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Mission In Motion - Inside Simple Minds

Written by: Adam Sweeting
Published by: Virgin Books
Published: Proposed for 1984. Never published.
ISBN: 0 907080 79 0
Number of pages: Unknown

This is the story of Simple Minds. It is a story of adventure, dedication and change which takes us through thousands of miles and seven albums.

Since the early post-punk experiments of their formative days in Glasgow in the late seventies, the Minds have gained widespread recognition for their own distinctive style. Their unwavering commitment to musical development has built a solid foundation for commerical success. Always commanding respect and critical acclaim, the Minds and their music can now count on huge audiences in many parts of the world.

This book, conceived and produced in association with the band, looks behind the public face of Simple Minds. It examines their lives and their work - on tour and in the studio, in their own words and pictures and through the eyes of colleagues and friends. It is also a portrait of a way of life - a mission in motion.

Adam Sweeting, writer, journalist and critic, was a familiar name from the original weekly music press before crossing over to the broadsheets. In 1982 he was a devoted member of the Minds camp, even following the band on a disastrous tour of Canada (read: what could’ve gone wrong did go wrong). It certainly made for dramatic reading.

He was commissioned to write the band’s first biography. Initial research allowed him to briefly summarise and quote the band for the New Gold Tour programme and the following year key paragraphs from the forthcoming Mission In Motion – Inside Simple Minds were splashed across the contents of the Tour Du Monde programme.

Sweeting’s book was a warts-and-all, band-on-the-road, make-ups and bust-ups standard rock biography. Jim found it boring, feeling that a linear recollection of the band’s history didn’t delve into the mythos or mystery behind the Minds. The book was scrapped at the last minute, the only tangible evidence of its existence being the extracts in the tour programme and a couple of colour proof sheets of the proposed sleeve.


The Race Is The Prize

Written by: Alfred Bos
Published by: Virgin Books
Published: October 1984
ISBN: 0 86369 066 1
Number of pages: 127

"All the rock cliches about revolutions in the street. Well, there is a revolution, but it's inside yourself. That's where it comes from. And fire isn't something you make with matches either."

Since they were formed in early 1978, Simple Minds have travelled a wide variety of musical and geographical landscapes. Their tour du monde brough them through canyons of cynicism and vast plains of hope, and after six years and seven albums they have touched ground - the solid rock of success.

In The Race Is The Prize, Alfred Bos sketches a personal portrait of Simple Minds that is more than a mere history-of-the-band. Blending personal impressions with the opinions of Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Michael MacNeil, Derek Forbes and Mel Gaynor, The Race Is The Prize tries to capture the spirit of Simple Minds.

Crusades, exploding stars, the elements, "It's an act of resistance to be moved."

Alfred Bos was well known to the band having interviewed then numerous times for the Dutch music publication OOR. His penchant for leaving rock clichés behind and jumping into philosophical, scientific, literary, historical and/or fantastical suggested he could be the writer to capture the ethereal aspect of the group.

Therefore The Race Is The Prize was never going to be a straightforward biography of the band and Bos revelled in this freedom, often going off on wild tangents or devoting whole chapters to arcane streams of thought. The whole was baffling blend of biography and philosophy, each successive chapter a non-sequitur taking the reader on totally unexpected journeys.

Bos was working against time and incorporated five reworked OOR articles as chapters in the book. This reinforced the book’s apparent nature as a collection of essays and not a cohesive whole.

Jim subsequently remarked how he wished Adam Sweeting’s book could’ve been published at the same time; perhaps recognising how The Race Is The Prize had its head too far in the clouds and it required a companion volume to give it a sound grounding.

It certainly looked the business with smart Malcolm Garrett design and a plethora of pictures. But lack of references (such as discography or gigography) and the dense prose meant that the opportunity for a definitive biography was still there.

The Virgin press release for the book can be read here.

This set of proofs represents the book in final form, each page printed on a separate piece of light-blue paper, the whole collection held in a yellow Kodak box. Written on the front in pencil is "James Kerr" suggesting this was Jim's copy for final approval.

"It has crossed my mind that there's some kind of mystical prize waiting for us at the end of all this, but that's not true. The race is the prize." - Jim.

