Why I Love…Boys From Brazil

I’ve talked about my love for Boys From Brazil in passing several times now. On the Simple Minds FB page too, telling Jim how much I would love to meet Brian McGee and thank him…KISS HIM…for those amazing drums. Yes, Jim says Mel Gaynor is the best drummer in world…and he might be right. He certainly is stellar and gifted. But Brian’s role in the Simple Minds story, no matter how brief it was, should NOT be underplayed. He was there for four albums…five, if you count Sons And Fascination and Sister Feelings Call as separate entities. His work on those albums alone deserves endless accolades.

So, yes. Those drums. I find the beat of this song hypnotic. And it is down to these drums. It’s almost like you actually get transported to the Brazilian rainforest itself. Subtle synths slide in from Mick and then Charlie’s gleaming guitar comes in, high and proud in the mix.

Then Jim comes in with that title…just in case you weren’t sure where we were. Of course, the line isn’t meant to be taken literally…but with those drums (the drums, the drums!), how can you NOT feel as though you are in Brazil?

That Scots accent in his singing voice, that emphasis on the word “Brazil” – I never tire of it. “Champagne / Desert shore” – (he’ll hate me for saying this, probably…if he ever reads it…or I have the gall to share it some time) those lines conjure up imagery for me…like an art rock version of Copacabana. Young men, rich, snobby, handsome, yet full of scorn. Languishing poolside, as if not a care in the world.

“Eyes of the world on you”, yeah, we’d better watch out for these young nobs! They’ll be our leaders one day. It’s like the bloody Bullingdon Club!

I now have a very weird association attached to this song. This has happened to me quite a bit with songs in my life. This one now being no exception. Songs can take you back to a place. A few do for me. Some take me back to car journeys taken. ELO’s Hold On Tight transports me back to a car journey home from my siblings grandmother’s house (we have different fathers, me, from the rest of siblings. It was their paternal grandmother.). REM’s Losing My Religion…another car journey with my sister and brother-in-law. Tin Tin Out’s Here’s Where The Story Ends…yet another car journey, to Leicester Nuffield Hospital. And now Boys From Brazil, a coach journey home, having just been to see Nana Mouskouri at the Royal Albert Hall. Yes! My brain is weird!! Lol. But it was the early days of my Simple Minds fandom. The Other Half had fallen asleep (it was a late night!) and so I decided to amuse myself, listening to music. It was the night I really, REALLY fell in love with the song. The dark, lonely stretch of motorway (M1) from London. The coach had a camera onboard, showing the road ahead…those visuals and the boys in my ears…it was magic.

But, I WILDLY digress…

Derek’s bass in quite understated on this. As are Mick’s keyboards. They are just subtly there, just underneath. It’s all drums and guitar. Fans ask each other all the time, their fave guitar pieces from Charlie. Jim has asked us too. I have several. I love Woman, and 70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall…but “Boys” has to be right up there! He and Brian make the musicality of the song.

And Jim’s vocal is outstanding. The emphasis of the words…the lyrics themselves. The sparsity in which he uses them.

And then, the second time he delivers those lines…

“What can you say about anything lost now?
What can you say about stolen things too?
Anything’s stolen, something is lost now,
What can you say and how fast can things move?”

He is sssooo front of the mix…when listening with headphones on, it’s like he’s singing it right in your lugholes.

I love all the words and I love the way he sings them. It is my favourite vocal performance of his on record, I reckon.

And I really don’t know much about production AT ALL…but, blow me…Steve Hillage did a mighty fine job in my eyes (and ears!). No wonder they wanted to work with him again for Big Music!

I think this somewhat makes up for the lack of articulation for Life In Oils! Lol.

This song is Brian’s, Charlie’s and Jim’s.

Not only is this song in my Top 50…but it’s in my Top 5! There are only two songs in the Simple Minds catalogue that I have to repeat (and repeat) after I listen to it. This is one. Spirited Away is the other.

And THAT is why I love Boys From Brazil.

