I can listen to “Waterfront” and “Let There Be Love” all day long.
Alas, after that initial hit period, Simple Minds lost traction. But this 1995 album sat in my Walkman for months, it energized me, it made me feel like I could conquer the world when I was at the lowest point in my life.
Ain’t that how it always is. The albums that are panned, disdained by the critics, are our personal favorites. And we passionately emote to others how great they are but it never really translates, because there’s not a big hit single, a memorable video…they think we’re nuts. But that’s what being a passionate music fan is all about, digging so deep you find a nugget that only you seem to get that makes your life worth living. It’s just you and the band, riding shotgun. Yup, we wouldn’t take a road trip without these favorites. We blast them from the dashboard stereo, singing along, with those stopped at lights clueless as to the words we’re mouthing.
“7 Deadly Sins”
It’s not the opener, but this is the track that sticks in my mind, the one I need to hear. It demands instant attention, it hooks you and then shoots you into outer space, thrilled to be along for the ride. The intro is like those Paxil explosions you get in your head, and then the guitar whips you around like a bobsled on the Matterhorn.
There’s underlying propulsion in the track. Kind of like Winwood’s “Night Train.” But it’s what’s swirling around on top that hooks you, pushes out the rest of what’s in your brain and demands attention. It’s like you’ve donned ice skates and Apolo Ohno is whipping you around the track. You’re scared, you’re thrilled, you’re screaming along at the top of your lungs. The cut starts out at ten and stays there. It’s a shot of adrenaline. If “7 Deadly Sins” doesn’t immediately penetrate you, make you rock your body, make you want to go to the show, then you don’t like rock music and I hope you enjoy your night home alone with cookies and warm milk.
“She’s A River”
This is the opening track. It too has a stinging guitar. But the groove is different, it’s hypnotic. You know, the kind of cut you pump the accelerator in time to as you motor down the highway in your own personal cocoon.
This is track two, and it too is a screamer, a raver, albeit not quite as good as the above two, but still extremely satisfying. And then…
The record finally slows down. There’s still that guitar. Whew, the axe sound throughout this record makes it. You just want to curl yourself around it.
“Great Leap Forward”
And then we’re back on a tear. The energy on this album is utterly staggering. It’s as if the band has something to prove, they’re gonna get in your face and give it their all. And either you’re gonna pay attention and lap it up or leave. It’s black and white, either you like this sound or you don’t. But if you ever liked Simple Minds, you’ll be enthralled.
This is the majestic closer. Before the curtain comes down and you salivate for more.
Credit everyone involved. Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill, who wrote all the songs. Keith Forsey, who helped produce. Brian Reeves, who engineered, Tom Lord Alge, who mixed. Unfortunately, “Good News From The Next World” came out at the completely wrong time. When MTV was moving away from rock towards pop and it was all about the hit single, which was absent from this album.
If it was released in the seventies, “Good News From The Next World” would be legendary.
Today it would build a steady touring base as word spread. Bands just don’t make albums that are truly playable throughout.
But Simple Minds did.
Times change. Sometimes you’re out of synch. You make your best effort but end up ignored. You lose momentum, you question your direction.
But sometimes it’s the audience, not you. Sometimes you’ve got it right, and the best thing about recordings is they last forever, and in the digital world they don’t go out of print but end up on Spotify to be discovered.
Give this one a chance. Really, play it. Crank it. You’ll find yourself jolted alive, staring at the speakers, thrilled by the wondrous noise.