Our Vinylist today is a man who needs very little introduction – he’s Presentation Night royalty after all. That said, we’re going to give him one anyway because by jove he deserves it. We’re very happy to welcome the one and only Mr. Francis Leach to The Vinyl Series. If you’ve seen Francis hosting one of our live shows, read one of his articles, checked out his excellent blog, or caught him on the telly on Offsiders, you’ll know he’s a rare bird. A Saint for life, Francis is a true renaissance man with a deep love of music, sport, of human behavior, books, ideas…he’s our kind of guy. From interviewing Paul Keating on Triple J to calling the A-League, from hosting Grandstand Breakfast to generally embodying the Presentation Night ethos of living a life with heart, Francis is one of our favourite humans.
It’s a long way from Broadmeadows to Glasgow, but in selecting his Qualifying Vinyl disc, Francis joins the dots, capturing the importance of music as a means of escape, a soundtrack to teenage defiance and how sounds from the other side of the world can help us find our way through our own.
Simple Minds – New Gold Dream (1982)
“Simple Minds?? They looked like they’d been dressed as extras in Blackadder II”.
My Scottish mate was scornful when I recently revealed my life long passion for those early Minds albums.
Right he was though.
All that eyeliner, the puffy shirts and high waisted,double pleated trousers. How did they survive turning out like that on the streets of Scotland in the early 80’s? I’m surprised Billy Connolly didn’t go ‘round personally and deliver them a Glasgow kiss.
Across the oceans on the suburban fringe of Melbourne, I didn’t have the inclination to raid my sister’s make up kit and get about town in fancy slacks, but I was captivated by Simple Minds “New Gold Dream” LP.
Broadmeadows in the early 80’s was a harsh place. In the summer it was all paddocks and grass fires. It was a place of squat 3 bedroom hosing commission homes set on a treeless plain, baking in the unrelenting January sun and being whipped by searing north winds.
This was a suburb that didn’t build a library for the growing army of kids who were being raised on its streets. I guess they decided we wouldn’t need one.
School ended for most at year 10, the Ford factory up the road offering a lifetime pay cheque ( how things have changed).
Welcome to the rest of your life.
For a restless kid suffocating at the prospect of that design for life, punk and new wave came crashing into my life and became my savior.
And so I armed myself with those records – Joy Division, The Bunnymen, U2, The Clash, The Jam, The Birthday Party, Simple Minds – as an act of resistance.
In the summer of 81-82, “New Gold Dream” arrived and I disappeared into it like Alice down her rabbit hole. It was a languid, lush piece of work. Captivating from the off “Someone, Somewhere in Summertime” seemed to be calling out to me..
“Somewhere there is some place that 1 million eyes can’t see, And somewhere there is someone who can see what I can see..”
Before they dropped into the gaping chasm of their own bombastic self importance that would turn them into stadium fodder, Simple Minds hit a sweet spot with “New Gold Dream..”
Up to that point they dined out on a rich diet of kraut rock, primitive electro and new wave dissonance. This album felt like a polished gem. It has an unknowing sensuality, as if they’d discovered their groove by accident.
And it was bursting with the type of optimism a young boy drowning in mundanity on the edge of suburbia needed to hear. “Glittering Prize” and “Promised You a Miracle”we’re full to the brim with the future. “everything is possible..”
Sure, the mawkish mysticism of the record now seems trite. Song titles like “King Is White And In The Crowd” and “Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel” now sound like the names of lost Yes albums.
Pompous? Yes. But we all need a dose of epic in our ordinary lives now and then, don’t we?
As I sat out that restless summer, baking in the red brick garage at the back of the house I shared with my parents and 4 siblings with my records and a shoddy stereo, I played “New Gold Dream” over and over again.
I pulled that record down over me like a veil. It kept the world beyond my door at bay and gave me an escape route into a future full of promise and wonder, a dreamscape of possibility.
And we didn’t do dreams in Broady.
Like all great records, “New Gold Dream” is embedded in my DNA now. I hear it and I can still catch the tremor of excitement it generated when first hearing it.
It reminds me it’s ok to dream, that even now, “everything is possible.”