Rock G.P.A.: Simple Minds [part 14]

simple minds - new gold dreamUKLPASimple Minds | New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84] – 4

The previous Simple Minds album, “Sons + Fascination,” was the gateway to the top ten UK album chart for the long-gestating Scot art rockers. Their kettle was beginning to boil now, and in late 1981, the band found themselves in Australia, where pirate radio play had the band with their first hit in any nation when “Love Song” cracked the Oz top 20 and the band found themselves getting their first gold discs for sales of their album there. They were double teamed as the opening act for the like minded Icehouse for their tour there, and Iva Davies’ band reciprocated by opening for Simple Minds’ UK tour of 1981. There was now the stirrings of activity between the band and their prospective audience; no longer relegated to cult [with a lower case “c”] status,but threatening the top tens of the world charts.

That line would be crossed in the UK when their pre-release single from “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84],” the exuberant “Promised You A Miracle” was their first top ten hit in the UK. I had become a fan in late 1981 when I had bought the “Sweat In Bullet” 2×7″ and I moved forward with the band’s releases. I recall seeing the US “Promised You A Miracle” 12″ while out one evening on a record buying excursion and I snapped it up. It was novel seeing Simple Minds records that easily as they had previously only troubled the import bins.

“New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84],” was the first Simple Minds album to be widely accessible in the US. While the debut album was released by Jem in The States, the subsequent four albums never surfaced here in any form save for the 1981 Stiff-America compilation “Themes For Great Cities.” That album had collected tracks from albums 2-5 and would make anyone reading these words a fan of the band. By the time of “New Gold Dream’s” 1982 release, the band had signed with A&M records in the States, and that meant availability, promotion and low price.

A+M Records | US | LP | 1982 | SP-6-4928

A+M Records | US | LP | 1982 | SP-6-4928

It was hard not to buy “New Gold Dream” upon its US release. A&M did everything
but pay you to take it home. It sported a $6.98 list price at a time when the
industry standard was $9.98. Then it was available in almost any record store and
most importantly, it was pressed on gorgeous transparent vinyl that had burgundy
& gold marbleizing running through it. The inner sleeve was printed with copper
ink. I bought it and was immediately floored, visually and aurally. I’ve since seen images of the Virgin UK pressing and even the US labels were superior. Hy hat is tipped in the direction of the US A+M art staff. They did a bang-up job on this release, but this album didn’t just look good.

US A+M labels

US A+M labels

UK Virgin labels

Virgin | UK labels

Producer Peter Walsh had  just emerged on the Virgin label after helping the debut album by Heaven 17 the year previous. Simple Minds loved his remix of the “Sweat In Bullet” single and his full production of the “Promised You A Miracle” single and saw no reason not to move to another producer for their new album. Walsh emphasized a powerful but delicate production style that was far
from the funk dance sound featured on the “Sweat In Bullet” single. Keyboards predominated and sounded like they were applied with an airbrush. The basslines were supple and sensual…
yet still at the forefront of this eloquent music. Singer Jim Kerr was now offering lyrics that were as far from the introverted paranoia of the last three [okay, four] albums as possible. Lush dynamics practically erupted from these songs and the overall vibe was romantic and emotional; bursting with positivity. While I was an immediate fan of this album in 1982, the intervening decades have seen it rise considerably in my esteem to the point where, much like Peter Gabriel’s third album, I look back on it as a singular, if not towering achievement in music that no one, least of all the artists involved, ever came close to matching or bettering.

Next: …The pulses rise…

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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9 Responses to Rock G.P.A.: Simple Minds [part 14]

  1. zoo says:

    Great intro. Can’t wait to read more about the individual songs. This is a top 5 all time album for me…absolute perfection.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      zoo – One thing that’s puzzling me. Are Greg Walsh and Peter Walsh brothers? Each were Virgin producers of the early 80s. Peter produced “Penthouse + Pavement” then helmed “New Gold Dream” the following year. One year after that, Greg Walsh produced the Heaven 17 breakthrough sophomore album, “The Luxury Gap.” I can’t find anything on this issue.

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  2. Echorich says:

    This is the Simple Minds album where all the exploration of prior recordings coalesced to create a singular, emotive, vibrant work of ART! Peter Walsh brought lessons of subtlety to the studio and the band were obviously ready to explore a sound that bloomed from the roots of restraint.
    This isn’t to say it isn’t an exciting record. In many ways it is the most adventurous, celebratory album in their catalogue. There are new emotions and actions here. Love, joy, engagement, all imbue Kerr’s lyrics. The music is at time heraldic, announcing a new vision, building upward and outward. It’s truly expansive.
    NGD is a breakthrough to new horizons for Simple Minds after traveling through the post war world which so strongly informed the prior albums. They shed the gray and embraced the gold.

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  3. I have difficulty recalling precisely, but I feel pretty confident that my first SM purchase was the 2×7″ “Sweat in Bullet” single the Monk refers to … I’ve always been something of a fan of that format since at least the Pye double-singles from Monty Python, if not earlier!

    I remember liking the title track and 20th Century Promised Land, but dismissing the other two as lesser efforts … thanks to this wretched series I’m super-keen to revisit this and all my other early SM collections. Here’s hoping the value priced SITR box is just the beginning of similar sets for the early records!

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  4. Taffy says:

    This album was my own intro to Simple Minds, and I still treasure that beautiful swirly gold vinyl. What a sumptuous, divine listening experience! One of the best (and least championed) albums of the 80s for sure.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – I listen to this album more than ever 32 years on! It has the goods that its peers in the period frankly lacked. It has traits I needed to mature to appreciate and it as them in ludicrous abundance! I am incredulous that this would be an under championed album in any universe.

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