Why I Love…Thirty Frames A Second

Why I love…Thirty Frames A Second.

It’s that bass, to start. Derek’s bassline in this song is fab! Mick’s synths too. And Brian’s drums. And Charlie’s guitar. And Jim’s lyrics…the song really works as a whole unit! But it’s that musical heart of a song…bass and drums. I know I keep saying it, but Brian McGee really doesn’t get enough credit for being the fantastic drummer he is. He was even looking irreplaceable for a while there (a drummer? Irreplaceable? What kind of crazy notion is this?! Oh, believe me…anyone who doesn’t think the drummer is the integral part – and heart – of the band, doesn’t know f***ing SHIT! Lol). Kenny Hyslop and Mike Ogletree coming in and leaving before Mel Gaynor got the nod as Simple Minds’ new drummer.

But I digress.

There is a demo version of Thirty Frames on the Silver Box box set. I do love being able to compare and contrast those demos to what goes on the album recording. I think Jim was quite peed off when Silver Box came out. I think he was uncomfortable with those demos being “out there”. He seems to be of the opinion that material like that remains unreleased for a reason – it’s crap. But I love hearing that progression. Hearing the work-in-progress. Seeing the idea develop and evolve. A band honing their craft. It’s wonderful!

Musically, the two versions (demo, opposed to album version) are pretty identical. Derek’s bass is spot on. Mick’s synths play at a slightly higher pitch. Jim’s voice is also at a higher register (akin to how it is on the video clip – by the way, at around the 75 second mark, you’ll see him tip over Charlie’s spare guitar with the foot of his mic stand, such is the wild yet stilted performance he gives). It makes the words less potent. Jim sounds more innocent…on the demo, that is. For even though his voice on the video clip is of a similar pitch to that of the demo, there is more venom. But you have the visuals with it. And he is always going to be a knockout performing live.

There are also extra lyrics to the demo. A few lines were either altered or dropped altogether.

Extra lines dropped –

“Today I looked at my suit. This suit was getting new and didn’t fit me no more.”
“I spoke to my wife, she didn’t speak to me. Didn’t recognise…not after so many years…”
“I once had children, now no more. How can I have children when I’m going back…”

The car/town lyric was altered too.

Album version –
“I crash my car,
Collapse in town,
Young immigrants,
And legionaires,
Fighting back, back, backwards,
Thirty frames a second,
Say who you are.”

Demo –

“I park my car,
Go in to town,
The town is going backwards,
So many people never recognised me no more,
I’m going backwards thirty frames a second.
Say who you are.”

The line – “Looked at face, it was getting younger…” – was kept in, but slightly altered. It was part of the dropped “suit” lines. And, interestingly, the altering of the “food” lines involved mother instead of father.

Another altered line was – “some people I thought were dead are coming back, what are doing coming back Jack?”, and was rather less potent. Instead it becomes “some friends of mine I thought were dead are coming back, what are you doing coming back, JACK!?” With Jim shouting the name Jack out with full, spitting venom.

Watching the video clip makes me mourn slightly for Jim’s earlier performing style. It’s almost otherworldly. You just can’t take your eyes off him! (Well, I can’t take my eyes off him, anyway) Lots of people (I have done so myself) draw comparisons with Jim to Samuel T Herring’s (Future Islands) performing style. But in hindsight, Sam’s is a parody…a mimic, a mockery. Compared to that raw, agile, sometimes robotic, sometimes fluid style of Jim’s. Sam is a pale imitation of the real thing 🙂

But, I digress once more…

It has a great groove. Jim’s lyrics were trimmed and honed, making them eerie, dark and succinct. It has great imagery. It kind of speaks of someone wanting their time over again…but it’s a morality tale in a way. Be careful what you wish for! A lot of us, if we could go back in time would freak out or lose our shit. And it’s what happens to our protagonist. He loses his shit.

I know Jim isn’t a fan of science-fiction, and he’ll probably snark at this idea…but Thirty Frames A Second is science-fiction writing. There, I’ve said it! It’s out there! Jim Kerr does science- fiction! Eat me, big boy! 😉

(I would never DARE say that to his face! … Well, not unless under very dreamlike circumstances. Lol)

Which reminds me, WHERE IS MY BLOODY TARDIS?! Lol

And that is why I love Thirty Frames A Second.

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Why I Love…Careful In Career

Why I love…Careful In Career.

Jim’s voice, and his lyrics. They are deep (both voice AND lyrics), as per usual in these early years. His lyrics have a depth beyond his tender years at this point in the Simple Minds story. He so very quickly becomes such a stark, bold lyricist. The imagery he conveys is startling. God, can you tell I’m in love with him(!) as a songwriter? Lol.

Another Simple Minds song in which there is a demo version to compare and contrast. The demo is pretty much fully formed, musically. The drumming is softer…and Charlie’s guitar is WILD. It really screams! Mick’s synths are disturbing and sit up front. And even though at this point in the song’s life, Jim’s lyrics are sparse and still taking shape, his vocal performance is still mesmerising. “How can this be?”, I hear you ask. Just listen to the demo!

When we get to the album recording…we have positively STONKING lyrics. It’s almost like Jim’s version of Rock N Roll Suicide. More than likely still only just 21 when he wrote it. Still younger than Bowie was when he writes Rock N Roll Suicide.

Disturbing lines…

“It’s a shame
To go away
It’s a shame
To die already”

Musically it becomes softer and tighter. I’m not sure that makes sense. Perhaps softer and more succinct is what I mean. Charlie’s guitar becomes softer and sweeter, but still has those soaring highs. Mick’s synth is refined, toned down. The chords aren’t as disjointed and off-key as they were on the demo. And the beginning of the song has much more impact. The way the drum comes in. Serwwweeet!

But it really is all down to The Boy on this one. Those grand, dark, disturbing lyrics. Images of despair, emptiness…like, you’re wondering what it’s all worth and whether you should even bother any more. Wanting to live – “I’ve come so far already”…but wondering whether you should – “It’s a shame”.

And the way he delivers them too. The looooong, drawn out, deliberately protracted pronunciations of words I think are fantastic. One of his best vocal performances on record. (And I’m trying REALLY hard to be unbiased here)

And that is why I love Careful In Career.