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Although, only up to and including Don't You Forget About Me. Everything after that is shit.
Their first album 'Life In A Day' is rubbish but they got progressively better over the next 4 albums peaking with 82's 'New Gold Dream' which I sometimes think is the most perfect pop record ever made. Brilliant tunes, stunning arrangements, immaculate production (which has aged well) And Jim Kerr sings like a god. I always thought 'Still Life' by The Horrors was a particularly ham fisted attempt at capturing the sound of this album. After that though their creative decline was swift and brutal although the 'Sparkle In The Rain' album has decent moments. If you're a total noob to them start with 'NGD' and go back from there.
They got brilliant on the second side of their second album (Real to Real Cacophony) when 'Premonition' kicks in, followed by 'Changeling'.
They stay brilliant all the way through Empires and Dance, Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call.
After that there is too much Jim Kerr and not enough weird European electronica art-pop and they just more and more shit.
Those early records, though, are flat out fantastic
and everyone should hear them
A superb band up to Sparkle In The Rain. Then they went stadium rock and I lost interest.
New Gold Dream (as mentioned above) is a stone cold under appreciated classic.
though there will be a bit of bickering about the edges.
I quite like Life in A Day, because I really like material that came out of the transition from punk into post-punk, where bands are obviously a bit bored with the punk sound (and songwriting conventions) but really keen on the experimental, diy ethic that it embodies (Cf. also early stuff by The Cure, Siouxsie, etc.). So you get stripped back to the basics pop songs (Chelsea Girl, Life in a Day), or Velvet Underground-esque epics (Pleasantly Disturbed).
But there's no argument that they really start to get interesting from Real to Real onwards. Changeling, Premonition and Factory are all fantastic tracks, and start to show the role that Derek Forbes's (killer) bass playing would play in the material that followed (before he left).
Empires and Dances is where they really start to experiment and embrace the euro electronic art-pop (as bornin69 put it), though Sons & Fascination is my fave, featuring some fantastic quasi-industrial soundscapes and more art-pop (Love Song, anyone?). Sister Feelings Call is a companion album to S&F (originally released only as a limited bonus album included with S&F), and offers more of the same, though mostly (completely? I can't remember) instrumental.
New Gold Dream is about as perfect a (not-quite) synth pop, (not-quite) New Romantic, (not-quite) new wave album as you could ever hope for.
After that, we've got some competent, sometimes even enjoyable stadium rock in the form of Sparkle in the Rain (highlights: Up on the Catwalk, Waterfront) and Once Upon a Time, with bonus "Don't You Forget About Me" from around the same time. Most of it solid, none of it bad, unless you simply cannot tolerate stadium rock, and some of it even uplifting, but very little of it worth heaping praise upon, for the simple reason that you'd already know the big hits, and so you already know whether or not you want to listen to more of that era of Simple Minds.
But those early records are too little well known. Go listen to them. Now. GO!
after Once Upon a Time, you can pretty much forget them. What I ever listened to (and can remember) is Simple Minds going all Joshua Tree.
Having said that, if anyone who's familiar with their post-Real Life material can recommend a more recent album that recaptures the sound and excitement of the first 5 or 6 albums, please recommend away.
New Gold Dream is a completely amazing, if it is New Romantic it towers over everything else from that scene, that mix of experimental Europeanism and proper anthemic weight is just perfect, but you can hear the seeds of their future shitness in it as clearly its success inspired them to keep the anthemics and sack off the experiments. If they'd split up after it I'm sure they'd be at least as revered as, I dunno, Talk Talk or someone.
From that era I think 'Sulk' by The Associates is the only experimental pop album that runs it close. Had it been mixed and sequenced better it could well have trumped 'NGD'. 1982 was such an incredible year for many genres of music but pop music pretty much peaked for me then, the 2 albums mentioned above plus ABC's 'Lexicon Of Love' are an incredible bunch of records.
can't discount Foxx-era Ultravox! either, although that was possibly something earlier & punkier
on Rio is great.
