MoonTunes Classic Reviews: Sons And Fascination/Simple Minds
By Brad Moon, Contributing Writer, wired.com
Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call
We take inspiration where we can find it and today I happened to be sitting in a restaurant in downtown Toronto when the inspiration for today’s review struck. I was savoring the smell of roasting garlic while stewing over the fifty bucks in gas it cost me to drive there from London. Then I heard a familiar song start up on the sound system -Love Song- a classic Simple Minds tune and one of my favorites. Horror of horrors though, the tempo began to accelerate freakishly and within seconds it devolved into a mess of sampled bits, hyperactive percussion and racing keyboards. Someone had done a particularly barbaric job of remixing. Time to look at the original in self-righteous indignation.
Release sequences get confusing, especially when dealing with prolific bands, North American versus British versions and the vinyl to CD transition. Simple Minds’ 1981 release Sons and Fascination originally included a bonus EP, Sister Feelings Call, which was later sold as a standalone album; the North American release contained both records together (minus several tracks) under the Sons and Fascination title. Confused?
Scotland’s Simple Minds were busily evolving from a post-punk, art-disco band to something more pop-based and commercially accessible. Sons And Fascination is the transition album and it comes off as a sort of progressive rock-new wave hybrid. Ambitious and sweeping songs, with layered, atmospheric synths; a prominent rhythm section featuring powerful disco bass lines and snappy drumming; distorted guitar accents and Jim Kerr’s emoting vocals.
In Trance As Mission, the first of the thirteen tracks, launches the disc with pounding bass and drums, around which the synths, guitar and vocals soon begin to intertwine. Five tracks in is Love Song, that classic bit of 80s goodness. Again, the bass and drums figure prominently, but the guitar is given free reign with distorted riffs answering each of Jim Kerr’s chanted lines: “America’s a boyfriend, untouched by flesh of hand, heartbeat under, heartbeat under, heartbeat under, heartbeat under, some promised land.”
Theme For Great Cities is one of the better instrumentals of the decade, an epic, hypnotic number. Twentieth Century Promised Land gives the keyboards the chance to lead for a bit and begins to show the direction the band would head in later albums. There are a number of other notable tracks including: 20th Century Promised Land, The American and Sweat In Bullet.
All in all a really solid album- perhaps a little ambitious and a tad industrial, but a good listen. Do yourself a favor, skip the remixes and buy Sons and Fascination.