Glittering Prize

Written by: Dave Thomas
Published by: Omnibus Press
Published: 1985
ISBN: 0 7119 0617 3
Number of pages: 96

From their early years as Johnny And The Self Abusers to the worldwide success of Sparkle In The Rain, Simple Minds have become Glasgow's most successful - and inventive - rock export.

Dave Thomas looks back at the undulating career of this idiosyncratic quintet and offers a personal critique of the music that appears on their seven albums.

Included also is a comprehensive discograpy.

With a seemingly infinite pile of NME and Melody Maker back issues, Dave Thomas was ideally equipped to write the next unauthorised biography of the band. In the gap between the end of the Tour Du Monde and the unleashing of Don’t You (Forget About Me), he produced Glittering Prize, a biography with facts and quotes gleaned from previous music publications.

To bulk out the chapters, he filled paragraphs with asides and details of the music business and other influential bands. But his biography of Simple Minds was solid and straightforward, the book was packed with black and white photographs (although there was an annoying lack of captions) and early compiler JoAnne Greene ensured the lengthy discography was the definitive guide for many years to come.

Simple Minds

Written by: Paolo Pollo
Published by: Gammalibri
Published: 1986
Number of pages: 158

Un gruppo senza etichette. Un gruppo senza "look". Un gruppo senza facili ricette politiche. Un gruppo senza fustacchioni da copertina. Un gruppo di gente introversa e riservata come la loro terra d'origine, la Scozia.

Può un gruppo simile avere successo? Eppure è capitato, grazie a un lungo viaggio attraverso la decadenza europea, il sogno americano, le passioni, le emozioni, l'amore, la realtà, il mito.

Ora il viaggio è giunto al suo culmine naturale: la celebrità.

E migliaia di persone scandiscono il nome di quel gruppo: Simple Minds.

This comprehensive Italian biography features a full biography of the band (up to the success of Once Upon A Time), translations of some of the lyrics, key quotes from band members, and a small discography. Two black-and-white concert photos of Jim are also included.

Simple Minds

Written by: Adam Sweeting
Published by: Sidgwick & Jackson
Published: 1988
ISBN: 0 283 99581 5
Number of pages: 186

Glasgow's Simple Minds have enjoyed massive worldwide success since they recorded Don’t You (Forget About Me) for John Hughes' film The Breakfast Club in 1985. But despite an appearance at Live Aid and singer Jim Kerr's sensational marriage to Pretender-in-chief Chrissie Hynde, it was no overnight success story.

In a career which began in the punk fallout of the late Seventies, Simple Minds have been called many things - Glam-rock, Futurist, electro-disco and The New Genesis. They've been all of it and more.

Before their breakthrough into the American charts, Simple Minds spent years touring the world and recording some of the most intriguing albums of the Eighties. They captured Europe in crisis with 1980's Empires And Dance, while 1982's New Gold Dream was more like Mahler than The Sex Pistols.

But while the critics loved them, the crowds stayed away. The group suffered personality clashes and crises of confidence, while maintaining one of the most chaotic touring schedules of any band in recent years. They sacked drummers and crew and changed record companies, and still couldn't break free of rock's twilight zone. Eventually, it was Jim Kerr's ruthless determination that pulled them through.

Adam Sweeting examines the shifting life and times of this unique band in a book which is objective, affectionate and informed. It's the story of a rock abnd who refused to give up, and of a bunch of working-class kids from Glasgow who were determined to make good.

After the international success of Don’t You (Forget About Me), Once Upon A Time and Live In The City Of Light, Adam Sweeting dusted down his old manuscript for the previously abandoned Mission In Motion and brought the whole thing up-to-date.

His work as a music critic for the broadsheets ensured his continued contact with the band and the history of the latter years was woven into to his new biography, now simply titled Simple Minds.

Released at a perfect time (a lull whilst the band was at the high of their popularity) Sweeting’s straight, non-nonsense biography was the perfect foil against the extravagance of the official ageing The Race Is The Prize.

Despite its age (published in 1988) and limited illustrations and discography, it’s still the definitive biography of Simple Minds. Every fan should have a copy in their collection.

