Album #502 – New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

Album #502

It would be three years before North America would know the power and amazing sounds of Simple Minds through their hit, Don’t You (Forget About Me). It was their biggest hit and yet, the group didn’t write it. Keith Forsey, a songwriter and producer of Billy Idol among other artists, eventually gave the song to the group. In a new book out about the new wave era, lead singer Jim Kerr, says the band took the song more because they liked Forsey than the actual song. But, really, the turning point for Simple Minds was three years earlier with New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). The album received very little airplay in North America. But, modern rock stations played the album heavily. In fact, CFNY Toronto (now known as 102.1 The Edge) had this album as the number one album of 1982, as voted by it’s listeners and became a station favourite. The album was the breakthrough they needed in the UK. Someone Somewhere In Summertime, Promised You A Miracle and Glittering Prize became the group’s first top 40 hits in that country. The album was even an influence for U2 and their 1984 album, The Unforgettable Fire. The change in sound was marked by the first appearance of long time drummer Mel Gaynor, who added a hard, funky sound to the group. The sound of this album is also very dense, but not dark like most alternative music. It somehow crosses many genre lines. I appreciated the accessibility but also the development of the sound of this album compared to their earlier work. The sound on New Gold Dream is more full and resonant. To me, New Gold Dream captures the full sound the best. But, the two follow-ups, Sparkle In The Rain and Once Upon A Time do an excellent job as well. Simple Minds are one of my favourite bands of the 80’s because they capture the best of that decade: huge arena rock sound, proper use of synths, compelling lyrics mixing personal and political, a dynamic lead singer and a band of superb musicians. It’s too bad that their biggest hit was not their own. Luckily, they knew how to make it their own. Other highlights include: Colours Fly and Catherine Wheel, Big Sleep, New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), Hunter and the Hunted (featuring an appearance by Herbie Hancock) and King Is White and in the Crowd. Overall, I give New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), 5 out of 5.

Next: The Rise and Fall by Madness

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