Simple Minds – ‘X5’ UK/EU CD Box Set (Virgin, SMBOX2 / 50999 956473 2 6, 2012)

Bang for buck, in a world that has seen a proliferation of Simple Minds box sets and re-issues in numerous varieties (from budget no frills to kitchen sink ‘n’ all), this modest set from 2012, ‘X5’, was an instant go-to when announced.

Simple Minds 'X5' CD Box Set edition - box front
^ Simple Minds ‘X5’ CD Box Set edition – box front

Gathering together the first five Simple Minds albums (should be six if you count the pair from 1981 separately) with a small selection of bonus tracks on each and simplified facsimiles of the original cover art, it was a budget proposition when released but one which soon disappeared from the shelves and for which you might well be asked reasonable sums for now if you were to need a copy. The replica sleeves are just the outer sleeves and there is no accompanying booklet – but as a way to scoop up those early, seminal albums and good deal of bonus B side and extended mixes, you can’t go wrong with this set – it’s a pity it has not remained on catalogue longer.

Simple Minds 'X5' CD Box Set edition - box rear
^ Simple Minds ‘X5’ CD Box Set edition – box rear

My tastes for Simple Minds centred first and foremost on the 80-81-82 era, so no surprises that those albums are the ones that I have tended to track down on CD over the years – and learned to live with how Virgin/EMI worked the back catalogue. ‘Sons and Fascination’/‘Sister Feelings Call’ was the first stop, a CD edition that was first issued in 1985 (though came much later for me) and was initially something of a mixed bag, since it attempted to cram two albums on one disk back in an era where the maximum possible CD durations were more limited – hence a couple of tracks were culled from the ‘Sister Feelings Call’ tracks (‘League Of Nations’ and ‘Sound In 70 Cities’). Other than this CD, the other early album CD editions didn’t make any attempt at adding bonus material, just the original album tracks.

2002 saw a CD re-issue programme that packaged up the Simple Minds Artist/Virgin era albums in replica mini-LP sleeves – and a nice job was made of them too by and large. Again, these editions just stuck to the original album tracklistings and didn’t attempt to add anything in the way of bonus tracks – the outlier being once again ‘Sons and Fascination’/‘Sister Feelings Call’, where advances in CD technology now meant that all tracks from the two original vinyl albums could be fitted onto one CD, coming packaged in a miniature gatefold cover.

The other Simple Mind boxed set I had rushed out to buy at the time was ‘Silver Box’, issued in 2004. This came along at a time when the Simple Minds reputation had been somewhat rehabilitated, its fair to say, and their earlier work in particular had been given a pardon that might have seemed unthinkable from certain quarters of the media in earlier times. I find the selection a bit frustrating, but that might just because I have a more limited attention span for the eras I like – I could certainly do without the ‘1985-1991’ and ‘1991-1995’ live discs, for instance. The early period discs though managed to cram in a lot of hitherto unreleased takes, culled from album demo and radio sessions, including amongst others ‘Life In Oils’, a ‘Sons and Fascination’ era track that never made the cut for either of 1981’s pair of albums.

Some of the other tracks that might otherwise have been considered as bonus tracks, for example the ‘Seeing Out The Angel’ (Instrumental) version, have appeared on some of the super-deluxe box sets – ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’ has been given the multi-disc box set treatment in 2016. Frustratingly (for me, anyway), there has yet to be such a multi-disc box set for ‘Sons and Fascination’/‘Sister Feelings Call’ – hence, that live version of ‘Premonition’ from the doublepack 7″ set for ‘Sweat In Bullet’ remains unreleased on CD to this day, as far as I am aware.

The other re-issue programme that I picked away at when I could was ‘Themes’ – but rather than the neat box set editions, I picked up individual CD singles instead (since they had facsimiles of the original cover designs in most cases, as opposed to the multi-disc sets) – likely to visit these at some future point, but on these releases you can find some of the stray versions that were previously elusive on CD format before this series came along. But there were some odd choices that frustrated the version crazy in me – for example, choosing the album mix of ‘Celebrate’ as opposed to either the extended 12” mix or 7” edit.

And as for those those bonus tracks on ‘X5’… well, the earlier albums have less to choose from, for sure. In general, the bonus tracks tend to focus on B sides and 12″ mixes. The latter in particular was welcome, since tracks such as the extended remix of ‘Celebrate’ had been absent on the ‘Themes’ sets. A general rule appears to be that the 7″ edits/remixes are overlooked for inclusion – of which, your mileage may vary regarding their appeal. However, for completists, these can be tracked down on other releases, compilations, such as ‘ Celebrate (The Greatest Hits)’ from 2013 and most recently ’40: The Best Of 1979-2019?, from 2019, should you need them.

Its worth noting that the box set uses the 2002 remasters for the main album tracks with new 2012 remasters for all of the bonus tracks. The sleeve designs are simple, single card affairs – if your thing is a miniature replica of the originals (or near as), you are better off looking for the 2002 CD re-issues by and large.

