Simple Minds’ origins were in Biba-Rom!, a youth outfit formed by schoolmates Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Brian McGee and Tony Donald. Performing mostly covers of other artists’ material, they disbanded after leaving school but would later be reunited when Kerr and Burchill joined punks Johnny and The Self Abusers. McGee and Donald were added to the personnel in time for the group’s only single Saints and Sinners which, according to legend, was released on the same day they officially split up: divided about the increasing influence of Kerr and Burchill over the writing and direction of the band, those who objected formed The Cuban Heels while the former Biba-Rom! members started to perform as Simple Minds, briefly adding Duncan Barnwell to their line-up. Their live performances brought them to the attention of Bruce Findlay, who started to act as unofficial roadie in 1978.
Findlay was the owner of Bruce’s Record Stores and had been active on the contemporary Scottish music scene for some years, arranging festivals and finding recording deals for local punk and new wave acts. He founded Zoom Records in 1977; an early release was a single by P.V.C. 2, featuring Midge Ure, which had been created following the dissolution of Ure’s previous band Slik. The following year, Findlay secured a licencing deal with Arista and Simple Minds, joining at the right time, were to benefit from the more powerful marketing and distribution offered by the bigger label: their first single, Life In A Day, was a minor hit. By then, Barnwell and Donald had left the group and Mick MacNeil and Derek Forbes had joined, forming the first ‘permanent’ line-up.
Realizing the potential of Simple Minds, Findlay decided to wind his record company up and concentrate on managing the band. Changeling was the last single released by Zoom: although the number is an Arista one, the label gives joint credit to both companies. Thereafter, Simple Minds singles would appear on Arista although the group would keep the Zoom brand alive through to 1980 with their long-playing records. Simple Minds’ minimalist, experimental albums in the early part of 80s sold reasonably well but weren’t commercial enough to yield any further hits; they wouldn’t make the singles chart again until they quit Arista and moved to Virgin. The unsuccessful Changeling, their first single of the new decade, failed to chart and also appeared on the B-side of their final Arista single in 1981.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Jan. 25
FRANTIC ELEVATORS (Mick Hucknall) Hunchback Of Notre Dame (TJM TJM6)
SIMPLE MINDS (Jim Kerr) Changeling (Zoom ARIST325)
DEPECHE MODE See You (Mute MUTE018)
BANGLES Hazy Shade Of Winter (Def Jam BANGS3)
OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark) Dreaming (Virgin VS987)