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Simple MindsEmpires And Dance

Genre:Electronic, Rock
Style:New Wave
Year:

Tracklist

I Travel3:56
Today I Died Again4:39
Celebrate5:03
This Fear Of Gods7:00
Capital City6:14
Constantinople Line4:44
Twist/Run/Repulsion4:38
Thirty Frames A Second5:14
Kant-Kino1:50
Room2:30

Credits (14)

Versions

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76 versions
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Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Repress
Zoom Records – SPART 1140UK1980UK1980
Recently Edited
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Stereo
Arista – 202 863, Arista – 202 863-320Germany1980Germany1980
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Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Stereo
Arista – I-202 863Spain1980Spain1980
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Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album
Cinram pressing
Sire – SIM 3Canada1980Canada1980
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Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album
Arista – 202863Netherlands1980Netherlands1980
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album
Arista – SBLL 6135New Zealand1980New Zealand1980
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980-09-27, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Stereo
Zoom Records – SPART 1140UK1980UK1980
Recently Edited
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album
Zoom Records – ARS 39081Italy1980Italy1980
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980-09-27, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album
Arista – 5202 863Portugal1980Portugal1980
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album
Arista – L 37496, Arista – SPART 1140Australia1980Australia1980
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album
CBS Records pressing
Sire – SIM 3Canada1980Canada1980
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Repress, Stereo
Zoom Records – SPART 1140UK1980UK1980
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980-09-27, CassetteEmpires And Dance
Cassette, Album
Zoom Records – TCART 1140UK1980UK1980
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, CassetteEmpires And Dance
Cassette, Album
Arista – 402863France1980France1980
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, CassetteEmpires And Dance
Cassette, Album, Stereo
Arista – C 37496, Arista – C37496Australia1980Australia1980
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980-09-27, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Stereo
Virgin – V 2247Italy1980Italy1980
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1980, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album
Virgin – 204 937, Arista – 204-937-320Germany1980Germany1980
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Reissue
Virgin – V 2247UK1982UK1982
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Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Reissue
Virgin – 204 937, Virgin – 204 937-320Europe1982Europe1982
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album
Virgin – 202863, Zoom Records – 202863France1982France1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Reissue
Virgin – V 2247Italy1982Italy1982
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Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Stereo
Virgin – VG 50033, Virgin – 062 - VG 50033, Virgin – SPART 1140
+1 more label...
Greece1982Greece1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Reissue
Virgin – OVED 211, Virgin – 204937UK1982UK1982
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Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Reissue
Virgin – VL 2245Canada1982Canada1982
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Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, CassetteEmpires And Dance
Cassette, Album, Reissue
Virgin – TC-VG 50033Greece1982Greece1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Reissue
Virgin – V 2247Australia1982Australia1982
Recently Edited
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album
Zoom Records – 202863, Arista – 202863France1982France1982
Recently Edited
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Repress
Virgin – V 2247Finland1982Finland1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires and Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires and Dance
LP, Album, Reissue
Virgin
Virgin – V-2247New Zealand1982New Zealand1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, CassetteEmpires And Dance
Cassette, Album, Reissue
Virgin – VK7 2247Italy1982Italy1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Reissue, Stereo
Virgin – V 2247UK1982UK1982
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, CassetteEmpires And Dance
Cassette, Album, Reissue
Virgin – VL4 2245Canada1982Canada1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires and Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires and Dance
LP, Album, Reissue
RTC
Virgin – V-2247New Zealand1982New Zealand1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, CassetteEmpires And Dance
Cassette, Album, Reissue
Dolby
Virgin – TCV 2247UK1982UK1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Reissue
Virgin – 204 937-320, Virgin – 204 937Europe1982Europe1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires and Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires and Dance
LP, Album, Reissue
RTC
Virgin – V-2247New Zealand1982New Zealand1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1982, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Promo, Reissue
Virgin – V 2247Australia1982Australia1982
New Submission
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1984, VinylEmpires And Dance
LP, Album, Reissue
Virgin – 70054, Zoom Records – 70054France1984France1984
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1984, CassetteEmpires And Dance
Cassette, Album, Reissue
Virgin – OVEDC 211UK1984UK1984
Cover of Empires And Dance, 1984, CassetteEmpires And Dance
Cassette, Album, Reissue
Virgin – 50054France1984France1984
Recently Edited
RokkoFB's avatar
RokkoFB
How does the remaster sound? Is it brickwalled? Who's got spec reports.
RokkoFB's avatar
RokkoFB
How does the remaster sound? Is it brickwalled? Who's got spec reports?
Tuaam's avatar
Tuaam
My copy doesn't sound too great, also has this weird non-beveled lip which extends one side of the record. Also very flexibe.
Ubangistomp's avatar
Ubangistomp
It was all down hill from here.
There was an A1 B1 of this too with WEBB’S WONDER CUT! etched on Side 2
postpunkmonk's avatar
postpunkmonk
I still stand in awe of what Simple Minds achieved on this, their third album. Album one was a misfire by inexperienced boys led astray by the sum of their manipulative label and their callow enthusiasm. The second album had been a sharp turn left into completely different atmospheres and methodologies that left the mainstream - much less conventional song structure, far behind. This is an album that consolidates their recent experience and travels forward to build a coherent, if frightening world. There are few albums during my time listening to music that I can say that about. And they seem to all be made by Scotsmen, for what it’s worth. It manages the neat trick of having influences and synthesizing something unique and startling from them; even if you can see the occasional thread pointing its way back to a recognizable seed of germination.