Life In A Day

Simple Minds 'Life In A Day' 'X5' CD Box Set edition - card sleeve front
^ Simple Minds ‘Life In A Day’ ‘X5’ CD Box Set edition – card sleeve front

Life In A Day
Sad Affair
All For You
Pleasantly Disturbed
No Cure
Chelsea Girl
Murder Story

Bonus Tracks:

Special View
Garden Of Hate

Real To Real Cacophony

Simple Minds 'Real To Real Cacophony' 'X5' CD Box Set edition - card sleeve front
^ Simple Minds ‘Real To Real Cacophony’ ‘X5’ CD Box Set edition – card sleeve front

Real To Real
Naked Eye
Citizen (Dance Of Youth)
Carnival (Shelter In A Suitcase)
Film Theme
Calling Your Name

Bonus Tracks:

Film Theme (Dub)
Premonition (Live At Hurrah’s Club, New York: 24/10/79)

Empires And Dance

Simple Minds 'Empires and Dance' 'X5' CD Box Set edition - card sleeve front
^ Simple Minds ‘Empires and Dance’ ‘X5’ CD Box Set edition – card sleeve front

I Travel
Today I Died Again
This Fear Of Gods
Capital City
Constantinople Line
Thirty Frames A Second

Bonus Tracks:

New Warm Skin
I Travel (Extended)
Celebrate (Extended)

Sons And Fascination / Sister Feelings Call

Simple Minds 'Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call' 'X5' CD Box Set edition - card sleeve front
^ Simple Minds ‘Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call’ ‘X5’ CD Box Set edition – card sleeve front

Sons and Fascination

In Trance As Mission
Sweat In Bullet
70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall
Boys From Brazil
Love Song
This Earth That You Walk Upon
Sons And Fascination
Seeing Out The Angel

Bonus Tracks:

Sweat In Bullet (Extended Remix)
In Trance As Mission (Live At Hammersmith Odeon, London: 25/09/81)
This Earth That You Walk Upon (Instrumental)

Sister Feelings Call

Theme For Great Cities
The American
20th Century Promised Land
Wonderful In Young Life
League Of Nations
Careful In Career
Sound In 70 Cities

Bonus Tracks:

The American (Extended)
League Of Nations (Live At Hammersmith Odeon, London: 25/09/81)

New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

Simple Minds 'New Gold Dream' 'X5' CD Box Set edition - card sleeve front
^ Simple Minds ‘New Gold Dream’ ‘X5’ CD Box Set edition – card sleeve front

Someone Somewhere In Summertime
Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel
Promised You A Miracle
Big Sleep
Somebody Up There Likes You
New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
Glittering Prize
Hunter And The Hunted
King Is White And In The Crowd

Bonus Tracks:

Promised You A Miracle (Extended)
Glittering Prize (Club Mix)
Someone Somewhere In Summertime (Extended)
Soundtrack For Every Heaven
New Gold Dream (German 12″ Remix)
In Every Heaven

4 Replies to “Simple Minds – ‘X5’ UK/EU CD Box Set (Virgin, SMBOX2 / 50999 956473 2 6, 2012)”

  1. The fact that this went out of print blindingly fast was supremely annoying to me…and I pre-ordered one! But it’s so unfair to the many who missed out. But the price was right, and getting tracks like “New Warm Skin” and “Film Theme [Dub]” in beyond flexi fidelity was a joyous occasion. Not to mention that “Celebrate” 12″ mix. As clumsy as it was. And you’re right. The 1981 “Premonition” live is MIA on CD. And “Sweat In Bullet” was my 1st Simple Minds purchase, and therefore my first “Premonition.” What an amazing song. It’s their first truly great track.

    I bought the 1985 “Sons + Fascination” CD and then upgraded to the 2002 for the full album effect. The 5×5 version will stand as the best yet. Since the Sons/Sister era was a double album, the notion is that a SDLX box of the 1981 era is deemed unlikely. Everything they recorded was released, they said. But then , they said the same thing about Ultravox’s “Vienna,” and they managed to squeeze a SDLX box out of those tapes. So who who’s what to believe. As you mention, “Life In Oils” managed to sneak out decades later in the frustrating “Silver Box.” Which looked more like a grey box! Was that not the dingiest looking package you’d ever seen? Even with the demos of the early era, that box was a huge disappointment to me. As if I ever wanted to hear another note from ’85-91! And at that cost.

    I bought all of the [expensive, especially as imports] “Themes” boxes but they managed to err numerous times with missing, incorrect tracks sourced. I never bothered with the repress as I’d already invested $200 in the set I already had! I never bothered with the 5th volume. No point.

    And my favorite SM album of all is “Empires + Dance.” I’d melt for a 5 x disc set of that one.
    • Disc 1 – album + B-sides/mixes [inc. 2014 “I Travel”]
    • Disc 2 – live album
    • Disc 3 – John Leckie 5.1 remix DVD [I’m tired of Steven Wilson and Leckie did a fantastic remix of “I Travel” recently]
    • Disc 4 – John Leckie 2.0 mix
    • Disc 5 – demo recordings

    I’m non-plussed with the “5×5 Live” 3xLP set coming out for RSD [even in America!!]. The CDs are unbeatable and I don’t buy SM records just to collect them. I’m more pragmatic, even though they are one of my very top bands. In spite of the stadium years.

  2. Well, I knew it had a shorter than desired shelf-life, but that is disappointing to hear just how scarce it must have been! ‘Premonition’ – absolutely one of their best and that bassline from Mr Forbes… something else. I hear what you say about the ‘Sons and Fascination box and that makes sense… even so, I can dream! I’ll pass on the RSD 5×5 Live vinyl, happy enough with the CD set… it was the last tour I saw them live to date, hearing the likes of ‘This Fear Of Gods’ and ‘Thirty Frames A Second’ was a pleasure, for sure. ‘Silver Box’… disappointing indeed, for the price…

  3. I really should have gone it massive debt to attend several 5×5 shows! A top regret of mine, along with the Foxx Roundhouse show. But at least when I saw them in Washington D.C. in 2013, on a seven date US tour of “greatest hits,” they managed to slip “This Fear Of Gods” into the set list! Every muscle at the base of every hair was on high alert.

  4. Always a difficult one, whether to spend large to attend… missed out on a few things and not had the chance again, then other times it was a good call not to… or just wasn’t possible, through circumstances… Gang Of Four are an act that have forever eluded me to date, they are on the road in the States right now though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.