on 18 April 2013
One is rather obviously tempted to ask whether another SM compilation is needed, with a single CD og double CD collection already in hand. The single collection, Glittering Prize 81/92, may be enough for many, showcasing the main hits from their era when they were truly a force among the likes of Big Country and even U2. The double CD, The Best of SM, added some key tracks to the big hits but lacked yet a few ones. This 3CD collection (mostly) covers the whole ground, including their whole career, all the main hits and (most) of the lessor known single tracks.
The first CD covers their early era when they evolved from Roxy Music/Bowie wannabees towards becoming synth specialists. The last few tracks are taken from Sparkle in the Rain, when they dramatically changed from the synth sound to the more raw and bombastic Steve Lillywhite sound. CD two covers their period when their popularity reached a peak. CD 3 showcases songs after they lost their popularity but many of them are yet very good. Cry, Home and Stars Will Lead the Way are great songs that the casual SM fan gets on one disc with other very good tunes.
For the very casual fan, the other SM compilations will do. For those SM fans who are not ready to listen to their whole catalogue but want a taste of their music made outside of their realm of popularity, this compilation is an ideal choice.
on 28 June 2013
Reviews of greatest hits can be considered as superfluous as yet another collection of a band's work, finest or otherwise. Another Simple Minds compilation maybe considered so too. During the 20 years since their last major retrospective the group have remained busy, touring extensively and releasing albums of varying quality.
Early 2012 saw 5×5, a box set of the band's first 5 albums and associated b-sides brought together as a convenient reminder to the band's early, often forgotten, history. A time when European inflected disco meant a cool brand of beats and propulsive bass lines soundtracking travelogues delivered in an era before Kerr's baritone was permanently turned up to `anthem.' The accompanying tour, playing five songs from each of the five records a night, provided some of the bands best reviews for years and a critical rehabilitation of their early work.
So what does Celebrate+ do? Both the 36 track two disc and 50 track three disc option offer a comprehensive, no stone unturned document of Simple Minds singles. After airing New Gold Dream in its entirety, then the early catalogue dusted down and now a tour of just the hits, Simple Minds are coming to the end of a major clearout, showing the public everything they have to offer, whether we like it or not.
Such a sweeping rundown of Simple Minds songs may seem unnecessary in these days of Spotify, iTunes and other means of digitally accessing songs. What Celebrate+ does offer is new edits to CD, many versions here are direct from the 7", concise, punchy radio tunes. Completists rejoice! And casual fans can revel in reduced suffering with a host of sub-five minute versions.
April 1979 saw these Scot new wave punks offer Life In A Day as their debut single from the LP of the same name. So, in chronological order from non-hits and club hits, the Simple Minds evolution can be clearly heard in snapshot simplicity. A further document of how stadiums became a more natural habitat would be those infant live recordings. A mass audience was on the live radar well in advance of huge ticket sales. But slowly slowly, catchy pop tune, and New Gold Dream's singles presented clear evidence of pop awareness with euro-syth styling's as the UK Top 20 was broken.
What happens next is a complete surprise. The counted intro of Waterfront heralds a trio of thunderous tracks so opposite to any predecessors, it will be a wonder if listeners don't think it is a different band. Waterfront is a stone cold classic though, the sound of a vast ocean liner's engine room propelling the vessel through huge breakers with ease. But it's grandeur is lost in this edit, the fuller version committed to 12" vinyl allows the song to breathe and you're enveloped by its size, unfortunately these three minutes steal it's glory. Speed Your Love To Me and Upon the Catwalk suffer the same consequence, as both extended versions supersede the 7" cut.
Those rough edges are then smoothed away with FM production, but there's no halting of the bombast, it's simply drawn into tighter focus as Don't You (Forget About Me) and Alive and Kicking usher in the American radio hit procession. Simple Minds had reached their commercial zenith. Charlie's huge riffs plying their trade along side Jim Kerr's massive vocal, softened with Robin Clark's soulful voice amongst the percussion ticking boxes for stratospheric sales.
Radio airplay ubiquity continued with Belfast Child hitting UK Number One. But the edited version here again suffers from radio sizing, missing some of the drama of the full-length version; it creates a puzzling song. Where as, Kick it In's four cacophonous minutes are the noisiest parts of the song amalgamated from MacNeil's Hammond, Gaynor's drums and Burchill's rabid guitar. This should have stopped the hits coming. But it didn't.
