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Charlie Burchill and Jim Kerr formed a punk band in 1977 that was heavily influenced by Lou Reed, and after one unsuccessful single as Johnny & The Self Abusers, they shuffled the line-up to include former Abusers Brian McGee on drums and Tony Donald on bass guitar, the latter of whom was quickly replaced by Derek Forbes. In addition, keyboard and synthesizer player Mick MacNeil was also recruited. The band's name was changed to "Simple Minds", which was taken from a line in the David Bowie song "Jean Genie": "...so simple-minded, he can't drive his module."
Simple Minds' commercial first album, Life in a Day, took a cue from fellow Post-Punk forebearers Magazine, and was somewhat self-consciously derivative of the late-70s punk boom. Life in a Day was exactly the kind of item the band's label, Arista, wanted to promote. However, expectations for follow-up "Lives in a Day" were to be disappointed. While still categorisable as 'rock', Simple Minds' second release, Real to Real Cacophony, had a darker edge, and announced some of the New Wave experimentation that would become the band’s trademark sound over the next two albums.
Empires and Dance, was a far more radical departure, and signaled the influence of Kraftwerk, Neu! and similar European artists. Indeed, during this period Simple Minds promoted themselves as a European band, not a Scottish or UK band. Many of the tracks on Empires and Dance are extremely minimal, and feature sequenced keyboards. McNeil's keyboards and Forbes' bass became the main melodic elements, and Burchill's guitar was heavily processed. With this album, Kerr began to experiment with non-narrative lyrics. While not consciously so, Empires and Dance was essentially Industrial in its aesthetic, and preceded by a couple of years the Industrial-pop crossover of Cabaret Voltaire's album The Crackdown. The band's label, however, demonstrated little enthusiasm for such experimentation, and in 1981 Simple Minds switched from Arista to Virgin.
Simple Minds' first release on Virgin was actually two albums: the Steve Hillage-produced Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call. The latter album was initially included as a bonus disc with the first 10,000 vinyl copies of Sons and Fascination, but it was later re-issued as an album in its own right. (For the CD release, it was paired on a single disc with Sons and Fascination — at first with two tracks deleted, but on later issues, in full.) Sons and Fascination perfected the formula that began with Empires and Dance, and showcased the band’s musicianship during their most prolific period.
These minimalist, dance-oriented compositions, were examples of man-made trance well before trance itself.
It was also during this period that the ground-breaking visual aesthetic of Simple Minds' product was established, masterminded by Malcolm Garrett's graphic design company Assorted iMaGes. Characterised at first by hard, bold typography and photo-collage, Garrett's designs for the band would later incorporate pop-religious iconography in clean, integrated package designs that befitted the band's idealised image as neo-romantic purveyors of European anthemic pop.
New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) was released in September 1982, combining the results of the Walsh sessions along with "Promised You a Miracle". The album proved to be a significant turning point for the band, becoming a commercial breakthrough With a slick, sophisticated sound—thanks to Walsh's production—and similarly sumptuous design by Malcolm Garrett, Simple Minds were soon categorized as part of the New Romantic outgrowth of New Wave (along with Duran Duran and others). Despite the success of the album, some fans of the band's earlier work criticised Simple Minds' new and more commercial orientation.
The formula that had defined Simple Minds' New Wave period had run its course, and the next record, Sparkle in the Rain, was a complete departure. Produced by Steve Lillywhite and released in February 1984, the album contained a rock-oriented set of songs. The eventual result of this shift in musical direction gave rise to hugely successful singles like "Waterfront". The public also appreciated Simple Minds' upfront sound, ensuring that Sparkle in the Rain topped the charts in the UK and hit the Top 20 in several other countries.
In 1984, Jim Kerr married Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders. Simple Minds did a North American tour where they played as headliners supported by China Crisis during the Canadian leg and in support of the Pretenders in the U.S. while Hynde was pregnant with Kerr's daughter. Despite the band's new-found popularity in the UK and Europe, Simple Minds remained essentially unknown in the U.S. The band's UK releases on Arista were not picked up by Arista USA simpletons who had 'right of first refusal' for their releases. They were offered the song 'Don't You (Forget About me) only after it was turned down by Bryan Ferry. Released in early 1985, it also broke Simple Minds into the US market almost overnight, when the band achieved their only #1 U.S. pop hit in April 1985 with the The Breakfast Club' s opening track, "Don't You (Forget About Me)". The song soon became a chart-topper in many other countries around the world.
