Album Review: Simple Minds – Once Upon a Time

Album art for Simple Minds Once Upon a Time

My casual pursuit of buying vinyl records occasionally finds something that peaks my interest.

Once upon a time, some time ago, I found a record so crisp and clean it looked brand new. I don’t recall where I bought it, but I know it came shortly after I saw Simple Minds in concert. I think it was at this great 1980s vintage store near me and you know you’re old when the antique stores start targeting your era of youth.

Simple Minds released their seventh album Once Upon A Time in October 1985 on the heels of their smash single “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” which more or less put them on the map in the United States.  Simple Minds have never achieved a #1 album in the United States and had they put “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” on this record, I think that would have been the extra push needed to get this album from debuting at #10 to #1. It did top the charts for these Scotts in the United Kingdom.

If you know the history of the Breakfast Club song, you have to give it to them for not including it on the album. Keith Forsey wrote the song for Simple Minds but they wanted nothing to do with it. At first. After several more artist rejections, Forsey finally got the band to commit and the rest is history. Even though it’s not a “Simple Minds” song – the reason stated by the band for not wanting to record something not penned by them – it’s Simple Minds’ song.

Advertisements

I had not yet listened to Once Upon a Time fully in its entirety though two songs from the album would rank in my Top 10 for Simple Minds. But for one somewhat crinkled corner, the album looks never used. In fact, when I pulled it out for this review I double checked to make sure it was not a reissue.

Simple Minds was simply astounding live and this casual fan turned into a much bigger fan after the show. So let’s dive in a bit and run it down track by track.

Simple Minds
How clever – the front of the album cover and record sleeve “fit” together and so does…

Simple Minds Once Upon a Time Album Review

1. Once Upon a Time – Enjoyable opening buildup to the main synthesizer melody. Good song but it meanders a bit taking a different direction for the last minute or so which should have been left on the cutting room floor.

2. All the Things She Said – One of the singles from the album and rightfully so. A great pop song utilizing the new wave movement of the 80s without sounding dated.

3. Ghost Dancing – A quick paced song with guitar as the central focus. I think the time signature changes initially make this song a bit hard to get into but a couple more spins helps develop the busy groove. It’s interesting to note this song was released as a single but fell flat in the United States which did not surprise me after listening for the first time.

4. Alive and Kicking – One of my favorites from Simple Minds and one of their classics. Jim Kerr’s vocals hold center stage on this one.

5. Oh Jungleland – A fun upbeat song with excellent drumming from Mel Gaynor but I think the name of the song, which replicates as part of the chorus, kind of kills it. The rhythm really works, though, and the song stuck in my head.

6. I Wish You Were Here – Every albums has its worst song and this is it. Simple Minds clearly trying to do something different. It’s not a bad song, has a pretty decent chorus, but overall a bit humdrum.

7. Sanctify Yourself – Another Simple Minds classic and radio staple. Great opening bass line from John Giblin that carries to the end and the whole song perfectly uses his bass, Charlie Burchhill’s guitar and Michael MacNeil on the synths throughout.

8. Come a Long Way – A basic song with Kerr reaching for his tenor on occasion to provide some depth but like “I Wish You Were Here” not much to write home about this one.

…the back of the album cover and record sleeve.

Simple Minds has, like so many other bands, gone through variant line–ups but original members in singer Jim Kerr, whose distinct vocals set the band apart from many others of the era, and guitarist Charlie Burchill remain.

A world tour was scheduled for this year with their 19th studio album planned for release in 2021.

Grade: B

Simple Minds Once Upon a Time Track List:

  1. Once Upon a Time
  2. All the Things She Said
  3. Ghost Dancing
  4. Alive and Kicking
  5. Oh Jungleland
  6. I Wish You Were Hear
  7. Sanctify Yourself
  8. Come a Long Way