The booming singles continued, with 1995's Hynotised fluid bass line, toned down vocals and sky-high guitar licks, replacing the usual Burchill solo, becoming one of the bands finest tunes, if not a pop hit, showing the now Kerr/Burchill axis could still write great music in the Simple Minds mould.
Sales tailed off towards the end of the century as the band lost their way, but found contractual and record label issues, further compounding a band running out of steam.
Yet from this whirl of disorder comes Space, re-recorded and remixed for a potential single release but then shelved amid the chaos. Here it not only sees the light of day but allows Simple Minds to offer a rarely seen subtlety to their music. It's not sparse or lo fi, but with it's Beatlesque intro leading to Kerr's delicate tones, Space is distinctly intimate, a real gem nestled in an era that almost broke the band.
The run of new greats, including 2005's Home, and Stranger with it's radio pop elements, redeem the band so often saddled with poor single choices, leading to the culmination of the Minds' output. Two new tracks shine a light to the band's immediate future, which harks back to their electro heyday. New Wave, European disco, art rock, stadium, folk but never really lacking in confidence. A unique sound that pitches them alone on that hilltop Jim Kerr often sings from.
When the current tour cycle concludes and Jim and Charlie pack away Don't You for the foreseeable future, their catalogue can rest easily having been so thoroughly aired the past two years, providing a reminder of what a great band Simple Minds have often been.
For those with the stomach of a 50 track trawl, you will be rewarded with a feast of prime pop nuggets mixed to near perfection for the format; a producers skill rather than the band's. It's a meaty compilation, and if this doesn't satisfy, then, really my friend, you are one stadium sandwich short of a Mr Creosote career picnic.
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on 18 September 2013
When the greatest band of all time release a greatest hits, it should make one hell of a CD & this certainly doesn't disappoint. To die-hard fans, this will be a convenient packaging of most of what they know & love (although, there are probably 10-20 classics omitted - could easily have been a 4 or 5 CD collection). There are still however some reminders of buried classics even for true fans, not least the mesmerising 'Space'. Those who think Simple Minds are just a decent band will be blown away by the depth, quality & most impressively diversity of their back catalogue. They'll also be surprised by the fact that SM have released 3 excellent albums since the turn of the century. Those still brainwashed by the NME / music press nonsense about this band need to enlighten themselves by purchasing this (& then trying not to kick themselves too hard for not getting into them earlier). Simple Minds are undoubtedly the most misunderstood & underrated band ever (may seem a strange thing to say considering they were just about the biggest band on the planet in the mid-late 80's). If you think this recording is good, take it up a notch & try to catch them live, has to be seen to be believed - I'd say most recently evident by the way they blew away a predominantly neutral crowd @ Newmarket in June. To those like myself who grew up watching them in front of 60,000+ crowds, you have to pinch yourself at seeing them so close up. Anyhow, enough of this waffle, just buy this.
on 7 April 2013
at last the perfect simple minds hits package,the first one back in the nineties was far from complete as it did nt have any tracks from the first three albums which some may say was there most creative period .the next one released in 2001 was a double but tracks were just flung together in no particular order.this time we have the complete singles in order of release . this time disc one takes in there best period 79-84. disc two 85-91 marks the period for me when my interest in the minds was fading.nothing on disc three i bought at the time but every album had their moments and there all here.for a starter package this is perfect, then you can start buying the albums starting with new gold dream,empires and dance,sons of fascination,once upon a time and real to real but for now enjoy!
on 25 March 2013
my all time favourite band, what a selection, love the tracks over the 36 years Simple minds have been around, only criticism is why the german mix of New gold dream, not sure it is as good as the original, which is a shame as it is one of my favourite tracks, ironic really that simple minds tried to imitate U2's stadium rock around the time the album once upon a time was released and to a less extent sparkle in the rain , when for me their music was always a different class and far more original than the band they tried to imitate and I felt they lost something, though later on with goods new from the next world and real life I think they regained their magic.
Apart from that everyone deserves to have simple minds in their lives!! a must buy for anyone