John Aizlewood - 'Q' Magazine
In 1981, three
albums into what was becoming a rapidly stagnating
career, Simple Minds left Arista-foregoing all
future back catalogue royalties-and signed to
Virgin after catching Peter Gabriel's eye. Before
the year was out they'd released two Steve Hillage-produced
albums simultaneously, Sister Feelings Call
and Sons And Fascination, which stabilised a
potentially dumper-bound band and paved the
way for the future success. Simple Minds evolved
young things of their debut, Life In A Day,
had already given way to a more adult approach
by the time they swapped labels. This album's
The American conjures up sad memories of students
hollering A-merree, A-merree, A-merree, A-merr-ee-cahan
on dancefloors across the nation, but it also
represented the beginnings of a sea-change.
1982's New Gold Dream (81, 82, 83, 84) was the
big breakthrough in Britain and the start of
a flirtation with America.
Promised You A
Miracle, Glittering Prize and Someone Somewhere
(In Summertime) were big, swooning epics, as
at home live in the stadium as older material
was in nightclubs. Recently deposed from U2's
production stool, Steve Lillywhite took over
Simple Minds' reins for 1984's Sparkle In The
Rain, a treading water exercise, with hindsight.
Waterfront's clodhopping rhythm was bereft of
subtlety yet somehow it managed to move by sheer
force of clump. Speed Your Love To Me plodded
nicely, the album stayed on the chart for over
a year, but they still hadn't had a British
Top 10 single or an American Top 50 album. One
song, Don't You (Forget About Me), changed everything.
From the film The Breakfast Club, it charted
four times in Britain and reached Number 1 in
America. Ungraciously, Kerr disowned it, most
likely because he couldn't make such a concise
statement himself. No matter, for although Don't
You wasn't on the next album, Once Upon A Time,
Simple Minds were now big news.
New hits abounded:
Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself and All
The Things She Said graced Britain's Top 10
and did well in America too. The world was Simple
Minds' for the taking. Somewhere, after years
of constant touring, the momentum evaporated-the
four-year gap until Street Fighting Years was
probably too long. Kerr's long-standing Amnesty
International involvement led to lyrics about
issues-he'd even written Mandela Day(included
here) and premiered it at a sparsely attended
Hyde Park rally, for added kudos. America, though,
was not ready for a concerned Simple Minds and
lost interest. Britain too is having doubts.
Still, there was
much to commend on Street Fighting Years and
its follow-up, Real Life, although See The Lights
and Let There Be Love are hopelessly stodgy
compared with much else here. Glittering Prize
-Simple Minds -'81-'92, mercifully without new
tracks or remixes, is a holding operation, no
more, no less. It's hard to know which way Jim
Kerr can turn now.
David Stubbs -
album is fascinating in that it tracks the dramatic
artistic decline (and parallel commercial rise)
of one the most successful groups of the post-punk
era. "Love Song", "Promised You A Miracle" and
"Someone, Somewhere In Summertime" see Jim Kerr
and co. teetering like a cat poised on a fence,
their sound a skittering, graceful interplay
of glittering keyboards and adrenaline guitars,
with Kerr's lyrics epic yet ambivalent on top.
Then around the mid-1980s, Simple Minds fell
from the fence into lumbering stadium rock rifferama.
"Alive And Kicking" and "Sanctify Yourself"
were big scarf-waving anthems but lacked the
tantalising panache of their earlier work. As
Jim Kerr sank further into megastardom, the
music suffered further as he indulged in piously
cumbersome ballads like "Belfast Child" and
"Mandela Day". But while critics sighed, the
Minds' audience swelled regardless--their "New
Gold Dream" had come true.
Hey, admit it.
You, like myself, probably remember Simple Minds
mainly for "that song from The Breakfast Club
- right? Sure, we all do! You'll be pleased
to know that Don't You Forget About Me is included,
as are other frequent airplay fliers Sanctify
Yourself and Alive and Kicking, the latter of
which has always bugged me because of the way
Jim Kerr sings "aaaaaaah-live and kicking."
