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Mission In Motion - Inside Simple Minds

Written by: Adam Sweeting
Published by: Virgin Books
Published: Proposed for February 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.

"It's quite amazing the stuff you can sometimes find lying within dusty boxes in the corner of an attic room."

"The Race is the Prize written by Alfred Boss was the first ever authorised book on Simple Minds, and until a few days ago when I came across it inside one of those boxes, I don't think I had ever set eyes on it, since - well, since the day it was published possibly?"

"It was an odd experience to flick through thoughts and quotations that I held as someone in my early 20's - and in so many ways still lacking any major experience. And yes, it certainly all seems like a lifetime ago."

"A couple of things I did correctly foresee way back then in 1984, was that Simple Minds would be ever changing and always seek to evolve. I also pledged that we were in this as a lifetime commitment, that we would aim to continue making music for a very long time to come."

"Much praise for Alfred Bos. He did a great job of capturing the feeling within the music and culture of Simple Minds at that period. A wonderful job in fact." - Jim, 26th June 2020

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.

Simple Minds: Heart Of The Crowd

Written by: Richard Houghton
Published by: This Day In Music Books
Published: December 2020
ISBN: 978-18380778300
Number of pages: 576

"Simple Minds are one of the UK's most successful bands, having achieved six No.1 albums in the UK as well as hitting the top spot in countless other territories including Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand."

"Simple Minds have been musical pioneers for 40 glittering years selling over 60 million records. Catching the mood of the post-punk era, when the angry sounds of 1977 were splintering into a thousand different shapes, they emerged with a style rooted in the art-rock of David Bowie and the electronic dance of Donna Summer. They went on to become one of the great bands of their generation, deploying rousing choruses and booming atmospherics to provide a soundtrack that has endured."

"They topped the American chart with Don't You (Forget About Me) and followed suit in the UK with Belfast Child. Three of their 20 studio albums reached number one in the UK, they starred at Live Aid and they played three momentous London shows in honour of Nelson Mandela".

"A spellbinding touring band, that have graced the world's biggest stadiums, Simple Minds are now marking their 40th anniversary with a live album, a career-spanning compilation and this new book."

"Heart of the Crowd is an official oral history of Simple Minds, mixing over 800 fan anecdotes with those of band members and other collaborators and with an introduction written by Jim Kerr. The book also features never before seen photographs, collectable memorabilia and fans pictures capturing their live performances."

The book included contributions from fans amd associates writing about their relationship with the band. It also included an introduction written by Jim.

The book was released in two formats: a standard edition hardback and a limited edition numbered box-set (of 1000). The box-set (pictured above) included the following:

  • A stiff white envelope with the Live In The City Of Light logo containing:
      Black plectrum with red Simple Minds logo and winged claddagh from Live In The City Of Angels
    • Square fridge magnetic with small badge heart design from 40: Best Of and VIP 2020 in black.
    • 40 Years Of Hits Tour VIP 2020 laminated pass with small badge heart design.
    • Black lanyard with Simple Minds logo and winged claddagh.
  • A stiff white envelope with the winged claddagh and Heart Of The Crowd Collector's Edition containing:
    • A Mars Bar poster from the 1978 tour
    • A sticker sheet of 24 badge designs from 40: Best Of
    • Reproduction Saturday Night Live At The Palladium complimentary admission pass where Simple Minds were musical guests on the 9th November 1985.
    • In Concert complimentary ticket for the band's peformance on the 8th August 1979.
    • Signed black-and-white picture of Charlie from the Laurie Evans collection published in Simple Minds - Pleasantly Disturbed.
    • Signed black-and-white picture of Jim from the Laurie Evans collection from an unpublished set of pictures taken by the Clyde.
    • Certificate of Authenticity with box-set's number.
  • And the hardback book itself.

The project was first announced in June 28, 2002, when Jim asked for contributions. At that point, the book was called Book Of Brilliant Things and had artwork based on the 40: Best Of album:

We want your stories and anecdotes for this book.
Want to know how you discovered our music, and what your relationship is with Simple Minds?
How it began and how and why it has continued?
Why for you was it Simple Minds?
Additionally, what are your memories of seeing us live over the 40 + plus years of our existence?
Perhaps you saw us in the early days during our first ever gigs in pubs and clubs?
What did it mean to see us for the first time, or even more recently.
Maybe you've travelled far and wide to see us in theatres, arenas, stadiums?
Crossed continents possibly?
Wherever in the world you have connected with
Simple Minds, why not let your story be known, including of course your connection with others who share your enthusiasm for our music?
Maybe you met some of those at gigs, maybe you became associates through our social network sites?
Likewise, maybe you worked with Simple Minds.
A crew member, perhaps you worked with with one of the record companies/concert promoters who promoted our music?
Maybe you were a DJ who played our songs, or perhaps you have covered our songs in your own band?
Whether you have been a fan since our very beginning or perhaps since teatime last night
What's your story?
All this and more let us know.
More than any other publications, your unique stories will be at the heart of this book.
Simple Minds don't do things half measures.
We want HEART OF THE CROWD to be something that both band and fans can be proud of!
We need your input therefore.
Relying on your support - as always
Thanks to all!

