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‘A nuclear reactor of music’: the story of Simple Minds’ classic album Empires and Dance

Before their 80s megastardom, the band minted a strange vision of European culture and tension that still resonates. They – and superfan James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers – reflect on its power During a break in rehearsals for Simple Minds’ 2020 arena tour, conversation turned to the fact that the guitarist Charlie Burchill had moonlighted on saxophone on the band’s early records. Their drummer, Cherisse Osei, was intrigued. With some reluctance – Burchill likens his youthful forays on the sax to “the cat getting strangled” – he played Osei Twist/Run/Repulsion. A sound collage lurking with menaces on the second side of their 1980 album, Empires and Dance, Burchill’s foghorn alarums vie with a sickly semitone bass shift, the singer Jim Kerr’s torrential abstractions, and a woman reciting a passage from a Nikolai Gogol short story in its French translation. “Cherisse was like: ‘What’s that?!’” Burchill mimes a horrified facial expression. “Because it’s fucking bonkers.” Pondering whether Simple Minds would ever plan a themed album tour around Empires and Dance, the guitarist shakes his head. “I think it would be a bit obscure, that one.” Continue reading...

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