Rock G.P.A.: Simple Minds [part 65]

Virgin Records | UK | 3xCD | 2013After the release of the “5×5 Live” boxed set, the band’s next move was to… keep working the legacy action. This time, Virgin was preparing yet another boxed set with what is now the definitive Simple Minds compilation album. “Celebrate” was available in two and three disc formats, for a granular fit to the level of ardor potential purchasers might have. The three disc set was particularly impressive in that it contained really every single the band ever released in most territories, with new material recorded during the last year or two, salting the pot nicely. As mentioned earlier, Jim Kerr posted to simpleminds.com at least once a month on the band’s activities, and the tales of new sessions recorded with the likes of Steve Hillage couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow or two along the way.

Several new songs had already been rolled into the endless tour setlist, and some of these tracks had been kicking around for as long as since 2010. “Broken Glass Park” had even begun as a holdover from the Lostboy! project before ultimately getting assimilated into the Simple Minds brand. Kerr’s writing sessions with Iain Cook, of CHVRCHES had yielded the reflective [get it?] “Broken Glass Park” as well as “Blood Diamonds,”which had been kicked around for quite some time. Another new Kerr/Burchill song, “Stagefright,” was given away as a free download by the band. All three of these songs were added to the “Celebrate” package in varying degrees. “Stagefright” only graced the 3xCD box version.

The one amazing thing about that 3xCD box, was that one could buy it, use disc two as a frisbee, and then have a very tight representation of everything that I considered valuable by the band, with the exception of losing “See The Lights,” but that would be a sacrifice I would be willing to make! The band then undertook, yet another “Greatest Hits +” tour, keeping in mind that they had been emphasizing hits live on their 2009 “30 Years Live” tour, and most of their numerous summer festival gigs were heavily nostalgic. Only the “Graffiti Soul” tour had trafficked in contemporary sounds in late 2009.

Of course, the 5×5 tour was a kind of alternate nostalgia with absolutely nothing past 1982 being played, so the notion of the band heading out for yet another jaunt of playing the hits would seem to be diminishing returns.Fortunately, the effect on the band of 5×5 was galvanizing. When that tour wrapped up in late Spring of 2012, the rest of the year’s dates managed to incorporate some of that now hot, older material to varying degrees. While one would hear a show with “This Fear Of Gods” jostling for airtime with “Alive + Kicking,” this still constituted a huge leap of progress.

simple minds - promisedUaremixUK12ABy March of 2013, Virgin released “Celebrate” and found it well regarded and popular enough to crack the top 20 UK LP chart. “Broken Glass Park” and “Blood Diamonds” were released as radio promos and received UK airplay. For Record Store Day in 2013, Virgin released 1000 copies of a 12″ featuring the Mylo remix of “Promised You A Miracle” on the A-side b/w “Broken Glass Park” on the B-side. This was matched in the USA by the release here of the “Celebrate” set in a single disc format, yet still sporting “Broken Glass Park” and “Blood Diamonds” as evidence of forward movement. Simple Minds pre-announced their year end arena concerts and this found erstwhile influence and now reactivated Ultravox relegated to opening act status.

simple minds - blooddiamondsremixDLAs if to underscore this news with slashing irony, “Blood Diamonds” was given a wonderful remix by John Foxx + The Maths. This was released as a download in the UK at first, but this eventually found its way into US download stores, much to my delight. By the late Summer of 2013, I finally got the news that I had been waiting diligently for since 2002; the band were undertaking a brief North American tour, their first in 11 years! I might not have had the funds to catch the 5×5 tour, but I wasted no time in planning an excursion to see the band live at the same Washington D.C. venue that I had caught them at in 2002. Full disclosure on this wondrous event here. This show was even better than in 2002 for numerous reasons, primarily that my wife [who is a fan] was with me and chasinvictoria this time, and that I finally got to meet the sterling Echorich; no stranger to this blog’s comments. Echorich and I even partook of vinyl communion in Georgetown’s record stores without being reduced to fighting and grabbing! Suffice to say, that October of 2013 was a long time coming for this Simple Minds fan.

Next: …Everything Looks Beautiful On Video

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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5 Responses to Rock G.P.A.: Simple Minds [part 65]

  1. Echorich says:

    October 2013 will always be important for the putting down the pens and taking up the glass, fork and ultimately enjoying a Simple Minds concert event with you Monk, the Mrs. and chasinvictoria! A brilliant couple of days topped off by a concert that goes down as probably the best I’ve seen in the second decade of the New Millennium! One of the best parts of the show was seeing your extreme excitement and pleasure at SM opening with Broken Glass Park. This was only topped by our collective gasp and cheer for This Fear of Gods played live in America!!
    Back to Celebrate – the album cover is beyond Post Modern – taking the almost forgotten image of the Aviator Bust statue from E+D and filling it with 35 years of musical graffiti. But it’s a survivor in its own right, like the music held within. The versions of Broken Glass Park and Blood Diamonds are the definitive versions for me – more on that to come. That John Foxx + The Maths remix of the latter is also one of the best tracks of 2013. It puts the song on another plane. I brings me back to that soaring beauty and urgency of music from E+D and SAF/SFC. The pulsing synth beat the remix is built around is like a defiant pulse, unwilling to quit beating. It quickens, strengthens, calms and changes with the forward motions of the rhythm track. Kerr sound world weary, reflective, but not resigned to any coming end – more confident in continuing and kicking that pace back up, life left to live.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Not forgetting that the first time I ever heard “Broken Glass Park” was in the 9:30 Club! That took confidence they had every right to have to open with that number in America. It wasn’t until I finally bought the RSD ’13 “Promised U A Remix” 12″ [last October!] that I finally heard the first version! I still haven’t heard the original version of “Blood Diamonds!!” I’ve been holding out for that “Celebrate” triple set.

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      • Echorich says:

        Oh I completely remember it was you virgin exposure to Broken Glass Park. It was an exciting experience for me as well. I had every expectation that they would open with New Gold Dream, but there’s an aural lineage there between those two songs that we can explore very soon.

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  2. Without rehashing what a great concert it was, the real pleasure of the evening for me was having all of us together. It was strange deja vu to be in that club again so many years later for the same reason! I wasn’t familiar with “Broken Glass Park” at the time so it was also my first hearing and I was assured with that opener that the evening would be magical. Having not seen Simple Minds since the last 9:30 Club concert, I was very pleased with the inclusion of “American” and “This Fear of Gods” among the gems I knew well.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – I was pleased that they had the confidence to open an American “Greatest Hits” tour date with brand new material. Definitely a good omen. I was so certain that we’d get “Waterfront,” not that there’s anything wrong with that. Of course, that was song #2! As for déjà vu, I’ve heard that The Rezillos are planning a North American excursion on the back of their almighty second album, just out, by the name of “Zero!”

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