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Simple Minds - Black & White 050505

2006-03-30 06:35

Though out of favour with the mainstream in recent years, Simple Minds were once regarded as one of the UK's (in particular Scotland's) outstanding exports.

In many respects, Simple Minds' success story reflects a paradox of modern music: They were initially ambivalent about releasing "Don't You (Forget About Me)" at all, and only did so after its success on the soundtrack to the teen film The Breakfast Club.

Today the song is still regarded as an eighties dance staple, even though it presents a narrow view of a band that was always audacious in it's musical ambitions.

Black and White 050505 feels mostly like return to the period during which "Don't you (forget about me)" was released. Atmospheric synths permeate a smooth rock rhythm platform. Heavy reverbs create sparse and vacuous soundscapes that evoke empty stone quarries rather than crowded clubs.

Jim Kerr's voice has evolved, though, and instead of the brash and bombastic youthfulness of everything up to Good News From The Next World (1995), you'll hear a more genteel quality in his vocals.

Black & White falls into the same extended musical family as Coldplay's X&Y, but has slightly more urgent rock n' roll nuances - the youth of today are surprisingly dull it seems. Coldplay are kids, compared to Simple Minds (vocalist Kerr and guitarist Burchill formed the band in 1978).

Though few songs on this collection will compare favourably to previous classics like "Someone Somewhere in Summertime" or "Alive and Kicking", better tracks include the highly singable "Stranger" and the haunting "Dolphins".

As one fan put it, this album will regain some fans that were lost over the last ten years. It certainly hints back to Simple Minds' golden era, and if it can be built on - like Depeche Mode built Exciter from Ultra - it may mark the start of another great run for Scotland's well-matured brat pack.

- Anton Marshall

A mighty return to form - packed with potential crowd pleasers.
- Zoe Street for

Subtle, it ain't. Diehards will love it.
- Paul Taylor for

Simple Minds began as a band with the punkish name, Johnny and the Self Abusers and gradually evolved in a more stadium pop direction. 80s music fans will know hits like "Don't you (forget about me)" and the epic "Belfast Child". Black & White breathes new life into the band and revives their legacy.

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