Simple Minds

NEWS: Simple Minds Release Box Sets of ‘Street Fighting Years’

Simple Minds release box sets of their 1989 album “Street Fighting Years”

On March 6th 2020, UMC will release a box set of Simple Minds’ 1989 album “Street Fighting Years”. Produced by Trevor Horn (and Stephen Lipson), “Street Fighting Years” was the band’s fourth number one album in the UK and featured their first UK number one single, “Belfast Child”. An artistically ambitious and elegant album, it arrived at a time of personnel changes. It saw the band reduced to a trio of Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill and Mick MacNeil with session musicians playing the bass and most of the drum roles (notably Manu Katché from Peter Gabriel’s band and former Police drummer, Stewart Copeland).

Recorded in Scotland between 1988 and 1989, it was also a stylistic departure from the sound of Simple Minds’ previous album, “Once Upon A Time”. After 10 years of recording and releasing music, the band had learnt their craft, becoming skilled musicians and songwriters. This resulted in an album with a sense of drama and cinematic in quality. Having recently turned 30 years of age, and at the end of an incredibly divisive decade in British politics – not to mention global tensions – an outward-looking maturity emerged in frontman Jim Kerr’s lyric writing, which found him confronting major themes of the times.

“I was 30 years old and I wanted to write about Belfast, apartheid and I wanted to write about the policies of Margret Thatcher. I’m glad I wanted to do that” Jim Kerr. This is demonstrated on songs that tackle such subjects as Apartheid (“Mandela Day”, and a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Biko”), the on going troubles in Northern Ireland (“Belfast Child”), knife crime (“Street Fighting Years” – a very personal lyric about the loss of a Kerr family close friend), as well as the Poll Tax, Berlin Wall and nuclear submarines off the coast of Scotland. Musically, where “Once Upon A Time” was influenced by American soul and gospel, “Street Fighting Years” was a much more atmospheric album, incorporating many styles, including Celtic and folk influences. It was Trevor Horn who recognised a folk quality about the band, especially in Kerr’s voice, and encouraged them to explore new territory.

Nowhere is this exemplified more than on “Belfast Child”. Released three months prior to the album on the “Ballad Of The Streets” EP, “Belfast Child” was based on the Irish folk song “She Moved Through The Fair”. Kerr heard the melody of this song a few days after the horrific Enniskillen bombing, and wrote a song trying to relate to the people of Northern Ireland and those who had lost loved ones. The song received praise for addressing such a painful and emotive subject, including from Q Magazine (who also awarded the album five stars). Equally contemplative songs on the album include “Soul Crying Out” (about Margaret Thatcher’s government) and “Let It All Come Down”. Conversely, though in large part a highly meditative and reflective album, “Street Fighting Years” also features more strident, uptempo numbers, such as “Take A Step Back”, “Wall Of Love” and “Kick It In”. Songs which showcase the guitar-playing mastery of Charlie Burchill.

Standout songs on the album include “This Is Your Land”, which saw the band fulfil a teenage dream, as it featured one of their heroes and biggest influences – Lou Reed, and “Mandela Day”. Approached by Jerry Dammers to write a song celebrating Nelson Mandela (who was still imprisoned at that time), “Mandela Day” was completed in under an hour and recorded in less than a day. It made it’s live debut not long after at the Nelson Mandela 70th birthday tribute at Wembley Stadium, in June 1988. “Street Fighting Years” was a creative triumph for Simple Minds and attained the remarkable commercial achievement of securing a number one single with a song almost seven-minutes in length. Although, as ever, with Simple Minds there is hope and optimism, also present is a wistfulness on an album that captures, and is a reminder of, the end of one of the most tumultuous decades of the 20th century.

“Street Fighting Years” will be released in multiple formats which are all fully endorsed by the band. The album was remastered at Abbey Road studios by Andrew Walters and contains the album as well as a bonus disc of B-sides, edits and 12 remixes and a previously unissued Verona show from 1989 round the set off. The booklet was designed by long time contributor Stuart Crouch and contains sleeve notes by Daryl Easlea who interviewed the band and producer Trevor Horn extensively for the set. They provide a fantastic insight into how the album was recorded and produced.

Street Fighting Years
Click here to pre-order “Street Fighting Years”

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Written by Christopher Smith

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!
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