[…continued from last post]
It’s strange to hear a Glitterbeat in the middle of a Simple Minds song, but “Human Traffic” didn’t bother asking our permission. The band had pulled this gambit once before on their [second recorded] cover of The Call’s “Let The Day Begin” on 2014’s “Big Music.” And back then it had the effect of making a cover of The Call palatable to these ears! Would it work again here? The sturdy backbeat rhythm, albeit programmed by Charlie Burchill, also had his joyous guitar tone to carry this one aloft. And the high lonesome, cinematic string patches added a certain prairie dignity to the song.
With a title like that one, we would be excused for expecting a political potboiler, but like 2013’s song “Blood Diamonds,” the loaded title was undercut by a radically different lyric to what was expected. This time it was Mr. Kerr’s musing on the day to day ceaseless pace of living, and this was the track where Russell Mael of Sparks sand the choruses with Kerr as a duet of sorts. With him supplying a massed chorus of his dulcet tones. The joy of the song’s tone was palpable and infectious and I enjoyed the mechanical repetition of Mael’s exhortation of “only…only” looped for two bars before the song came to its abrupt halt.
The first seconds of “Who Killed Truth” began in the most wrong-footed way possible as the acoustic guitar strumming of Mr. Burchill coupled with the opening line of “…people coming together” made me think that I had put on a record by mistake. Because that’s the only way it could happen in my home. Once the intro ended and the full sound of the track kicked in at the 0:23 mark, the song eventually found its center in a way that was at least more palatable to my ears. But it was by no means top tier work by the band. Was this an ill-conceived influence of the “Acoustic” period that I’ve done my level best to avoid? I wouldn’t doubt it. Songs like this were part of the reason why I was so seriously down on the conceit of Simple Minds picking up acoustic guitars in the first place.
If the last intro was troubling to my ears, that didn’t even begin to take into consideration the unmitigated gut-punch that the first full minute to “Solstice Kiss” was. We had to endure sixty seconds, of plinking acoustic guitars with the dreaded [sampled] uilleann pipes taking us into Full Celtic Jacket territory. One could practically smell Michael Flatley in the wings as the band seemed to be veering close…dangerously close, to re-living the “Street Fighting Years” vibe that wakes me in the night in a cold sweat.
It’s all the more tragic that once the song begins in earnest at the 0:58 point, we were treated to another Ged Grimes co-write that was a good song that actually seemed to get better as it progressed. And it’s worth mentioning that Grimes was credited here for more instruments than Charlie Burchill! This track goes back a fairly long way. I can swear that I heard Jim Kerr crowing about it after it had just been written on the posts he used to make on simpleminds.com before the horror of social media. It’s telling that there was actually a fourth musician credited on the track! And it was Andy Gillespie who’s been gone from the mothership for five years now.
But this sterling track had much to recommend it, if we were to trim the first 58 seconds from it. Though there was a typically meaty Burchill riff the tune was anchored on right up front, when Jim Kerr began singing he began singing from the most subtle space possible as the synths rippled like raindrops on water all around him in the delicate verses before the chorus erupted in full power. The climax saw vocalist Sarah Brown taking a chorus with the synths riffing under her with brio as the coda wrapped it all up.
Then the initial single “Act Of Love” was introduced into the flow. I thought the single was a great way to commemorate 44 years since their very first gig in 1978. This one was a storming track based on one of the band’s earliest songs given a dust off and dramatic re-boot 4o-some years later. Having heard the original, this new version was easily superior. And for a full-Burchill production, this one fully breaks a sweat and actually provided the jolt that’s often missing from modern Simple Minds. Most of the original lyric was abandoned and that’s no big deal when the results were this great. Alan Moulder’s mix was full of exciting detail and staging that made this one a very brief seeming four minutes of your time.
Next: …Go To Zero