Simple Minds: Up On The Catwalk
his column often provides a wonderful outlet for the expression of irreplaceable personal moments, inseparably linked to whichever unlikely and possibly inappropriate piece of audio accompaniment was merrily emitting at the time. Sometimes it can serve as an opening for highbrow discussion of social and philosophical trends as projected through a musical lens, nudging intellectual posturing in new and exciting directions.
Or it could be filled with some twaddle about a song you’ve probably forgotten, which is only being featured because it contains a vocal performance heavily influenced by someone continually bumping into an overly warm radiator.
Hello, I’d like to talk about “Up On The Catwalk” by Simple Minds.
Let’s not dwell on where or how I stumbled over a double CD Simple Minds ‘best of’, nor why the second half of this menagerie is stuffed with such unmitigated dross (excused: “She’s a River” for the unashamed bombast and “Belfast Child” for ripping off “She Moves Through The Fair” quite well). No, let’s not do that. Let’s see why this song should be a part of YOUR life—in the slightly tedious form of a three-part list. It’s like a classically Stalinesque plan. Minus two.
1. Tormenting Aquatic Mammals
There’s no denying it. The almighty snare thwack which opens this cacophony can only have been made by catapulting a medium-sized sperm whale against a massive sheet of plastic stretched between a couple of handy oil rigs. This was a premeditated act, and frankly I think Chrissie Hynde should be informed. In the hyper-condensed children’s television of the future, remit-fulfilling historical featurettes about 1980s stadium rock will be summarised simply by playing this sound.
2. Mending the Keyboards
“Promised You A Miracle” sounded like the musical equivalent of a plastic cereal freebie; the kind of crap you couldn’t even be bothered throwing at an unwitting sibling. It may have spun, it was probably a film tie-in, it was flimsy shite. By “Up On The Catwalk” we’ve happily moved on to shrinky-dink territory—there’s novelty, debatable levels of fun and, most importantly, it involves sticking stuff in the oven and THE POWER OF SCIENCE. That’s what the real Breakfast Club were up to. Anyway. Two roles are admirably performed—some massive chords which help Free Willy open the song with considerable aplomb whilst simultaneously defining an era, and weird tootling noises which form the glittering game show wheel behind...
3. That Curious Yelp
I can’t even begin to speculate who it was that decided Mr Kerr’s performance would be improved by periodically giving him a fearsome wedgie, but God bless that person. Probably the Whale Protection League, or something.
Up on the catWOOAHlk. It brings me joy every single time.
And just what *is* he going on about? I know it seems churlish to analyse the proclamations of anyone in the midst of being assaulted by their own undergarments, but questions need to be asked all the same. Does ‘the catwalk’ represent life itself? How did he manage to give Michelangelo that many syllables? Dear god, is he really going to go through all one thousand names which spring up in his mind?
No, just five—bonus points for the unorthodox pairing of Nastassja Kinski with Martin Luther though. That’s like Scooby pulling off the mask to reveal it was about sex and religion all along.
Look. A whale may have died in order to make this record. Respect for our ocean-bound cousins demands that we at least give it some passing interest.