This delightful set arrived today, a couple of days before the official release date. This really is a supreme bargain, as it is so cheap. Early Simple Minds stuff is so underrated. I got into them in 1979, and first saw them at the Hammersmith Palais, London supporting The Skids. Liverpool supergroup Pink Military and Mick Hucknall's new wave band The Frantic Elevators also appeared that night!
Sadly the original line-up gradually fell apart with the departures of brilliant drummer Brian McGee and bassist Derek Forbes (the holy backbeat indeed) and later keyboardist Mick MacNeil. Although the band still produce some great material from time to time, the original line-up will be forever unsurpassed.
Here you get 6 CDs comprising the albums "Life In A Day", "Real To Real Cacophony", "Empires And Dance", "Sons And Fascination", "Sister Feelings Call" and "New Gold Dream". There are also 19 bonus tracks! These include all the rare early B-sides, unavailable for decades. I am so happy to have legitimate digital versions of masterpieces like "Special View" and "Film Theme Dub". Don't confuse this pioneering electronica with later stadium dross like "Ghostdancing" and "Sanctify Yourself".
The albums are presented in card sleeves. For the Sons And Sisters albums, they are twinned in a gatefold. The original artwork has been suitably manipulated. All the card sleeves are a little tight which makes extracting the discs a little tricky. The box is small too, and will not accommodate the PVC sleeves I usually use when confronted with harsh cardboard sleeves which could damage discs. Maybe paper sleeves would fit, but that will have to be a project for another day. There is no booklet, which is disappointing, but the music does speak for itself.
I could write for hours about "Real To Real Cacophony" as it has always been one of my favourite albums of all time (only just beaten by "Underwater Moonlight" by The Soft Boys).
"Cacophony" is an album of unmatched humour, musical genius and features cutting edge production by John Leckie. Here we get bonus tracks "Kaleidoscope" and the "Film Theme Dub" which were originally on the flexi picture disc 7" which accompanied the first pressing of the "I Travel" single. There is also the live version of classic track "Premonition" which originally graced the "Changeling" 7".
Follow up album "Empires And Dance" was much darker, very European and decadent. The disco rhythms and Derek's bass produced a truly unique sound, transcending early influences such as Neu! Featuring the full versions of singles "I Travel" and "Celebrate" we also get the disappointing 12" versions although not the 7" edits (indeed I'm not sure these have ever been released on CD - anyone know for sure?). In addition there is "New Warm Skin" the B-side to "I Travel", not a track that I ever, er, warmed to.
The band switched from Arista/Zoom to Virgin at this point and released the 2 LPs "Sons And Fascination" and"Sister Feelings Call" as a cheapo twofer. This was Americana and shocking in the same way that "Aladdin Sane" was when it followed "Ziggy Stardust". For this release the two albums have been split up again onto two discs. This is to accommodate the bonus tracks, most of which originate from the "Sweat In Bullet" 12". Remember though that both albums without the bonuses fit onto 1 CD for burning for in-car listening. This material was made for automobiles!
After that came the trippier "New Gold Dream 81-82-83-84" album which drips sunshine from every track. Glorious tracks like "Big Sleep" and "Hunter And The Hunted" still sometimes feature in the band's live shows to this day. This album marked the end of the McGee era, and introduced the heavy handed Mel Gaynor. This was to lead onto heavier material like "Waterfront". Bonus material on this CD is generous but not comprehensive. For example you don't get the extended "Hunter And The Hunter" only available on the short-lived DVD-A version of the album, or the sublime BBC version of "King Is White And In The Crowd". You do get the full 12" mix of "Someone Somewhere In Summertime" with Charlie's later guitar intro, which was missed off some copies of "Themes Vol. 2" (mine had the album version instead of the 12").
You may have noticed I skipped the band's debut "Life In A Day". It's here along with B-sides "Garden Of Hate" and "Special View" (the latter a favourite of mine).
I always disliked this early album apart from the singles "Chelsea Girl" and "Life In A Day". I know some fans who do rate it highly though. Personally I find pomp like "Pleasantly Disturbed" a rather sad affair. I have always resented the album because I bought it instead of going to the band's second Marquee show. Money was too tight to mention at the time! The first show was fantastic by the way, but that's a story for another day.
Get this bargain while you can. In the past there has been some really expensive Simple Minds CD product. I'm thinking here of the "Themes" and "Silver Box" sets which were sloppy rip-offs. This new set more than makes amends!
Look how slim this 6 CD box is compared to the earlier 3 CD box.
I'll be selling this earlier box as it has been superseded now!