Rock G.P.A.: Simple Minds [part 53]

simple minds lineup with duffy and gillespie

This lineup of Simple Minds remained stable from 2002 to 2010

With the release of “Cry” the band lineup underwent changes in 2002 order to meet the live arena head on. The last time they had toured in Europe in 1998, on the release of “Néapolis,” saw Derek Forbes on bass and Mark Taylor on keyboards. The intervening four years saw an unreleased album and the group cut from the Chrysalis roster. When it was time to tour for the “Cry” album, new members were needed. Though Gordon Goudie had been all but half of the “band” on the “Neon Lights’ and “Cry” albums, he never toured with the group and only contributed to their studio albums and writing. Instead, Jim Kerr poached bassist Eddy Duffy from his younger brother Mark’s band, Sly Silver Sly. On keyboards, they hired Andy Gillespie, an executive of SoundControl, a retailer of music gear in the UK.

The band managed to extend their “Floating World Tour” to 79 dates encompassing shows in the UK, Europe, North America, Monaco and the United Arab Emirates. The re-appearance of older material in these shows was at least partially due to the influence of new members Gillespie and Duffy exerting pressure to unleash some songs like “Theme For Great Cities” that had been all but forgotten over the years. Meanwhile, their singles from “Cry” were issued in a bewildering variety of formats in markets like Germany and Italy, primarily. These leaned heavily on 12″ DJ mixes.

Also in 2002, Virgin Records, who still held ownership of the band’s first 18 years of recordings, remastered all of the Simple Minds albums [including “Néapolis”] in new editions that superseded the first masterings that had been knocking around for years. These were in mini-LP “obi” editions followed by regular jewel box editions. As well as giving the artwork the care that was lacking initially, enormous wrongs, such as the omission of “League Of Nations” and “The Sound In 70 Cities” on the single disc editions of “Sons + Fascinations/Sister Feelings Call” that had been on the market since 1985 were finally addressed. CDs were capable of holding 74 minutes of audio, but early CDs [especially from Virgin Records; see “XTC’s “English Settlement” or Japan’s “Oil On Canvas”] were inexplicably truncated; leading me to suspect that it was the cost of mastering past the 60 minute mark, that caused the early CDs of these titles to be shorted.

simple minds - earlygoldUKCDAThe next year brought a new compilation from Virgin Europe called “Early Gold” which also saw a release in the US market as well. This aptly named compilation became the single CD Simple Minds compilation of monastic preference. It featured only material from ’79-’82 and was a unimpeachable selection of the early, classic singles, salted with a few well-chosen deep cuts. If the selection had fallen into my hands, it could not have been much better. It remains the simplest and most effective gateway drug to the band.

simple minds - silverboxUK5xCDAMeanwhile, the “lost” Simple Minds album, “Our Secrets Are The Same,” was being pencilled in for a release, finally, on Virgin Records, who maintained their release schedule with the band even though they were not signed to Virgin for their contemporary releases. This went back and forth for long months until it was finally decided at the last minute to make the album part of a special 25th anniversary boxed set from Virgin Records called “Silver Box.” As it eventually saw release in 2004, to commemorate the band’s silver anniversary, it was a strange, five CD confederation of early demos, live recordings from many periods of the band’s history, BBC sessions, with the “Our Secrets Are The Same” album being the ultimate bait for fans. I can’t say I thought much of the final result. The demos were fairly pointless for a band that jammed in the studio as much as they did back then. the BBC sessions were the prize here, even though the collection was incomplete. The live material was far from what I would have included in this set, and featured a preponderance of boring “Real Life” tour material featuring a ragged Kerr with his voice shot to hell being insult to injury! My opinions on “Our Secrets Are The Same” appeared earlier in this series.

Virgin | Euro | DVD-A 5.1 DTS | 2005 | DVDAV 2230

simple minds - OUATDVD-AFinally, early 2005 saw the band’s popular “New Gold Dream [81,82,83,84]” and “Once Upon A Time” albums issued in 5.1 surround sound mixes on the DVD-Audio format. These were compatible with any DVD player, but on a DVD-Audio only player, they had higher resolution audio available. Thoughts on the spectacular version of “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]” as overseen by Ronald Prent are here. The decision to make the release of the album truly an alternate version of the release meant that the extended takes and alternate versions made it highly interesting for my ears.  As for the “Once Upon A Time” DVD-Audio, even my fandom of the band doesn’t allow for more than a single copy of the thing on my racks. Sometime, even that’s too many! At any case, this represented a lot of catalog activity while the band prepared their next album for release in 2005.

