Thursday, February 25, 2021

Song of the Day: 'Alive and Kicking' by Simple Minds

I fell in love with "Promised You a Miracle" the first time I heard it, but it wasn't until I saw an episode of AXS TV's "The Top 10 Revealed" did I learn the back story behind Simple Minds' biggest hit. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" was written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff, the latter of whom was a guitarist for Nina Hagen. (He also co-wrote her biggest hit, "New York / N.Y.") Apparently the duo was a fan of Simple Minds and wrote the song with the band in mind while composing the score for "The Breakfast Club."

According to Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr, the band declined the track as they were in the habit of only recording their own material: "We are Simple Minds -- we don't do songs that sound like Simple Minds." Bryan Ferry, Billy Idol and Cy Curnin of the Fixx then all turned it down. (According to Wikipedia, the record company suggested Corey Hart, who had a hit at the time with "Sunglasses at Night", but Forsey did not think Hart would be right for the song.)

But with a little prodding from their record label and Kerr's then-wife (Chrissie Hynde), the band, of course, did give it a go. According to one account, the band rearranged and recorded the song in three hours and promptly forgot about it, believing that it would be a throwaway song on the soundtrack to a forgettable movie. (The single would become a global hit and their signature song, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985.)

One of the reasons they relented was because they were desperate to conquer the U.S. market, where they had never even hit the lower echelon of the charts. What I find heartening about this tale of "selling out" is that it did, in fact, jumpstart their career rather than being another "Take My Breath Away." (Look up how many hits Berlin had after that one!) Probably because "Don't You" really did capture who Simple Minds were at that moment -- for better or worse, as they were now a decade into their career -- the band wound up hitting the Top 40 again with "Sanctify Yourself," "All the Things She Said," "Belfast Child" and today's SOTD, "Alive and Kicking." 


Stephen said...

I love this song.

Backing Track said...

It should be mentioned that the female voice is Robin Clark who is also heard in David Bowie's Young American backing vocals.