The first thing noticeable about the album is its distinctive cover that literally shows the sun setting on the signifier of an empire. The stolid RAF colonel had seen better days. His attempt at dignity was undermined by the large chips missing from his head and hat. His very British upper lip was still stiff [being stone, how could it be otherwise?], but he’d be lying if he didn’t know that his days were somehow numbered. The typography was clean and modern; Gill Sans Regular, but with the letters “N” and “R” reversed, lending the design more than a hint of a Cyrillic, Soviet underpinning.

The band had just hit The Continent for their “Real To Real Cacophony” tour in 1979 that saw them playing in Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, as well as their traditional UK venues. They even played a few sets in America, as captured on the live “Premonition” B-sides to “Changeling” recorded at Hurrah in New York City. Their perspectives were immeasurably widened by these experiences. Seeing Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall while en route to gigs at the club Kant-Kino left impressions of a larger, stranger world.

“I was twenty, and I looked around me. We had the talent always to be in the place where the neo-Nazis exploded another bomb. Bologna, a synagogue in Paris, a railway station in Munich. Don’t tell me anything like that could leave you unmoved.” – Jim Kerr

Elsewhere, the seed of their future were sown when Ross Stapleton of Virgin Records was in a German club and heard “Premonition” slinking out of its sound system. Three weeks later, he saw them live at the Lyceum in February of 1980 and became determined to sign this band to his label. The band weren’t meeting with much success with Arista at this time. Their label were so over Simple Minds that they would only press up their third album in small batches of 15,000 copies at a time, leading to shortages in the shops. It was a self-fulfilling prophesy of doom, even after Arista returned to the till another two times after the first and second pressings had sold out. Clearly, some people were hearing Simple Minds… and liking what they’d heard.

While they were not troubling the charts much, that’s not to say that clubs were unresponsive to their wares. As the 70s rolled into the 80s, British club culture saw the Cult With No Name responding to angular, synth-heavy dance music. New Romantic movers and shakers like drummer/DJ Rusty Egan had added Simple Minds tracks to his playlist at the clubs of the moment like Blitz, which took 1979 by storm. The third Simple Minds album would arrive during a perfect storm moment that would see exactly the brand of music that Simple Minds were now making become far more popular than Arista, in their limited perspective of chart pop could ever see happening.

The third Simple Minds album would be issued in 1980 and at that point, the band ceased to be derivative followers of Roxy Music, David Bowie, and Doctors Of Madness. At this time they took steps across the threshold of creating a new dynamism fusing funk, oppressive atmospheres, Krautrock trance rhythms, and a wildly inventive subversion of traditional melody and song structure into a fusion that was starkly new. The stage had been set.

Track one of this album is my go-to Post-Punk song, so yes, it’s one of my most treasured songs ever. “I Travel” is perhaps the most left-field song ever inspired by the seminal “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer. Among others. Not content to merely dabble in Moroderesque sequencer lines, the band also took a page from the books of Bowie and Kraftwerk to create the sound of Europe disintegrating to the sound of a runaway locomotive… or were those marching boots? The rhythms here were as hard and uncompromising as anything Kraftwerk achieved on “Trans Europa Express” with McGee’s drums slamming in syncopation with MacNeil’s synthesizers, but the overall vibe was more frenzied and explosive than the monolithic dread [more on that, later] that Bowie attained on “Station To Station.” This was the “all guns blazing” opener to end all such openers. So much happens in this track it’s almost necessary to suggest that the sequencers in the intro can be said to presage acid house rhythms almost a decade prior.

Derek Forbes mutated the distinctive sequencer line from the Moroder classic into a baseline that was just as repetitive for being played by hand. Burchill’s guitar was tremoloed almost into oblivion to provide the textural riffs that counterpoint the squalling solo in the song’s bridge. The sound here was one of continual shock and excitement by a band with nothing holding them back. The first time I heard this was when I bought my copy of “Empires + Dance” in 1983 and placed the needle on side one with the track in my beloved AKG studio headphones. It was so immediately bracing that I immediately re-cued the record to hear that amazing intro one more time before letting the side play out.

