Monday, May 11, 2015
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: SIMPLE MINDS - SPARKLE IN THE RAIN Deluxe Edition
Pre-1983, Simple Minds were an edgy, post-punk synth band, with an art-rock reputation at home in the U.K. (they were Scottish.) There had been some breakthroughs in Canada and elsewhere, with Love Song and then Promised You A Miracle gaining them status in the New Wave world. Those excursions into the pop charts were having an effect though, and this was the album that saw them go for it.
It didn't provide them the big hit single in North America; that would have to wait until 1985 and Don't You (Forget About Me). But certainly the sound got solidified, and it moved them into the #1 position in England. The group joined U2 in the epic sound sweepstakes, with huge drums, pulsing keyboards and effects-layered guitar. The best cut is the swaggering Waterfront, singer Jim Kerr's big spotlight moment. Up On The Catwalk and Speed Your Love To Me have the same chiming power.
The downside was the lack of experimental work. Producer Steve Lillywhite was the right choice to help craft this stadium-friendly work, but with each tune heading that way, there wasn't enough variety. The rest of the material doesn't hold up to the major tracks. Street Hassle ends up sounding like Kerr doing Jim Morrison, trying hard to save a dull track.
This deluxe set has a second disc of all the single sides, edits and extended tracks from single releases. But that means three more versions of Waterfront, with few differences, and some noodling that puts the B in b-sides. Simple Minds was learning how to be a hit band, but lost their edge in the process.