It's a weird hangup, yes, but it's also an awkward
emphasis on an unusual syllable! Overall, it's
a good collection, including a lot of songs
that casual listeners will find less familiar,
but that's compilation albums for you.
Glittering Prize 1981/92
Stephen Thomas Erlewine - CMJ
New Music (US)
falls short of being a true anthology of Simple
Minds, eliminating many key tracks (not even
"Glittering Prize," the song the album is
named after, is included) and giving too much
weight to the band's later years (an inexplicable
three tracks from 1991's Real Life are included).
Still, all the mid-'80s hits are here, including
"(Don't You) Forget About Me," making its
first appearance on a Simple Minds album,
which will be enough for most casual fans.
2PR FM (AUS)
gave us the soundtrack to the 80's. With more
albums you can poke a stick at, they filled
our radios with nothing but, pure rock magic!
Simple minds bounced to life with their first
rhythm driving classic "love song", Reaching
#17 in January 1982. They followed through
with "Promised you a miracle", "Glittering
prize", and "Someone, somewhere in summertime".
And all that in 1982. With their impact on
early eighties pop firmly consolidated, they
continued with "Waterfront" in the Spring
of 1983. In 1985 their chart blazing ride
continued with "Don't You Forget About Me",
and "Alive and kicking". In 1986 they had
another three hits, "sanctify yourself", "All
the things she said", and "Ghostdancing".
By the end of 1991, they notched up more hits
including "Belfast child", "Let there be love",
and "See the lights". That reverberating Synth
sound, unique to Simple Minds, gives their
music that airy kind of feel. I love all these
songs, and there all on this one great album.
they always wanted to be U2, but never quite
managed it. That's how the story goes, isn't
it? These days, when Simple Minds are about
as un-cool as you can get outside of Limp
Bizkit ( who are laughably un-cool ), it's
easy to forget the fact they actually wrote
a handful of damn good tunes, especially earlier
on in their career before the arm waving and
bombast took over.
So, let's get
the good out of the way first of all. 'Promised
You A Miracle'. One of the greatest pop songs
written in the Eighties! Yeah, it is! Forget
that dreary crap that is 'Don't You ( forget
about me ) which just happened to be their
biggest hit and the song that broke them in
America! Forget about it! FORGET!! They've
got a bunch ( ok, a palmful ) of stuff more
entertaining than that! Especially 'Promised
You A Miracle', by the way. Lots of great
New Romantic keyboard lines. Even a good guitar
solo in amidst a fast paced pop song with
a ton of melody that shows Jim Kerr and company
at least knew Punk existed, even if they failed
miserably to sound like that musical form.
They were initially a 'punk' band in a former
life, in case you didn't know.
My other favourite
song here is the pretty 'Someone, Somewhere
In Summertime' which matches all the glory
of 'Promised You A Miracle' but in a tender,
almost haunting ballad performance when Simple
Minds didn't realise you had to be very loud
to perform in stadiums. A bad thing, when
they realised that. 'Waterfront' is one of
the groups stadium anthems, and not at all
irritating, unlike the mind-numbingly repetitive
'Alive And Kicking', which certainly is. 'See
The Lights' is a rather pleasant latter day
Simple Minds tune, soft melodies rather than
shouting and guitars trying to unsuccessfully
beat you about the head. 'Belfast Child' is
terribly overblown for a single, being nearly
seven minutes long. 'All The Things She Said'
however is a mighty fine song with more interesting
keyboard sounds, and funky little bass and
guitar lines. 'Ghostdancing' is also a highlight,
lots of energy and pace when such things weren't
considered bad commercial moves. 'Glittering
Prize' is a lovely little ballad, 'Mandela
Day' an extremely boring one.
So, how to sum
up 'the best of' Simple Minds? Well, I want
to listen more to albums certain tracks came
from, so it works in that respect. I want
to avoid listening too much to certain other
songs, but that's easily done. The surprising
thing, listening to this years after Simple
Minds had any sort of appeal, is that how
good certain songs actually are.