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Sparkle In the Rain was the 6th album from Scottish band Simple Minds. Released in 1984 it was the follow up to the very successful 'New Gold Dream' album which I loved and to this day remains one of my favourite albums.
So, bearing that in mind, the band had a hard task ahead to follow up that album in my opinion.
Steve Lillywhite, who was enjoying great success producing U2 and Big Country's early albums was drafted in to produce the album and this saw Simple Minds get louder and produce a more 'rock' sounding album, which takes its title from a line from the track 'Book Of Brilliant Things'
Sparkle In The Rain reached number one in the UK album chart.
1. Up On The Catwalk
2. Book Of Brilliant Things
3. Speed Your Love To Me
5. East At Easter
6. Street Hassle
7. White Hot Day
8. ''C'' Moon Cry Like A Baby
9. The Kick Inside Of Me
10. Shake Off The Ghosts
'Loud' is a word I would use to describe this album. There are some big tracks on here such as the first single release 'Waterfront', which features a very heavy bassline and metallic-sounding crashing drums, which seem almost amplified to the max, as Jim Kerr sings a very strong vocal announcing that "One million years from today, I'm goin' to step on up to the waterfront".
Likewise, the same can be said for 'Speed Your Love To Me' which was another single release. It is one of my favourite tracks on the album, with it's catchy hook and also features a backing vocal from the late Kirsty MaColl, who was married to Steve Lillywhite and often appeared on tracks her husband produced.
It's just a shame that her backing vocal here is somewhat drowned out by all the music, but she appears again on the only cover version on the album, Lou Reed's 'Street Hassle' and her voice is more defined, although I don't think it is a great cover and feel it shouldn't have been done.
The opening track 'Up On The Catwalk' is a stand-out track here and manages to set the tone for the album, as Kerr name-checks Martin Luther and Robert de Niro amongst others as he sings of "One thousand names that spring up in my mind".
"White Hot Day" and "The Kick Inside Of Me" continue the strong sound, and I always thought the latter would be a released as a single but it wasn't to be.
Sparkle In The Rain is not without its mellow moments with the atmospheric 'East At Easter' or the final track "Shake Off The Ghosts" both of which I really like. The latter having a ghostly fade-out to end the album.
"C Moon Cry Like A Baby" is my favourite track, for the simple reason it is just a great track which stood out for me from the first listen, despite its nonsensical lyrics. However, that can be said about a lot of Simple Minds songs which have been described as 'trancelike otherwordliness' by the music press which is probably quite accurate.
This track begins quietly with Kerr singing "Cry, cry, cry" and slowly builds throughout.
Another favourite of mine "Book Of Brilliant Things" is more reliant on the synthesizer sound than thundering drums, and continues with the potent imagery suggested on East At Easter, as the band dabble with a subtle religious undertone. My favourite lyrics on the album are from this track :-
"Thank you for the voice, the eyes and the memories shine
Thank you for the pictures of living in the beautiful black and the white
Some say we'll be together for a very long time
Some say that our first impressions never will lie..."
Anyone who had been hoping for New Gold Dream part 2 would have been left disappointed, as this album bears no similarities. Indeed the band had reportedly scrapped some of the material they had written as it was too much like New Gold Dream.
Working with Steve Lillywhite certainly saw them taking a new direction, setting them up nicely for the huge stadium gigs that were to follow.
Although New Gold Dream is my favourite Simple Minds album, Sparkle In The Rain, although totally different, is a close second. The only weak track being the Lou Reed cover in my opinion.
The band went on to achieve even more success with their next album, "Once Upon A Time" but this one holds a special place in my heart, as the third time I saw the band on tour, was when they were promoting this album. It brings back a lot of memories for me, as it was the last time I saw them perform live before they began playing stadium gigs. Hundreds of fans packed into Newcastle City Hall singing along to Waterfront - " One million years from today..."
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Up On The Catwalk
2 Book Of Brilliant Things
3 Speed Your Love To Me
5 East At Easter
6 Street Hassle
7 White Hot Day
8 C Moon Cry Like A Baby
9 Kick Inside Of Me
10 Shake Off The Ghosts