It has suddenly got chilly in Glasgow, and thereís plenty of frost around outside right now. It was not
the weather that caused some sort of pleasurable shiver within me last night however.
No. That was all to do with the realisation that the crawling end of day traffic, had caused me to pause for a couple
of minutes directly outside the very space were Simple Minds had gathered for one of our very first rehearsals.
Precisely on this same week 40 years ago.
There were always 7 in the room back in those days. The original Simple Minds of course. Meaning that apart from
Charlie and I,
Tony Donald and
Duncan Barnwell were present. As was both
Jaine Henderson, always ready to help out in whatever way they could.
Predictably the weather on that day was also heading towards zero, but undoubtedly no matter how cool the temperature was
outside on the streets that we walked taking us from Toryglen down to the Gorbals/Oatlands district. It was even colder inside
the crumbling rehearsal space that we nonetheless felt so grateful to have at our disposal.
Situated at the back end of a red brick, factory building. It would have been a handsome structure when it was conceived
most probably near the start of last century. However, like much of the Gorbals 40 years ago, it was by then just
another crumbling building, hanging on to its last days of use. A relic among the newly constructed tower blacks that were
so much a part of own childoods.
Leaking icy rain and featuring plenty enough broken skylight windows, it of course came without any kind of heating system
whatsoever. But! And this is a very big but! It had both a roof and walls, and was secure enough to allow us to store
what little equipment that we owned. That meant we had no need to own an expensive van to transport our stuff. And even
better in terms of any other kind of finance problems that all start up bands had to endure, the owner Jim Duffy, had ever
so generously, gifted us itís use absolutely free of charge. And what a Godsend that was!
After all, having recently given up our previous jobs in a bid to gamble our individual futures on becoming a successful rock
group, we had not a pot to piss in - between us! (For those who are not entirely familiar with that expression. It means we
had no money at all.)
I guess reading this, plenty will surmise the I am going out on an edge to describe the bleakness involved in trying to get
Simple Minds initiated. They would be wrong though. We were ecstatic with our situation in fact. Because really, all
we wanted in the beginning was some free electricity and a space that allowed us to make as much noise as we wanted.
And as for that noise? The aforementioned shiver I experienced last night really was connected to recalling that day 40 years ago,
where within the walls of that freezing room, Charlie Burchill sat on top of his
Carlboro amplifier, and began slowly picking out, vibrato style, the hypnotic opening intro to what I still consider the first
ever great Simple Minds song.
A death trip, the soundtrack to an opium dream? Within that evolving song we were writing about heroin just as it was insidiously
finding it's way on to the streets of Glasgow.
Only 18 years old, but we had vision of the shape of things to come. And we also knew even then which way we were heading.
We still do!
8th November 2017