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reviews | real to real cacophony | musicians only

Real To Real Cacophony album
Real To Real Cacophony

The first Simple Minds album LIFE IN A DAY was one of the best albums of this year, and here's the follow-up. They have moved on in the interim, now relying more heavily on electronics. These tend to detract from the music in several cases, particularly on side one. John Leckie is, I am 98% certain, the guilty man. He should have been strapped to the desk. Real To Real, the opening track, begins with a fractured Devo-type rhythm interspersed with nasty squittering noises, and the next song Naked Eye features heavy repeat-echo drums and a shimmering synthesiser. By the third track Citizen we begin to feel nostalgic for the old days when rhythms were rhythms and tunes were tunes.

Carnival is better - more identifiable as a song rather than a disconnected series of squeaks, burps and unexplained thrashes. Factory is better yet, Jim Kerr sounding uncannily like Bryan Ferrari in his delivery. Cacophony is basically a guitar phrase with more funny noises in the background. Veldt evokes the image of a futuristic electronic jungle. It sounds like 'Tusk' played backwards.

Side one, then, is patchy. The second side is uniformly brilliant, beginning with the pent-up throbbing power of Premonition, and building through Changeling and the instrumental Film Theme, which sounds like The Beatles might have sounded had they persevered into the electronic age.

The strength of Simple Minds is in the clever interplay of hypnotic synth and guitar phrases, underpinned by a drummer and bassist who follow each other closely, giving a firm background to the bizarre excursions of Charles Burchill (guitar, violin and sax) and Michael McNeil (keyboards). If you liked Roxy's MANIFESTO album, hear Simple Minds take it a stage further. Intriguing and brave.

Recorded at Rockfield, produced, engineered and mixed by John Leckie, who constantly teeters on the verge of cluttering the songs, but gets a satisfying full sound.

Pete Douglas
Musicians Only, December 8th 1979

Thanks to Robert Struthers for the scan.