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.

Why I Love…Citizen (Dance of Youth)

(The clip will play from the right point on a desktop – but if you are viewing this post via a smartphone or tablet. You may want to skip to 5 min 12 sec)
A wonderfully political snapshot of Eastern Europe of the late 1970s. If you think Simple Minds only became political in the mid to late 80s…listen to this and you’ll know you’re mistaken.

I know I go on about Jim’s songwriting, but I do for a reason, it’s bloody good!! His words are just always so image-laced. With this one, I see European ruins…old city plazas and squares, the bell tower of a gothic cathedral (“I hate the sound of bells”), soldiers, dispossessed youth – wearing drab clothes and looking on edge, for fear of something dangerous and immanent occurring. A casual tourist taking snaps.

Study the words…they’re brilliant! He also delivers one of the most potent lines I think he’s ever written “You’re cutting up our friends / making love to our sisters”.

Musically, it starts with a staccato drumbeat that has a echo/reverb effect with it ….making it kind of gleaming. The vocal and guitar come in almost simultaneously. Jim uttering a single “Citizen” before Charlie joins him. There are subtle backing vocals going on…adding an unnerving backbone. Bass and keyboard/synths are underplayed and subtle. Jim’s vocal is menacing and, at times, venomous. There’s extra potency given to the lines…

“Our food is getting cold,
And you’re getting colder.”

He almost spits them out!

It packs a punch and is a political monster and shows how utterly fabulous Simple Minds were from the get-go and what a fabulous lyricist Jim Kerr is.

And that is why I love Citizen (Dance of Youth).

NB: It has been an earworm LITERALLY for WEEKS now. I adore it!

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.

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.

Why I Love…Garden Of Hate


The very first time I heard it, I fell in love with it. It’s Mick MacNeil’s organ playing (I’m assuming it’s an organ, it sounds like one) that first hooked me in. It is SO reminiscent of “Waltzinblack” by The Stranglers (another absolute FAVE instrumental – oddly enough, The Stranglers are the Minds’ support/co headliners for the November European and UK area gigs) but Garden Of Hate pre-dates it. Did Dave Greenfield hear Garden Of Hate and get ideas? That’s a nice thought!
Charlie Burchill’s guitar is actually quite hard rock on this. Guitar rock waltz!

It’s a curiosity for a Simple Minds track in that it’s OVERTLY dark. I love that! I love a band that can do “dark” convincingly. And their music had a darker edge to it in the early days…but this is something else! And I think that is why I was SSOO blown away by it when I first heard it. When you grow up only knowing or being familiar with “the hits”, you tend not to associate this kind of dark material with Simple Minds.
In his lyrics, Jim talks about seeing a man with a broken arm and a girl he knows getting “quite cut up” and that he either doesn’t care or doesn’t know *if* he cares. That’s some pretty dark apathy going on there. Of course, it’s story-telling, but wow!
It’s kind of weirdly “rocky” too, helped along by Charlie’s grinding guitar…but with that waltz timing to it…Mick’s organ (that sounds wrong saying it like that!) dictates the whole song though, really

.
It ends with a fantastic crescendo. Jim and the rest of the bhoys singing the title of the song over and over, between exaggerated laughs of “HAHA HAHAHAHA!” from Jim. And then that final note of Mick’s that seems to go on forever…
It’s a fantastic Halloween song. Hence why I chose to write this particular “why I love…” now. Just so I had an excuse to share Garden Of Hate for Halloween.
And that is why I love Garden Of Hate.