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simple minds biography

February 1984

Simple Minds

1983 left little doubt that Simple Minds are one of Scotland's best and most popular exports. The quintet's debut A&M album, New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84), earned critical acclaim in the United States (the Los Angeles Times called it an "artistic triumph with great popular potential"), and their concerts were similarly praised. With the release of Sparkle In The Rain, produced by Steve Lillywhite, Simple Minds are now poised to achieve the genuine stardom that has been predicted for them.

Simple Minds' roots go back to 1977. At the time, vocalist Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill were members of a Glasgow group with the unlikely name of Johnny And The Self Abusers. Shortly thereafter, Kerr, Burchill and drummer Brian McGee disbanded the Self Abusers and founded Simple Minds. They recruited Derek "Big Dan" Forbes on bass and keyboardist Michael (Mick) MacNeil, and by the spring of '78 Simple Minds were on their way.

A British recording deal abroad was secured in late '78, and Simple Minds' first album, Life In A Day was released the following spring. A second album, Real To Real Cacophony, followed in December, '79. But despite positive critical reaction, Simple Minds found themselves strugging for commerical acceptance in the United Kingdom. So they turned to Europe instead, touring there extensively and enjoying considerable success.

Simple Minds returned to Scotland to work on their third album, Empires And Dance (released in September, 1980), which was released in September, 1980. In August '81, they issued a two-LP set dually titled Sister Feelings Call and Sons And Fascination, and suddenly, for the first time, Simple Minds found themselves in the Top 20 of the British album charts. Along the way, such dance-oriented-rock singles as Sweat In Bullet and Love Song established the band as dance floor favourites throughout the UK.

Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Derek Forbes and Mick MacNeil were on hand through Simple Minds' first five LPs. Only the drummer's chair has had different occupants, with Brian McGee succeeded by Kenny Hyslop, Mike Ogletree and Mel Gaynor. Gaynor, who helped out on the New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) sessions, is now the band's permanent drummer.

When New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84), the band's fifth album, was relased, the British press was united in its opinion that the album was Simple Minds' crowning achievement to date, and American writers agreed. "New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) backs up it visual gloss with a magnificent sound," wrote the Los Angeles Times. The album "has charms to suck you into deep, private reveries," said Rolling Stone, while The Record concluded that "Simple Minds have learned the fine art of being serious without being too heavy handed." Now if only the rest of the world learned about this band.

That wish is on the verge of fulfillment with Sparkle In The Rain, recorded last fall in the UK. With its massive beat and sense of enormous space, it clearly heralds a further refinement of the Simple Minds sound. In Steve Lillywhite, known for his groundbreaking work with Joan Armatrading (Walk Under Ladders and The Key), Big Country and U2, they have found the ideal producer to help commit that more spacious, elemental sound to vinyl. Sparkle In The Rain, according to one writer, "finds Simple Minds, 1984 model, delivering fearsome amounts of sheer wallop in a language everyone can understand." It's the language of music and success.

Distributed as a colour single-sided sheet in an A&M Publicity envelope with a black-and-white promo photograph.