THE 40-odd minutes of Walk Between Worlds, the 18th studio album by Simple Minds, flash by. If 2014’s Big Music was, as Mojo magazine put it, “their best album in 30 years”, Walk Between Worlds is more vital, more sparky.

The familiar elements are here: Charlie Burchill’s stormswept guitars, vocalist Sarah Brown’s gallus soul, Jim Kerr’s dramatic croon weaving around synths and crunchy beats. But this is tighter, rawer – not insignificant qualities for a band once criticised as overblown and overproduced.

Apart from a slither or two intentionally wrapped around one track (more on which later), there’s not an inch of flab here.

“I wish the same could be said of me,” says Kerr. “Hold on, I’m just moving this plate of biscuits away.”

In a London hotel after a fortnight of press rounds across Europe, the frontman sounds upbeat. The response to the record, has been “really positive”. It’s about putting your best stuff down and discarding the offcuts, he explains.

“When the CD came along people thought it was great making albums longer. But the elephant in the room was that people haven’t got 13 good tracks. People are lucky if they’ve got three good tracks, I mean really good tracks, of when you’re at your best. But the world is just too busy now to listen to anything other than your best. So good is not good enough.”

Produced, like Big Music, by Gavin Goldberg and Andy Wright, Walk Between Worlds was recorded at Gorbals Sound, the studio “just metres” from where Kerr was born in 1959.

When his mother died around eight years ago he was encouraged to return by his children, a daughter and a son from his marriages to Chrissie Hynde and Patsy Kensit respectively.

“They were like: ‘We need to be up in Glasgow. We need to be around here, we need to be in Scotland again’,” says Kerr, who lives between Scotland and Sicily, where he has run a boutique hotel for more than a decade.

“There’s never been a day when I’ve packed my bag and said: ‘That’s it, I’m leaving Glasgow’,” he says. “But through the career, through working, and the rewards that have come from that, I have probably spent more time away than I’ve been back in my adult life.”

Gorbals Sound, where the band also recorded their 2016 collection of acoustic songs, is a world-class studio, he says.

“You’d think you were in a state-of-the-art place in Finland or Stockholm when you walk in there, it’s really top notch. The great thing as well was bringing people up to work here, they really loved their time in Glasgow. And if you feel good, you’re probably going to do better work.”

Walk Between Worlds signals a major line-up change for Simple Minds. Joining Kerr and Burchill are contemporary-era mainstays Brown, multi-instrumentalist Gordy Goudie and bassist Ged Grimes. Now, there’s the vocals and keyboards of Catherine AD aka Welsh-born multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and author Catherine Anne Davies. Kerr met Davies through country-noir supergroup The Dark Flowers, and she has been part of Simple Minds’ live outfit since 2015.

In addition there’s Cherisse Osei, a drummer whose propulsive, formidable chops power the album’s title track.

“She’s this incredible ball of energy,” says Kerr.

“Now, listen, I’m the world’s biggest Prince fan. It’s very sad what happened but if he was still alive, she would be with him. She’s that good. And he would have nicked her by now.”

The current line-up were specifically assembled to work on the acoustic album. Things gelled so well, they were asked to record the final four tracks of Walk Between Worlds.

“Their energy, their input has been great,” says Kerr. “You’ve got to watch for autopilot, for same-old, same-old. What’s the antidote? You gotta strap a few new engines on.

“We’re a benevolent dictatorship in that we know what we want when we work with other people, but we also say: ‘What would you do?’ And they always, always have really interesting takes on things, new perspectives. So you can get a great collaboration. They are also from a different age, different period, different cultures.”

Simple Minds circa 2018 almost balances men and women musicians.

“Back in the day when we started it was a macho rock ’n’ roll band; all bands kind of were,” says Kerr.

“There didn’t seem to be any women. Then a couple came over from America, and I married one. She was better than any of us. When I look at the new picture of us, I can hear people say: ‘That isn’t Simple Minds’. Well, it is. This is where we are now, it reflects the world more as it is, and there’s so much more to be gained out of this kind of line-up.”

