Over their respective music career, Scottish band Simple Minds have buried their way deep into the musical archive of their abundant global fans. Soundtracking people’s lives all through the eighties well into the current day, the band have made a powerful imprint with their soothing blend on rock-pop and large vocal croonings. Their uniqueness maintains a steady activity with 2016 seeing them release an impressive seventeenth studio record. Appropriately titled Acoustic, it features select acoustic versions of previously released material – a mellow and thoughtful gift for super fans.
Instantly crooning with effective pleasantries, Jim Kerr’s inimitable vocals expertly deliver in a softened version of The American – first heard on their ’81 album Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. Glittering attention to detail shines through the cracks in alternative approaches to their most classic anthems. Loving tenderness beams through a country bop rendition of new wave monster Promised You A Miracle; with KT Tunstall leaning in for a warm vocal mediation (It sounds a little like Zeppelin’s Bron Yr Aur Stomp at times). Then comes a sunkissed version of Glittering Prize – a sonic giant off their seminal ’82 record; New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). Justifiably, the band have channelled a fresh and soulful colouring onto their most prized recordings. This extends well into a balanced grandeur, a prolific boldness and Simple Minds sound that manages to retain a larger than life effect. Fittingly, the album would not be complete without their most successful track to date; Don’t You (Forget About Me). While the synth fragments have been replaced by a tender acoustic treatment, the result works as a remarkable musical outline with a deep and gorgeous exploration. Kerr’s vocals communicate a thoughtful filtering as humble guitar fingerpicking’s form under an easy going bass guitar and bass drum purity. Lastly, a cover of Richard Hawley’s Long Black Train rounds out the record with a subtle and noble slowness – exhibiting a playing magic the band have carried with them over a lifetime.
Acoustic is a decent addition to the huge Simple Minds repertoire. It’s a selection of character tracks and thoughtful music navigation – perhaps showing the band’s softer and well-evolved qualities. In 58 minutes the listener is transported back in time through skilful renderings of music maturity and emotional superiority.