ALBUM: Simple Minds ‘Acoustic’


There seems to be a new trend in acoustic albums. Not since the heyday of MTV Unplugged has there been such an interest in having the hits stripped back. Status Quo are on their second and UB40 have just released their greatest hits unplugged. So it’s time for Simple Minds to shutdown their keyboards and hopefully turn the bombastic into the acoustic-fantastic.

Acoustic is a safe playlist of hits from their near 40 year old career featuring ‘The American’, ‘Alive And Kicking’, ‘(Don’t You) Forget About Me’ and a forgettable Richard Hawley cover of ‘Long Black Train’. Jim Kerr’s vocals are more whispered and have gained an extra rasp in his later years that suits this formula.  Charlie Burchill’s guitar playing is sensational, even without his trusty effects pedals. Though something seems amiss. Surely they could add some piano or maybe a cello, just to add something more dynamic. Some of the best keyboard riffs, like on ‘New Gold Dream’, would have been a treat on the piano and omitting one of their most acoustic numbers, ‘Belfast Child’, just seems crazy.  Elsewhere, the duet with KT Tunstall for ‘Promised You A Miracle’ seems more like a forced marketing affair and adds little, though Sarah Brown’s backing vocals on ‘Someone, Somewhere In Summertime’ are truly beautiful and create one of the stand-outs on the record.

This seems like an album designed to get some of that lovely Christmas dollar from their fans who loyally still pay for music, but would have preferred some new material. Most of the album’s tracks are recorded pretty much exactly as one would have expected, just the straight forward song on an acoustic guitar. Which is fine as they are great tunes, but this could have been an opportunity to play around with some of the bands classic tracks and created something of real interest. Sadly Acoustic will probably end up collecting dust in the CD collection next to their 2001 covers album, Neon Lights.
Acoustic is out now via Caroline International.

Fran Jolley