Simple Minds: Sparkle In The Rain

Five-CD iteration of the band’s 1984 breakthrough.

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Their 1982 album New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) was the album that put Simple Minds on a commercial par with the post-punk new pop vanguard (ABC, Human League, Associates et al).

But two years later it was their sixth album that launched them into the alt-rock superleague, putting them virtually on a par with U2, and with only Echo & The Bunnymen snapping at their heels. Sparkle In The Rain reached No.1 in February 1984 and went Top 20 around the world. Suddenly, there were not just coteries of hipsters but 50,000-strong crowds waiting in arenas to be entertained. Even Jim Kerr made the unashamed admission that “there’s just no room for subtlety”. In the wake of New Gold Dream’s lushness, Sparkle In The Rain came as something of a brash, rude awakening. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, it eschewed ornate grandeur for a simpler propulsion that could easily be mistaken for lumpen populism. Then again, the music had a new, muscular excitement, with less studio polish but more stadium punch. Waterfront, The Kick Inside Of Me and White Hot Day plodded somewhat, but Up On The Catwalk, ‘C’ Moon Cry Like A Baby and Speed Your Love To Me had a thrilling, throbbing momentum, while East At Easter proved that they could still do magisterial grace. Now Sparkle comes as a five-disc box set, in a full, unexpurgated version that well serves its clattering majesty. The original album has been newly remastered, and it comes packaged with a plethora of extras: a disc of single edits, B-sides and extended mixes, as well as two further CDs that include 13 tracks performed live at Glasgow’s Barrowlands in 1984 and a trio of BBC Radio 1 sessions from 1983. You also get a DVD featuring a brand new Steven Wilson 5.1 surround sound remix of the album, a new stereo mix and all three promo videos (for Waterfront, Speed Your Love To Me and Up On The Catwalk), as well as several TV appearances. Altogether now: ‘You will be there, you will be there…’

Paul Lester

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.