Jim Kerr took vocal command as he was finally settled into his role as vocalist here with kaleidoscopic lyrics and stentorian vocals that reflected the band’s recent travels in Europe prior to recording. The lyric “airports playing Brian Eno” was just icing on the cake. It’s hard to imagine the band getting more assured production than John Leckie provided for the third and last time here. The ideas exploding from this record could have hardly been bettered if Brian Eno or Conny Plank had been at the helm instead.

After that monumental and breathless opener, the energy level of the album dialed down to build a monolithic arc of dread and decay, redolent of statue on the record’s cover. “Today I Died Again” featured Derek Forbes on fretless bass predominating the methodically paced number that bristled with the dread echoed in Burchill’s droning guitars that were absolutely static, in spite of the song’s shambling rhythms. Kerr’s phased vocals on the chorus never quite managed to penetrate the membrane between him and the rest of the song, resulting in ghostly echoes that mirrored the song’s preoccupation with the wheel of karma.

If that song was methodical and foreboding, then the next one hit a sweet spot between the frenetic “I Travel” and the lurching “Today I Died Again.” “Celebrate” was the closest the album came to getting a bit of swing; that being down to Forbes lively walking bass line. The relentless, claustrophobic, rhythms of McGee were abetted by MacNeil’s syncopated three-note synth hook as he operated fully in rhythm mode. Kerr’s stentorian vocals recalled Bryan Ferry at his most commanding. The song’s rhythmic lockstep was blurred by the song’s end when an asynchronous beat was introduced in the the song to create a rhythmic interference pattern that reflected the elements of tension in the song as in a hall of mirrors.

Then the song that has come to define the album in my ears appeared at the end of side one. “This Fear Of Gods” opened with a simple chime. Then the relentless, looped synth figure began and trilling, insect synths competed in the periphery of the mix with shaker percussion from McGee. Burchill blew a purely textural saxophone here with results not a million miles away from side two of “Heroes.” The groove began with regimented assurance and didn’t falter. The repetition was prodigious. When the first chorus occurred halfway through the 7:00 running time it was shocking. Burchill’s guitar was heavily treated to merge seamlessly with the sharp shards of synths that MacNeil added to the mix to create a colossus of dread like few things I’ve heard.

The low BPM of the track could not be in starker contrast to how the album began, but each have their respective powers. The former was a headlong, amphetamine rush that threatened to careen out of control while adroitly skirting the edge of chaos for maximum thrills and the latter was a slowly building, trance inducing trip of immense and monumental power. This thing [I can’t quite call it a song] exerted an almost voodoo like power over the listener, and wisely, the band let it play out for a long 7:00 running time. An entity this formidable needed sufficient time to accrue its full impact.

Kerr sounded like a man possessed here as he intoned the unsettling and abstract lyrics that fully managed to convey the sense that something terrifying was happening and the listener was powerless to stop it. His delivery of the lyrics was just as repetitive as the music and he brilliantly repeated and refracted the lyrics to fit the meter of the music.

“Hear a voice and see no angel
Hear a voice and see no angel
Hero
See no
Hear and see no
Hear a voice and see no angel” – This Fear Of Gods

He achieved an almost shamanistic effect on this album as hewas smart enough to curtail the lyrics down the bone if necessary for the song. The willingness of members of Simple Minds to subordinate their egos to create something of this enormous collective power was perhaps their secret weapon that allowed them to reach heights that their peers could not begin to touch. This album proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt as it let the rhythm section dominate the proceedings as the melodic instruments took an extremely subordinate role of providing textural juxtapositions. As this song faded with its chanted coda of “I’m back on black,” to the muted squalls of Burchill’s sax, this listener was now left somewhat drained as side one came to its conclusion. Keep in mind that’s after 37 years of listening to this record. It’s power for me has only increased with time …and repetition, of course!

Following the slow-paced, monumental “This Fear Of Gods” came the first song on side two that was even slower, and more deliberate. “Capital City” was based on a four note bass line sequence that was repeated for the song’s entire 6:15 running time! Often without any drums present in the mix for long measures at aa time. On this track, Simple Minds took deliberate pacing to new extremes. Kerr did not enter the song until over a minute into its length. The lyrics once again invoked cities and train travel albeit much more minimally than in “I Travel,” which represented the urgent opposite extreme of pacing on this largely methodical album.

“Constantinople Line” continued the theme with the most explicitly rail travel oriented song in this collection. Kerr’s lyrics were as dramatically straight forward as they had yet ever been here, with the lyrics consisting largely of dialogue between a bourgeois traveler [possibly a Western journalist] and the wait staff of the train he is riding, in flight from a possible political revolution. The whiff of the Soviet Union and the Domino Theory hung over this unsettling number like a pall of red smoke. Kerr masterfully matched the meter of the music with the lyrical coda below.

