Simple Minds are a Scottish rock band formed in Glasgow in 1977. Simple Minds have released a string of hit singles, becoming best known internationally for their 1985 hit “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, from the soundtrack of the film The Breakfast Club. Their other prominent hit singles include “Alive and Kicking” and “Belfast Child” (UK No. 1). They have achieved five UK Albums chart number one albums and have sold more than 60 million albums. They were the most commercially successful Scottish band of the 1980s. Despite various personnel changes, they continue to record and tour. In 2016, they received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors.
The nucleus of Simple Minds consists of the two remaining original members, Jim Kerr (vocals) and Charlie Burchill (electric & acoustic guitars, occasional keyboards after 1990, saxophone, and violin). The other current band members are Ged Grimes (bass guitar), Cherisse Osei (drums), Sarah Brown (backing vocals), Gordy Goudie (additional guitar & keyboards). Notable former members include Mick MacNeil (keyboards), Derek Forbes (bass), Brian McGee & Mel Gaynor (drums). Here are all of the Simple Minds’ albums ranked.
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10. Black & White 050505 (2005)
“I think no one would have ever expected a similarly strong album from Simple Minds in the 2000s. I stopped following their performance after Good News From the Next World (which was ok but not groundbreaking). I recently visited their page on RYM and high ratings made me interested in the record. I was amazed. This album finally really sounds like a cohesive modern rock album by a real band. Simple Minds were usually compared to U2. Black and White has more maturity and musicianship than any of the U2 releases since 2005.”
9. Real Life (1991)
“After 1989’s Street Fighting Years, Simple Minds obviously knew they should release something sharper and more upbeat, and the result was called Real Life. I like the album more than its predecessor, but still it falls more than a little short of Once Upon a Time (1985) and New Gold Dream (1982). The title track is very nice, while the single cuts “See the Lights” and “Stand by Love” are quite fine as well. However, the first single picked from the album was “Let There Be Love”, and while it is decent, it is clear that it borrows a melody hook from “You’re the Voice” by John Farnham, which I am even not very fond of.”
8. Real to Real Cacophony (1979)
“I don’t mind this record at all. Simple Minds might wear their Brian Eno influences like an overcoat on this platter but it’s nothing negative. A lot of the music here bounces and jaunts along in a fashion they’d never repeat with their more deadly serious releases. There’s a playfulness here they’d never revisit. In saying so, while it’s fun it’s also scattershot. The ideas and the delivery are all over the place and occasionally lives up to the cacophony part of the title.”
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7. Street Fighting Years (1989)
‘”Street fighting years” is the best song here (or perhaps “Mandela day”), but there is really nothing’s wrong in this collection of songs. One of their best. Maybe their last great album. I just adore “This Is Your Land” (with Lou Reed’s cameo vocal), the cover of Gabriel’s “Biko”, “Belfast Child” and “Soul Crying Out” are PERFECT. Great album. One of the greatest highlights of the album is the title track’s climax – just fantastic and chilling.”
6. Empires and Dance (1980)
“I missed out on a lot of the early simple minds stuff and they were a surprisingly experimental group these days. Here you can feel the mix of art rock, krautrock and post-punk most prominently, it will be a real shock to fans who got on board at “Don’t You Forget About Me” The keyboard and guitar work here is quite impressive actually and the band sustains the sense of exploration right up to “Constantinople Line” by which point after they lose their focus a bit. John Leckie’s production seems absolutely spot on too, after this they began gradually moving to more commercial sounds but “Empires and Dance” are well worth checking out especially for the propulsive big sounds of “I Travel” and the oppressive but buoyant “This Fear of Gods”.
5. Sister Feelings Call (1981)
“This is arguably the mini-album (or EP, whatever you wanna call it) that taught U2’s The Edge how to use a delay pedal. It opens and closes with the deadly “Cities” duo, two of the most staggering instrumentals ever recorded. The two “-ful” songs (“Wonderful” & “Careful”) are both claustrophobic post-punk masterpieces. “The American” is the only clunker. “League Of Nations” is a grower. I bought this on cassette (still sealed) in summer ’02 and listened to it relentlessly, and I still bust it out whenever I need a shot in the ol’ arm.”
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4. Once Upon a Time (1985)
“I stop short of calling it a GREAT album but with this, on the back of the huge success of “Don’t You Forget About Me” the group became a stadium rock act to rival U2. I had never thought it would be an area that the minds would excel at going by previous records but coupled with Jimmy Iovines US radio geared production these rousing anthems powered by huge drums, gospel choruses, and massive keyboard sounds were soon blasting out everywhere around the world. So even while its blatant and verging on cheesy it’s still fairly entertaining, “alive and kicking” “come a long way” “all the things she said” and “Ghostdancing” are all top tunes.
3. Sparkle in the Rain (1983)
“On the surface, not a whole lot different from other albums from 83-84, due to its heavy production. But the difference here is the increased passion in Jim Kerr’s vocals (and increased presence in the mix) and supreme confidence of the entire band that makes side one flawless. Side two is somewhat weaker, but contains a cover of Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle” that is more interesting in its choice than its execution. Best tracks are “Up on the Catwalk,” “Book of Brilliant Things,” and the exciting “Waterfront.””
2. Sons and Fascination (1981)
“On this record Simple Minds learn how to simplify their sound, but are not content to let go of the repetitive looping structures and idiosyncratic tonalities (those keyboards). Some of the songs outstay their welcome, but this didn’t leave my turntable back in the day. The bass line for “In Trance as Mission” is my favorite ever. Great Malcolm Garrett sleeve, too.”
1. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) (1982)
‘This album features a fair amount of under stated tracks, see for example ‘King Is White And In The Crowd’ or the instrumental ‘Somebody Up There Likes You’, but the album also features some of Simple Minds most famous tracks in ‘Someone Somewhere In Summertime’ and ‘Promised You A Miracle’. The most impressive feature of this album is the overall style which offers a sophisticated sound perhaps influenced by the mighty likes of David Bowie, Roxy Music and Japan. And even though this album is something of a fashion statement, it holds its worth very well. It hasn’t aged at all.”