New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

Today’s song is one of my favourite Simple Minds songs. It grabs me from the beginning synthesizer lines and percussion to the arrival of the thundering main drum kit. And yeah, there are credits to two drummers on this song on the LP… I was wondering if it was a drum machine, but, nope, a drummer. 

Drum machines, like the LM-1 and LinnDrum, were popular with many avant-garde bands in the early-to-mid-1980s, in the studio for sure, but on stage, too — though relatively rare, as audiences weren’t always as kind as they seem to be at shows nowadays (well, pre-pandemic nowadays… haven’t been at a show in a while, not since the house concert we had at ours with Alberta’s hard-working and bluesy Danielle Dayton). (And, as a side note in this side note, pandemic thoughts were vaguely stirring in Manitoba, Canada at the time of the house show and I was pretty strong in promoting the choice of hand-washing or hand sanitizing to people as they arrived and started scooping — with real scoops, yeah, not hands — snacks. Seven days later, our province was really starting beginning to shut its doors and lock down. Our musicians for that show made it safely home, and Deighton has done a couple of quarantine shows from home; props to her and all the musicians that have stepped up and played shows to their iPhones… wow… that is worth a whole side note of itself, but I’m going to put that to the side for now, or we’ll never finish here.

Back to drum machines for a second (even though they have no apparent relation to this song), if you’re a follower, you might recall me mentioning a friend’s band, called A New Man Celebration in this post, and me having been in the studio audience at a TV taping, etc. They were utterly stylish, so on-point for that time in the world. They reminded me so much of the look of the band Japan or like I’ve also mentioned before, the clothing I was mesmerized by at the David Bowie concert in Liverpool (see this post, or search for Bowie as I mention this elsewhere), and I’ll add that at that time I was a gawkish kid with what felt life life-threatening summer allergies, to grass, weeds — you know — rare stuff like that… and dressed that night in a maroon Ban-Lon top and loud, plaid, wide-leg trousers over some ridiculously booty-looking brown shoes (I honestly wish I had a picture!). 

And, okay, so, back to A New Man Celebration, my friend played the fretless bass, and the band used a drum machine (finally, I got to the point). I remember when they played that old favourite haunt of mine, The Norlander, many in the crowd shouted out at the band for not having a drummer. I was half expecting rotten vegetables to fly onto the band stage from the floor. It was kind of embarrassing. Tonight, thinking about it, I remember the singer, who had the most beautifully artistic presence on stage and an incredible bass voice, said at one point, “Ah, hecklers…” They played on through all that guff, with their adoring following there; all of us in our cool clothes at the front of the room, while the all-similarly-clad wannabe-biker crowd were surrounding us in the place. (Okay I might have embellished this very last bit of the memory, but you’ve ve gotta say, it kind of works, no?). I recently found their cassette tape and played it, immediately remembering all the sounds from my favourite song of theirs, “New Romans.”

Photo of a cassette tape case.
Cassette tape released by the 1980s avant-garde band, A New Man Celebration.

And today, looking over the cover of my copy of Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), and downloading the remaining parts of the album I didn’t already have digitally (and for some reason the iTunes Store wanted me to buy the whole album, though at 7.99 CAD which seemed a bargain in the circumstances), I had a strong recollection of how important this album was to me when it came out in 1982. At that time, I was piecing my life back together after the breakdown of what I’d call my second, serious, romantic relationship. My mates at the time, what I refer to on this blog as “friends 2.0,” were down some musical paths I started to catch up to when we got together. Simple Minds was a band that one guy in particular of our group was obsessed with and I was all in on that.

The album New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) was made just as Simple Minds were achieving massive commercial and critical success as a band. The record cover was frequently in my hands or my room leaning on the glass door of my stereo cabinet in those days as I spent many hours sitting in my chair or on my bed listening to music in solitude.

Photo of Simple Minds record album.
Album cover for Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84).

Music as you know by now has been something that’s continued to be essential in my life. Thankfully, as I think of it now, I recognized that need and when working in the most difficult of my jobs in more recent years, I bought that still-awesome iYiYi iPod dock so I could listen to music in the background a lot of the time, or when taking a break, or to keep me company each workday from when staff left promptly at 4:30 (because they had their priorities straight, but also weren’t under unrealistic expectations I shielded them from as best I could) until I had sort of caught up with my own emails at around 7:30 or 8:00 pm and went home to Sweety, with little or nothing left, but she always welcomed me home like as if we’d just gotten together.

For me, “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)” and the album of the same name remind me of the kind of friend that remains with you in the tough times; they weather well and show up even if you haven’t connected with them for a while. I don’t know what kind of marketing Simple Minds’ label did for the record, but if my post doesn’t sell you on it, I’m not sure what will. If you don’t own it, please buy it. There are so many solid songs on it: “Someone Somewhere in Summertime,” Colours Fly and Catherine Wheel,” “Promised You a Miracle,” “Big Sleep” (which I always relate for some reason with the Robert Mitchum film of the same name), “Somebody Up The Likes You,” “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84),” “Glittering Prize,” “Hunter and the Hunted,” and “King Is White and in the Crowd” – wait, I guess that’s all of them… Anyway, music loved is music worthy of owning, not just streaming. Because if bands can’t make a living, they can’t make music. I don’t want a world that doesn’t have music. Music I’ve savoured while writing to you tonight.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video for the song from Simple Minds’ official YouTube channel:

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