The current CD versions sound awful, but they were and amazing band.
White Car in Germany:
One of the greatest singles of the 80s
just listened to Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call and it's really great. NGD next
And listen to Empires and Dance next
not so much that they did the stadium rock thing - that's what you were 'supposed to' do, but that there was no Achtung Baby / Zooropa style artistic revival in the 90s.
Possibly, but I always thought 'Aching Baby'/'Zooropa' were hugely influenced by 'Empires & Dance' & 'Sons & Fascination'. SM made an album in the late 90's called 'Neapolis' that tried to recapture their early '80s sound but unfortunately it wasn't great and nobody cared by that point anyway.
as if they didn't give a shit.
I mean, it's scary to think that Jim Kerr had only just turned 23 when they released New Gold Dream, it's almost like being brilliant was a youthful 'phase' for them, I never really got the impression with Neapolis or even those gigs they did a couple of years ago that they really 'get' the appeal of their early work.
I think i agree with you. I feel like they realise that people really like their early stuff so have focussed on that part of their career, but i'm not sure they really understand why. Also, those gigs they did a few years ago, Kerr sang it in the bombastic style of the later stuff. Didn't really work.
who was obviously the one pushing them into experimental territory.
but it always sounds to me that there is a tension between elements who want to be all icy European art-pop and the Jim Kerr bluster and bombast side of things. If you listen to the early records you can hear those two different approaches rubbing against each other with the former definitely in the ascendant. Even on the records of theirs that I love, Kerr is my least favourite part of the band.
After the post-Breakfast Club cash started rolling in it seems the less interesting side just completely took over and the other element of their sound withered and died.
but that sort of sepulchral quality to his voice really suited the early music, gave it a real weight that completely belied how absurdly young they all were, he may have been the weakest link but I can't imagine anyone else doing those songs.
Even when Kerr is deep in the mix I sometimes find it hard to shake the memories of him bellowing one of the later stadium rock monstrosities.
I reckon if I'd never heard the later crap i probably wouldn't have a problem with his vocals on the early records.
I've only heard bits of the later stuff... fwiw I don't think his voice is a million miles away from Ian Curtis's, in some hypothetical parallel past you can sort of imagine they could pull off singing each others' early songs...
Best starting points:
- compilation (2 CDs): The Best of Simple Minds
- album: New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
earlier this year. It's surprising how relatively under-appreciated they are - particularly Empires and Dance and Sons and Fascination.
Japan seem to be massively overlooked too - I don't see Tin Drum mentioned a lot, but it's a great record. Well, anything from Quiet Life (or Life in Tokyo single) is worth a listen
Imagine a lot of dissers would fucking love Quiet Life.
and I still do. For some reason Talk Talk have become critical darlings in the last 10 years (don't get me wrong, I like them plenty) but Japan are ignored. Tin Drum, Gentlemen Take Polaroids and Quiet Life are all fantastic albums
Laughing Stock? i've not idea what they're like really
Started out as a kind of a glam-rock/post-punk kind of thing then evolved into a sort of synth-pop band but very dark and arty. Signature sounds David Sylvian's marvelous smoky voice, Mick Karn's fretless bass.
They got this song (Ghosts) into the charts, which is pretty amazing
Another great song is Nightporter:
They never went quite as ethereal as Laughing Stock, but some of David Sylvian's solo work came close
But I bought Quiet Life when it originally came out on 7'. Great tune.
But only recently have I listened to the earlier 70s Glam era records which are sprinkled with classics that nobody would identify as Japan. Check the image! http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4SrCMpP9H0g
but Theme for Great Cities did it for me
Absolutely wonderful tune.
this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfbwQ_0VuVA very much not
What I didn't like was Charlie Burchill's face. Why is it so wide?
(seeing as we've pretty much started along this track anyway.)
1. Thirty Frames a Second
2. 70 Cities as Love Brings the Fall
Then it's a coin toss between I Travel and Love Song:
Theme for Great Cities
New Gold Dream
Thirty Frames a Second
King is White and in the Crowd