At around this point, the camaraderie that had fuelled Simple Minds began to unravel, and over the next ten years the band's lineup would undergo frequent changes. Jim Kerr subsequently recalled "We were knackered. We were desensitised. The band started to fracture. The first casualty of the band's collective change of attitude was bassist Derek Forbes, he would soon reunite with another former Simple Minds bandmate, drummer Brian McGee, in Propaganda.
Taking advantage of their new-found popularity, Simple Minds recorded what has been considered to be their most unashamedly commercial album. On its release in November, Once Upon a Time appeared to be tailored specifically to appeal to the stadium rock sensibilities of American audiences. It was reviled by some long-time fans, but was embraced by millions of new listeners and was critically well-received. The record reached #1 in the UK and #10 in the US, despite the fact that their major-league breakthrough single "Don't You (Forget About Me)" was not included. Because of Simple Minds' powerful stage presence and lyrics that trafficked in Christian symbolism, the band was criticised by some in the music press as a lesser version of U2, despite the fact that both bands were now heading in different musical directions.
The next album Street Fighting Years (1989) maintained the band's growing sense of scale but moved away from the American soul and gospel influences of Once Upon a Time in favour of soundtrack atmospherics and a new incorporation of acoustic and folk music-related ingredients. The lyrics were also more directly political, moving away from the impressionistic or spiritual concerns of earlier 1980s Simple Minds songs. The band underwent further lineup changes during the recording of Street Fighting Years. Mel Gaynor and John Giblin both contributed to the recording but both men had left the band by the time of the album's release, by which time the band was credited as a trio of Kerr, Burchill and MacNeil. The balance of power within the band had clearly become centralised around the remaining founder members and would continue in that way. That said McNeil wanted a break after the tour but the other two wanted to record a new album, this lead to a painful and acrimonious break..and then there were two.
Simple Minds returned to active duty later in 1994. By now the band was officially a duo of Kerr and Burchill (with the latter taking on keyboards in the studio, as well as guitar). Good News from the Next World was released in 1995 to positive reviews, but weak sales in the U.S. In the UK and Europe, however, the response was much more positive, with the album reaching #2 in the UK and producing the two Top 20 hits.
Having being released from their contract with Virgin Records, Simple Minds decided to musically reinvent themselves once again, this time reaching back to their Kraftwerk-inspired, early electronic pop days. When finally released, the new album, Neapolis—turned out to be less of a "band" album than expected. The album ultimately charted poorly and received mixed reviews. As Simple Minds' main writing team, Kerr and Burchill had continued to demo and originate material by themselves. For the latest sessions, they had shared studio space with a band called Sly Silver Sly (who featured Kerr’s brother Mark as drummer). The two writing and recording projects merged to become the sessions for the next Simple Minds album, Our Secrets Are the Same. The other result from the sessions was the supplanting of the Simple Minds rhythm section. Once again, Forbes and Gaynor found themselves out of the band while Mark Kerr became the new drummer and Sly Silver Sly’s Eddie Duffy joined on bass guitar.
In 2001, Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill began working with multi-instrumentalist Gordon Goudie (ex-Primevals) on a brand new Simple Minds album to be called Cry. In parallel to Cry, Simple Minds also recorded an album of covers called Neon Lights, featuring Simple Minds reinventions of songs from artists including Patti Smith, Roxy Music and Kraftwerk. Of these projects, Neon Lights was the first to be completed and released (later in 2001). A 2-CD compilation, The Best of Simple Minds, was released soon afterwards to continue to build commercial momentum.
In 2004, Simple Minds released a five-CD compilation entitled Silver Box. This mostly comprised previously-unreleased demos, radio & TV sessions and various live recordings from 1979 to 1995, but also included the long-delayed Our Secrets Are the Same. In 2005, Simple Minds released their fourteenth studio album, Black & White 050505, which generated some of the most positive reviews for a Simple Minds record in many years. The album's first single, "Home", received airplay on alternative rock radio stations in the US. However, it did not make a significant chart impact on either side of the Atlantic.
