Empires and Dance

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Empires and Dance
Empires and Dance cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released12 September 1980 [1]
RecordedMay – July 1980
ProducerJohn Leckie
Simple Minds chronology
Real to Real Cacophony
Empires and Dance
Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call
Singles from Empires and Dance
  1. "I Travel"
    Released: 17 October 1980[4]
  2. "Celebrate"
    Released: February 1981 [5]

Empires and Dance is the third studio album by Scottish new wave band Simple Minds, released on 12 September 1980 by record label Arista.[6]


The album was influenced by the band's experience of travelling in Europe on their previous tour. Prior to the album the band demoed several of their new songs, including "Capital City" and "I Travel" that had appeared on that tour. "Room" was first recorded as a John Peel session in December 1979 together with three songs from Real to Real Cacophony. (These recordings were all later released as part of the 2004 box set Silver Box).[7][8]

Recording and release[edit]

Empires and Dance was recorded from May to July 1980[9] in Wales at Rockfield Studios[10] and the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.[6]

While more successful than its non-charting predecessor (Real to Real Cacophony), Empires and Dance charted relatively poorly, peaking at only number 41 in the UK Albums Chart.[11] According to AllMusic, this was primarily because Arista Records only released a small number of copies at a time before each batch sold out. This had the effect of limited availability for fans.[12]

The opening track "I Travel" was released as a single in 1980, but failed to chart. "Celebrate" was chosen as the second single due to popularity amongst fans. However, it was only released after Simple Minds had left Arista. As a result, the single sold very poorly, and the picture sleeve 7" is amongst the hardest of the band's singles to find.

Following the release of the album, Simple Minds transferred to Virgin Records, where they met with much greater commercial success. Arista tried to capitalise on this success by re-releasing "I Travel" as a single in 1982, along with the compilation Celebration. In 1983, Virgin re-released "I Travel" on 12", to coincide with the acquisition of the band's Arista catalogue. Both times, it still failed to chart.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The Great Rock Discography8/10[13]
Record Mirror[15]
Smash Hits9/10[16]

Empires and Dance has been well-received critically. Paul Morley called it "a weird, agitating record" in his review for NME. He highlighted "I Travel" as one of "the great disco-rock songs" and "the magnificent" "This Fear of Gods" as the band's "most impressive work to date", and concluded: "Simple Minds have invented their own ways, melodramatic yet modernist. An authentic new torch music. I'm dancing as fast as I can."[17] Simon Ludgate of Record Mirror praised Empires and Dance as "one of the few classic albums of 1980."[15]


In a retrospective review, Andy Kellman of AllMusic described Empires and Dance as a "post-punk dance classic".[12] Trouser Press said that despite its inconsistency, Empires and Dance was an "extremely atmospheric and promising" album, "with good dance tunes and a few more quasi-psychedelic ones."[18]

John Foxx has praised the album and Jim Kerr as a "unique" lyricist.[19]

The album cover's faux Cyrillic typeface was emulated for the cover of Manic Street Preachers' third album The Holy Bible, released in 1994. (While the former album reversed all Rs and Ns to resemble Cyrillic letters, the latter album, in contrast, reversed only the Rs.) Twenty years later, Empires and Dance would be cited as a key influence on Futurology, the Manics' twelfth album. It remains one of singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield's favourite records.[20] He said of Empires and Dance in a 1995 Melody Maker article on his favourite albums:

"I've always liked records with are completely misinformed and displaced. They were aware that they were Scottish, and trying to shun it. [...] Anyway, that's why they tried to become really European, this dark, unemotive, industrial band, but in demographic/geographic terms they were really confused, and that can produce brilliant records. I don't think the British look towards Europe in the rose-tinted way Americans do. We see it in Basil Fawlty-ish terms. I remember reading Jim Kerr going on about the Baader-Meinhof gang, and the Red Brigade, and trying to make sense of all these conflicting ideologies. On musical terms it really does make sense. The best bands manifest their lyrics into their music, and it really fucks me off when people don't realise that."[21]

Imagery in Patrik Sampler's novel The Ocean Container[22] was inspired by "Thirty Frames a Second".

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Jim Kerr; all music is composed by Simple Minds.

Side A
1."I Travel"4:00
2."Today I Died Again"4:36
4."This Fear of Gods"7:03
Side B
1."Capital City"6:15
2."Constantinople Line"4:43
4."Thirty Frames a Second"5:02


Adapted from the album's liner notes.[23]

Simple Minds



Chart (1980–81) Peak
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[26] 47
UK Albums (OCC)[27] 41


  1. ^ "Empires and Dance".
  2. ^ a b Peters, Mathijs (2020). "Futurology". Popular Music, Critique and Manic Street Preachers. Springer Nature. p. 362. ISBN 978-3-030-43100-6. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  3. ^ Huey, Steve. "Simple Minds | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  4. ^ "dream giver redux | press releases | empires and dance | it travel release". www.simpleminds.org. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  5. ^ "Celebrate".
  6. ^ a b "Record News". NME. 30 August 1980. p. 5.
  7. ^ "empires and dance". Dream Giver Redux. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  8. ^ Simple Minds sessions Dream Giver Redux
  9. ^ "timeline". Dream Giver Redux. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  10. ^ Kerr, Jim (17 July 2008). "Rockfield". simpleminds.com. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  11. ^ "Simple Minds". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  12. ^ a b c Kellman, Andy. "Empires and Dance – Simple Minds". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  13. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). "Simple Minds". The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Canongate Books. ISBN 1-84195-551-5.
  14. ^ Tangari, Joe (15 April 2004). "Simple Minds: Reel to Real Cacophony / Empires and Dance". Pitchfork. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  15. ^ a b Ludgate, Simon (13 September 1980). "All in the Mind". Record Mirror. p. 18.
  16. ^ Cranna, Ian (2–15 October 1980). "Simple Minds: Empires and Dance". Smash Hits. Vol. 2, no. 20. p. 29.
  17. ^ Morley, Paul (13 September 1980). "Awe and Terror from the Inner Minds". NME. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  18. ^ Schlosberg, Karen; Robbins, Ira. "Simple Minds". Trouser Press. Archived from the original on 22 August 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  19. ^ Electrospective John Foxx interview Youtube
  20. ^ Price, Simon (3 July 2014). "A Masterpiece: Simon Price On Manic Street Preachers' Futurology". The Quietus. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  21. ^ "Rebellious Jukebox". Melody Maker. 7 January 1995. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  22. ^ Patrik, Sampler (16 June 2017). The ocean container (First ed.). Rome, GA. ISBN 9780979132049. OCLC 1032773267.
  23. ^ "Studio Albums: Empires and Dance". Simple Minds official website. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Empires and Dance". Dream Giver Redux. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  25. ^ "Simple Minds Album Cover". Richard Coward website. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  26. ^ "Charts.nz – Simple Minds – Empires and Dance". Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  27. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 December 2020.

External links[edit]