Don’t You (Forget About Me), Alive and Kicking or Belfast Child – the Simple Minds have been a huge band in the 1980’s. Even though their latest big single chart success She’s a River is dated as of 1995, the Scottish rockers are still very well-known and legendary. On 21st October 2022, they released Direction of the Heart, a nine track studio album. Here is my review of the band’s nineteenth studio album overall.
Simple Minds – About The Artists
The Simple Minds have been formed in Glasgow in 1977. Even though the list of former members is long, there are still two Simple Minds founding members, singer Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill (guitars, rarely keyboards). Nowadays, they are supported by Ged Grimes (bass), Sarah Brown (backing vocals), Berenice Scott (keyboards), Cherisse Osei (drums) and Gordy Goudie (keys, guitar, vocals). All of these members have been joining the key lineup of the band in 2010 or later. The double album Sons and Dascination / Sister Feelings Call released in 1981 has been the first international success for the Scots. The 1984 album Sparkle in the Rain was the first one topping the album charts (in the United Kingdom and New Zealand).
The 1985 single Don’t You (Forget About Me) has been very successful in various markets. It has originally been recorded for the soundtrack of The Breakfast Club. In the mid and late 1990’s, the band released less frequently. However, the 2010’s album of the Simple Minds were rather good sellers. Acoustic (2016) received a silver record in their home country, while Walk Between Worlds, their last album release so far (2018), made it to the Top 10 in the U.K., Belgium (Dutch), Germany and Switzerland.
Simple Minds – Direction of the Heart – Track by Track
There are two versions of the album – an eleven track one (48 minutes) and a nine track one with a duration of 38 minutes, which I received for a review before the release date.
1. Vision Thing
Not sure if it really needs a song to give Simple Minds a feel good-guarantee – but if this is the case, the opener Vision Thing is perfect for that. A bit of Don’t You (Forget About Me) and a touch of some other of their 1980’s classic. If they would have recorded this one some forty years ago, Vision Thing might have been one of their golden records. Now, it is a beautiful radio hit… For a radio station which existed some decades ago.
2. First You Jump
The second song sufficiently differs from Vision Thing, so that you don’t feel this album might turn out to be boring or repetitive. A bit of slower than the opener and overall a nice pop track with a bit of synth-pop elements and a nostalgic touch.
3. Human Traffic
Human Traffic has a more stomping rhythm (again). After a short episode with present guitars, it tuns into a nice pop song. A very interesting element of this song is the support by Russell Mael from the Sparks.
4. Who Killed Truth?
If you like the rather social-critic songs of the Scottish band, Who Killed Truth? will leave you with a smile. Jim Kerr’s leading vocals define the character of this very good listen.
5. Solstice Kiss
Solstice Kiss is the longest track of the album. After gently opening with flute sounds and even feeling a bit of kitschy in the intro, the song finally rather turns into a straight pop song with electronic and guitar-driven melodic parts.
6. Act Of Love
The mixture of electronic rhythm and rocking sounds reminds of 1990’s music. Especially the driving rhythm and vibe of the song makes it a special one. Some parts simply make you move to the music.
The seventh track of the album is a good listen for rather traditional Simple Minds fans. The song does not feel outdated or old-fashioned at all – but it comes with a very clear and strong signature, which you also find in some of the later 1980’s songs by Kerr and Burchill’s band.
8. Planet Zero
Despite its rather significant duration (4:10 minutes), the energetic Planet Zero rather feels like an interlude track to me. Even though it tries to add some additional spirit to the album, it is rather linking Natural with the closing track.
9. The Walls Came Down
The credits for the closing song state Michael Been as the author of the song. Music lovers might know him as former front singer of the Calfornian rock band The Call. Been died in Hasselt, Belgium, in 2010, but his song (which dealt with the cold war at its original release in 1982) lives on, also due to this Simple Minds cover. There are some U2 feelings around while you listen to the last notes of Direction of the Heart.
Simple Minds – Direction of the Heart – Spotify
Here is Direction of the Heart on Spotify:
Simple Minds – Direction of the Heart – My View
I would not see Direction of the Heart as superb must-listen release, but Simple Minds definitely did a good job and recorded nine versatile and entertaining songs. There is a strong reference to their commercially best times – which is fine. The Minds are still a lot of fun after 22 years of this century.
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