Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Simple Minds - Once Upon a Time

Today (October 21st) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Once Upon a Time, the seventh studio album from Simple Minds. The multi-Platinum seller from 1985 scored at number 7 in Australia, France and Switzerland, number 4 in Sweden, number 3 in Canada and New Zealand, number 2 in Italy, and number 1 in the Netherlands and the UK. Here in the US, it spent forty-two weeks on the Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 10.

Side one opens with the mid-tempo rhythms of the title track. "Once Upon a Time" is a modern fairy-tale of the trails and tribulations of love.

The third single was "All the Things She Said"; it went to number 65 in Canada, number 51 in Germany, number 46 in Australia, number 28 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 20 in New Zealand, number 9 in the UK and on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, number 6 in the Netherlands, number 5 on the US Billboard Dance chart, and number 4 in Ireland. Of the three hits on this album, this one was my least favorite. Its mid-tempo really did not do much for me.

"Ghost Dancing", the final single, spirited to number 72 in Australia, number 46 in Italy, number 18 in the Netherlands, number 13 in the UK and number 3 in Ireland. The song has a politically charged message and lots of energy musically.

"Alive and Kicking", the first single, reached number 33 in France, number 21 in Australia, number 17 in Germany, number 11 in Sweden, number 7 in the UK, number 5 in New Zealand, number 3 in Canada and on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 2 in Ireland and the Netherlands, and number 1 in Italy and on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. This one reminds me a lot of college campus parties; in fact, I suspect at least a couple of the campus fraternity parties used this song title as a theme back in 1986. It was a good tune to dance to.

Side two kicks off with "Oh Jungleland" on a big, explosive note.

"I Wish You Were Here" pulls back the energy level a bit with a more personal, intimate number.

"Sanctify Yourself", the second single, soared to number 46 in Australia, number 38 in Germany, number 27 in Italy, number 22 in New Zealand, number 17 in Canada, number 16 in Sweden, number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 10 in the UK, number 4 in Ireland, and number 3 in the Netherlands. Again, we have another high energy dance track here. With the backing vocal chorus, it also very much has a "coming to church" gospel element to it.

The album closes with "Come a Long Way". This one opens with primal percussion pattern that strikes to my very core. The chorus is part guttural chant.

Back in the mid-80's, I owned a copy of Once Upon a Time on cassette, the purchase motivated by the three big hit singles. A number of years ago, I picked up the album again for my digital music library as I was adding other albums by the band (it was a value-priced multi-album deal that was too good to pass up).

For more from Simple Minds, click here.


Mark said...

This joint is a loud, blustery, in-your-face ride that never lets up (although I will admit to occasionally skipping "I Wish You Were Here" and "Come A Long Way"). The period from 1980-85 marked the high point in the group's output and this ended those years with a bang, for sure. In addition to the chart positions you mention, it also broke into the Top 10 of the Cash Box albums chart.

I recently ranked this as my 5th favorite album of 1985.

HERC said...

My relationship with this album can be found on Day 92 of 1985: A Vinyl Odyssey, my day by day account of all the vinyl I acquired thirty years ago.

And like Mark, I also slotted the album as one of the Top Albums of 1985. Did I rank it higher or lower then he did? Only the web knows.

Obligatory Spotify album plug.