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"Taken from a recent interview, demonstrating my accordion influence in composition of Simple Minds tunes." - Mick

Mick MacNeil's Accordion Playing

In this Retropopic interview from 2018 (see the news from 1st December 2020), Derek mentioned how the main, repetitive melody from New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) was originally an accordion piece by Mick.

Fast forward three years, and in a Facebook post, Mick demonstrates how the accordion was instrumental in several of Simple Minds biggest hits.

Starting at 4:10, Mick starts by demonstrating the New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) riff on the accordion, before playing it to the backing track. "You can see where that came from, can't you?"

More surprising was the melody at 7:30, where Mick demonstrated a "bagpipe thing" which clearly became Alive And Kicking. "I think that's a great chord as well"

The obvious influence was Belfast Child where Mick obliged with the main folk melody from the song (staring at 15:20). This performance is very similar to the original Glenstriven demos of the song which was just accordion and Charlie on acoustic guitar, both backed by a Bodhran.

It's interesting thinking, perhaps in an alternative reality out there where Mick didn't leave the band, how the Acoustic album would've turned out.

An early promo for Graffiti Soul has surfaced. Unlike many watermarked pressings which included the copyright and legal information on the back, this version included it on the front of the typed sleeve. It also included the two bonus tracks (Shadows And Light and Rockin' In The Free World) - normally the Graffiti Soul promos only featured the core album.

"Anyone who really knows Simple Minds' story will be aware of Scottish journalist/radio presenter Billy Sloan.

"Billy was taking the first steps in his career in media just as we were taking our own in music. And yes, Billy was present on that January night in Glasgow 1978, when Simple Minds played our first ever gig, he wrote about that recently in The Heart Of The Crowd.

"But we also go all the way back with Billy.

"I recall his first ever radio show when he presented for Radio Clyde in the late 70's, and the experience of regularly tuning in over the next years allowed me to hear music that I still consider among my favourites. (Magazine, The Associates, U2, Grace Jones, The Blue Nile and a ton more.)

"No doubt about it. In a local sense Billy was the oracle when it came to spreading the word on new artists and new releases, combining that role with his flawless knowledge of the classics from the generation in music that came before.

"And guess what? He's still the oracle!

"Only last night I tuned in to his show on BBC Radio Scotland to hear a mix of classics, side by side with the newest releases that he feels worth highlighting. His ever present enthusiasm as tangible now almost 44 years later from when he first started out.

"Amazingly though, for as long as we have know Billy, and as much I have heard him do such fine work while interviewing hundreds of artists throughout his career. I had never heard Billy detail his own career so thoroughly - until now that is!

"A remarkable and expansive tale that features some of the most stellar names of the last half century, Billy tells it so well in this two part podcast from the brilliant AYNE.

"If I were you I would definitely listen in!

3rd December 2021

Billy stared his career in the late 1970s as a budding journalist, reviewing the vibrant musical scene in Scotland, and this was why he was at Simple Minds' first ever gig, pen in hand, knocking on the dressing room door and asking Charlie the name of the band's lead singer.

From working on building sites, got a job at the Bishopbriggs Times, before being offered a column on the Sunday Mail. From here, he was a staunch supporter of the band, reviewing their latest singles and albums, most supplied personally by Jim hot from the pressing plant. He was also well placed to play their music, becoming a radio DJ for Radio Clyde between 1979 and 1985, following the band's rise to fame.

Back at Radio Clyde in 1991, he focused on local bands, and arranged sessions and interviews with international talent. Over this second tenue of 23, he became increasing disenchanted with the radio station's attitue. "We did interviews with U2, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, Coldplay, Simple Minds. But that didn't seem to have any currency with them because basically everyone in radioland is playing the same s*** 25 records over and over and over again. And I was always the proverbial square peg in the round hole from the word go."

During this period, he arranged two sessions with Simple Minds for Radio Clyde. The first was broadcast in April 2002 to support the release of Cry and the second was over ten years later, when the band returned to record an acoustic set for the Acoustic album.

He also appeared on stage with Jim and Charlie where he hosted the Q&As during the first leg of the Walk Between Worlds tour.

Given his long history supporting the band, he also wrote the sleeve notes for The Early Years 1977-78, The Best Of and New Gold Dream Super Deluxe; and wrote the 5x5, Big Music and Acoustic tour programmes.

Upon being made redundant in 2014 from Radio Cylde when the station went through a cost cutting exercise, he swiftly transfered to BBC Radio Scotland where his weekend night shows have become indespensible listening for the classic, alternative and new music.

Two more Danish promos for the remasters have surfaced, bringing the total to four. New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) and Sparkle In The Rain would've been issued in Denmark in late 2002 as part of the marketing for the 2002 remasters.

It's would be interesting to know why promos were issued specifically for Denmark whilst the far more common UK set was used around Europe. No pressings have emerged from France or Germany for instance.

Heart Of The Crowd is now available as a Kindle edition. It can be purchased from Amazon and other online retailers.

Hardback and special editions are also still available from This Day In Music.

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