Simple Minds Sidebar 1: Ranking The Cover Art [part 6]

ALBUM 11: Real Life | 1991| designer: Stylorouge

Virgin Records | UK | LP | V 2660

Virgin Records | UK | LP | V 2660

Back cover

Back cover

1991 saw Simple Minds reflecting tumultuous change in every form possible. Keyboardist Mick MacNeil had left the band at the end of the “Street Fighting Years” tour. The band left their management company for greener pastures for the first time since starting out. Why would their design team not also reflect this state of flux? Steadfast Assorted iMaGes were dropped for Rob O’Connor’s Stylorouge team instead. The UK LP featured abstract images of the three remaining members [Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, and Mel Gaynor] and at least a variation on that insufferable claddagh heart

The back cover featured individual B+W portraits with the group name and album title knocked out in reverse of the photos with color holds. It was such a nice effect, that it really could have been the cover, and they probably anguished over the choice in designs for front and back cover for a long time. They compromised with the UK CD having the cover images reversed.

Virgin Records | UK | CD | CDV 2660

Virgin Records | UK | CD | CDV 2660

Other territories perhaps got to pick their preference. Japan and the USA both reflect the UK LP cover scheme, with most other territories opting for the UK CD cover as seen above. This was the band’s last hurrah on A+M Records which had seen the band begin as a cult act, reach the top, and end up again as a cult act after nine years. I have to say that I don’t own any of these as discussed up to this point. I only made a purchasing decision a year later, after seeing the most unique and desirable variation once, in Park Avenue Discs.

Virgin Records | AUSTRALIA | 2xCD | VOZCD 2052 B

Virgin Records | AUSTRALIA | 2xCD | VOZCD 2052 B

The OZ limited edition of the album was the one to get. It featured a five track bonus “Live At Barrowlands” CD and a cover design that was a white variant on the UK LP cover in the slimmest double CD case I’ve ever seen. I can’t say I’ve seen this one ever again. Since the album was tepid at best, I have not bothered with the other covers the times I’ve seen them even in the used bins. I may be a fan, but I’m not an idiot.


ALBUM 12: Good News From The Next World | 1995| designer: Stylorouge

Virgin Records | UK | LP | V2760

Virgin Records | UK | LP | V2760

Back cover

Back cover

Stylorouge hung on for the next and final release on Virgin Records four years later. As seen from the band shot on the back cover, the band had been through more changes, as evidenced by Charlie regarding Jim as if he can’t believe what he’s looking at. Kerr never looked worse, in my opinion. He seemed to be trying on the “decadent rock star” image and the fit was incredibly bad. I’d go as far as saying that he looked as if his moon-face had been Photoshopped® onto the body of a far more tragic figure. Otherwise, the India-themed cover was a real pleasure to look at, even if I am still wondering what it has to do with the music.  I own this album in two formats; the standard US CD and the 2002 kami sleeve remaster, which replicates the original UK gatefold LP perfectly. Both of these are pretty much exactly like the UK LP cover. But there was a single exotic variation  …there always is at least one to brighten these posts.

More intriguing than the usual cassette jewel box

More intriguing than the usual cassette jewel box

Virgin Records | UK Promo | Cassette | TCV 2760

Virgin Records | UK Promo | Cassette | TCV 2760

The back of the postcard

The back of the postcard

the cardboard cassette container

the cardboard cassette container

The cassette was not in a normal jewel case. Instead, three sheets of corrugated cardboard had a cassette sized hole in which the tape fit. The top cover was a postcard with a unique cover variation, and a clear plastic sleeve held it all together. The use of corrugated cardboard echoed the use of the same material in the UK CD single packaging of the pre-release single, “She’s A River.”

simple minds she'sariverUKCD1

Next: …[The Return Of] Yet More Covers

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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12 Responses to Simple Minds Sidebar 1: Ranking The Cover Art [part 6]

  1. Simon H says:

    Heard Real Life (the song) for the first time on Wednesday as part of the band’s Bristol gig. It came after the bizarre acoustic section… As a gig when it was great, it really was great, a pummelling version of I Travel for instance, but elsewhere it was not what I was looking for. I respect the band for trying to keep things interesting but it didn’t always work for me. The second half was more problematic than the first with a very arid four song stretch starting with OUAT… Never mind, would I see them again? Yes, of course but they would either need to be revisiting the right part of their past or touring to support another album as strong as BM, because the BM songs kept this from going way off track.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Simon H – Thanks so much for the live SM report. You never heard “Real Life” before? I’m almost envious. Your live report suggests that there’s still life on the band, in spite of their recent performance decisions. I like your description of the acoustic set, but perhaps you’re being too kind. I’m envious of the pummeling version of “I Travel.” I’ve only ever heard one that I would call “pummeling,” and that was on the 1982 bootleg “A Voyage To Remember.” It’s my thrilling, go-to version of the song. When it threatens to fly apart, yet barely stays together… there’s nothing finer, in my opinion. So good that you were gifted with one of those performances of that song! They’re all good, but some are better than others!

