Simple Minds: Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call (1981)

I won't pretend to be an authority on Simple Minds. I've got their early records, and while I think they were an integral part of the more synth-heavy UK New Wave sound, I've never been as into them as, say, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (or the more guitar-oriented Echo & The Bunnymen). But the one record (or two, depending on how you count) I really enjoy is 1981's Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. Recorded at the same time, the two records were released both separately and as a double-album; the CD version I picked up early in the digital age paired them both (omitting a few tracks for space), so I view them as a single release.

What's always drawn me in about the music is its, well, bigness. Like U2, there is a bold, boomy, anthemic sound throughout, the sort of sound that beckons to be played on some big-ass speakers in a large space. Some of that is Jim Kerr's vocals, a strong rival to Bono's; but the huge drums, prominent bass-lines, and wide-open production all play a part. The song that conveys that vibe most effectively is "The American," a terrific, wickedly insinuating track that stands as a personal fave from the era. Other stand-outs are the quieter, slow-building "In Trance As Mission"; the funky, almost Talking Heads-like "Sweat In Bullet"; the moody, Joy Division-esque "Sons And Fascination"; the epic instrumental "Theme For Great Cities"; and the spooky, jarring "70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall" (with its instrumental reprise closing out the album).

For folks who didn't grow up with their early records and know Simple Minds largely through the latter-day singles (i.e. the albatross of "Don't You Forget About Me," which they didn't write), this release makes a strong case for the band's relevance as a serious part of the late 70s/early 80s European invasion.

Here's an audio rip of "In Trance As Mission":
...and the video for "Sweat In Bullet":
Here's "The American" live back in '81:
 ...and a live "70 Cities" many years later:

Comments

  1. Humanfund here. Good stuff, thanks for the reminder.

    What do you think about their next 2 records? The big sound you mention reaches a pretty rich climax with New Gold Dream. Up on the Catwalk, for instance. Your comparison to U2 works even better when you factor in their producer in common Steve Lillywhite.

    How the heck did they go from that to Don't You Forget? Steve Kerr did marry Chrissy Hynde in 1984, and the Pretenders were pretty much sucking too soon after.

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