Just right from the off it’s FUNK (not just with a capital F) There’s no fade up…we’re just – BANG! – in! Everything is funky…even the keyboards. Charlie has a short, shrift riff. Derek’s bass is funky as all hell.
That keyboard funk though…and then Jim’s amazingly fragmented lyrics. The way he writes on Sons And Fascination and Sister Feelings Call is just…phenomenal. Every song has such depth, such emotion, such complexity…yet his words are fragmented, for the most part. He has an even more obvious Burroughs type technique than even David Bowie! But from what I read and have learned, Jim didn’t actually consciously employ the Burroughs technique. (For those unaware of what I am referring to…the Burroughs Technique refers to a way in which David Bowie wrote songs in the period of the mid 70s….the technique was most notably employed on his Diamond Dogs album – the technique involves cutting up song lines and rearranging them as a way of stimulating ideas and formulating a different way of storytelling…a technique reputedly used by William S. Burroughs to form plots and write chapters and books.)
Although Jim’s lyrics are fragmented, the songs remain linear. A Kerr song still makes sense. A Bowie song can by absolute gobbledegook and not only be fragmented but make no sense at all. Or at least, if not make any sense, be meaningless. Hmm. Perhaps that’s incorrect of me. Because songs that make no sense can still have meaning – or at least be emotive. Certainly Bowie’s songs have meaning even when making no sense (to me)!
Airmobility – what??
Dressability – pardon??
Tranquil – a real word! Lol
You’ll never meet again – thank God, cos you’re f***ing with my mind, mate! Lol
Eyes small – same to you, mate!
Take another fine walk – I might just do that!
Expose – hello!
Society can gain – this is getting more random.
(I’m being ridiculously flippant, here!)
And so on it goes. But all those fragments end up making sense together. As he often did then, he’s writing about ambition…with mystery, sensuality (the “rolling and tumbling” lines always sound like a “roll in the hay” to me…alluding to sex). Female ambition “SHE’S sweating bullets”. Female ambition through exploitative sex? But who’s being exploited?
Rolling and tumbling
Ambition in motion
Rolling and tumbling
She’s sweating bullets
Grow in size
Grow in fame
Elements of the lyrics remind me of Iggy Pop’s Ambition – a song from his 1980 album Soldier. One of my very favourites of his, and that was long before I realised Jim and Co perform backing vocals on another track on the album – Play It Safe (or as the track listing had it on a copy I used to own on CD – Play It Sale!).
Ambition is written from a female angle:
I’m the kind of girl
I want that whole wide world
Nothing more, nothing less
I don’t want second best…
But they must be kidding
Or wishful thinking
Adding fuel to the fire
Of my ambition
I’ll make a date
Oh no I won’t be late
And why of course he’ll be there
He’ll promise he’ll swear
But all I ever find
Been spun that same old line
It’s happened time and time again before…
And it has one of the best guitar outros on a song.
The 12″ of Sweat In Bullet has one of the best uses of cow bell you are ever likely to hear. It is part of Simple Minds fan legend, and the in-joke of “more cow bell!” cracks me up every time. But it’s fabulous. One of their best extended mixes. The amount of funk the song already has, and then to layer it with cow bell is just…genius! (The cow bell also appears on the edited 3 minute version used in the video and on the 7″ single release.)
In summary. A groove and a funk like no other (that’s not to say other SM songs don’t have funk and groove…but this is a cut above), Jim’s incredible fragmented lyrics…it’s just funk, and sass, and sex, and ambition. It has…dancabilty…sensibility…funkability…sensuality…cow bellability! Lol
And that is why I love Sweat In Bullet.
Whack that cow bell, Kenny! (Though it is actually Brian McGee playing it on the record.)
The pictures are of a coffee mug I made featuring the lyric artwork I did for the song. Still one of my favourite artworks. I love that melted, embossed look I gave it…suits the lyric SSOO well.