[continued from previous post]
The first single from the album had been the “Dancing Barefoot” EP with a metronomic cover of the Patti Smith classic that has been like catnip for rock stars of a certain age. I’ve heard The Mission, U2 and Xymox also tackle this one and late in the game Simple Minds. It’s a fair cover, heavy on the acoustic guitars but sporting a pulsing, synth bass line and female backing vocals. Kerr comes on a bit too close to comfort to the Bono sound vocally and considering that Mr. Hewson had covered this song first, I can’t help but think that it influenced the vocal here.
I find it interesting how after the first chorus, the track trails [nods?] off into a fade for a beat or two after Jim Kerr sings “like some heroine.” It’s another drug allusion that maybe only i’m picking up from the band at this time, but after hearing the unreleased “Our Secrets Are The Same” album, which had explicit junkie references in the lyrics and a dissolute smacked-out vibe for many of the songs, I can’t help but wonder if heroin was figuring somewhere in the lives of the band. It’s not a vibe present anywhere in their earlier work.
Speaking of metronomic, the title track was a subtle, low key stab at the classic Kraftwerk electronic ballad featuring shimmering loops and a slow BPM rhythm track sounding like a heartbeat overlaid with vocoders singing backup for Kerr. Slow-mo, heavily reverbed rhythms add to the dreamlike aura of the track, but this was laking in the crystalline beauty of the Kraftwerk original. The timing of the cut was brief; just over four minutes as it fades to a closing drone and bypasses the more beautiful second movement of the original song.
If one ever wanted to hear a busy, clattering cover of one of the most widely covered Doors songs, then you might have been the audience for their radical, yet perfunctory cover of “Hello, I Love You.” It was all grinding, distorted loops and what sounds like a cuckoo clock loop during the bridge. Kerr’s vocals are distorted and dubbed throughout the rest of the song as what seemed like grungy, looped based Moroder-space kept on circling until the song’s cold ending.
Next came what has rapidly become my go-to track on this album as it sticks in my brain for hours at a time. I remembered the Echo + The Bunnymen original of “Bring On The Dancing Horses” from their “Songs To Learn And Sing” compilation of hits. I was shocked that Simple Minds had decided to cover this one because of the vitriolic statements about Jim Kerr that Echo singer Ian McCulloch had made in the press, back in the day. The original never made much of an impression on my as I only saw the video on MTV back in the day. Exposure to the Simple Minds version gave me newfound appreciation for the song.
I love the extended dub intro that builds from nothing but a skeletal hi-hat track, gradually introducing an echoey, pulsing loop and eventually, a reggae-like rhythm that sounded a close relative to the one drop beat of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” Then a synth loop cutting an almost acid house feel oscillated through the song and the bass finally joined in. Almost immediately, Kerr began whispering the vocals of the verses, and singing with a little more brio on the chorus.
It’s got a cool, understated vibe that has a lot of appeal to me. I like how the guitar only really kicks in during the choruses, and at the track’s midpoint, the heavily effected guitar hook based on Will Sargeant’s in the original makes an appearance; fairly radiating hope among the ambivalent, dark music. This song really got stuck in my head for the last several weeks, and when I was researching the original, I noticed that, unbeknownst to me, I actually owned a copy in the Record Cell! I had completely forgotten that it was also issued on the “Pretty In Pink” OST, which I had picked up for the INXS B-side on it [“Do Wot You Do”]. I wasted no time in playing the heck out of it and had to admit, I preferred the Simple Minds version. The original Laurie Latham production had a cloying sweetness [complete with harp runs!] that had been stripped away on the Simple Minds cover. The expansive [5:52] new arrangement also gave the song more room to breathe.
Next: …Unambiguous drug references