Keeping in mind that “Our Secrets Are The Same,” the last album discussed didn’t appear until 2004, here was what really happened following the release of “Néapolis” in 1998. The years 1998-2001 were something of a long, dark time of the soul for Scotland’s favorite sons. In no time flat, they had gone from stadium fillers with a lock on the top ten to complete also rans. The negative events were so numerous that one would need a scorecard to keep up, so in the interests of usability, here is one I’ll provide.
- “Néapolis” was released and the album and its singles sold a fraction of what Simple Minds had normally done previously.
- Derek Forbes and Mel Gaynor were replaced in the Simple Minds lineup by Mark Kerr and Eddie Duffy of Jim Kerr’s brother’s band Sly Silver Sly.
- The band recorded the “Néapolis” follow up album “Our Secrets Are The Same” with songs co-written by American Kevin Hunter of Wire Train
- Chrysalis Records rejected the new Simple Minds album
- The new lineup played the Scotland Rocks For Kosovo benefit concert with a brief set featuring Mark Kerr on drums and Eddie Duffy on bass
- Also playing at the Scotland Rocks for Kosovo concert [unbeknownst to Simple Minds] was a band featuring Derek Forbes… and Mel Gaynor that would be known as Rehab moving forward
- Chrysalis Records drop Simple Minds one album into their two album contract
- Catalan DJ Jordi Tardá played a leaked copy of “Our Secrets Are The Same” on his radio show, ensuring plentiful copies of the unreleased album out in the wild
What we now know, due to Jim Kerr discussing it in the press years afterward, was that the creative wheels had by 1999 come completely off of the Simple Minds bus. He typifies this time as one of soul searching and writer’s block. This would account for the radical move of enlisting a co-writer to float the album that was planned to follow “Néapolis.” When that played out disastrously, with the non-release of the new Simple Minds album, Kerr sold his Dublin home and moved to Italy, where he bought a hotel in Taormina [Villa Angelia] that he still runs to this day.
For all intents and purposes, he was ready to retire. His second marriage to celebrity Patsy Kensit has already bottomed out years earlier when she left him [with their two children] for Liam Gallagher of Oasis. At loose ends, he probably did the right thing. Except that while in Italy, he made contact with local Italian DJs Phunk Investigation. From this unlikely liason, seeds of a new Simple Minds germinated. By the summer of 2001, the band’s tabled website sprang to new life with news of an upcoming Simple Minds album.
The new album would be a cover album to be released in late 2001. The band had been signed to Eagle Records, who had recently become the label home of Gary Numan, so they seemed to be working that legacy band action. The notion of a cover album was one to strike terror down my spine. Cover albums had begun as a left-field lark in the late 80s only to become a full-fledged trend/plague by the 90s. They sprouted underfoot like mushrooms! While there were two cover albums that I actually enjoyed a great deal that decade, all others were like a noxious poison plume that the likes of talentless hacks or dried-up artists who were once capable of much more resorted to. They soon became a means by which low-talent, unknown bands attempted to hitch their wagons to someone else’s star quotient. But Simple Minds were not the only group that I liked who were struggling to obtain relevancy in a new, and hostile market. I adopted a wait-and-see posture.
Next: …When you ain’t got nothin’ you’ve got nothin to lose