Simple Minds played the 90th birthday tribute to Nelson Mandela on 27 June 2008 in London's Hyde Park. The band then undertook a short tour throughout the UK to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Reverting to the Burchill/Kerr/Gaynor/Duffy line-up, Simple Minds recorded a new studio album, Graffiti Soul, which was released on 25 May 2009. Jim Kerr suggested that Simple Minds had enough material from the Graffiti Soul recording sessions for two albums, one to be released at the start of 2009 and the second following within the space of a year. The album entered the UK Album chart at #10, becoming Simple Minds first album in 14 years to enter the UK Top 10. The album also entered European Top 100 Album chart at #9.
On 22 November 2011, Simple Minds announced an exclusive 16-date European tour entitled "5X5 Live" to begin in Portugal on 14 February and to end in Ireland on 4 March 2012 (including four intimate UK venues on 24 and 25 February and on 2 and 3 March 2012) during which the band would perform for the first time 5 songs from each of their first 5 albums released from 1979 to 1982 representative of the post-punk period with the birth of the new wave electro scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s
To coincide with the "5x5 Live" tour, EMI Music will release on 20 February 2012 the Simple Minds X5 box set featuring the 5 first albums over 6 discs, Life in a Day, Real to Real Cacophony, Empires and Dance, Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call and New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) (with Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call as separate discs in a gatefold sleeve as well as bonus material on each disc including rare and previously unavailable CD, B-sides and remixes).
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To the delight of some open-minded post-punk fans , fans like me who also had space for the relatively new, untraditional likes of Devo, Kraftwerk, and Eno in their record collections. The artistic leap from Life in a Day to Real to Real has to be one of the most mesmerizing ones imaginable, an improvement that is even more impressive when the short time between release dates is considered. It's where Simple Minds ventured beyond the ability to mimic their influences and began to manipulate them. Aside from a mercifully brief lapse into aimless murmuring and doodling that occurs during the middle of the record, Real to Real Cacophony is rife with countless bizarre joys. It knocks you on your back with pretentious artsy-fartsiness as instantly as New Gold Dream dazzles with its art pop pleasures, but its challenging melodicism through jerky time signatures and an endless supply of varied sounds and textures keeps you coming back for more. Guitars are employed less frequently and are replaced by burbling electronics and further use of keyboard shadings, though the absolute high point of the band's early years, "Changeling," benefits from plangent, angular jabs.
Simple Minds – Real To Real Cacophony ( flac 335mb)
01 Real To Real 2:50
02 Naked Eye 2:22
03 Citizen (Dance Of Youth) 2:53
04 Carnival (Shelter In A Suitcase) 2:51
05 Factory 4:14
06 Cacophony 1:41
07 Veldt 3:35
08 Premonition 5:28
09 Changeling 4:11
10 Film Theme 2:26
11 Calling Your Name 5:06
12 Scar 3:33
13 Kaleidoscope 4:15
14 Film Theme Dub 1:26
15 Premonition (Live At Hurrah's Club, New York: 24/10/79) 5:45
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Simple Minds shifted gears once again for album number three, Empires and Dance. The "dance" aspect of the title needs to be emphasized, but it's apparent that the group's globetrotting and simmering political tensions in Britain affected their material in more ways than one. One gets the idea that they did some clubbing and also experienced some disparate views of the world. The opening "I Travel" is the most assaultive song in the band's catalog, sounding like a Giorgio Moroder production for Roxy Music. The remainder of the album repeals the blitzkrieg frenetics of the beginning and hones in on skeletal arrangements that focus on thick basslines and the loping rhythms that they help frame. The hopping/skipping "Celebrate" isn't much more than a series of handclaps, a light drum stomp, some intermittent bass notes, and some non-intrusive synth effects. It goes absolutely nowhere, yet it's more effective and infectious than most verse-chorus-verse pop songs. The seven minutes of "This Fear of Gods," which boast another dense rhythm abetted by trebly atmospheric elements, come off like an excellent 12" dub, rather than an original mix. Just as bracing, the paranoiac disco of "Thirty Frames a Second" and lives on as a post-punk dance classic. It's a true shock that this record was released with reluctance. The band coerced an unimpressed Arista into pressing a minimal amount of copies for release, but thankfully Virgin reissued it in 1982.