Next: …Panchromatic days

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7 Responses to Rock G.P.A.: Simple Minds [part 53]

  1. Echorich says:

    That Virgin was interested in playing ball with Simple Minds again was as much luck as smart thinking for both band and label. This was their real home and any good archivist knew this was where the meat in their catalogue resided. That they were remastered to not sound like mid 80’s sludge is a feather in Virgin’s cap. Early Gold is more precious than gold and makes Glittering Prize look uninformed. Silver Box isn’t really a necessary item, unless you consider not owning Our Secrets Are The Same an incomplete record. Strange Fruit would have done a better job of releasing the BBC recordings.
    I think the 5.1 audio releases have a place in the market and with fans. I much prefer this format to heavy weight “audiophile” vinyl that cost’s $25 or more.
    And now on the album which was far from panchromatic aurally and filled with all the renewed confidence I could have ever wanted from Simple Minds.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Total agreement on the Strange Fruit comp that never was. It seems that The Associates got the better end of the stick in such areas. That the BBC session for “New Gold Dream” was released on a hard-to-find BBC compilation was salt in the wounds. That other sessions were still missing was even worse. These recordings were of more interest than every other component of “Silver Box” to me. I find it ugly and poorly designed, as well. Kerr mentioned that he liked the similar package that Virgin made for Roxy Music, but the booklet in that one is fabulous, and the closest to the vitally necessary Roxy Music coffee table book as we’ve yet come to having. In comparison, the Simple Minds box/booklet looks like the work of a profoundly depressed graphic designer. It’s drab as I’ve ever seen, which, ironically, makes it a cohesive match with its musical contents.

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      • Echorich says:

        Maybe I missed something 33 yrs ago, but when/why did the Claddagh become the primary symbol for Simple Minds? I’ve always considered it sort of juvenile and not really reflective of the band’s outlook on the world. Sure, it shows up on the graphics for NGD and they did try to, rather desperately, associate themselves with a Celtic Spirit after Once Upon A Time, but after Street Fighting Years, it just feels left over. They were always the spirit and reflection of The Modern and the Claddagh just seems so latched on to rather than sincere. There, rant of the day completed.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – I @$!!##^ing HATE that Claddagh!!! Not very eloquent, I know! There’s your rant from this end! It is the Sign of The Beast to my eyes!! It represents all that I hate about Simple Minds in one, convenient symbol. And you’re not quite right about it’s origins in the band’s iconography. The NGD cover featured a Sacre Coeur image with the crown of loyalty over the heart, but not the hands of friendship. It remained until the cover to the odious “Live In The City Of Light” until they became attached to the symbol. I suppose that since Kerr’s parents were Irish immigrants to Scotland, he felt it was a legitimate allusion. Perhaps. I suspect he was competing with U2 on a visual level, to match his sorry appropriation of Bono’s singing style at the time. But 29 years later, it’s the worst sort of Celtic crutch!! It was a relief not to see it on the artwork surrounding the Lostboy and “Big Music” releases. Minus ten points to the latter for using a variant of the Cross Pattée, however! That’s another design crutch they need to drop! The best art I’ve seen them have recently, was the clean, modern “Néapolis” art, in my opinion. The re-emergence of The Colonel from E+D was a pleasant surprise I never expected. THAT was an allusion I was more than ready for! By the way, I’ve considered a sidebar examining and rating their cover art, but this thread has gone on forever, suggesting that the readership might be tiring of the ALL SIMPLE MINDS format, though the stats don’t suggest this.

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          • Echorich says:

            I stand corrected…yes the NGD is a Sacre Coeur…but somewhere along the line the two were combined…that the horrible graphic for me. I will be honest and say even the NGD graphics are just over the line of refinement for me… The dial back on Sparkle works better for me. Give me the ultra modern graphics of Sons And Fascination over any of the others. Malcolm Garrett heaven!

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  2. Simon H says:

    Definitely NOT tiring of this series:)

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