“Constantinople.
Red.
Red star.
Red.
Constantinople.
Red.
Red star.
Red.” – Constantinople Line

As the song faded out, train sound effects similar to those that were used in the introduction of David Bowie’s “Station To Station” were briefly heard before the track trailed off to nothing, then a heavily reverberant “clunk” was heard, following which, the most atypical Simple Minds song ever began.

“Twist/Run/Repulsion” was a breathtaking, almost chaotic number with almost no melody to speak of that took the already extreme repetition of the album into new realms of radicalism. The song was built on a circular bass line that dropped out of the song for a measure at a time with Burchill’s guitar reduced to a single chord, played strictly for rhythmic impetus. The tempo was a return to the freneticism of “I Travel” with none of that song’s positivism. This was a song of frayed nerves and extreme anxiety that consisted of two separate vocal lines juxtaposed over the busy rhythm bed.

The first vocal interlude, was a woman reciting French words [actually from the pen of Russian writer Nicolas Gogol – “La Perspective Nevski”] over the rhythm bed while the saxophone of Charlie Burchill accentuates the bass rhythms with what sound like subtle peals of laughter in the mix. The result was nightmarish, yet somehow exhilarating. It sounded like a kind of Beat Jazz gone terribly wrong. After several measures of this, then Kerr’s vocals replaced the French dictation in the mix. Kerr recited [rapped?] a methodical, seemingly free-form flow that acted as a form of percussion to the already melody-free music. Then, it started again and repeated, with the French recitation followed once again by Kerr. The jarring sequence was repeated a third time before the song finally ended abruptly with a slurred, reverberated halt.

After the bracing track, the listener was rewarded with one of the finest songs on the album and one which pointed the way forward for the band, out of the Eastern Bloc claustrophobia which had dominated the sound of this astonishing album. “Thirty Frames A Second” was a single begging for release from the album, but alas, it only reached the public in a live rendition on the B-side of the late 1980 re-issue of “I Travel” once Arista thought that people were beginning to pay attention to the band. Naturally, the song had a compulsive bass line since Derek Forbes was constructing relentless bass lines as if his life depended on them by this time. McGee provided an arrhythmic backbeat which was compulsively addictive, but the cherry on the top of this song was the evasive synth line that wended its way across the skies of this song from Mike MacNeil. After the previous track, the melody seemed to be bursting with vitality, even though the song’s lyrics were as dark and introverted as anything else on the album.

After this final peak, the album had its instrumental coda in the contemplative and dub-like instrumental “Kant-Kino,” named for the Berlin club where the band were then regulars. It seemed to be a dub mix of the coda of the previous song as the two were segued together. Then came “Room,” the lurching finale to the challenging and ultimately rewarding album. The lyrics hinted of blood, razors, and murder in the most oblique way possible, while the music had dizzy dub interludes where the foundation of the song lost its stability while ultimately regaining its composure for the placid fade out.

It’s hard to believe it now, but Peter Gabriel was so impressed with “Real To real Cacophony” that he asked Simple Minds to be his opening act for his 1980 tour behind his astonishing third album so that they were touring “Empires + Dance” while the headliner was pushing his equally uncompromising and expansive breakthrough album on the same bill. I can hardly believe that it was once possible to see and hear two such acts who were at their respective artistic peaks simultaneously! What I would have given to have seen either act in the Fall of 1980!

The injection of cash and the patronage of one of their heroes hopefully offset the hostility they received from Gabriel’s Prog-minded audience who were obviously deaf to the absolutely progressive music being proffered by Simple Minds at this time. Sad to say, but the tour was an exercise in abuse and hostility from Gabriel’s audience. If their relationship with their touring audience was a case of pearls before swine, the relationship the band had with their label was worse, and coming to a head. Arista only reluctantly released the album at all, and were sorely disappointed in their signing from a year earlier. After creating an album that was clearly their most successful and idiosyncratic offering yet, it was time for things to change for Simple Minds if they were to continue. They were not getting the label oxygen needed to support them and they obviously still had much more to give at this point. At that point, Virgin Records came calling.
Only_Mint's avatar
Only_Mint
No pictures, no matrices. Just lame. If you're going to be a 'contributor', contribute something of value that can't be found on any Wikipedia site.
trex82's avatar
trex82
Underrated album.Very enjoyable record.Such a cool band.Band was very productive.4/5
G6rgen's avatar
G6rgen
Can u merge it? I don't get it. Instructions too poor.
tretmineninspektor's avatar
Their earlier music (Beginning with Empires And Dance, ending with New Gold Dream) is some of the most underrated and amazing music out of the "New Wave" era. Empires And Dance as well as Sons And Fascination showcases Simple Minds at the pinnacle of their creative work.
loveincorporation's avatar
"this fear of gods" is still epic!