Simple Minds

Seen the Lights: A Visual History

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The evolution of Simple Minds from fresh-faced new wavesters to overblown stadium rockers takes place in relatively short order on this compilation of the band's videos; that's largely because the band's first three albums were released before promo videos were considered de rigueur. Thus, only five videos into this 26-video collection, you see the band embracing success after people realized that the band looked great on camera (except for drummer Mel Gaynor, who looks strangely wooden in the video for "Alive and Kicking") and hey, the music was pretty good too. Unfortunately, it's also when Simple Minds started taking themselves a bit too seriously, staring earnestly into the camera as if the fate of the world rested on the next thing out of Jim Kerr's mouth. When you add in concert footage featuring waving lighters, artsy black and white camera work, and political and religious imagery, much of the latter half of the collection becomes almost unbearable, especially after the band had begun its commercial slide. More interesting are some of the "extras," like the live footage from "The Old Grey Whistle Test," recorded in 1979 when the band hadn't quite found its way yet; Kerr can't seem to make his mind up as to whether he's imitating the Buzzcocks or Gary Numan, and despite the lack of polish of the band as a whole, it makes far more compelling viewing than the later videos. The second disc in the set features a concert recorded live in Verona in 1989, and fittingly, the song selection is weighted towards the overtly-political and the stadium-friendly. It's beautifully filmed and the new 5.1 surround mix sounds great, but again, it's the earlier live show (filmed in Newcastle in 1983) that is ultimately more interesting. Whatever. As a compilation, See the Lights features an awful lot of material for a reasonable price, so even if you find the later material overbearing (or, to be fair, the earlier stuff horribly affected and pretentious), there's still a lot to love about the collection.

Track Listing

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blue highlight denotes track pick