Simple Minds v. The Stranglers

In the run up to November’s Simple Minds’ tour, the two bands collaborated on recording a reworked of The Stranglers 1977 debut single (Get A) Grip (On Yourself) in the studio. The recording session featured JJ, Baz and Dave  joining forces with Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill and Mel Gaynor from Simple Minds, with Jim and Baz sharing vocal duties. In addition to recording the track, they also filmed a video of the session which can be viewed on the Classic Rock page here. Both bands were so happy with the results that the track will get an official release, both digitally and on vinyl. The vinyl is available to pre-order from the Simple Minds online shop here and it is available to buy digitally now (iTunes here).  The track received it’s first radio play earlier today on the Ken Bruce show on Radio 2 and Classic Rock also premiered the video.

To coincide with the release and the forthcoming tour, Jim Kerr, Simple Minds’ vocalist, has written a blog about the impact that seeing The Stranglers had on both him and Charlie back in mid ’77:

Like most people I have my fair share of indelible memories, some that I even refer to as life changing events. Witnessing The Stranglers in full thrown ascendancy, at The City Halls, Glasgow, in 1977 would qualify as one of those events – and yet the concert almost never happened.

To quote the local newspaper, The Glasgow Evening Times. “In June that year a row was brewing over the visit of The Stranglers to City Halls in Glasgow after the Sex Pistols had been banned from playing at the Glasgow Apollo. The reason for the ban was a threat to public order and, despite permission being previously granted for The Stranglers, some committee members were still demanding that the group be investigated.

There were also fears that the committee could be accused of double standards. The City Halls manager had in any been concerned enough about The Stranglers’ visit to check with authorities in Brighton where they had recently played to be told that they had been “noisy” but no trouble.

Even so, he suggested the Halls beef up security, saying it wasn’t so much the bands that worried him as the type of fans they attracted.”

Both Charlie Burchill and myself were among those fans that had been denied the chance to see the Pistols live. We were therefore on tenterhooks, hoping with all hope, that we would get to witness alternative UK Punk Royalty – in flesh and blood – as this indeed was how we viewed the Stranglers, thanks mostly to their debut album that had been released earlier that year and was rarely off the turntable that we shared in our grubby flat.

Mercifully the gig duly went ahead with the local fledgling Punk scene in full on attendance. A raucous night certainly ensued, and if memory serves I am sure that there was a mini – riot ( by Glasgow standards) when over excited punks rushed the stage, egged on by Jean Jacques Burnel. Who else?

The music itself was red hot and glorious, a soundtrack to our times no doubt.Yes, there was a strong whiff of violence, anger, rage etc surrounding the band and their stage presence. But let’s not kid ourselves, The Stranglers always had a sophistication and poetry that belonged more to the Doors than it had in common with say, The Clash/Pistols. In any case for Charlie and I, this was our first shot of punk live and we were instantly addicted.

As for my claim that it was a life changing experience? It truly was. After all as much as we had been mesmerised years earlier by seeing Bowie/Reed/Ferry and others grace the Glasgow stage. They came across as being from another planet. We might have worshipped them, but we could never have imagined actually trying to emulate them. That was a bridge too far even to our then speed fuelled imaginations.

Not so with the Stranglers however. Very much in line with the whole ethos of Punk Rock, they made us feel like rushing out the very next day and “seriously” starting our own bands. Which is pretty much what we did. In doing so we changed our lives… forever.

For that alone, as well as their stunning music and fiery live sets, we will always be grateful to The Stranglers. They and others like them made it possible for Simple Minds to exist.