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November 08, 1985 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-11-08
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I#ExvE. -49






(Continued from Page 3)
the stellar Mel Gaynor, funky bass
guitar from John Giblin, who recently
replaced original bass-man Derek
Forbes, and Jim Kerr's eccentric yet
romantic vocals.
THE BAND HAS COME a long way
from their origin as a Glasgow
punk outfit named Johnny and the
Self-Abusers, which broke up in 1977
after releasing only one single. Kerr,
aspiring above playing in seedy punk
bars, joined fellow ex-Abusers
Charlie Burchill and Brian McGee
(drums) to form the art-rocking Sim-
ple Minds in 1978.
The band, which later recruited
MacNeil and Forbes, quickly gained a
reputation for its live performances,
and in 1979 made their first album,
Life in a Day, a commercial and
critical disappointment. The sound
was influenced by Pink Floyd, Roxy
Music, and Lou Reed; and Kerr sang
in a strange Cockney whine, Half a
year later they released their second
LP, Real to Real Cacophony, which
established more originality in the
band's sound, mixing odd experimen-
tation with post-punk pop.
Simple Minds made a name for
themselves throughout Europe with
1980's critically acclaimed album,
Empires and Dance, a stylish dance-
floor panorama of European images
which featured the minor hit, "I
Travel." Empires and Dance showed

Kerr emerging as a stunning lyricist,
creating abstract, clever images.
Nineteen eighty-one saw the band's
first real classic work. Sons and
Fascination and Sister Feelings Call
were originally released as a double
album, then later put out as separate
LP's. They featured the British club
hits "Sweat in Bullet," "Love Song,"
and "The American." The sound was
hauntingly futuristic, built upon syn-
thesizer rhythms and hyper-funked
bass. By this time, Kerr's vocals had
progressed remarkably to a deep-
voiced, almost operatic tone, which
made his obscure visions all the more
Kerr's romantic view of a complex
world was taking shape in songs like
"This Earth That You Walk Upon"
and "In Trance as Mission," which
begins, We're just one moment in
time/I hear the holy back-
beat/Events and casual af-
fairs/Just what is moving on, and
what is going on/Dreamer,
dreamer, courage of dreams/In
trance as mission, trans-America.
The real turning point for Simple
Minds was in 1982's New Gold Dream
(81-82-83-84), which garnered the
band's biggest critical praise ever. It
was also a smashing commercial
success, peaking at number three on
the British charts. The album cover
itself heralded a new outlook, with
gothic lettering and a large cross
gracing a marble background. New
Gold Dream was grandly optimistic
in sound and ideas, with spiritual
overtones to match the band's stylish
In "Someone Somewhere in Sum-

MacNeil's charming synth hooks and
Burchill's ringing guitar, Kerr sings,
Promised you a miracle/Belief is a
beauty thing... / Everything is
possible in the game of life. New
Gold Dream showed Simple Minds
with a new honesty and warmth.-e
Following the success of New Gold
Dream, the band felt compelled to on-
ce again gamble on their next album
and change their sound as they do for
every album. They either reworked
or threw out good songs they had writ-
ten that sounded too much like New
Gold Dream, formed a new style, and
brought U2 producer Steve Lillywhite
to man the mixing boards. The
resulting album, 1984's Sparkle in the
Rain, was a startling departure,
characterized by the British hit,
"Waterfront" - explosive,
mysterious and sounding very "big."
Lillywhite played up the strength of
Gaynor's drums and Burchill's guitar
to build under Kerr's increased
authority for songs like "Speed Your
Love To Me," "Up on the Catwalk,"
"White Hot Day," and "Book of
Brilliant Things."
The power and style of the music
combined with some of Kerr's most
obsessive work yet to overwhelming
effect. Sparkle in the Rain won new
fans with its dynamic spirit and con-
fidence, striking the ear like the
lightning described by the album
title. The LP debuted on the British
chart at number one, and also
reached the Top 20 in Canada while
only sneaking into the U.S. Top 50.
IMPLE MINDS are a band that
loves to play in .concert, as
anyone who saw theirtexcellent show
here in June of '84 at the Michigan
Theatre would know. On stage, they
charge through their songs with skill
and passion, recreating the complex
sound of their records while often

giving the songs a new feel. "New
Gold Dream" speeds along on the
record, but in concert it soars. On
stage, Jim Kerr is an intriguing per-
former, dancing about in dexterous
catlike movements, doing a lot of
leaping about.
In January of this year, Simple
Minds played three concerts at the
Barrowlands hall in Glasgow to be
recorded for a live album (a project
which has apparently been put on the
shelf for now). Kerr was joined on-
stage by his friend Bono of U2 to sing
an 11-minute version of "New Gold
Dream" with verses tossed in from
the Doors' "Light My Fire," Talking
Heads' "Take Me To the River," and
U2's own "Fire." Don't expect a sur-
prise like this Monday night, but Kerr
will be joined onstage by soulful
singer Robin Clark, whose additional
lead vocals give extra spirit to tracks
on the new Once Upon A Time LP,
notable "Alive and Kicking."
Simple Minds lived up to their
status as one of the world's really ex-
citing live bands with their perfor-
mance at Live Aid last July, playing a
roaring version of "Ghost Dancing"
(from the new record) and "Don't
You (Forget About Me)," not to men-
tion the crowd-pleasing "Promised
You a Miracle."
The concert circuit has had special
rewards for Kerr; it was at a festival
in Australia that Kerr met his soon-to-
be wife, Chrissie Hynde of the
Pretenders. The couple married in
May of 1984, and that summer, Simple
Minds toured America as opening act
for The Pretenders in a tour that was
planned even before the two met.
Early this year Mr. and Mrs. Kerr
had their first child, a girl named
Jasmine Paris.
Right after the Live Aid gig, Simple
Minds went to New York to mix the
tracks for the new album, which were
recorded in London.

