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life in a day: information

JK: "When you do your first album, it's the only thing in your life. Life In A Day was a colossal disappointment to us, though we didn't realise that until a week after we'd finished. The demos were really good. John Leckie was great, but it was all wrong. We decamped to London - we were in Abbey Road and we came out with a very professional-sounding record. On the drive home to Scotland, someone gave me a copy of Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division. We thought we were edgy, because we were influenced by Patti Smith, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. After listening to Unknown Pleasures our record sounded like The Boomtown Rats. With the greatest of respect, that wasn't what we wanted."

Record Collector Interview
Record Collector #364
July 2009

  • "We had songs like Pleasantly Disturbed and Chelsea Girl. A local reporter called Billy Sloan told us: 'This is going to happen!' We felt we were much better than we should have been. We were learning as we went along."

  • The working title of the album was Children Of The Game, a Jean Cocteau reference.

  • It was changed to Life In A Day after the band wrote the title song whilst selecting and rejecting material in a barn near Edinburgh in January, 1979.

  • Their first choice of producer was John Cale. Arista vetoed this suggestion.

  • Their second choice was John Anthony, who'd produced Van Der Graff Generator and others. Again, this was vetoed.

  • But Arista did allow their third choice, the legendary John Leckie.

  • The album was recorded in the grounds of Farmyard Studios in Amersham, using the Rolling Stones Mobile, an ex-army mobile unit. It was freezing in this huge truck - hence the sly footnote: "Recorded at a very low temperature."

  • The album sessions yielded the full album, B-side Special View and two unfinished out-takes: Rosemary's Baby and Children Of The Game.

  • After recording, the final mixing was done at Townhouse and Abbey Road studios.

  • Whilst at Abbey Road, Derek Forbes called up everyone he knew, enthusing that he'd played the actual harpsicord used on Sgt. Peppper.

  • The album track listing was finalised in mid March - this reel-to-reel copy master from early in the month reveals a different track ordering. Test pressings of the album were also distributed with slightly different artwork.

  • The cover artwork was designed by Carole Moss, a friend of John Leckie. She also photographed the band against the blinds in the Rolling Stones Mobile - this was the basis of all the artwork of the inner sleeve.

  • The front cover is a colourised black-and-white shot of the salt marshes at Morecambe Bay.

  • Journalist, and Zoom press officer, Brian Hogg designed the tambourine labels.

  • Original LPs included an inner sleeve with album credits and artwork. All the text appeared to be Jim's handwriting.

  • Some original copies also included posters.

  • The album was licensed through Arista/Ariola throughout Europe and PVC Records in the USA. PVC decided to change the artwork, making the title easier to read.

  • Life In A Day and Chelsea Girl were selected as singles.

  • The band hated the final result and quickly disowned the album, despite parent label Arista being pleased with its chart placing.

  • "I have bittersweet emotions about that first album. Incredibly exciting, obviously. We were just starting to get a wee bit clever. We got a new keyboard in and he brought lots of frills and hooks. We got the deal, very exciting, John Leckie, the producer we wanted to work with even though we didn't know what a producer did, he'd worked with all these bands like XTC, Magazine... I remember at the time, the result sounded professional, sounded impressive, but I privately felt there was something not quite right with it which I couldn't articulate. No one else was saying anything, but we went to press it, got the acetates, and as we were about to drive up to Scotland, someone gave me a cassette of "Unknown Pleasures" by Joy Division and I thought, we've completely blown it. Our live stuff, our demos were a bit darker, more hints of the Velvets, etc, and no hint at all of The Boomtown Rats! I wanted to scrap it, make it again, but I think we'd played the songs to death by the time we brought them to the studio, played around with them, got a bit clever with them and didn't reproduce them in their raw state." - Jim.

  • Life In A Day was the only album issued by Zoom Records.

  • Virgin aquired the rights to the album when they purchased Simple Minds' back catalogue in 1982. Life In A Day was reissued on the label's mid-price range as a LP (Virgin VM6) and a MC (Virgin VMC6). These were basic reprints of the Arista originals although the inner sleeve and unique label designs of the record were ditched. A further pressing was produced in August 1984 after the success of Sparkle In The Rain, this time on Virgin's budget OVED range.

  • In 1986, Virgin finally issued the album on CD. This caught out one reviewer, who assumed it was the follow-up to Once Upon A Time. He commended Simple Minds on their brave new direction.

    "...I think we were in Aberdeen on the morning of that release and just seeing our debut album sleeve in the window of record stores was a thrill never to be forgotten. A new kind of pressure was suddenly on however and being novices to the game we started to feel it immediately."

    "Unavoidably real, it was the pressure of now having to compete commercially. To show that we could sell enough albums to maintain the on - going faith and investment of our record company. As for the live shows? It felt like we had a crusade on our hands. A crusade that involved getting our music heard to the world at large."

    Jim, 27th May 2019

life in a day: quick reference
LP    Life In A Day Zoom ZULP 1
A1. Someone(3:40)
A2. Life In A Day(4:00)
A3. Sad Affair(2:45)
A4. All For You(2:50)
A5. Pleasantly Disturbed(8:00)
B1. No Cure(3:38)
B2. Chelsea Girl(4:33)
B3. Wasteland(3:44)
B4. Destiny(3:36)
B5. Murder Story(6:18)

MC    Life In A Day Zoom ZUTC 1
1-1. Someone(3:40)
1-2. Life In A Day(4:00)
1-3. Sad Affair(2:45)
1-4. All For You(2:50)
1-5. Pleasantly Disturbed(8:00)
2-1. No Cure(3:38)
2-2. Chelsea Girl(4:33)
2-3. Wasteland(3:44)
2-4. Destiny(3:36)
2-5. Murder Story(6:18)

CD    Life In A Day Virgin VMCD 6
1. Someone(3:40)
2. Life In A Day(4:00)
3. Sad Affair(2:45)
4. All For You(2:50)
5. Pleasantly Disturbed(8:00)
6. No Cure(3:38)
7. Chelsea Girl(4:33)
8. Wasteland(3:44)
9. Destiny(3:36)
10. Murder Story(6:18)

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Life In A Day Chelsea Girl