family tree
press releases
mailing list
site map

real to real cacophony: information

JK: "We all started to think about it. Real To Real Cacophony was searching and trying not to be The Boomtown Rats. The Paul Morleys of this world began to come on board and see us as one of the cooler bands. It was an abstract album, to say the least."

Record Collector Interview
Record Collector #364
July 2009

  • "The growth within the band, from rehearsal to rehearsal, from gig to gig, from month to month was just remarkable. Everyone was writing. Material was coming from every direction. The level of creative energy was unprecedented. We were firing on all cylinders." - Jim.

  • The band were desparate to quickly record the successor to Life In A Day in an attempt to bury it. "We were so anxious to see Life In A Day in the shops, it was almost embarrassing. And afterwards we wanted it out, that's why we were so quick to produce follow-up." - Jim.

  • John Leckie suggested recording the album at Rockfield Studios. Jim jumped at the chance, knowing how many classic albums from the 1960s and 1970s, had been recorded at the residential studio. " I even recall the journey, down from Glasgow, with drummer, Brian McGee at the wheel of our blue mini bus, and the excitement of crossing the Severn Bridge for the first time."

  • The legend states that they entered the studio with nothing written nor demoed, with the entire album conceived within the walls of Rockfield Studios, Wales. This was reinforced by the Retropopic interview with Derek in 2018: "That was 1979 we did the first album. January 1979 we did the first album - June 1979 we did the second. After we'd recorded everything we that knew and been written - that was it. It was just a watershed. We hadn't even thought 'Oh! Is there going to be a second album?' We never knew. Then we were in there and you can hear my bass lines, starting then. You can hear everybody."

  • However, the band had been playing early versions of Calling Your Name, Kaleidoscope, Here Comes The Fool and Scar during the Life in A Day tour, whilst Naked Eye was recorded for a Piccadilly Radio session.

  • Premonition had also appeared live, and the band had also written Carnival (Shelter In A Suitcase) and Real To Real.

  • Producer John Leckie remembered Derek Forbes had the riff for Changeling before entering the studio. This statement was later contradicted by Jim who recalled recording a 4-track demo of Changeling with Charlie and Mick.

  • Gary Numan was pencilled in as a potential producer, but the band elected to stay with John Leckie who'd produced the previous album Life In A Day.

  • Bruce, writing in Cripes #108, mentioned that the band recorded 13 songs. The left over song is assumed to be Kaleidoscope.

  • "Real To Real Cacophony was all recorded and mixed in five weeks at Rockfield using both studios. They had about half the songs (Premonition, Factory, Calling Your Name and Changeling) and the rest were kind of written in studio." - John Leckie

  • "We were searching for sounds and they came from anywhere: guitar or keyboards. We often miked up the corridor that ran down the side of Coach House studio at Rockfield and left the door to the studio open. It gave a good natural equable short reverb for drums and guitars and claps." - John Leckie

  • "Jim was writing all the time, trying lyrics and different approaches to singing. He was quite different on early records to how he sings now. The record was all mixed at Rockfield in one stint and quickly mastered and put out." - John Leckie

  • John Leckie's tape operator was Mariella Frostrup who found fame as a presenter and film critic. She was credited on the sleeve as Mariella Sometimes.

    Kaleidoscope was recorded as a bonus track or potential B-side. Other album out-takes included Round And Round (apparently a new version of Here Comes The Fool) and New Dance.

  • The studio next door was being used by Iggy Pop. He was recording Soldier, being helped out by David Bowie. The band wanted Bowie to play sax on the album, but no-one could pluck up courage to ask him. Spotting them handing around, Bowie asked if they could sing, gave them lyric sheets, and Simple Minds ended up as backing vocals on Play It Safe and others.

  • Originally intended to be the second Zoom album, Bruce's catalogue suggestion of ZULP 2 was met shrugs from Arista. It turned out it would be too problematic to program the computers. By this point, Bruce was putting Zoom Records into cold storage and forming Schoolhouse Management so it became a moot point. As Simple Minds were still signed to Zoom (on paper), all subsequent singles and albums were released on a 'special' Zoom Arista label.

