Record Review: Simple Minds – Walk Between Worlds [pt 2]

[continued from last post]

When the album was teased early on, sage thinkers made certain that in addition to the single mix of “Magic” the LP deep cut “The Signal + The Noise” was also released to assure fans of a certain kind that Simple Minds were not going all pop on us after all. From internet scuttlebutt among fans, I saw that people who weren’t completely convinced by “Magic” were still wiling to bite after hearing this incredible song.

That’s because “The Signal + The Noise” is simply one of the best songs that Simple Minds have ever made! It began with a repetitive synth bass riff completely dry and alone until the trancelike rhythms set the stage for Burchill’s tremolo guitar. The driving, almost martial beat and determined bearing of the song seemed ripped straight out of the “Sons + Fascination” playbook, and indeed, it sounds like the missing link between “Sons” and “Sparkle In The Rain.” It’s fascinating to hear the band pick up old traits and carry them forward in ways that we perhaps anticipated but never actually heard 35 years ago. It’s lovely Krautrock influenced dance rock with hints of funk in the synth bass loops. You can put this next to “Love Song” on a playlist and it makes sense.That alone would gladden my heart, but then Jim Kerr opened his mouth.

It’s his lyrics here that take this one to the heights that this song hits. While his voice is couched in dub effects, the words he’s singing are among the best he’s ever penned. Caveat: I don’t listen to Simple Minds for the lyrics. I listen for the musical atmospheres and hybridization of disparate styles of music. In the days before “Sparkle In The Rain,” the lyrics tended to be impressionistic and abstract juxtapositions that suggested rather than reveal, and that allowed listeners to read almost anything they wanted in to the lyric message. I prefer that. The band began writing much more conventionally with “Sparkle” and then dove into cliche and mediocrity with “Once Upon A Time.” I can’t say that too many of their lyrics have held my attention in the years since, but these most certainly do!

“Take off those headphones and let this world pour into you
Throw off those glasses and then you’ll start seeing
Forget those battles, those ones that mean nothing to you
Know you’re alive and just smile, you’ll start hearing” –          “The Signal + The Noise”

“Side Two” began with the sleek dance rock of “In Dreams” enhanced by some lovely backing vocals by Sarah Brown, who was shaping up to have a much bigger role in this album as compared to “Big Music.” Mr. Burchill’s guitar rides smoothly over this one like a hawk on an warm updraft. It’s probably a deep cut, but listening to it now, I can’t shake the feeling that it’s single worthy. The backing vocals were particularly nice with large vocal harmonies between the ladies from the touring band along with studio help from the likes of Gavin Goldberg and Clinton Outten [also on “Big Music”], Andy Wright, and Hatty and Emily Parker. The blending of male and female backing vocals throughout the album gives the album a lot of spirit and vitality. Much of the time the BVs were a massed chorus that contribute to the sense of freshness and vitality here.

Next: …Starman


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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5 Responses to Record Review: Simple Minds – Walk Between Worlds [pt 2]

  1. Tim says:

    I’m happy for you to hear that a band you’ve liked for so long rolled out something that gobsmacked you.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – Yeah especially in the car wreck aftermath of the fine “Big Music” album. Everything they did after releasing it was all wrong for over two years. A return to the “bad old days” of ’85-’94. Then they whip this out as if nothing had happened in the interim.


      • Tim says:

        That’s really great, a lot of the 80’s acts are just creatively done, playing the nostalgia circuit or cranking out sub-standard material (or, er, uhhhhh….dead). It’s very few and far between these days on the quality releases from the old guard.


  2. Echorich says:

    The Signal And The Noise has so much SM 80/81 DNA, it can transport you back 37 years before you get to the first chorus. The lead-ins on WBW are a magnificent build up, but this song’s placement is pure genius. It stands out with a towering presence as if sent out as a musical beacon to the universe. This is so gratifyingly obviously a Kerr/Burchill composition. You are right Monk, this is instantly a classic of the SM Canon.
    I think it’s interesting that the vinyl release breaks up the album along the lines that it does. The music from Summer through In Dreams is like a suite of sorts in my mind. if I had to stop to to flip the album over for In Dreams, I feel like I miss some of the impact created by these four songs played in order. In Dreams is imbued with a sense of mystery and otherworldliness that has, for the most part been missing from SM since New Gold Dream. It’s a side of Simple Minds I welcome back wholeheartedly.
    What is to come next on Walk Between Worlds is nothing short of rectification…


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Yeah, “The Signal + The Noise” has that urgent, yet stentorian sound to it that has been missing with this band ever since Sons/Sister. Almost the point where I thought music had been perfected upon first hearing that pair of albums.


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