Themes For Great Cities

Written by: Graeme Thomson
Published by: Little Brown
Published: 2022
ISBN: 978-1-47213-400-4
Number of pages: 360

New Light On Old Ground

"This book will not endeavour to tell the entire story of Simple Minds, an epic tale spanning more than four decades. It is foremost the story of a band becoming a band, celebrating the work they made while still finding out what they were capable of. It covers a period of transition that lasted several years, a time of constant change and almost continuous playing. Within that, naturally, resonances travel and reassert themselves. There is much here, I hope, that is relevant to the Simple Minds of today, to their journey to a still-evolving present, and the music and creative choices they continue to make. I hope these pages facilitate a wider understanding and appreciation of a band that has rarely settled into being merely one thing."
Graeme Thomson sets out his objectives and scope in the prelude of Themes For Great Cities: A New History Of Simple Minds. But he could've simply replaced it with one stark assertion: that a new serious biography was long overdue, and he was going to deliver it. A stalwart of noted musical biographies, including Kate Bush and George Harrison, Thomson's name would've been familiar to readers of The Spectator, The Guardian and Uncut; and for the latter, he took on the recording of Promised You A Miracle, part of the promotional gossip around Celebrate: The Greatest Hits +. Therefore, he was exceptionally qualified for the role.

It's a substantial book, weighing in at around 350 pages, almost double the size of the previous contenders to the band's biographical crown. These two main references, namely Alfred Bos' The Race Is The Prize (1984) and Adam Sweeting's Simple Minds (1988), were penned decades ago. Both rode the meteoric rise of Simple Minds' popularity in the mid-1980s; and both were constrained by the (then) short duration of the band's existence. Yet, at the turn of that decade, and - as it turned out - the turn of the band's fortunes, the serious biographical contenders dried up. Thomson's new biography is the first in the last three decades and he has the advantage of the group's lengthy longevity, and the relatively new reappraisal of their early works, to fall back upon. Early Simple Minds is hip again; thanks to a new wave of musical devotees and Simple Minds themselves embracing their early catalogue. It was time to look back.

Kerr sets the stage in a conversation with Thomson: "The Simple Minds story has been too condensed. After Live Aid and Don't You (Forget About Me) there hasn't been quite the credit for those first few records. I think they contain some really special music. I can hear the flaws but there's something about the spirit and imagination in them that feels good. They draw upon such a wide range of influences ... but the spirit of it was always Simple Minds." And so Kerr sets the scope of the book: the first few records, spread across three hundred pages, given a chance to breathe again.

It's a fast ride through the band's initial eight years, first describing Kerr and Burchill's forays onto stage (as the sketchy and previously undocumented Biba-Rom!) to the globe-trotting stadium tour of Once Upon A Time. Ian Rankin, quoted on the dust cover, describes the book as "Thrilling" - an odd adjective to use for a band biography, but perfectly apt. Thomson's prose never lets up and he has made the band's journey thrilling and exciting - the book does deserve the well-worn epithets of 'page turner' and 'couldn't put it down.' Even those who know the story will find a new sense of urgency within the writing.

The narrative perfectly hits the right tone, adding colour to Sweeting's straight prose and culling the unnecessary digressions of Bos. The breathless retelling of the band's history is punctuated by guest chapters, where other luminaries such as Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), James Dean Bradfield (The Manic Street Preachers) and Iain Cook (Chvrches) wax lyrical about the band's earlier records shaping their work and careers; whilst Malcolm Garret flips through the artwork and expands on his classic sleeve designs.

The narrative is also interrupted by two sets of colour pictures. These are mostly completely new: either candid shots from band members, hired hands and producers; or from unused and rejected photo sessions. There's little of the glossy PR that fans will know well and even die-hards will be surprised at some of the hitherto unpublished images. Even the familiar photo opportunity on the freezing Renfrew ferry for the Waterfront video offers a new perspective with a shot of the crew in front of the band.

The question for the devoted fan is whether Thomson steps in Bos' and Sweeting's footsteps or dramatically takes his own course. Sweeting's unofficial Simple Minds, published in the post-euphoric fall-out from Live In The City Of Light, became the definitive guide; a steady-as-she-goes foray through the band's history, not accustomed to the flights of fancy indulged by Bos's often baffling official biography. Thomson charts a steady course between these extremes and picks up enough additional flotsam and jetsam to embellish the narrative, or in some circumstances, rewrite it afresh.

