CMJ (1/5/04, p.14) - Ranked #20 in CMJ's "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1984"
Personnel: Derek Forbes (vocals, bass guitar); Mel Gaynor (vocals, drums); James Kerr (vocals); Charlie Burchill (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Mick MacNeil (keyboards).
In less than four years, Simple Minds produced and progressed like few other bands. They released six albums, including a pair of nervy post-punk classics in Real to Real Cacophony and Empires and Dance, as well as the lavish "new pop" triumph New Gold Dream. Their audience expanded, and dates opening for the likes of U2 and the Police placed them in stadiums. The band's sound naturally became less subtle. For Sparkle in the Rain, they sought U2 producer Steve Lillywhite, whose approach helped shape their performances into a forceful, direct set of commercial rock designed to shake nosebleed seats. Despite frontman Jim Kerr's vaguest gesturing and most voluble bellowing to that point, the move worked. The pounding "Waterfront," hurtling "Speed Your Love to Me," and gleaming "Up on the Catwalk," the album's singles, all reached the Top 30 in the U.K., and by the end of the year, the band was headlining North American hockey arenas and amphitheaters. Apart from the brawling "The Kick Inside of Me," which contains one of Kerr's least tethered turns, none of the album cuts matches the urgency heard in the singles. Relatively restrained moments, such as the absurdly titled "'C' Moon Cry Like a Baby" ("Could this be something we don't understand," indeed), resemble stiff stabs at re-creating tense drama akin to the tail end of New Gold Dream. As successful as it was, Sparkle in the Rain merely poised Simple Minds for their biggest year, 1985, when they followed up with "(Don't You) Forget About Me" and "Alive and Kicking," singles that hit the Top Ten in the U.K. and the U.S. ~ Andy Kellman