Surely, says The National, the only requirement to be Simple Minds is the involvement of Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill, the band’s nucleus since their days as Johnny And The Self Abusers – a band so punk they split on the day of the release of their debut single in November 1977.

Kerr laughs: “If it’s me, Charlie and your granny, it’s still Simple Minds.”

Past generations are remembered on Barrowland Star, a track featuring a foot-on-the-amp Mick Ronson-style solo from Burchill.

“I think that’s the longest guitar solo he’s ever done,” says Kerr. “I was always pushing for more, for longer and he was like: ‘Are you sure?’ He has always been so modest. You just don’t hear solos like that any more. It’s a real raw, glam-rock sort of thing. The song itself is about nostalgia, so I think it’s got its place.”

The band play the Glasgow venue on February 13 for a long-sold-out, three-part show. Thirty years ago, playing there was “terrifying”.

“In 1984 we were knocking on the door of the so-called big leagues, and it was a case of: ‘Are we going to blow it?’” Kerr says. “There was so much invested in it. It meant so much. There was this feeling in the pit of the stomach. You’re so aware of the history there. Our parents, our aunties, our uncles, everybody went there to dance and sing and meet and fall in love and god-knows-what-else. The walls breathe. It’s a temple, that place.”

By 1985, Simple Minds had hit the big leagues all right. Their recording of (Don’t You) Forget About Me, a track rejected by Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol, and only taken on by the ambivalent Kerr after Hynde’s encouragement, soundtracked the closing credits of teenage movie-of-the-year The Breakfast Club and hit the top spot in the US.

THAT smash’s follow-up, the similarly anthemic Alive And Kicking, is recalled on Walk Between Worlds’ closing song, Sense of Wonder.

“Sometimes you can put on an old jacket and find it still fits,” says Kerr. “It’s a signpost to a time and a place.”

And from Jim Kerr approaching 60 to the younger man of those times?

“There is an element of that, yes,” he says. “The album is bookended by Magic and Sense of Discovery, songs about faith, albeit not in the religious sense.

“It’s now so amazing in Scotland, in Glasgow, all of the cultural things there are now. But we shouldn’t take it for granted. When we started, I’ve got to say it was a bit of a desert. We didn’t know anyone who was in a band, we didn’t know anyone who wrote their own songs. It was all so centralised and everyone went to London, which was a very tough place and a lot of people’s dreams were shattered there.

“People ask if I thought it would last 40 years when we started,” he continues. “But at the age of 18, 19, my parents weren’t even 40. No-one had careers that long. But did I think there was something special going on? I was absolutely convinced there was something very special. Was I arrogant? Naw, I heard it through Charlie Burchill’s amplifier.”

In August and September, KT Tunstall and The Pretenders join the band for the Grandslam UK tour. It will be the first time the two bands have played on the same stage since Live Aid in 1985.

“We’ll put together something special for these gigs, we’re really looking forward to them, and, of course Chrissie Hynde ... “ he trails off, before picking up again. “We first toured with The Pretenders in 1984. It was a tour of Australia with Talking Heads and so amazing for us. We were just fans, really. And Chrissie and I got on rather well. And now we’re still family, with kids and grandkids.”

Last year Tunstall opened for the band’s European tour following the fellow Scot’s work on Promised You a Miracle, the lead single from 2016’s Acoustic.

“People say: ‘Oh yeah, KT Tunstall is good,’” says Kerr. “No, she’s not good; she’s off the scale. So again we’ll be surrounded by excellent women. It’s going to be great.”

Feb 13, Barrowlands, Glasgow, sold out. See official fan-to-fan platform where spare tickets are sold for face value.

The Pretenders and KT Tunstall join Simple Minds on the Grandslam Tour on September 8 at Inverness Northern Meeting Park and September 9 at Dundee's Slessor Gardens. Tickets, priced £37.50 to £60 plus booking fee from and

Walk Between Worlds is out on Friday (Feb 2) via BMG.