Reason #252 & #251: Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call
Two albums that came out almost simultaneously in 1981, SAF/SFC still showcase a band pushing the boundaries, artistically and aurally, but also shows a glimpse of their stadium filling future. SAF contains more of the former, with Krautrock/Euro-disco classics Love Song, In Trance As Mission, This Earth That You Walk Upon, the title track and closer Seeing Out The Angel. All of these are atmospheric compositions with a strong dose of electro about them, and sounded absolutely massive live, or in a club played at maximum volume. The standout track, for me, is Love Song, which is just a barn burner of a track, and easily one of the best songs in their extremely large discography.
SFC is often considered the lesser albums of the two, and that is correct, but not by much. It has it’s share of amazing songs, yes it does. The fact that the band chose to open the album with the great instrumental Theme For Great Cities is telling. I read somewhere that singer Jim Kerr says that the best decision he ever made in regards to Simple Minds was to leave the vocals off this track. It’s brilliant; so brilliant, in fact, that Radiohead decided to rip it off almost note for note for Where I End And You Begin, a song from their album Hail To The Chief (which is pretty terrific, too, I must admit). I’ll post the two songs below and you can be the judge. Other standouts include 20th Century Promised Land, The American (the most anthemic song on the album and one that would not have been out of place on Once Upon A Time), and Careful In Career.
Simple Minds is often compared to U2, but at this point (and right up to New Gold Dream in 1982) there was no comparison. Simple Minds were by far the greater band. No debate necessary. Those of us that were lucky enough to find this band at the beginning of their career know that their first 6 (or 7, depending on who you ask) albums, all released in the span of 4-5 short years, shows an amazing growth, quality and creativity not matched by many other bands in the history of rock and roll. Start with Real To Real Cacophony and work chronologically from that point if you’re new to the band. The debut is decent, but the great leap forward is Real To Real Cacophony. To cite another Radiohead example, RTRC is to their debut, Life In A Day, what The Bends is to Pablo Honey.