold Dream. In fact, many are comparing the new album to NGD and Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. (By the way, I put the word “fan” in inverted commas because if you only like an artist or group until a said point, can you REALLY call yourself a fan? Yes, it’s sycophancy to LIKE EVERYTHING an artist/group does, but there is a distinction for me. There are “fans” (pernickety fuckers who only like the first two albums, for example, then ditch the group) and there are FANS (those of us with the understanding that we’re not going to like EVERYTHING, but appreciate and accept that others do, including the artist/group themselves – I mean, they’re obviously proud of the work at the time of release, otherwise, why would they release it?). The FANS will find pockets of things we do like in the areas of dislike that we have. For example: MANY “fans” ditch David Bowie after 1980’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). That’s now THIRTY FOUR YEARS of music that you refuse to explore! It’s insanity! How can you consider yourself a fan of someone if you refuse to listen to anything they’ve done for the past 34 years? It just makes no sense to me?! There are albums I absolutely ADORE of David Bowie’s recent work (I use the term “recent” loosely – meaning the past 20 years). My equal favourite albums of Bowie’s (I really, seriously cannot choose between them) are Low (1977) and Heathen (2002). Imagine if I was that blinkered. Imagine my ears never hearing Heathen because I was stupid enough to think that after 1980, Bowie was shit and never made another great record. It’s just fucking bananas!

But I digress. Back to Big Music. We’ve already had tasters of songs from the album. Both Blood Diamonds (beautiful, haunting electro-pop, co-written with Chvrches’ Iain Cook) and Broken Glass Park (poppy, pulsing, shiny, nostalgic and fun, with a tinge of sadness) have been previously released on the “Celebrate” greatest hits compilation. Blindfolded (anthemic, atmospheric – certainly harking back to that post-industrial sound the Minds’ had in 1981/2) was put out online on YouTube and various other sites for ingesting. And the most recent release has been Honest Town (a slow burner – there’s a kind of morose “groove” to it. It’s kind of “funky” musically, but lyrically, it’s sad, emotively that is) – receiving airplay on radio, as well as Jim, Charlie and Mark Kerr performing the song live (acoustically) on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 on Friday, September 26th. Other tracks I like so far, from the sampler: Concrete & Cherry Blossom (rocking! “I’m on the rooftop / yeah yeah” – you can tell it’s going to be the one that gets the crowd going at the gigs next year!), Spirited Away (along with Blood Diamonds & BGP – the song guaranteed to make me cry when I hear the full thing. Jim’s voice is beautiful on this track), and Kill Or Cure (sounds dirty and sexy to me). Other fans on their Facebook page (wonderfully maintained, by the way, with heavy involvement from Jim himself – he likes and replies to many fans directly – being a SM fan is ace!) have expressed a liking for Midnight Walking – I need to hear the full track for that one. Ninety seconds of it is not quite selling it to me, yet. Not that I’m not liking what I’m hearing – I’m just not sure I’m as solidly committed to it as with other tracks on the album. Anyway, we can’t like EVERYTHING – that would be just as nuts as calling yourself a “fan” after ditching a groups catalogue two albums in! 😉

Honest Town – Acoustic version.

My enthusiasm for what’s coming is wholly positive. The album is setting up to be a cracker and I hope will bring the band back into the consciousness of many people – especially those “fans” who seemed to ditch them after New Gold Dream. One can but hope at least. And the boys deserve it. I am wishing the days to April away!

Simple Minds – Big Music is released 3rd November – details for purchase here

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