Simple Minds – New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

Artist: Simple Minds

Genre: Alternative Rock, Avant-garde, Experimental
Title: New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
Label: A&M Records
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Jim Kerr – lead vocals, Charlie Burchill – guitars and effects
Michael MacNeil – keyboards and effects, Derek Forbes – bass guitar
Additional musicians:Mel Gaynor – drums, Mike Ogletree – percussion, Kenny Hyslop – drums, Sharon Campbell – girl’s voice, Herbie Hancock – guest keyboardist
Producer: Peter Walsh
Engineer: Peter Walsh

New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) is the fifth studio album by Scottish rock band Simple Minds. The album was released in September 1982 by record label Virgin, and was a turning point for the band as they gained critical and commercial success in the UK and Europe. This version I have is on A&M records as that was the US release label. In the US, A&M issued some limited edition translucent gold with maroon colored marble vinyl pressings of the album. Sadly, I am not lucky enough to have one of those.

Side A
1. “Someone Somewhere in Summertime” – Not my favorite song on the LP. Mel Gaynor was the drummer for the song, with Kenny Hyslop and Mike Ogletree being the other session drummers for the record.
2. “Colours Fly and Catherine Wheel” – This tune has a subtle funk flavor. Would make a good dance tune. :Originally called Arpeggio Song after Mick’s distinctive arpeggio synths, it was fused with Charlie’s Skyscraper Guitar Riff and the basis of Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel was born.
A “Catherine Wheel” is a flat, spiral firework. When nailed to a tree and lit, the firework spins on its axis, giving off a circular stream of coloured sparks and light. (Well, that’s the theory anyway). “When I look back I feel incredibly lucky because not only did we have Charlie Burchill to write with but Derek Forbes our bass player. [He was] essentially as good a guitar player – maybe better in the early days than Charlie was. But Derek was coming up with these bass lines which were as melodic as any lead guitar line. And Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel is really Derek at his best.” – Jim, Sunday Herald interview, 2008.
3. “Promised You a Miracle” – Not my favorite studio song, but the live version is better. The way the song sounds to me sounds as if it was written by computer, but it wasn’t. The vocals were not recorded that well, they sound like annoying mumbling. From wikipedia: It was released as the first single from New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). It was the only song on the album that included Kenny Hyslop as the studio session drummer. “Promised You A Miracle” is a dance track which is driven by a combination of “deep electronic beats” from the keyboards of Mick MacNeil and a “deft hook line and riff” courtesy of Charlie Burchill’s guitar play. It was considered by Jim Kerr to be the first “pure pop” song written by the band, as their first attempt to craft a song specifically for radio listeners. The song is considered to be a bridging point between the atmospheric and “echo-laden” New wave sound of Sons and Fascination and the stadium pop-rock of the band’s later years, due to the clean, crisp production of the band’s new producer Peter Walsh.
4. “Big Sleep” – This song has the feel of a Euro or German club. It also seems somewhat like it could be used as a soundtrack.
5. “Somebody Up There Likes You” – This is an instrumental that I could call “Euro Chill”. The song was based around the Mahler Chords, an idea Charlie developed whilst jamming in a Fife farmhouse for the New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) album.
“We had words for Somebody Up There Likes You but we took them off – we felt that the music spoke more than the words did. Up until then, Simple Minds always had this ambient side” – Jim, Sunday Herald interview, 2008. “We were recording in Shepherds Bush (London) and staying a couple of miles away in Bayswater. Everyone made their own way to the studio and most days I would walk up through Holland Park, over the roundabout, and on up to Goldhawk Rd, where the local market was always in full swing. At least once or twice a week I would be accompanied by George Golfi, a friend of the band, great supporter, absolutely full of life type. We would stop at a cafe on our way, but George always insisted we also stopped and looked in the window of the garage/showroom that sold antique cars. He was passionate about the design of those admittedly beautiful machines, personally I couldn’t have cared less. We were on a weekly wage of £35 at the time, and none of us owned a car or driving licence. In terms of gadgets I was delighted enough with my recently purchased Sony Walkman. Using it constantly, whenever I put it down George would immediately grab it and flip inside a cassette that had an instrumental tune written mostly by Mick MacNeil. It was called Somebody Up There Likes You, and George would tell us that we we’d be nuts not to include it on the album we were in the process making. He was of course right. George is no longer with us, but every time I hear this track it is him that I remember. It is a beautiful piece of music and George knew beauty when we came across it.” – Jim, 2nd August 2016