But there is a problem. Bos and Sweeting were not dealing with a span of four decades, grappling with a potential, hefty volume, so could fit the band's history within their slimline books Thomson's solution was to limit the scope, focus on the bare necessities, the adventures of five working class lads from Glasgow who took on the world and succeeded. Yet his jumping off point seems arbitrary, abandoning the band after the worldwide domination of Once Upon A Time, with the live album reduced to a mere couple of lines. Although he left them at the height of their success, it feels that he jumped too soon.

Perhaps the place to stop would've been when the collaborative unit, the seeds which produced those early influential and ground-breaking albums, actually collapsed, revealing just Kerr and Burchill in the dust. An extra chapter to examine Street Fighting Years, the further erosion of the band, and the departure of MacNeil has he literally drove into the sunrise after the tour, would've sealed the deal and concluded with a more satisfying 'End Of Part One.'

There's very little here for those wanting the history of Simple Minds over the last three decades: a postscript picks up the story with 5X5 Live and mentions Big Music and Walk Between Worlds - but it's almost as if Simple Minds didn't exist been 1990 and 2010.

There's more than enough new material to make this book indispensable for the die-hard fan. As an early history of Simple Minds during their first decade then it's now the authoritative, definitive guide. I hope there are plans to continue the story into the 1990s but until then, Thomson's biography has shed new light on this old, much traversed ground. What is needed now is the demystification of the 1990s and beyond.

Simon Cornwell 2022

Speaking to Mark Millar on the XS Noize Podcast in 2022, Jim spoke briefly about the book:

MM: This week has seen the release of Themes For Great Cities: A New History Of Simple Minds by music journalist Graeme Thomson. Are you aware of that? Or have you been involved with it?
JK: I've been told it's great. Some of the guys including myself participated in it - Graeme came to me a while ago with a proposition of doing a book together. I just felt I wanted to do my own thing, I wanted - I wasn't quite sure what it was going to be, but I wanted to do my own thing. And I've been working on that. I work on it every day actually. But Graeme's idea was to do a book on the early days of Simple Minds - I mean he didn't mean to get permission, but everyone who met him, or spoke to him, liked him. And he had a good track record as well on previous books he'd written. And so they sent me the book but - because I'm working on my own, I don't want to be influenced so I, myself, haven't read it. Charlie hasn't read it either because he's just not interested in himself or ... [Laughs] he's just not interested. But we've been told by people - Bruce Findlay and Billy Sloan and people who were [there] - local people who were around us at the time, they've all said it was really good.

"Jim's Book"

Written by: Jim Kerr

During the early 2020s, it was hinted several times, most notably on his own Facebook posts, that Jim was writing a book. It was not going to be a history of Simple Minds but more a collection of ideas, thoughts and insights - very similar to some of the posts he made on social media.

Speaking to Mark Millar on the XS Noize Podcast in 2022, Jim outlined the project:

MM: And how's your book coming along?
JK: What I wanted to do - I mean I - anyone in a band now, publishers offer you - It's a bit like starting a band or - it's a bit like we were saying earlier - you can write and stuff, but you want to find your own voice. You want to find your own personality. It's not so much a memoir - it is anecdotal but I'd like to think it's humourous as well - I'd like to think that it's - I have to say 'self help' - but self help in the sense that if you've experienced something, why not pass it on? If you've made a huge error or something - some regret - why not pass - I'd advise you not to do this - so it's not - it kind of incorporates a load of different things. In doing that, it might end up being a wee bit more unique than the standard rock-and-roll biography or even - if you're from Glasgow, invariably, the books about your 'hard time in the Gorbals.' Jesus - I've had enough of that even though [laughs] it's very much the background we're from. So I think the answer to your question is that I'm being hard on myself. Whether it sees the light of day, or anyone gets to read it, I don't even know, but I'm enjoying the writing as much as I'm enjoying the song writing. So that tells me something.
MM: I look forward to seeing it someday.
JK: I've got the title.
MM: Oh, what's that?
JK: I cannae tell you. But I've got it. It's a beauty. Someone might nick it!

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.

Simple Minds Street Fighting Years

Published by: SuperDeluxeEdition
Written by: Paul Sinclair
Number of pages: 24

Available from Paul Sinclair's SuperDeluxeEdition, this small glossy book included the full unedited interview with Jim, and a previously unpublished interview with Stephen Lipson, about the creation of Street Fighting Years.

