Rock G.P.A.: Simple Minds [part 41]

simple-minds---oursecretsarethesame-draftASimple Minds | Our Secrets Are The Same – 0.5
“Swimming Towards The Sun” was the first track on the album and it set the tone for everything that followed. It was a song not written by Simple Minds but instead it had been penned by Kevin Hunter and Kathleen Stevens. The very first couplet in the song tells me where it’s coming from very clearly.

“Razor dragging junkies line,
The bottom of the pool as I,
Swim towards the sun.” – Swimming Towards The Sun

The vibe and even some of the lyric imagery as seen above reference and reflect heroin and drugs. The background music throughout the intro was pulsing synth drone and fuzzed out bass. With Kerr’s lazy vocals, he seemed in danger of nodding off at any time, making for a very smacked-out vibe completely alien to this band. The backing vocal harmonies were pitched an octave higher and played like nails on chalkboard. Charlie’s guitar was keeping to the wah-wah side of the fence for a loose, sickly funk feel. Kerr sounded extremely dissolute on the middle eight repeating “for every one” such that few would guess who it was singing if they were fans of Simple Minds. This was nothing if not another completely different direction that the band was pushing towards.

The appearance of the next track, “Jeweller To The Stars,” could not have came at a more opportune time. This song really threw me a line as the album began on an extreme downbeat note. At least this song was co-written with the band, as were most of the rest of the material. It remained the most vibrant and upbeat song on the album. Charlie provided a euphoric guitar line that oscillated up and down, driving the tune forward at a healthy clip. Eddie Duffy on bass provided a durable enough synth bass line. Mark Kerr on drums, tended to favor an approach heavy on tambourine hits. He lent the album a vast rhythmic difference to any ears used to the now AWOL [again] Mel Gaynor. If there had been any singles from this album, I would not have balked at this one being selected.

The next track, “Space,” actually was on the shortlist of single candidates for this album. It began with string patches and synth loops on digital delay that made a surprise return from the likes of “War Babies” from the previous album, lending the track a sense of continuity. At 1:28 the backing track sounded as if there had been a serious glitch on the master tape with gritty noise interfering with the loops. The song has a fair melody but cloying, vocals from Kerr dock this one a bit. The vocal production does him no favors, either. Heavy filter effects add to the drugged out vibe that nags with this album. The appearance of the “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” refrain as the chorus seems particularly lazy. The tambourine loops used here also sound very poor, as if they were using an 8-bit sample library to work from. The tambourine has the same high frequency distortion that low-bitrate MP3s evidence. The coda of the song is also a mess, with

Next came a completely acoustic intro for a Simple Minds song. I’m certain dozens, if not more, were waiting for the day that finally came! “Death By Chocolate” effortlessly channels the vibe of Harry Chapin’s “Cats In The Cradle!” In, fact, it’s difficult not to imagine the lyrics when the intro begins playing. The song is so annoying, that the appearance of yet more fuzz bass and Burchill’s electric guitar do nothing to salvage it. The lyrics make yet more drug references, just in case we were not paying enough attention.

“Well now here we are,
Irises like glazy stars,
Driving round in rusty cars,
Wheels won’t get us there…”

“…The one lie I can concede,
Is how Adam took the fruit from Eve,
Ignoring the cocoa leaf,
Lying on the ground.” – Death By Chocolate

“Waiting For The End Of The World” starts off like some jam-band atrocity with ridiculous overamped wah-wah guitar on a funky music bed. At least Kerr’s vocals were lively here, with none of the slow-motion, nodding-off vibe redolent elsewhere. Too bad the vocal production, once again, cloaks his singing in a shrill reverb envelope in the verses. At least someone thought to drop it for the choruses. That only left half of the song sounding like garbage. The rolling piano fills interjected [presumably by Burchill] are right at home in the Grateful Dead vibe they’ve concocted here. But I’m not. I want to leave this place.

Next: …Crashing and burning

About postpunkmonk

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8 Responses to Rock G.P.A.: Simple Minds [part 41]

  1. Echorich says:

    Where Kerr and Burchill hand over the keys to their kingdom, or to use my previous allusion, their car to an exercise in “auto” erotic/musical futility.
    Yes, the debacle that was the release of Néapolis could scar any band that was still riding relatively high 20 years on, but to wipe basically all which that album achieved, by recording what was ultimately not released as Our Secrets Are The Same, must have meant those scars ran deep. This is not Simple Minds as I knew they could be. I don’t think it’s Simple Minds as Kerr and Burchill would ever think they could be. But it was Simple Minds.
    Jeweler To The Stars is the only really memorable thing on OSATS, but even that would be improved 6 years later, and after further soul searching by the band.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – A horrific an error in judgement as it is… I still marginally prefer it to “Street Fighting Years!” As you mention, “Jeweller To The Stars” passes some sort of muster here. “Space” almost approaches that standard, with provisos, of course. I sort of like that it revisits the “War Babies” vibe, even if Kerr’s vocals could be better.

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      • Echorich says:

        Granted it doesn’t come near the regretful Street Fighting Years, but it just sound like an album with contributions by Kerr and Burchill, not a proper work from their partnership. It wouldn’t be last error in judgement they would have, but it was quite a big one.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – I have to say that I find that it does get close to the regretful standard of SFY, albeit in entirely different ways. After more consideration this afternoon, and in anticipation of part two, I docked my rating a half point! While hookless Prog pumped up with as much widescreen pomp as possible is morally repugnant to me, a lapsed Prog fan, so is the notion of Simple Minds making a jam band knockoff album! What’s worse: The Spin Doctors or Yes?! It’s really difficult for me to decide. I only liked “Jeweller To The Stars” and even that was nowhere near my esteem for “See The Lights,” from another one star album, so that made me change my rating.

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  2. zoo says:

    I listened to this album once and then didn’t touch it again. Bad, bad, bad…I don’t know what audience they were hoping to reach. Totally bewildering. The last two albums, though not great were at least pointing up and exuded confidence and class. This was just crap.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      zoo – They were just trying to mark time on the cheap, I think. It’s a horrible misstep. In most ways, it’s worse than SYF. It only ekes out a half star via “Jeweller To The Stars” otherwise it would be another zero!

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