Thursday, 27 September 2018

Simple Minds - Real To Real Cacophony (1979)


  

Released November 1979

After the patchy, vaguely pretentious and derivative debut album, "Life in Day" from seven months earlier, Simple Minds produced a genuine post-punk album that was a world away from its predecessor.

Yes, there are lots of influences on here, as there certainly were on the first album, but on this outing the group are beginning to forge some sort of identity of their own. The title track opener is a real deal post-punk track and "Naked Eye" is uncategoriably brilliant, sort of The Slits meet Brian Eno. "Citizen (Dance Of Youth)" is unquestionably influenced by Joy Division, but no matter, it still sounds good. The sound on this album is a lot less tinny than on the first album, although its 2002 remaster could do with another overhaul. "Carnival (Shelter In A Suitcase)" is an industrial, scratchy guitar-driven upbeat number. The songs on here are up there with other great post-punk albums from 1979 from Joy Division, Gang Of Four, Siouxsie & The Banshees and Public Image Ltd. At this point, Simple Minds had made themselves really quite credible, and "cult".

"Factory" continues the quality. This really is a much more fulfilling album than the first. Jim Kerr reckons he listened to Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" after recording the first album and was blown away. You can tell. There are influences all over this, but they are well-chanelled influences. The group still have their own sound. Their swirling, melodic keyboards, the occasionally dubby, reverbed guitars, and Kerr's now much deeper voice. The drum and bass interplay at the end of this is excellent. "Cacophony" is a forbidding, Joy Division-esque instrumental. "Veldt" has some thumping tribal rhythm and noises at the beginning and a simply huge bass line. The animal noises and Eno-esque sound effects continue through this odd instrumental.

"Premonition" is a great track, with a good percussion/keyboard and bass intro and simply a great groove it. Almost a bit funky in a way. David Bowie had surely been listening to this before he did the "Scary Monsters" album. Yes, Bowie did get influenced by others. He got that guitar on "Fashion" from somewhere. This is one of Simple Minds' best early tracks. It is a shame that the group tarnished their credibility by becoming a bloated "stadium rock" band a few years later, because this genuinely good stuff. Similarly, "Changeling"  is up there with the best of their early years. Full of riffs and keyboard breaks and a general feeling of insistent urgency. Kerr's voice is just so much better on here than it was seven months earlier. He no longer sounds like a cross between Russell Mael of Sparks and early Bob Geldof.

"Film Theme" is a characterful, evocative instrumental that lives up to its title, sounding like it should be used for a French noir film. "Calling Your Name" is a pulsating, muscular and riffy number with some entrancing fairground-style keyboards that sound a little like the sort Orchestral Manouevres In The Dark would start to use to great effect a year later. "Scar" is a portentous-sounding number with a sort of bagpipe keyboard effect at the beginning before it kicks in to a far heavier sound than had been produced previously. It has echoes of early Roxy Music about it, but in a much more powerful way than on the first album. Overall, a vast improvement n the somewhat wayward debut.

B

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