It was made exclusively available through SuperDeluxeEdition in February 2020 as part of the promotion for the Street Fighting Years Super Deluxe release. It was designed to fit in the box-set itself as a bonus item.

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

Written by: Ronnie Gurr
Publisher: Hanging Around Books HA001 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.

Pleasantly Disturbed:
Glasgow & Edinburgh 1978

Published by: Ronnie Gurr
Edited by: David Lloyd
Publisher: Hanging Around Books (HA031) 2020 (Limited Edition of 250)
Number of pages: 34

In 1978, Laurie Evans was the in-house music photographer for the Edinburgh "what's on" magazine City Lynx. As such, Laurie was on hand to capture some of the earliest images of Simple Minds at various gigs at Glasgow's Mars Bar and the Astoria in Edinburgh's Abbeyhill.

Laurie has opened her archive to us and we’ve collected these images together for the first time and produced a beautiful little photobook that features many previously unseen images of the band from those early days. "Pleasantly Disturbed" (HA031) will be released on February 28th (same day as the band open their 2020 World Tour). There will be 250 copies of the first edition and you can pre-order your copy to be mailed out on day of release here. With foreword by Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr.

Black and white A5 paperback photozine packed with previously unpublished shots of Simple Minds by Laurie Evans. They were taken inside and outside the Mars Bar in Glasgow, and at the Astoria in Edinburgh, all in 1978.

A second edition was published in June 2020. This had the number HA031X and had a black title bar instead of white.

The Suit He Wears Belongs To Me:
Simple Minds 1980

Published by: Ronnie Gurr
Edited by: David Lloyd
Publisher: Hanging Around Books (HA033) 2020 (Limited Edition of 250)
Number of pages: 36

In seeking out rare and previously undiscovered and unseen music-related images, the long hours of research usually begin by making contact with friends and families of both the artists and the photographers. In the case of "The Suit He Wears Belongs To Me", a recent conversation with the supremely brilliant record producer John Leckie, proved to be fortuitous. John happened to mention that his close friend Richard Coward was not only responsible for the TV imagery that featured on the sleeve of the magnificent album John produced (Empires and Dance) but that he had also shot the band in Edinburgh, Glasgow and at his studio in Wapping, East London.

John informed me that Richard sadly passed away in 2014, but that his wife Siobhan was now living in Edinburgh. It has been my delight to work with Siobhan in going through Richard's archive and digitising the negatives to bring this collection together.

As you'll see in the book, Richard manages to capture a diversity of styles with the 1980 line-up of the band. There's the aforementioned TV images, band line-ups in the Botanic Gardens of both Edinburgh and Glasgow, atop Edinburgh's Calton Hill and in front of the city's former Royal High School, as well as a series of superbly executed studio portraits. It will come as no surprise that the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland has purchased one of Richard's portraits of Jim Kerr for their collection and it's a fitting tribute to both a fine photographer and his subject matter.

With foreword by Ronnie Gurr and endpiece by Siobhan Coward.

Black and white A5 paperback photozine packed with previously unpublished shots of Simple Minds by Richard Coward. Published material from these sessions were used for both Empires And Dance and Celebration.

The book was due to be exclusively launched at the White Hot Day Simple Minds Convention on the 21st March 2020. After the event was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the book was then made available through the Hanging Around Books website in April.

Available from Hanging Around Books

Simple Minds - Travels, Golden Dreams and Love Songs

Written by: Hector Neira Zubieta
Publisher: -
Number of pages: 340

Published on the 6th May 2022, Hector's book weighs in at a hefty 340 pages, and includes the full history of the band. It includes interviews with Steve Lipson, Alfred Bos and Javier Ojeda (the lead singer of a Spanish band called Danza Invisible, who were called in the 1980s "the spanish Simple Minds").

"My book is writen by a true fan. I'm a collector and I have thousands of pages of press material, books, fanzines, records, etc. I always had in my mind to write a book about our band." - Hector Neira Zubieta

It's the first full, original Simple Minds biography written in Spanish (the first one was in 1994 by by Sir Richard Francis Bourbon and was a bad copy of A Visual Documentary and Glittering Prize) and is available as a paperback from "The Spanish publisher is specially dedicated to music books. Two years writing and more than 30 years investigating and collecting. I hope the book covers the great void there is in Spanish dedicated to Simple Minds." There's also a Facebook page dedicated to the book.

"Simple Minds - Travels, Golden Dreams and Love Songs is the first original book dedicated to Simple Minds in Spanish and the first worldwide covering their entire career. 340 pages full of information, anecdotes, record analysis, data, interviews, etc... If you like Simple Minds, you'll like the book. And if you know them, you will enjoy it too." - Hector Neira Zubieta.