"1984 was the year the post-punk darlings across The Pond grew up ... well, maybe not The Cure who, upon releasing its babbling, tantrum-filled "The Top" that year, would continue to waddle back toward infancy. The Psychedelic Furs came out with "Mirror Moves," adding a polish to its sneer; Echo & the Bunnymen dabbled in orchestral maneuvers on "Ocean Rain;" The Smiths arrived to fill a college-circuit Elvis niche; and U2 hired Brian Eno to babysit the band in the studio to great effect. Yet, in retrospect, perhaps the finest moment was instigated by the genre-hopping Simple Minds, who on "Sparkle in the Rain" would find their sound, then quickly be eclipsed by U2, whose frontman (future pope Bono) shared a similar singing style with Jim Kerr.
Rediscovering the album a dozen years or so since I lost my original cassette, I am blown away by how much is going on in these songs -- especially the first three tracks ("Up on the Catwalk," "Book of Brilliant Things" and "Speed Your Love to Me") -- yet how flawless and contemporary it sounds. The band's previous release, "New Gold Dream," demonstrated the band's ability to carve out emotional soundscapes, but it lacked the energy and swagger that "Sparkle" spills through the speakers. By 1984, SM was an accomplished band that had dabbled in punk, art rock, synth and disco, and already had six studio albums under its belt, so it makes sense the band should outshine its contemporaries on No. 7. Yet, it's not the musicianship alone; there is a sense of earnestness here, a Walt Whitman "yawp," if you will, that is lacking in other releases of the time, as well as any other Simple Minds release. Subsequent albums came off too grandiose; and on prior releases, Kerr either lacked confidence or purposely subdued his vocals.
If you like contemporary bands inspired by the "Eighties sound" -- The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party to name a few -- this is the pinnacle of what they're trying to recapture. And when you pick this up and spin it around in your mind, you'll find they're not even coming close."
Just as I Remember
Matthew G. Soden | Washington, DC United States | 05/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Often records I one loved 20 years ago don't hold up well to the test of time. Book of Love's records, Killing Joke's "Brighter Than a Thousand Suns" and several others fall into this category. That said, I bought "Sparkle in the Rain" on vinyl when it first came out way back in the mid-1980s. After being introduced to Simple Minds via "New Gold Dream" (on limited edition gold vinyl even...) this was a welcome addition to my record collection. I remember being amazed at the driving rhythms and the powerful vocals. I hadn't listened to or even thought of the record until a few weeks ago when someone off-handedly mentioned Simple Minds telling me "I'm alive and kicking." That made me seek out and replace my long-missing LP with this CD. I'm glad I did and am enjoying it right now as I take a break from writing a thesis."
Simple Mind's Finest Moment
PJM | Knoxville, TN United States | 12/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Sparkle in the Rain" tends to get overlooked due to the successive release and success of "Once Upon a Time", which is an enormous injustice. As good as "Once Upon a Time" was, it was a slight letdown after "Sparkle in the Rain", which contains some of the best of Simple Mind's work: "Waterfront", "Speed Your Love to Me", "East at Easter", "Shake Off the Ghosts" and the incredible "The Kick Inside of Me". If you are interested in investigating Simple Minds, start with their "Best Of", then head directly for "Sparkle in the Rain". All the roads intersect here."
First Four Songs Are Incredible
Gadzooks! Books! | 02/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The songs on this record are in general excellent, but the first four are classics -- four of the greatest songs recorded in the 1980s: "Up on the Catwalk", "Book of Brilliant Things", "Speed Your Love to Me" and "Waterfront" are incredible and the record is worth getting for these tracks alone."