Wednesday, May 27, 2009

classic album : Once Upon A Time by Simple Minds

exactly how much confidence do you have to have in yourself, or how vastly an inflated ego do you need, to leave the biggest ever single of your career off your album? well, to my surprise at the time, that's exactly what Simple Minds did with their 7th (and by some distance best) album, Once Upon A Time.

released in late 1985, i bought it in February 1986 with some vouchers i got for my birthday. i picked it up on tape, and yes i still have the tape and subsequent vinyl purchase. i bought it partly because i liked the band, but mostly because i wanted the excellent (Don't You) Forget About Me in my collection. alas, for reasons unknown to us who had never heard of a film called The Breakfast Club, the song was not included on the album.

never mind - despite the mega, insane size hit single they declined to drop from the album (reasons given : not written by them, didn't like the production, pure spite), it was not and is not missed in the elegant sounds of what was deemed ok to leave on the album, which yes is saying something.

well, where does one begin? right at the beginning, and let it play all the way to the end, really. then play it again. the eight tracks which make up this album are all killer tunes. there's no fillers or "let's make up the time on the record" here, folks, it's all good. a special mention of course to the two big singles from it, All The Things She Said and the amazing Alive And Kicking. other than that, you have the equally impressive Sanctify Yourself, which i seem to recall was also put out as a single.

one of the more interesting tracks on the album is Ghostdancing, featuring the lines You talk about the Lebanon, You tell me 'bout the Dawn in Eden, You talk about South Africa, I tell you about the Irish children, which suggests they were rather fed up of the likes of Bono, Sting et al telling them all about problems around the world instead of looking at their own home. the tragedy of Simple Minds is that they didn't keep it as simplistic and home based as this; within 5 years of this album they were pontificating to levels even worse than Bono. i believe it was in Glasgow that Jim Kerr brought a concert to a standstill to discuss the "blood on the grass" for 5 or so minutes, purely because some South Africans had stood upon it. fans got bored, and wandered off.

after Once Upon A Time came their brilliant, audacious reading of Belfast Child, followed by a disappointing album, the a-cause-and-a-cliche-per song borefest that was Street Fighting Years. they are still active these days, but distinctly low key. a great shame, for when you listen to this album once again, you realize just how bloody brilliant the band were.

most of you with no Simple Minds would probably be better off getting one of the many greatest hits packages available, the first of which, Glittering Prize, remains the best. at least on the hits albums they allowed Forget About Me to appear! picking up Once Upon A Time is, however, well worth your time. it's the sound of a band on top form, and a sound from when music mattered, and musicians had to push themselves to greater heights than they do now to get success.
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