February 2015 marks the return of “Simple Minds” to Europe, who are on tour to promote their latest album “Big Music”. The band was formed in Glasgow back in 1977 by 2 childhood friends, Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill. Since then, they have gone on to release 16 studio albums, scored 6 consecutive top 3 albums and filled stadiums worldwide. In October of last year the band released their latest album “Big Music” , which has presented their fan base with an assured and confident return to their creative heights of the early eighties.
“Big Music” is an extremely impressive collection of songs and I personally think it’s their best body of work since “New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)”. Very few artists or bands could maintain the dazzling heights as that of “Sons And Fascination” and “New Gold Dream(81,82,83,84)”. Although not all of Simple Minds albums may not be on the same par as the above mentioned albums, I would argue that most of their albums have a few outstanding songs worth the purchase alone. “Good News From The Next World” had the pulsing “Hypnotized” and the 2002 album “Cry” is an embarrassment of riches shockingly ignored by the press and public. Over the last 10 years, Simple Minds have continually reinvigorated themselves with each album, reconnecting themselves with their strengths and losing some of those “U2″ tendencies that slightly handicapped their output in the late 80’s and 90’s.
“Big Music” is the sound of a band comfortable in their own skin playing to their strengths. Simple Minds have accepted, unlike many of their peers that they are unlikely to trouble the top of the singles charts and perhaps they are not relevant to the streaming generation. They have not attempted to recruit super-producers or rent-a-rapper in a desperate attempt to get on the radio. Instead Simple Minds have offered their fans an album that focuses on great songs and musicianship.
“Big Music” comes into the world with a bang in the shape of “Blindfolded” and is undoubtably one of the bands finest songs in years. This track can hold it’s own even with the cream of “New Gold Dream(81,82,83,84) “. I heard not heard the band so vibrant in many years, and the effect is highly addictive with making it hard not to play this song repeatedly. The next highlight on the album is the first single “Honest Town” which came about after a conversation the lead singer Jim Kerr had with his dying mother as they drove through their home city of Glasgow. With each location she relayed a nostalgic memory of their lives, referring to it as an “honest town”. It is one of the most heartfelt Simple Minds songs which is neither cloying or saccharine, instead its earnest and sentimental soulfulness makes it the emotional centre of the album.
The next outstanding song for me is “Blood Diamonds” which had previously premiered on their greatest hits compilation “Celebrate” on the double or triple disc edition. This sees the band in a reflective mood with soaring background of synthesizers, textures and some outstanding toning by the extremely underrated Charlie Burchill. Another two songs included on the album that some fans might already be familiar with are the unnecessary cover of The Call’s “Let The Day Begin” and “Broken Glass Park”. Closing the album is another outstanding song called “Spirited Away” which ends the album and continues the reflective and almost slightly melancholy feel to the lyrics and vocal performance. “Spirited Away” is a beautiful down-tempo song with Jim Kerr seeming almost world weary, resigned to loss and is the perfect way to close what seemed to me a very introspective piece of work.
So 36 years since the release of their debut album “Life In A Day”, Simple Minds remain a band that can offer their fans an album of sleek and contemporary sounding songs that still has that quintessential magic. Personally I can’t wait to hear the “Big Music” live on the forthcoming tour and hope to see you there.