Triviality in triplicate

Baz Jim WP“You have these weeks in the music press which are quieter weeks than others, and it just so happened that this was a quiet week,” said Tony Stewart talking about when he reviewed Simple Minds debut, Life in a Day, in the northern spring of 1979.

This week, in 2015, is not quiet. Not for me. But I’m not writing for the long-since-past-influential-now-a-free-paper NME.

When you have four favourite acts who have been with you since your voice was a falsetto in the mid-eighties and three of them release singles in the same week, more or less, then it’s a busy week. It’s a good week. Even more so when the three tracks are corkers.

Having toured relentlessly over recent years and regaining their credibility with 2014’s Big Music, Simple Minds are now on another arena jaunt, this time with post-punk-new-wavers, The Stranglers. So what better way to celebrate than a joint single of a Stranglers original, “(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)” complete with white vinyl 7″?

The twin guitar and twin vocal lends a celebratory air to the four minute show. This is a fun release with absolutely zero PR menace, giving it a freshness and a clarity to hear Dave Greenfield’s joyous, fidgety fingers rattling over the keys, a certain influence over Michael MacNeil for Simple Minds first two records.

Bowie Blackstar WPSince David Bowie surprised everyone with a shock return almost three years ago, he has been ubiquitous. Singles released, compilations, box sets and an exhibition tour blowing all other musicians away. Who wants to see the denim jacket Bob Dylan has been wearing for 40 years? I know you’d rather see the keys to Bowie and Iggy Pop’s flat at Hauptstraße 155, Berlin.

The Next Day was a very good record, not experimental, not earth shattering, but very competent. He’d gained ground after a decade of silence. The past three years have given him leverage to be less conservative this time out. PR planning magnificence in the extreme. Again.

“Blackstar” seeped into the consciousness of the public as the theme to The Last Panthers, a Canal+/Sky Atlantic crime drama. A thin slice of a 10 minute art-jazz epic, Bowie’s delicate Psalm recital voice over music so dense even Massive Attack started to suffocate. This, the title track to Bowie’s new LP released on 8 Jan 2016, had people wondering what to expect. Whatever we think, it’s likely we’ll all be wrong.

Cult WPGalloping drums urging on mongrel guitar; The Cult are on the rampage. Having just torn through America with Primal Scream – Oh, Baby! That’s a quality line up – “Dark Energy” offers the first insight to Hidden City, their 2016 LP release. Add bellowing vocals with mystical lyrics and all Cult favourites are here. Just stand with your legs wide apart, arms raised and howl like a wolf as the frantic rapids of rock ride over you. Yayeah!

No-one here is treading new ground. Bowie’s vocals glide over echoes of Buddah of Suburbia’s experimental sounds, The Cult sound, er, like The Cult, but with added keys reminiscent of Ceremony, only sounding so much better. And Simple Minds and The Stranglers sound like they are having fun. Oh, well if one is mean… this could be new for the former.

With all the troubles in the world brewing, too many people being overly offended by the slightest irritants, politicians helping themselves or bowing the complaining minorities, so when three new songs come out by bands and musicians you love, its meaningless is significant. This triviality sprinkles stardust over modern life raising happiness within three minutes. Or 10 if you’re Bowie.

Music matters. Turn on, tune in, drop the needle.


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