Monday, 13 February 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #57 - Simple Minds, "Reel To Real Cacophony"

Inspired by footage of the (orsum!) BBC4 documentary "Big In America" that showed a 1979 Simple Minds not being terrible on stage at some trendy, tiny club in New York, when I was browsing at a local vintage place and saw the vinyl of this 1979 release I forked out the fiver and ran all the way home.

I liked how vaguely shifty and callow Jim Kerr looked in the film (which I think was shown on the Old Grey Whistle Test that winter) and the blend of a sturdy, insistent bass lope with keyboard washes and heroic Bowie-esque guitar lines. (I suppose that should be Mick Ronson-esque.) I guess this was a pleasing mid-point between Johnny & The Self-Abusers first punky outpourings and the "Don't You Forget About The Belfast Child New Gold Dream And Kicking On The Waterfront" beast of pomposity they became.

"Changeling" (which I think may've been the lead single from the album) has a nice, juddering feel - partly from sub-Gary Numan electronics. "Citizen" starts with some nice claustrophobic drums and the long shadow of the Seventies ("Romance is no escape/But I'll escape") darkens it both lyrically and in the close production. I'm not sure whether "Factory" would be titled in homage to Andy Warhol or 
Anthony H Wilson - the echoey Hannetisms of the latter and the shiny ambition of the former.

In looking for pictures of SM in their alienated pomp, I read about how highly thought-of the rhythm section was at the time - post-punk idolatry up there with the Wobbles and the Tina Weymouths. (Is that "up there" strictly speaking; perhaps "out there" would be better?) Also the influence of Magazine is mentioned and I can tell why Kerr sounds different than in later years: he's doing a Howard Devoto impression. Nice.

"Premonition" has now been added to my Impossible Final Disco.

Rating: Seventies out of Eighties

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