Following the recent release of Big Music Universal Music Enterprises will release a four-disc digital box set of Simple Minds’ SPARKLE IN THE RAIN on March 31st. It will be the first time the entire back catalog of this era has been collected together.
Originally released in February 1984, SPARKLE IN THE RAIN (title taken from a line in ‘Book Of Brilliant Things’) was Simple Minds’ sixth studio album and, following 1982’s crossover album New Gold Dream, the one to cement their commercial success.
SPARKLE IN THE RAIN was initially started on the run with stays in residential recording studios booked during gaps during the New Gold Dream tour. A wintery sojourn at the Old Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire during January 1983 resulted in a number of interesting ideas, but it wasn’t until the summer when the majority of touring had finished, that Simple Minds’ new direction would solidify. ‘Waterfront’ began as a Derek Forbes’ single note bass line which, inspired by nocturnal walks Jim Kerr took along the disappearing River Clyde shipyards in the band’s native Glasgow, became a tribute to the city’s industrial past, and an expression of hope and optimism for the future. The song was quickly knocked into shape the days before the band’s final booked concert at Phoenix Park, and they were so confident with their new song, that they opened their set with it. From day forth, the era-defining song became perhaps the band’s most enduring, still in their set till this day.
Steve Lillywhite became the obvious choice of producer for the album, a man who knew how to handle the band’s dynamic new sound. With touring now complete, SPARKLE IN THE RAIN gradually took shape that September with initial preparatory work at Rockfield Studios in Wales and final recording at the legendary Townhouse, London. Kerr was adamant the resulting album should not be New Gold Dream part 2, but that the band should continue to expand and enhance their sound.
To that end, SPARKLE IN THE RAIN sees the line up of Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Derek Forbes, Mick MacNeil and Mel Gaynor (now a permanent fixture – playing on his first full Simple Minds album) move in a more cohesive, rock-orientated direction, in part, propelled by Gaynor’s powerhouse drumming, though the album still retained traces of their new wave past. As well as the aforementioned ‘Waterfront’, the album featured religious references and symbolism (‘Book Of Brilliant Things’, ‘East At Easter’), a critique on celebrity (‘Up On The Catwalk’ (album’s third single) as well as a cover of ‘Street Hassle’ (featuring Kristy MacColl – also on ‘Speed Your Love To Me’, second single from the album), a homage to one of their biggest influences, the now sadly deceased Lou Reed (whom later guested on the band’s Street Fighting Years album).
The illustrious lyrics and the political and personal love songs were matched by MacNeil’s throbbing synth-beats and piano flourishes, Burchill’s dominating, new wave guitar chimes and Forbes’ swooning bass lines. Kerr’s song writing thrived on the band’s striving amidst a new emerging sound and direction. The album cemented Simple Minds’ reputation as one of the major bands of the 1980s and prepared the groundwork for the worldwide hit album Once Upon A Time.
The SPARKLE IN THE RAIN re-master will also be available on digital download, a 2 CD version Pure Audio Blu-ray and LP.