Side B
6. “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)” – This is obviously the title track. It’s catchy, but the lyrics are nonsense. :The song was first called Festival Riff and developed during writing sessions at Fife in 1982. Parts were similar to The Velvet Underground’s What Goes On and Kraftwerk’s Autobahn.
“We nailed New Gold Dream right away. Derek was playing this really fast pumping bass and it meant nothing, and just before that I’d been doing this guitar riff thing and it meant nothing either. Then by accident we put the two together and Jim went off his nut, he went ‘Yeeees! Fucking brilliant’ Then we just went for it right away.” – Charlie. The final song lasted ten minutes. Pete Walsh edited it down to produce the extended mix and album mix. More of the original track can be heard on the DVD-Audio version of the album. The dates were added at the last moment. “After an album obsessed by fear we’d made an album looking to the future. In spite of everything. That explains the years to come. Also, 1984 was taboo. New Gold Dream went against that. It said: let’s hear the news, good or bad” – Jim. “We were struggling. We had the backing track. One of the big influences on us was a genre music called Kraut Rock – it’s not one of the most flattering terms – it was essentially these German garage bands namely Neu, Can and another called La Dusselldorf, and basically they’d hit on a chord and repeat it and repeat it – until you actually felt the thing was moving. And New Gold Dream was an exercise in that. Again the lyrics were coming from this idea – I suppose we felt there was some sort of alchemy going on in our band and we felt we’d used our influences and with our influences we’d cooked up something of our own. And I think New Gold Dream is about that – and the title track itself is also in a way about that.” – Jim, Sunday Herald interview, 2008.
7. “Glittering Prize” – This sounds like a standard pop song to me. In fact, I find it boring and unenlightened. In my opinion it is the worst song on the LP, almost hard to sit through. That said it was a popular song and there was even a video made for it (which I never saw). :Oddly the band considered Glittering Prize to be the runt of the New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) litter. Derek once mentioned to Charlie that he’d heard a Muzak version in a London supermarket. The guitarist was surprised: “God, it’s bad enough when we do it.”
Despite the band’s feelings towards the track, it was selected as the second single from the set, appearing in the single’s chart just before the release of the album. – Jim
8. “Hunter and the Hunted” – Nothing notable here, lyrics are nonsense, but could be a good dance tune. : Hunter And The Hunted was originally demoed at Rockfield in January 1982 (first as The Low Song, then under the working title of The Hunter) making it one of the first three songs written for the album to be completed.
“If you strip out the vocal you get this fantastic theme going on – a really, really romantic theme going on. At the time we were struggling, lyrically I was struggling, and musically we felt there was something missing. Herbie Hancock, the jazz legend, was working next door, and he came in – and he was particularly attracted to Derek Forbes’ bass playing – and Derek to this day is very, very proud of that, as so he should be – Herbie encouraged us not to give up on it. So much so that he went in himself – it was only ten minutes – and sort of doodled on it. And with more luck and enthusiasm he was there. And to this day, a lot of people mention it as being a ‘dark horse’ track on New Gold Dream and it’s certainly one of them.” – Jim, Sunday Herald interview, 2008. “The amazing thing was the producer, Pete Walsh, he’d worked with Heaven 17. We did Promised You A Miracle first with him. We were only in our early 20s, he was only in his teens. He was a kid. But he and his elder brother had somehow both worked with Herbie Hancock, and he was at the Townhouse at the time as us. So our guys were never slow in coming forward; “Play a wee bit, Herbie!” And he rolled the track a couple of times and, as we’re finding out, it’s a difficult thing to emulate. What a cameo.” – Jim.
9. “King Is White and in the Crowd” – It sounds like a drum machine was used in this track. This song has an avant-garde/experimental flavor. There is a subtle hint of Talking Heads styling like the song “Drugs” off the Talking Heads LP titled “Fear Of Music”, only this song seems to go nowhere. :The lyrics were inspired by a TV broadcast of the assassination of Sadat: “There was a thing of beauty in that tragedy. It was a coincidence that it concerned Sadat, it didn’t make any difference. I saw it on TV: Sadat was inspecting a parade, some soldiers walk past and suddenly they shoot him like an animal. And the next thing you saw was a close-up of his wife.” – Jim. “We talked about Martin Fry and ABC and debated the value of writing such traditionalist love songs. Kerr explained how the line in King Is White – ‘she puts on the film of him’ – had been inspired by a film on TV showing her husband’s assassination on TV. “There’s more to life than another broken heart,” says Kerr” – Adam Sweeting. “As well as the shining heart of Simple Minds, I think there’s also a bit of a dark heart as well. When that tune came up, there was something compelling about it, something Eastern about it. And at the time, perhaps it was the time we were starting to take notice of the world around us – I’d always been interested in the idea of the outsider. And you can’t get more of the outsider than the assassin. And there was something about the assassin that was intriguing me. At the time there’d been this assassination of President Sadat of Egypt. And it had all been in the news as we were working on these tracks – it was a loop we were working on, and out of that came this big wailing song.” – Jim, Sunday Herald interview, 2008.

MUSIC: Given generously

Colours fly and Catherine wheel:

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