  • Although as far as Bruce was concerned, it was an Arista album.

  • The band refused to demo the album. Or let Arista executives hear work in progress. On the first playback, it was met with complete silence and the immortal phrase: "Jesus! Where's the Chelsea Girl?."

  • Arista lost faith in the band; the album was quietly released in November, and the only single, Changeling, slipped out in the immediate post-Christmas period. Both failed to chart.

  • Tenative plans to release Carnival (Shelter In A Suitcase) as a single were then shelved.

  • However, it got far better reviews than Life In A Day. Paul Morley listed it in his "Top Ten Records Of The Year."

  • Unhappy with the design for Life In A Day, Arista commissioned their in-house designer, Paul Henry, as art director. Jim and Derek came up with the plain blue sleeve, wanting something more "industrial". This didn't go down well with Arista - not only did they hate the new, dull blue textured sleeve even more, it turned out to be wildly expensive to produce.

  • An inner sleeve was also required to carry track information and production credits.

  • The original sleeves were thermographic, featuring a sequence raised bumps and textures. Trying to cut costs, the second issues were packed in plain card sleeves without the texturing. Virgin, when issuing the album, have always dodged the issue, packaging the album in a glossy sleeve. Which is always the wrong shade of blue.

  • Virgin aquired the rights to the album when they purchased Simple Minds' back catalogue in 1982. Real To Real Cacophony was reissued on the label's full-price range as a LP (Virgin V 2246) and a MC (Virgin TCV 2246). These were reprints of the Arista originals although the outer sleeves were now glossy and the wrong shade of blue, and the labels were Virgin's generic design. The raised bumps were omitted, but the inner sleeve was reproduced. A further pressing, now without the inner sleeve, was produced in October 1985 anticipating the success of Once Upon A Time this time on Virgin's budget OVED range.

  • The album was remastered in 2002 as part of an extensive Virgin campaign. It was released as a limited edition vinyl replica CD and standard edition CD. This version remains on catalogue.

  • Finally, a word to any record company planning a reissue. The title is: Real To Real Cacophony. Not Reel To Real Cacophony. Nor Real To Reel Cacophony. Or even, the final permutation, Reel To Reel Cacophony. The album has been repeatedly released with the wrong title. The correct one? It's Real To Real Cacophony.

real to real cacophony: quick reference
LP    Real To Real Cacophony Zoom Arista SPART 1109
A1. Real To Real(2:47)
A2. Naked Eye(2:21)
A3. Citizen (Dance Of Youth)(2:53)
A4. Carnival (Shelter In A Suitcase)(2:49)
A5. Factory(4:13)
A6. Cacophony(1:40)
A7. Veldt(3:29)
B1. Premonition(5:29)
B2. Changeling(4:11)
B3. Film Theme(2:27)
B4. Calling Your Name(5:05)
B5. Scar(3:31)

MC    Real To Real Cacophony Zoom Arista TCART 1109
1-1. Real To Real(2:47)
1-2. Naked Eye(2:21)
1-3. Citizen (Dance Of Youth)(2:53)
1-4. Carnival (Shelter In A Suitcase)(2:49)
1-5. Factory(4:13)
1-6. Cacophony(1:40)
1-7. Veldt(3:29)
2-1. Premonition(5:29)
2-2. Changeling(4:11)
2-3. Film Theme(2:27)
2-4. Calling Your Name(5:05)
2-5. Scar(3:31)

CD    Real To Real Cacophony Virgin CDV 2246
1. Real To Real(2:47)
2. Naked Eye(2:21)
3. Citizen (Dance Of Youth)(2:53)
4. Carnival (Shelter In A Suitcase)(2:49)
5. Factory(4:13)
6. Cacophony(1:40)
7. Veldt(3:29)
8. Premonition(5:29)
9. Changeling(4:11)
10. Film Theme(2:27)
11. Calling Your Name(5:05)
12. Scar(3:31)

previous album next album