Street Fighting Years

Written by: Alfred Bos
Published by: Virgin Books.
Published: December 1989
ISBN: 0 86369 333 4
Number of pages: 64

Street Fighting Years was written and recorded between September 1988 and March 1989 - five sessions in four different locations. This book takes you on an odyssey through the sources, images and experiences used by the band during the making of the album, revealing the inspiration, ideas and dedicated work that underlie the music and its meaning.

Illustrated with original photographs of the band and drawing on exclusive conversations with them and with producer Steve Lipson, Street Fighting Years is the companion to the best-selling album, and is published complete with the lyrics as well as a piece on Biko written specially for the book by Peter Gabriel. Alfred Bos has worked closely with Simple Minds to produce this perceptive and candid insight into the creative process.

Dropping the sheer excesses of The Race Is The Prize, official biographer Alfred Bos returned with Street Fighting Years, the book of the album. Now toned down, his thoughtful prose stuck to the task in hand: interviewing the key members about the creation of Street Fighting Years, the stories behind the songs and the political backdrop behind the entire project.

The book doubled up as the album’s songbook featuring the tablature and lyrics of the song. Illustrator Malcolm Garrett didn’t hold back and packed the book with colour photographs of the band, exclusive artwork and designs.

Street Fighting Years remains the only Simple Minds album to be documented in this way.

The Virgin press release for the book can be read here.

Simple Minds

Written by: Davide Sapienza
Published by: Arcana Editrice
Published: 1989
ISBN: 88 85008 84 4
Number of pages: 272

I Simple Minds sono la piu nota banda scozzese attualmente sulla scena e uno dei complessi al top della musica anni' 80.

Il loro stile rock visionario si e evoluto dagli stentati inizi degli ultimi '80 a Glasgow (prima come Johnny And The Self Abusers poi con il nome definitivo) ai trionfi discograpfici e in concerto del periodo piu recente.

In questo volume sono inclusi tutti i testi che li hanno condotti dal primo grande successo di New Gold Dream (1982) all'acclamatissimo Street Fighting Years di questi giorni, dove il gruppo ha riscoperto la propria idealita unita alla vena piu profonda e sincera.

Jim Kerr percorre la decennale carriera del gruppo in un'intervista appositamente rilacsiata per questa raccolta, completata da una dettagliata cronolgia e da una discografia definitiva.

Weighing in at over 270 pages, the vast majority of this book’s contents were dominated by full-page reprints of each song’s lyrics alongside an Italian translation. Luckily the lyrics were supplied by Virgin Italy (and so weren’t transcribed) but only the albums were tackled so the lyrics for rare B-sides remained elusive.

The contents were bookended with an exclusive interview with Jim (translated into Italian), a month by month history of the band (again in Italian), a discography and (for the first time) a videography.

Simple Minds

Written by: Nadia Arduini
Published by: Forte Editore
Published: 1989
Number of pages: 32

The book’s low page count is more than made up the glorious full-colour concert photographs scattered throughout its pages whilst Nadia Arduini's narrative summarises the group's history in Italian. It’s also the only Simple Minds book with a hardcover.

A Visual Documentary

Written by: Mike Wrenn
Published by: Omnibus Press
Published: April 1990
ISBN: 0 7119 2076 1
Number of pages: 96

Simple Minds are the most popular and successful Scottish rock act of all time.

Formed in Glasgow in 1977 as Johnny And The Self Abusers by singer Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill, their carerr reached spectacular heights in the summer of 1989 when they performed a series of concerts at Wembley Stadium.

Simple Minds - A Visual Documentary follows that career in words and pictures. Stretching back to the minimalism of the post punk fall out, it documents the many musical styles that the Minds pursued until their worldwide hit Don't You (Forget About Me). That and the subsequent appearance at Live Aid in 1985 brought them truly international success, while Jim Kerr's increasing profile as a campaigner on environmental and human rights issues has kept him in the news.

Simple Minds - A Visual Documentary is a lavishly illustrated book that charts the band's progress in a month by month chronology, a selection of quotes from their numerous interviews, a detailed breakdown of the various personnel changes that have occurred over the years and a full discography.

The last professionally published Simple Minds biography hit the shelves in April 1990. Wrenn’s book was a coffee-table accessory: a glossy A4 book packed full of rare colour pictures of the band accompanied by limited text. In fact, his write-up was almost secondary, charting the band month-by-month and offering a selection of choice quotes at the end of each year.

