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  • Writer's pictureGraeme Thomson

Themes For Great Cities coverage

Updated: May 10, 2022

The latest reviews/features/extracts relating to Themes For Great Cities: A New History Of Simple Minds, published by Constable on January 27


'A deep and thrilling dive into some of the greatest musical minds to have come out of Scotland in modern times' ― Ian Rankin

'The definitive biography of this most mercurial of bands. Thomson knows how to take it apart - without demystifying the mystery, he gives us the art school band that never had an art school, but went instead on an endless adventure and took a bit of all of us with them' ― Alan Warner

'[The] mission here is to "remystify" Simple Minds. It's a wholly successful endeavour . . . Thomson's enthusiasm for tracing the cultural and geographical roots of Simple Minds is infectious, and the result shines a bright light into the forgotten corners of the band's story' -- Tom Doyle ― MOJO (****)

'A biography that gives the group its long-overdue credit. Thomson's exquisitely written account reaches poetic levels . . . An eye-opening work throughout, Themes for Great Cities may be the final word on Kerr and Co's legacy' ― Classic Pop

'Insightful and engaging … [Thomson] writes with authority and passion about Simple Minds’ best work … The clear-headed and artfully conveyed analysis will have you returning to the material.' - Irish Independent 'Part "remystification" ... part thoughtful and eloquently expressed listeners' guide, taking deep dives into the track listings of those early albums.' - Scotland on Sunday

'Thomson expertly handles proceedings . . . best of all is the coverage of the epic early albums, which all too often seemed to be forgotten as soon as the mega stardom called' ― Electronic Sound

‘In focusing largely on their pre-stardom records … Thomson elegantly reminds us how Simple Minds influenced Primal Scream, Manic Street Preachers and contemporaries U2.’ **** – Mail on Sunday

'An essential read.' - Echoes & Dust

'Thomson's thesis is sound: for about five years, Scotland's biggest ever band made exceptional music, and there's no better man to tell you all about it' - Hot Press, Music Book of the Month

‘An engaging, insightful, and welcome biography and history of one of Scotland’s greatest bands … it’ll make you return to those glorious early albums and fall in love with them all over again – the ultimate accolade for any music biography.’ – Product

'Themes for Great Cities is so taut and so full of cliff-hangers, that it reads more like a thriller. It's exactly the sort of book that Simple Minds deserve.' ― Prog

'One of the (many) pleasures of ... Themes for Great Cities is its desire to be an act of reclamation. Thomson wants to challenge the lazy cliches that have attached to the band’s reputation, to complicate the story, to, as he says in his introduction, “remystify” his subject.' - The Herald

'Truly a story of 'ambition in motion' . . . There are a number of passages that almost uncannily mirror the music, where the narrative and inner vision perfectly align . . . In some ways Simple Minds' early music is a perfect secret waiting to be rediscovered' - The Quietus

'Music has such a capacity to uplift, to inspire, to recognise, to connect, and Graeme Thomson's latest book explores how the work of Simple Minds captures those possibilities' ― Books From Scotland

'I couldn't read this book without digging out my old vinyl and listening as I read. It was like listening with new ears . . . utterly inspiring.' ― Louder Than War

'For anyone who is newer to the Simple Minds fold or hasn't explored their back catalogue extensively, I implore you to read this book. For the diehards - you need this book! It is a fast and exhilarating ride' ― Larelle Read, Priptona Weird (Simple Minds fansite)

'Fantastic ... Brings fresh insight into the early albums in particular. Any music biog which sends you straight to the records themselves is doing its job' ― Alistair Braidwood, Scots Whay Hae!

'Even those who know the story will find a new sense of urgency within the writing … As an early history of Simple Minds during their first decade it's now the authoritative, definitive guide.' - Simon Cornwell, Dream Giver Redux

'If you are a fan, Themes for Great Cities: A New History of Simple Minds, is a must read. If you are not, this biography should help you discover a little more about a group that celebrates its 40 years of activity.' - Romu Rocks


The Write Stuff: A 300-word extract ran in the Scotsman's Saturday magazine on January 15, 2022

Glasgow Music City guest blog

Daily Record interview and feature

Irish Sun news feature

Priptona Weird: interview with Larelle Read for Simple Minds fansite


BBC Radio Scotland Afternoon Show: Simple Minds special, presented by Grant Stott, with me, Bruce Findlay and Billy Sloan, January 27, 2022. From 0:36-1:26

BBC Radio 6 with Chris Hawkins, February 3, 2022. From 1:37

Scots Whay Hae! radio show, January 8, 2022: discussed between 23:45 and 32:00

Four Idle Hands, podcast interview

Peter Schavemaker, podcast interview

Spotify playlists:

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