When Simple Minds released Black and White in 2005, it was obvious they'd been doing some creative soul searching in light of the success of bands clearly influenced by them, namely, the Killers and Manic Street Preachers. 2009's Graffiti Soul saw the return of drummer Mel Gaynor to the fold. He brought a familiar, tight, propulsive foundation to Charlie Burchill's guitar playing and Andy Gillespie's imaginative synths. Jim Kerr's alternately whispering and soaring vocals were still at the fore, but were showcased inside more economical songwriting, and Jez Coad's production celebrated the band's pop identity. Big Music finds Simple Minds coming full circle – going all the way back to 1979 for inspiration. They've rediscovered the urgent, keyboard-driven post-punk futurism of recordings such as Empires and Dance and Sons and Fascination.
Her mountainous stature matching the sheer soulful power of her massive vocal talent, Big Maybelle was one of the premier R&B chanteuses of the 1950s. Her deep, gravelly voice was as singular as her recorded output for Okeh and Savoy, which ranged from down-in-the-alley blues to pop-slanted ballads. In 1967, she even covered ? & the Mysterians' "96 Tears" (it was her final chart appearance). Alleged drug addiction leveled the mighty belter at the premature age of 47, but Maybelle packed a lot of living into her shortened lifespan.