In the middle of doing all of the discographical research necessary to create a boxed set of god like I mentioned last post, lots of materials must be drawn upon. Primary of these is Simon Cornwell’s Dream Giver website. It is the ne plus ultra of Simple Minds information on the web and just celebrated its second decade online. The discographical information is monastically thorough. Also, around this time, I became aware of Discogs.com and the magnificent crowd sourced information on all variety of recordings. The third source that I found myself drawing upon was simpleminds.com itself. I was poking around the official site for this and that and came across their links pages. Of course, they had links to Cornwell’s site, but they also had links to other fan sites of varying foci. One of these was called Songs For The Tribes after the track from “Néapolis.” Here, Simple Minds was endorsing a site that hosted bootleg recordings of the band live. I had never sought out bootlegs, and I had not downloaded music from the web, but if the band linked to this they must have approved.
When I went to Songs For The Tribes I found many different recordings of the band at varying times and places in their history. A concert recording would typically be split into tracks and hosted for several weeks before another show would be posted up in place of what came earlier. Having only heard live recordings of the band that dated from the era that I didn’t enjoy very much, I was curious to hear what they sounded like performing some of my favorite material. Some of these shows were vintage, and others were contemporary, with the band dipping back into their classic catalogue. After a few months I learned that earlier lineups of the band were in fact the most exciting proposition live I’d ever heard.
The shows that featured the post “Sons + Fascination” and pre “Once Upon A Time” era of the band that encompassed “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]” and “Sparkle In The Rain” albums and tours were the apex of live music by a favorite band of mine. Live, they had a rhythm section that was capable of world conquering grooves that they took into places far from the comfort of the album versions. Shows that became legendary to me from this period of live exploration were Werchter 1983 Pink Pop Festival, Manly Vale in Sydney Australia, and surely the finest of them all: Irvington, New Jersey! Many of the familiar tunes from these periods were exploded by the band in ridiculously expansive live arrangements that dramatically emboldened what was already exciting material. What the band had done with “King Is White + In The Crowd,” a familiar tune from “New Gold Dream” was earth-shattering to my ears. What I can only call the bass of god was held by Derek Forbes that night as he completely re-built the song into a towering juggernaut based an a massively flanged bass riff that just would not quit!
Hearing live shows from this period was probably the time I began formulating my opinion of Derek Forbes as the linchpin of the band in retrospect, and I began re-listening to those classic albums with new ears. All I heard was bass! After two decades of saying, yeah, Derek Forbes was a great bass player, I went to the point of simply not getting enough of his sound. A dozen years ago, the amount of listening time that I gave to Simple Minds exploded commensurately with my exposure to this material. That included my air time given to their contemporary music as well. It’s no hyperbole to say that hearing this material took me down the road from fan to fanatic. It was at this point that I began thinking in earnest about what has become this thread on the blog.
Next: …Second Wind