      Your mention what will ultimately make me purchase a ticket if I get the chance over on this side of the Atlantic. Namely, the great material from “Big Music” which will absolutely get taken up a notch or three in a live situation with real instruments playing it. Thanks so much for sharing your impressions. I’m curious. What did you think of the sections where the women gave Kerr a break? Disaster, or not as bad as you expected?

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  2. Simon H says:

    It was strange, I saw them in the same venue as I witnessed the band in 84 which is a stones’ throw from the long gone venue where i first saw them in 82, three very different gigs! JK mentioned how they’d first played the Colston Hall in 79, if you’d seen that gig I doubt there would be any evidencei it was the same band! In particular during Catherine AD’s appearance…I have to say she didn’t impress me. Sarah Brown on the other hand is impressive, however whether her section felt like SM is another question! A strange gig really but still enjoyable, despite the various flaws. Funny I saw Wire last night, of course in a much smaller venue. A very different approach, as you’d expect, 90% the new album. Did hear some grumbles from audience members wanting old stuff! I didn’t have an issue with it, hats off to them for the way they handle their history, it works for them.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Simon H – It was good to hear of your impressions. Thanks for sharing them. I suspect that the Catherine AD experiment will quietly go away at the end of her contract. What with her health issues [she missed a gig due to a seizure last month] and the oil and water nature of her interface with the band, I think she’s destined to be looked back on as an experiment that didn’t pan out. If the tour makes it across the Atlantic [I’m not hopeful] I feel that it will probably be without Catherine AD.

      I wish I could see Wire. I’ve been a big fan since their ’85 return, but have not had the pleasure. I have enjoyed every Wire album I’ve bought [too few, by my reckoning] since that time. And, if you can believe it, I’ve not heard the first note of anything Wire recorded pre-1985!! I worship the He Said “Take Care” album! It’s like Scott Walker making a club record! As produced by Ivo and John Fryer!

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      • Simon H says:

        Ironically, I’ve never heard He Said! We’ve been lucky here, they’ve played in Bristol several times over the last few years which i would never have expected. They seem to be on something of a high – the last two albums are great. Still 3/4 of the original line up as well!

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  3. Brian Ware says:

    I’ve been watching Setlist.fm to see how the sets might vary as the tour continues, but no more surprises at this point. Seems that 5×5 truly got the early stuff out of their system. Showcasing sufficiently dramatic moments for Sarah and Catharine has drawn them to their mid period schlock. In the unlikely event that they bring this tour over here at some point next year, I would only imagine it being even less adventurous.

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    • Simon H says:

      I was doing the same thing! They did add Love Song at some point which helped…with UK stadium gigs coming later this year I suspect you’re right on the adventurous point.

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      • postpunkmonk says:

        Simon H – How could they not play “Love Song?!” Even the 1986 gig from Hell had 1/3 of it performed, though I wish they hadn’t.

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        • Simon H says:

          Hah! It had been in and out of the setlist recently, thankfully it returned… and not as part of a medley… It was dedicated, ‘to those who’ve followed us all these years’.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Brian Ware – I don’t know about that! I have to admit that the recent appearance of “White Hot Day 2015/Bass Line” is something that I think I really need to see, and that was a late addition. Were you aware of this? They are performing the original electro instrumental demo version of the tune and Ged Grimes is ripping it up on Chapman Stick for a “Derek Who?” moment! It’s out there… And you should give it a shot if they come within earshot. As I said, Catherine AD has a sell-by date and it’s up after this tour. Her health issues guarantee it.

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      • Brian Ware says:

        Yes I had seen that, but it would all have to evolve a lot more to get me really excited. But you’re right, never say never…

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Brian Ware – I find it hard to believe that there is someone out there who is more cynical than I am about these things. If the last 20 years have taught me anything about this band it’s that you should not underestimate their resiliency.

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