The album Sparkle in the Rain (1984), arrived well into the band Simple Minds’ commercial success in the UK, Europe, Australia and Canada, though it wasn’t until they covered the Keith Forsey/Steve Schiff composition, “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” for the soundtrack of the film, The Breakfast Club that the Scottish rockers began to be recognized in the USA.
I feel that Sparkle in the Rain has a raw edge to the whole album, and attribute that to Steve Lillywhite’s masterful and tight production; he draws out the pure power that was simmering beneath the equally marvellous production of songs from past albums like New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). I’ve always liked that raw production style as it sounds more like a live performance, and the crispness of the percussion really punctuates the rolling dynamism of the album. Other favourites from the set, which might appear here sometime, include “Speed Your Love to Me” and ““C” Moon Cry Like a Baby.” Simple Minds album production has often varied; Sons and Fascination / Sister Feelings Call to me sounds somewhere between New Gold Dream and Sparkle. I’ve always appreciated the influence a good producer has on a band’s sound… the Song Exploder episode on Sharon Van Etten’s “Seventeen” a really good glimpse into the work it takes to shape a rough demo into a smashing song.
“Up on the Catwalk” is the perfect blast-off into the 10-song LP, and opens with drummer Mel Gaynor counting in the band at the start of the song as he prepares to lay down the heavily percussive base that holds up and carries the song. The album was released at the opening of the band’s stadium rock period and I can just picture them darting about the stage playing selections from this album and their already-large and recognizable repertoire.
I got into Simple Minds in the early 1980s when I reunited with high school friends who were, by then, firmly into the New Wave/New Romantic movements of the early 80s, and I caught up on Simple Minds’ earlier releases but didn’t follow the band much past Once Upon a Time (1985).
The band has gone through numerous personnel changes since forming in 1977, but their trademark lead vocal is still supplied by Jim Kerr. They still tour today, and it would be pretty cool to see them if that ever works out. I really enjoy a variety of their songs including “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84),” “Love Song,” and “Someone, Somewhere in Summertime” (…“brilliant days / wake up on brilliant days / shadows of brilliant ways will change all the time…) to name just a few.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Please enjoy.
Here’s the song (not the official VEVO version; that one is not available in North America. And while not the best quality, this version doesn’t cut off the drummer count-in).