I have no doubt as to what my favourite album is. It's New Gold Dream by (THE EARLY!) Simple Minds. For the abstraction and the expanse. You know the experience when you're on a coach or a bus, coming into New York or Boston, say, and for the first time you cross over a bridge and see the whole expanse of the city? The many blocks, the twinkling lights, the vast scale of it? You feel a sense of possibilities suddenly in front of you, the feeling that you too have a place in this?
New Gold Dream evokes that moment and sustains it for 45 minutes.
It sounds incredibly shimmering, the closest that sound comes to being like light, and is a synesthenic experience, not bombastic stadium rock at all, no siree. It is the album that is most likely to make me feel better when I'm unhappy, and the album most likely to keep a feeling of happiness going when I feel that way.
So you might expect me to have my doubts as to the wisdom of an Italian rave version of the title track. Not a bit of it. Hearing the introduction slightly faster with some blips and souped up with a rhythmic undercarriage, gives me a tremendous sense of communal affirmation. Look! This music is so good that it works on a pilled-up dancefloor, too, not just in my head.
What you don't get are the lyrics, neither the heroic vagueness nor the one thing that locks the original into its specific time ("81 - 82 - 83 - 84") Instead a stentorian Eurovoice commands the listener to;
"O-PEN YOUR MIND! O-PEN YOUR MIND!"
An instruction that is repeated many many times.
Remarkably, this is not irritating, largely because the command is actually supported by the endless possibility of the music. Also, the merciful lack of elaboration comes as a relief. How many records of the early 1990s were ruined by the elucidation of half-baked philosophies of positivity? The Shamen being perhaps the most persistent offenders.
This disc both rocks and shimmies.