Simple Minds – Empires And Dance (flac 414mb)
01 I Travel 4:03
02 Today I Died Again 4:37
03 Celebrate 5:09
04 This Fear Of Gods 7:03
05 Capital City 6:14
06 Constantinople Line 4:40
07 Twist/Run/Repulsion 4:32
08 Thirty Frames A Second 5:05
09 Kant-Kino 1:50
10 Room 2:29
11 New Warm Skin 4:35
12 I Travel (Extended) 6:13
13 Celebrate (Extended) 6:48
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For their fourth album in three years, Simple Minds signed on with Virgin and enlisted Gong's Steve Hillage as producer. The sessions continued the group's impressive run of high-quality output, but there are instances where ambition gets the best of them. Though their work with Hillage hardly spawned anything on a plane with the two albums that preceded it and the one that followed it, it's still a substantial piece of the Simple Minds puzzle. Bridging the art disco of Empires and Dance with the pop masterpiece New Gold Dream, the album falters when the band seems to be reaching a bit too far for their own good. The other stumbling block is Hillage's production: The record isn't without moments of brilliance, like the exquisitely detailed "70 Cities As Love Brings the Fall", the insistently snaking "In Trance As Mission," and "Sweat in Bullet," which has sparkling keyboard parts and crafty guitar interplay. Aside from these moments, the mind tends to wander and wonder if the band was trying to do too much. Upon its release, Sons and Fascination was issued for a limited time with a bonus LP, Sister Feelings Call . A month after Sons and Fascination was released, Sister Feelings Call was issued separately at a budget price. And then, for Virgin's 1985 CD issue of Sons, Sister was added to the end (albeit minus "League of Nations" and "Sound in 70 Cities"). The first three songs on Sister match or exceed the material on Sons and Fascination. "Theme for Great Cities" is one of Simple Minds' best instrumentals, "The American" (a 1981 single) exemplifies the point at which 1980's Empires and Dance and 1982's New Gold Dream cross, and "20th Century Promised Land" offers winding ripples of rhythms without one instrument taking any central role. In 2003 and later rereleases the complete album was added.
Simple Minds – Sons And Fascination (flac 414mb)
01 In Trance As Mission 6:53
02 Sweat In Bullet 4:31
03 70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall 4:50
04 Boys From Brazil 5:31
05 Love Song 5:04
06 This Earth That You Walk Upon 5:28
07 Sons And Fascination 5:23
08 Seeing Out The Angel 6:11
09 Sweat In Bullet (Extended Remix) 7:22
10 In Trance As Mission (Live At Hammersmith Odeon, London: 25/09/81) 7:17
11 This Earth That You Walk Upon (Instrumental) 5:26
Simple Minds – Sister Feelings Call (flac 313mb)
01 Theme For Great Cities 5:52
02 The American 3:51
03 20th Century Promised Land 4:55
04 Wonderful In Young Life 5:21
05 League Of Nations 4:56
06 Careful In Career 5:09
07 Sound In 70 Cities 5:04
08 The American (Extended) 6:55
09 League Of Nations (Live At Hammersmith Odeon, London: 25/09/81) 6:14
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Simple Minds deliver a strong synth-reared release on New Gold Dream. This album harks the darker side of the band's musicianship, and such material alludes to their forthcoming pop-stadium sound which hurled them into rock mainstream during the latter part of the '80s. They were still honing their artistic rowdiness, and Kerr's pursuing vocals were still hiding. But Simple Minds' skill of tapping into internal emotion is profound on songs such as "Someone, Somewhere in Summertime" and the album's title track. But the dance-oriented tracks like "Promised You a Miracle" and "Glittering Prize" are lushly layered in deep electronic beats -- it was only a matter of time for Simple Minds to expound upon such musical creativity which made them a household favorite through the 1980s. The record generated a handful of singles; "Promised You A Miracle", "Glittering Prize" and "Someone Somewhere (In Summertime)". The album was released in 1982 and was a turning point for the band as they gained critical and commercial success in the UK and Europe. It made #3 in the UK Albums Chart.
Simple Minds – New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) ( flac 500mb)
01 Someone Somewhere In Summertime 4:38
02 Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel 3:49
03 Promised You A Miracle 4:27
04 Big Sleep 5:03
05 Somebody Up There Likes You 5:02
06 New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) 5:38
07 Glittering Prize 4:33
08 Hunter And The Hunted 5:55
09 King Is White And In The Crowd 7:00
10 Promised You A Miracle (Extended) 4:49
11 Glittering Prize (Club Mix) 4:57
12 Someone Somewhere In Summertime (Extended) 6:02
13 Soundtrack For Every Heaven 4:55
14 New Gold Dream (German 12" Remix) 6:52
15 In Every Heaven 4:55
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