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.
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.
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
Life In A Day
All For You
Garden Of Hate
Real To Real Cacophony
Real To Real
Citizen (Dance Of Youth)
Carnival (Shelter In A Suitcase)
Calling Your Name
Film Theme (Dub)
Premonition (Live At Hurrah’s Club, New York: 24/10/79)
Empires And Dance
Today I Died Again
This Fear Of Gods
Thirty Frames A Second
New Warm Skin
I Travel (Extended)
Sons And Fascination / Sister Feelings Call
Sons and Fascination
In Trance As Mission
Sweat In Bullet
70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall
Boys From Brazil
This Earth That You Walk Upon
Sons And Fascination
Seeing Out The Angel
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
20th Century Promised Land
Wonderful In Young Life
League Of Nations
Careful In Career
Sound In 70 Cities
The American (Extended)
League Of Nations (Live At Hammersmith Odeon, London: 25/09/81)
New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
Someone Somewhere In Summertime
Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel
Promised You A Miracle
Somebody Up There Likes You
New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
Hunter And The Hunted
King Is White And In The Crowd
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