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cocteau twins

Kerr, Burchill

Copyright Control

The Cocteau Twins enjoyed an odd contradictory duality within Simple Minds' canon: it was both one of their most obscure early songs and simultaneously one of their most well-known.

Musically it was a frantic, bold blast of post-punk, pub-rock which wouldn’t have been out of place in the Abuser's repertoire. Featuring frantic signature McGee drumming, furious scale-tripping by MacNeil and stabbing guitar line by Burchill, the song lurched from frenzied chorus to slower, punctuating choruses where Kerr emphasised the song's title: "The Cocteau Twins."

The writing of Jean Cocteau heavily influenced Kerr during the period 1978/79 and several of the songs of the period were inspired by the author. He’d just read a compilation of Cocteau's works, including Les Enfants Terribles, and he related the protagonists to two flatmates, hence The Cocteau Twins. (The play was also published in English as Children of the Game which became the working title of their debut album and the title of another unreleased Simple Minds song.)

A live favourite, often appearing mid-set and officially demoed for the band's second demo tape.

When formal recording started for Life In A Day, John Leckie guided the removal of most of the excesses of the song, tidying it up and slowingits manic tempo. Jim also took the opportunity to reshape the lyrics, and all connections with Cocteau were removed in the resultant No Cure.

(Whilst some songs kept their titles during the recording process, and were even logged on the tape boxes as such, The Cocteau Twins was obviously reworked early in the recordings, as the title doesn't appear on any of the tape boxes.)

The Cocteau Twins would've remained an obscure rarity if it wasn’t for Liz Frasier, Robin Guthrie and Will Heggie who named their nascent band The Cocteau Twins after hearing the song. Hailing from Grangemouth, the trio would've heard the track at one of Simple Minds' late 1978 shows. (Most probably the show of the 28th December 1978 when Guthrie and Heggie were supporting Simple Minds as The Heat). This would've also been one of the last live performances of the track, as Simple Minds didn't play it again live after 1978.

The original live version of the song was originally only available on dodgy, badly recorded cassette bootlegs. Part of the demo was aired on BBC Radio One as part of The Street Fighting Years retrospective, but it wasn't until 1998 that the full demo was officially (and fleetingly) released on The Early Years 1978-78. Otherwise it has been totally forgotten.

The lyrics have never been published.

Demo Excerpt (1:35)
Producer: Lex McEwan and Simple Minds

Street Fighting Years Limited Edition MC Box Set Street Fighting Years Limited Edition CD Box Set

Demo (3:51)
Producer: Lex McEwan and Simple Minds

The Early Years 1977-1978 CD

demo discography
Demo Version (3:51)
Producer: Lex McEwan and Simple Minds

Simple Minds: 6 tracks

live history
Simple Minds: 1978