This monthly diary brought the Simple Minds story up-to-date; and the book also featured a discography (the first with pictures of all the single sleeves) and a family tree.

The Omnibus press release for the book can be read here.

Simple Minds

Written by: Various
Translated by: Stefano Grossi
Published by: Arcana Editrice
Published: 1991
ISBN: 88 85859-63-1
Number of pages: 151

Little is known about this Italian publication except it is a collection of previously published articles translated into Italian.

Thanks to Guido for the scan.

Simple Minds

Written by: Sir Richard Francis Bourbon
Published by: Editorial La Mascara
Published: 1995
ISBN: 84-7974-078-7
Number of pages: 66

Produced as part of the Imagenes De Rock series, this glossy Spanish coffee-table book, penned by the unlikely sounding Sir Richard Francis Bourbon, was published in early 1995, therefore bringing the story up to Good News From The Next World. The book itself was visually a condensed reproduction of Wrenn's A Visual Documentary as it used many of the same pictures. Also included were Spanish translations of select songs and a discography.

self published books

A Million Brilliant Things

Written by: James A. Mathan
Published: First printing 1992, second printing 1994
Number of pages: 78

"The best things in life, whether it's a song or a person or whatever, are the things that inspire you to think and create. Inspiration is a brilliant thing and something that should never be taken for granted." Inspired by the writings of Alfred Bos in The Race Is The Prize, James Mathan's A Million Brilliant Things traces the musical evolution of Simple Minds from Life In A Day through Real Life on a personal level. "I think the best art always involves a celebration of the human spirit. Simple Minds are that celebration!"
As he journeys chronologically through the Mind’s albums (each given a short chapter), Mathan enthuses about the music, Simple Minds and his life’s philosophies in equal measure. Obviously inspired by Alfred Bos’ The Race Is The Prize (which he states on the back cover), Mathan’s prose is far more accessible and human, as he stays within his own sphere of his experience and doesn’t launch into flights of fancy.

This makes A Million Brilliant Things a very readable, fan orientated view of Simple Minds, their albums and the world in general. Mathan is obviously enthralled by the music and his enthusiasm is contagious. An additional exclusive interview with Jim is the icing on the cake.

The book was originally sold via mail order and advertised in the various Simple Minds fanzines which circulated at the time. Now long sold out, it’s a worthy addition to any Simple Minds library and well worth searching for.

Simple Minds

Written by: Cristina Canciani
Published: 2000
Number of pages: 174 (Volume One), 194 (Volume Two)

Per non dimenticare la musica dei Simple Minds, un patrimonio prezioso che va protetto e conservato.

Imagine taking all the salient facts from the all the books above, the entire range of the fanzines of the time (Mission In Motion, Who’s Doing The Dreaming Now?, Endless River and Le Menti) and the contents of Dream Giver Redux, melting it all down, refining it and publishing it as a two volume set.

This was Cristina Canciani’s undertaking, a huge body of work, published in two volumes of Simple Minds – Una Vita. It’s a chronological reference guide to Simple Minds with each chapter devoted to an album, its history, its discography, the facts behind each of the songs, concerts, bootlegs and more. Plus, with the exception of a colour picture on the front of each volume, there are no pictures or illustrations within the text making each volume still more impressive.

Written entirely in Italian, Una Vita was available for purchase through Le Menti. I have no idea how many copies were produced, or how many were sold, but Una Vita is a huge, impressive piece of work and deserves far more recognition.

So Far, So Distant And So Long Ago: Simple Minds In Berlin 1980

Written by: Ronnie Gurr
Published: 2017 (Limited Edition of 250)
Number of pages: 36

Hanging Around Books' first release (HA001) "So Far, So Distant and So Long Ago" features photographs of Simple Minds taken in September 1980 by Ronnie Gurr in the then East and West Berlin and by the Berlin Wall on the band's day off supporting Peter Gabriel on his European tour.

With foreword by Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr.

Black and white A5 paperback photozine which is packed with previously unpublished shots of Simple Minds in Berlin taken by Virgin Records executive Ronnie Gurr. 25 copies were signed by Jim and Charlie and distributed randomly through the limited edition run.