Simple Minds 'Sparkle in the rain' 5-disc box set special release

13-12-2014 @ 14:09

'Sparkle In The Rain, that’s a genius stadium album. There’s still the pretention and ambition. Waterfront was a song about the decay of working-class industry. Try and find anyone writing a song like that today.James Dean Bradfield, Manic Street Preachers

Following the recent release of their hugely acclaimed Top 15 album, Big Music, on March 16th, Universal Music Catalogue will release a 5-disc box set of Simple MindsSPARKLE IN THE RAIN. It will be the first time the entire back catalogue 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, giving them their first UK #1 (as well as a Top 20 album in Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland). The album went on to be certified double platinum in the UK.

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. Jim 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 Mick MacNeil’s throbbing synth-beats and piano flourishes, Charlie Burchill’s dominating, new wave guitar chimes and Derek Forbes’ swooning bass lines. Jim Kerrs songwriting 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 box set consists of five discs. Disc one is a re-master of the original album – re-mastered at Abbey Road Studios by Andrew Walters and overseen by Charlie Burchill. Disc two features rare B-sides, some making their CD debut for the first time. These include: a live version of NGD’s ‘Hunter And The Hunted’, which shows the band’s evolving sound; acclaimed 12” remixes of ‘Waterfront’ (Steve Lillywhite looped the drums to create an extended intro, as well as stripped instrumentation to create a huge, expansive track), ‘Speed Your Love To Me’, ‘Up On The Catwalkand ‘A Brass Band In Africa’, and ‘Bass Line’ – the original instrumental that became ‘White Hot Day’. Disc three features a previously unreleased concert recorded at Barrowland in the band’s hometown of Glasgow, on 28th February 1984. The concert continues on disc four, with the rest of the disc completed by a three-track BBC Radio 1 session from September 1983. Disc five consists of A 5.1 surround sound mix, remixed from the multi-track master tapes by four-time Grammy nominated musician/producer Steven Wilson, as well as a high res stereo mix and a Dolby digital 5.1 surround mix. The disc is finished off with the original promo videos, Top Of The Pops and Oxford Road Show performances of ‘Waterfront’, ‘Speed Your Love To Me’ and ‘Up On The Catwalk’.

It also includes a 36-page booklet with extensive sleeve notes by Simon Cornwell (, including new interviews with Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill, as well as extensive rare photos of the band and memorabilia from the period.

The SPARKLE IN THE RAIN re-master will also be available on digital download, standard CD, a 2 CD version (which features an abridged version of the box set’s sleeve notes), Blu-ray and LP.

Simple Minds European tour 2015