WordsCatch o
from ~ the Day
b Mike Fisch
puter world: "If you don't bother
me, I won't bother you. " But the
computer world has not kept its side
of the bargain. It is no longer content

and company
... eschew rock cliches
mertime," Kerr croons, Shadows of
Brilliant ways change me in these
times/Somewhere there is
someplace that one million eyes
can't see/And somewhere there is
someone who can see what I can
Simple Minds found their first
major British hit with the upbeat
"Promised You A Miracle." Between

You care about people sin-
cerely/ And bring others close very
dearly/ Devoted and caring/ So
loving and sharing/ Your love is
expressed very clearly.
BEFORE ANYONE does anything
rash, I am not, I repeat, not the
writer responsible for the trite drivel
above. Who then, would allow himself
to be publicly humiliated by the prin-
ting of these poetic bird droppings?
No one. The above limerick is the
work of a Computer Poet. Yes, a
Homer invoked the muse to guide
him in his writing of the Odyssey; in
the 20th century, however, we can
simply invoke the floppy disk, which
will stolidly and rapidly spit out 15
lines of rhymed verse.
There are two computer poets on
campus, located at The Crown House
of Gifts and University Cellar. The
Computer Poets at these stores churn
out personalized poems for people to
use as substitutes for their own poetry
and nestle into one of the many
available greeting cards. (Poem and
card together cost $2.95.)
The fact that there's a machine a
few hundred yards from my house
cranking out pages and pages of
doggerel while I'm sleeping, creating,
or taking notes at a lecture...well, it's
Now don't get me wrong-I don't
hate computers. After my Dad
strongly "suggested" it, I took a cour-
se in BASIC, which I passed largely
thanks to "a few helpful hints now and
again" from a good friend who now
goes to M.I.T.
Since then I have held up my side of
an unwritten bargain with the com-

with running numbers througn com-
plex mathematical equations or laun-
ching ballistic missiles; now it has
strayed into my territory-writing.
Thankfully, the creative output of
the Computer Poet is mere sewer
sludge compared to any poetry writ-
ten by even semi-intelligent humans.
Even so, I'll have to deal with this new
development in computers because,
being so much in the spotlight, I'm
likely to get thousands of these Com-
puter Poet personalized greeting car-
ds from loyal fans.
I "created" a poem on the Com-
puter Poet at Crown House which I
figure will pretty much mirror most
of the cards I'll be getting in the near
future, and will allow me to see what
such fan mail might look like. The
Poet asked me a number of questions,
which along with my responses
Who is this poem about? Mike
I can't tell if Mike Fisch is male
or female, please help me out.
What city or state does he live
in? West Newton.
What is the message of your
poem? (For this question I got to
choose from a list of over seventy
messages including Happy Birthday,
I love you, I miss you, Happy New
Year, and You Turn Me On) What a
night (risque).
Enter three letters for his most
descriptive trait. (This came with a
list including handsome, artistic,
Republican, sweet, classy, lazy, and
unique) So cool. ("Very cool" was not
an option).

I reprint here a portion of the poem
churned out by the Computer Poet:
Of Mike Fisch I've thought a
great deal/To say to you just how I
feel/Your most useful tool/Is
smoothness - you're cool/In
West Newton you live I
reveal. /Thanks for the lovin' that
night/You knew how to do it just
right/It sure was a ball/We gave it
our all/I love how you touch and
I still don't understand what I do
"just right." I suppose any good poem
is rich, so layered with images that in-
terpretations will necessarily vary,
and are sometimes difficult to make.
A few days after my artistic
''creation" I spoke with Dwight
Minkler, the man who came up with
the idea of a Computer Poet, and
developed that idea into the machines
I saw.
According to Minkler, even if
someone using the Computer Poet
typed in the same information as I
did, the poem; produced would be dif-
ferent than mine. "In fact," said
Minkler, "with all of the possible
combinations there are 330 million
separate poems that the Computer
Poet could write."
By my own rude calculations, that
many poems would fill up over 220,000
Norton Anthologies. Just pray your
introduction to Poetry teacher never
assigns the complete works of the
Computer Poet.
As for Minkler's literary training,
he said, "I was a writer on my school
newspaper, and an avid reader, but
my wife is the literary side of the

Computer Poet."
Asked about his wife's literary
training he said, "She's always had an
intense interest in literature . .. but
she actually has an MBA in banking.
"In about a month and a half,"
Minkler said, "the computer will have
a choice between light limerickal ver-
se, and sentimental, serious free ver-
He provided me with this delicious
taste of the Computer Poet's free ver-
se abilities. The following is entitled
"Your Birthday":





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8 Weekend/Friday, November 8, 1985


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