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simpleminds celebrate
Artist: Simple Minds
Title: Celebrate
Genre: New Wave
Release Date: 25th March 2013
Label: Simple Minds Ltd / Virgin Records


Album Review

As I wrote in the recent ‘5x5 Live’ review, SIMPLE MINDS has never been so active than other the last years, continuously releasing studio albums, touring, collaborating or producing solo works, touring again, releasing live albums and now, as a peak, releasing the ultimate compilation: ‘Celebrate’. Useless to go through the 50 tracks of this 3 CDs box set as most of them are classics... but some others aren't and at least, we have here a real collection of almost all singles released by the band since 1979's ‘Live In A Day’. Almost because, yes... some are missing: ‘Someone, Somewhere in a Summertime (Live)’, but the studio one is there, so no big deal; the obscure and standout cover of PRINCE's ‘Sign Of The Times’, released in 1988 under the name of ‘Amsterdam EP’, ‘And The Band Played On’ (1996), ‘Homosapien’ (1998), ‘New Sunshine Morning’ (2002) and a couple of others... but no big deal as most of the work is there.

CD1 is covering the 1979-1984 era with 16 singles from ‘Life in A Day’ to 1983's ‘Upon The Catwalk’. Probably the more interesting in terms of travel through time and evolution of the band. From the dark and underground days, mixing post punk, cold wave and synth pop to the heroic rock of the 1983 album ‘Sparkle in the rain’ carried on by the live hymns that are ‘Waterfront’, ‘Catwalk’ and ‘Speed Your Love To Me’. CD2 is covering the 1985-1991 era with 16 singles from ‘Breakfast Club’ theme, ‘Don't You’ to the maturity of ‘Real Life’. We could entitled this CD the “Stadium years” as it covers the conquest of charts and stadiums by the band, starting with, funny though, the only song not composed by the band and kindly nicknamed by fans the ‘La... La la la la’ song. For the record, this song was initially written for Billy Idol who turned the offer down. He may have regret it as he did his own version on the VH1 Storyteller acoustic album in 2001. While CD1 is embracing 7 albums, it took only 3 albums to fill the CD2 of worldwide hits. But it also see an endless creativity of a band at the top of their art. And the progression was fast. In 1985, we can still feel the young and energetic live band, while at the end of 1991, songs from the album ‘Real Life’, considered for many as their best album, shows maturity, wisdom, great sense of production.

CD3 is focusing on more troubled times... 1995-2013. A great way for those who left the band when their success declined to catch up with 18 years of nonstop activities, and, with a step back, some great creativity and risk. ‘Good News From The Next World’ and its 2 singles, ‘She's A River’ and ‘Hypnotized’, shows a band reduced to Jim and Charlie, trying to re-invent himself in the grunge years, but too late compared to New Wave companion U2, DEPECHE MODE or THE CURE. At the time, fans were not really supportive of this album. But 18 years later, it's fair to say this album was pretty damn good! A return to the rock energy of ‘Sparkle In The Rain’. Following are probably the worst selling albums of the band: ‘Neapolis’ that saw the return of Mel Gaynor and a more electronic sounding, ‘Our Secret Are The Same’ that has been dropped by Virgin and not even released (before being included as a bonus CD on the 2004's ‘Live Silver box set’) and the ones released on Eagle Records, ‘Neon Lights’, a great cover album, and 2002's ‘Cry’ album. There's not a lot of radios that has broadcasted those singles, but it's fair to say they are some great pieces. ‘War Babies’, ‘Cry’ or Patti Smith's ‘Dancing Barefoot’ would certainly have been some major hits if promoted properly.

Finally, it ends up with the rise of the phoenix with singles taken from ‘Black Or White’ (2005) and ‘Graffiti Soul’ (2009) that saw SIMPLE MINDS signed again to major labels, filling up bigger venues, then arenas and finally major stage of festivals. ‘Stay Visible’ is probably the best one, the one that summarize THE sound of SIMPLE MINDS, but with a great sense of modernity. As a final gift, 3 unreleased (in studio) and new songs are included: ‘Stagefright’ that was offered on the band's website in 2011 and released on the 2011 live album. The vocal line on the verse reminds me a lot of Dave Gahan's on ‘Dream On’... but the comparison stops there. It's a damn up-tempo stadium song that has been quickly a fans favourite on the last tours. ‘Broken Glass Park’ was also on the 2011 live album but appears for the first time as a studio recording. We can feel more the early synths and mood on this one. That one was performed on Jim Kerr's solo tour in first place. Certainly a song not exploited at the time for the solo album and recycled here... for the best. Jim's voice is superb, Charlie's guitar still pure as crystal. So the real unknown song for fans is ‘Blood Diamonds’. Not a pure hit in itself, but a great melancholic tune. It's again, close to Jim's solo work and I wouldn't be surprised that this song would have also been written at the same time.

To sum it up, for non hardcore fans of the band, this box is a must have, a great way to discover one of the most underrated band in history. A band that had visited multiple styles without ever losing its soul and probably one of the most influential bands in history of modern music. For the fans, it's worth adding it to their collection. Firstly because the all thing is re-mastered properly and most of all offers version that were only available through Maxi Single or sometimes just promo EP. And considering the low sales of some of the late 90's/ early 00's albums, I'm pretty sure most of the fans will even discover some songs that may attract them to great albums that were ‘Neapolis’, ‘Cry’ or ‘Neon Lights’. The 3 CD version comes in a tiny box, signed by Jim Kerr and including a booklet and a poster. And for all, I strongly recommend this 3 CD version, especially since there's not even 1€ difference between the 2 CDs and this one.


Tracklist

CD1
01. Life In A Day
02. Chelsea Girl
03. Changeling
04. I Travel
05. Celebrate
06. The American
07. Love Song
08. Sweat In Bullet
09. Theme From Great Cities
10. Promised You A Miracle
11. Glittering Prize
12. Someone Somewhere (In Summertime)
13. New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) - German 12 Remix
14. Waterfront
15. Speed Your Love To Me
16. Up On The Catwalk

CD2
01. Don’t You (Forget About Me)
02. Alive And Kicking
03. Sanctify Yourself
04. All The Things She Said
05. Ghost Dancing
06. Promised You A Miracle (Live)
07. Belfast Child
08. Mandela Day
09. Biko
10. This Is Your Land
11. Kick It In
12. Let It All Come Down
13. Let There Be Love - 7'' Mix
14. See The Lights - 7'' Mix
15. Stand By Love
16. Real Life

CD3
01. She’s A River
02. Hypnotised - TLA Edit
03. Glitterball
04. War Babies - Bascombe Mix
05. Space
06. Jeweller To The Stars
07. Dancing Barefoot
08. Cry
09. Spaceface
10. One Step Closer


11. Home
12. Stranger
13. Stay Visible
14. Rockets
15. Stars Will Lead The Way
16. Stagefright *
17. Blood Diamonds **
18. Broken Glass Park **
* New 2011 Track
** New 2013 track


Line-up (2013)

Jim Kerr - Vocals
Charlie Burchill - Guitars
Mel Gaynor - Drums
Andy Gillespie - Keyboards
Ged Grimes - Bass

Past members include:
Derek Forbes – Bass (78-85)
Mick McNeil – Keyboards (78-90)
Brian McGee – Drums (77-81)
Eddie Duffy – Bass (99-10)
Malcom Foster – Bass (89-96)
John Giblin – Bass (85-89)


Website

http://www.simpleminds.com


Cover Picture

simpleminds celebrate


Rating

Music: 10
Sound: 10
Bonus (3 CD version): 10
Total: 10 / 10





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