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Why I Love…Life In Oils

 

Because it is one of the (if not THE) sexiest songs they’ve ever made.

Jim’s vocals…
Just…OMG…WHAAAAA??! All those sounds and moans and and heavy breathing and god knows what…just…
I don’t know what half the words are. It never got an official release until Silver Box…and it’s obviously a demo. Some lines I do know “Unhappy the land that has no heroes. No, unhappy the land that needs heroes.” (Later used in 20th Century Promised Land).
It’s fairly slow paced, and kind of speeds and slows, and I love that synth *ping*.
I love the odd chorus, though again, I’m not entirely sure what he’s singing (“shadow/hollow/???/take” – I think. Can never decipher that third word.). And the way he emphasises the word “LIFE” towards the end of the song is, again…just…
Musically, there’s a kind of sultriness to it. It sounds like it could be strip music to me. It’s wonderfully sensual. Then combine it with Jim’s sighing, moaning, panting vocals at the beginning and SERIOUSLY – my ovaries want to explode! *KERRPOW!* (that really should be “kepow” – but we are talking the effects of Jim Kerr’s singing on one – so why not play with the onomatopoeia? Lol
This one has been hard to write because, I just have no words for it, really.
I just love it because I find it as sexy as f***, and Jim’s voice on it just DOES THINGS TO ME!
Sorry I could not be more articulate but, there you go. Sometimes there are just no words.
And that (rather badly explained reason) is why I love Life In Oils :-))

Why I Love…Seeing Out The Angel

 

It starts with, quite possibly, Mick MacNeil’s finest if nor most hauntingly beautiful piece of synth work. It’s quite a simple chord structure, but I find it just gives me goosebumps (chicken skin) EVERY TIME.

Then comes in another gem of a bassline from Derek Forbes. His bass comes alive, with the backing of the dramatic and atmospheric drum beats from Brian McGee. Then that haunting backing vocal from Jim. Just barely audible above the synth, bass and drums. Then those beautiful, haunting lyrics from Jim, including quite possibly, my favourite line of a song, ever, “in colourful, breathless, emotional sea”. His voice is deep. A song probably sung in the deepest register he could achieve. That juxtaposition of the depth of his voice and high, soaring chords of Charlie’s guitar just gives me goosebumps (chicken skin!).
I watched an interview with Jim from 1983 and he said, “I never liked the obvious rock and roll language, ‘Don’t you want me, baby’ for instance, or even ‘great balls of fire’ and things. I’ve always liked ambiguities and fragments and things with a bit more of a mystery to them.” Amen to that, my beautiful baby boy!! It’s a shame you don’t seem to still feel that way (I don’t know. Maybe you do?). Now he says he likes simplicity. Which I can appreciate too. But it’s hard to both simplistic and ambiguous, surely? But if anyone could pull it off, it’s our boy Jim! Maybe he achieved it with this one? Nah…there’s too much perplexity and complexity in ambiguity, in my opinion.
But I digress…
It keeps to a simple music chord structure throughout. But it is soo haunting. Hight notes from the synths, Charlie’s guitar soars, those beautiful basslines from Derek and those sparse but dramatic drum beats from Brian McGee – who really, really, really does need to have his part in the Simple Minds story remembered!!
It is the synths, the bass and those drums that make it for me. And, of course, Jim…his voice and those lyrics, almost becoming a tongue-twisting mantra towards the end…

“Seeing out the angel,
From the shadow of a day,
That stands alone and crying young.
Singing fascination,
For the twist in anxious days,
That stand alone and crying young.
See out the angels,
For the rescue pools of life,
That stand alone and crying young.”

Then that slow fade out with Jim repeating …
“Seeing out the angel…
Singing fascination…”
With Charlie’s guitar gently jangling away, with that methodical drum beat and pulsing bassline behind.
It’s just a magical piece. It’s ephemeral and ethereal. Like it’s just going to catch in the breeze and float off as the song fades away. I find it haunting and beautiful. It’s not just in my Top 50, but in my Top 10.
I adore it.
And that is why I love Seeing Out The Angel.