- Audio CD (25 Nov. 2013)
- Number of Discs: 5
- Format: Box set
- Label: Commercial Marketing
- ASIN: B00FXENGH2
- Other Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,660 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Classic Album Selection: Simple Minds Box set
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This selection of classic Simple Minds albums includes Sparkle in the Rain, Once Upon a Time, Real Life , Street Fighting Years and Good News from the Next World.
Top customer reviews
Post note. Since writing this review UMe/Virgin Records have released expanded editions of Sparkle In The Rain. Available in the 5 disc Sparkle In The Rain super deluxe which includes a 5.1 remix and the slimmer 2cd Sparkle In The Rain deluxe. The album has also been released as Sparkle In The Rain high resolution BluRay audio which also includes the 5.1 remix.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Classic Album Selection contains 5 Simple Minds CDs that came out consecutively from 1984 through 1995: "Sparkle In The Rain" (1984), "Once Upon A Time" (1985), the uber-masterpeice "Street Fighting Years" (1989), "Real Life" (1991), and "Good News From The Next World" (1995). On a scale of 1-5, I'd rate Sparkle a "5", Once Upon...a "5", Street Fighting Years a "10", Real Life a "10", and Good News...merely a "5". Yes, I'm a hardcore fan, but Street Fighting Years and Real Life are, to my ears, two of 20 greatest CDs from the 1980s and 1990s, and are masterpieces, pure and simple.
While "Sparkle In The Rain" seems to have less of a hold on Simple Minds' fans than the CD it followed, "New Gold Dream" (which some believe is the highlight of the band's entire career), I actually prefer "Sparkle...", as excellent as NGD is. I just think Sparkle is less uneven, and certainly its highs are just as high. There are a lot of familiar tracks on it which have always been among the "Greatest Hits," but even the less-familiar tracks are wonderful too.
"Once Upon A Time" was Simple Minds' commercial breakthrough in the U.S. While some fans dislike it because of its commercial success--and certainly it is more musically accessible--this takes nothing away from its content. If I listened only to the first four tracks, I'd rate the CD three and a half stars overall, because let's face it, the title track is not exactly inspired, and Ghost Dancing doesn't work as well in its studio version as it does in live performance (which is the first time I realized there's a great song there). The highlight of the first half of the disc is All The Things She Said, a very strong song. Alive and Kicking, while one of the so-called "Greatest Hits," is a fine enough song but really nothing that special for Simple Minds. But it's the last four tracks where the CD really kicks in. Oh Jungleland (track five) is an urgent and riveting song that for me is the highlight of the entire CD. And the remaining three tracks sustain that very high standard, with the CD ending on a very strong note with Come A Long Way. It's funny how the mood of Once Upon A Time shifts so suddenly from a more or less upbeat first part, to a considerably darker second part (with the exception of Sanctify Yourself).
That brings us to "Street Fighting Years," which is one of the finest CDs ever made by anyone (check out the lead Amazon review, "Masterpiece," by Steven Reynolds, which you can find by searching directly on the CD itself--it's a fantastic review that I wish I had written). To my ears, Street Fighting Years, "Real Life", and "Good News..." form a musical and emotional trilogy, and contain the best music that Simple Minds has or will ever create. "Street Fighting Years" was in some quarters derided when it came out because it is "big" in every way: big political and humanistic themes, big sound, big (long) songs, big ideas, and ambitious on a scale that the band had never attempted before. More than a few laughed at it. Others of us however were utterly blown away by it--and I remain so to this day. It's almost inconceivable to me that a project like this could have been conceived, let alone successfully realized, but Simple Minds did it and then some. This is a TRULY GREAT CD and I still feel humbled by it because it's so phenomenal and completely astonishing. If you are a humanist and listen to both the music and the words, it's difficult to imagine how anyone could fail to be utterly moved by SFY. "Street Fighting Years" commences with the title track, a powerful and moving elegy to a friend of the band who was pointlessly murdered in an unnecessary street fight. Two tracks later, prepare to get knocked off your chair by the sonic shockwaves of the overpowering Wall Of Love--a song that still packs a mean punch even having probably heard it at least 100 times. It's followed by the powerfully moving This Is Your Land, the urgency of Kick It In, the ethereal Let It All Come Down, to Mandela Day--the wonderful tribute to the then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela. The emotional center and highlight of the entire CD follows with the overwhelmingly powerful and moving Belfast Child--a song that gets even non-fans to sit up and take notice of when it crosses their path. Following the band's (unnecessary) cover version of Peter Gabriel's Biko, the CD ends with an instrumental, the overpowering and greatly moving When Spirits Rise, which ends "Street Fighting Years" on an uplifting and life-affirming note. Simple Minds really could not have come up with a more perfect ending to this great CD. "Street Fighting Years" may not reveal its greatness on a first listen. It took me a few listens before I really got my arms around it--although I did have the sense that something special was happening from even a first listen. But if you give SFY time, you'll be amply rewarded. The problem is, it's a lot to take in, and it's demanding on listeners--this is not background music. Certainly SFY is very different than anything Simple Minds ever did before, but it's astonishing on multiple levels and succeeds on all of them. The quality of the musicianship is incredible--Charlie Burchill, certainly one of the most underrated and original guitarists out there, provides absolutely gorgeous, soaring, and stirring guitar work one will ever hear. And the keyboard work of Mick MacNeil is outstanding and a key component of why the musical performance fires on all cylinders. And finally, I need to note the quality of the sound on this CD. The sonics are jaw-dropping--this is one of the best-recorded rock CDs I've ever heard, with sound that can only be classified as "demonstration quality."
"Real Life" takes many of the same musical and philosophical ideas from Street Fighting Years, but downsizes them somewhat, making them more accessible. It's a less demanding CD than SFY, but it's no less fantastic. It loses none of the musical and emotional punch of SFY, but it's more of a "downer" than SFY. The emotional highwater of the CD is the fifth track, Stand By Love, and from there it's a long slide down emotionally, where the very bottom is reached with the last track, a re-worked version of the first (and title) track. But if I'm to be honest about it, this is not an uplifting CD, while certainly being nothing less than truly great. But in another way, it is energizing because it's so outstanding, and it's thrilling to hear such a talented group firing on all cylinders. I think of Real Life as the "yang" to the "ying" of SFY. And both are masterpieces.
I know a lot of Simple Minds fans are less than enthusiastic about "Good News From The Next World," but I completely and totally love it and always have. While the quality is a little more uneven than the preceding two CDs, the highs are exceptionally high, and most of it is sustained outstanding quality. Perhaps the second and third tracks would qualify to me as filler, but with the underrated Great Leap Forward (track four), Simple Minds goes over the top and stays there for the rest of the CD. To my ears, "Good News..." brings an overriding sense of desperation, an element that only intermittently surfaced earlier in Simple Minds' body of work (most prominently in Oh Jungleland from "Once Upon..." and in "Real Life" overall). But it's sustained in "Good News...", particularly in the second half. As with "Street Fighting Years" and "Real Life," this feels like an urgent statement, and the emotions and sense of commitment are palpable.
Having two masterpieces and three exceptional CDs for all of $26 and in one box is an unthinkable bargain. If you're not familiar with Simple Minds but are interested in hearing some of the greatest music of our time, this is affordable enough that it's worth taking a shot if you're on the fence. Or curious about music that could create such a passionate response from at least one listener.