The story of Simple Minds is generally regarded by most as a story of two halves. The trendy, cool sound of their first five albums before their spiky/angular sound gave way to 80s arena rock bombast. Truth is, I love the massive 80s hits of “Sanctify Yourself” and “Alive and Kicking”. I was always curious about their earlier sound so last year picked up the Simple Minds X5 album pack that collects their first five discs (includes Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call double as well as bonus tracks).
The first release from the Glaswegians was Life In A Day released in the post punk world of 1979. There is a giddy rush to first track, “Someone”. The slight rest before the chorus amps its impact and you can picture the band jumping up and down while playing the track in pubs around the UK. That rush is continued with the handclaps in “Sad Affair”. Non charting single “Chelsea Girl” takes the foot off the gas with a cascading keyboard line from Michael MacNeill. A key song in their early live shows, the track slows to just bass and background cymbals for the final minute while the chorus is sung over and over again. The title track, and lone charting single, features the synthesizer more upfront and has Kerr really going for it in the vocal. Is this a precursor to what would come in the 80s?
The album generally gets middling reviews and the band themselves aren’t overly fond of it. Jim Kerr has expressed disappointment in some of John Leckie’s (!!) production which does make the band sound more like a really good bar band rather than young world beaters. However, to these ears much of it fits in very nicely with classic tracks from that era such as Squeeze’s “Cool For Cats” and the horn driven punk of X-Ray Spex. There was plenty more to come from Simple Minds in future years but this was a damn fine start.