Simple Minds / Jim Kerr talks to SDE about Sparkle in the Rain

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On the eve of the reissue and super deluxe edition box set of Simple Minds’ 1984 album Sparkle in the Rain, the band’s frontman Jim Kerr talks to SDE about the record.

SuperDeluxeEdition: Let’s go back if we can, to the summer of 1983.  With New Gold Dream, the album before Sparkle in the Rain, you were very much categorised as this new wave, new romantic kind of thing. Was that something that sat comfortably with you, or did you always think ‘this isn’t really what we’re about’.

Jim Kerr: That was a great year for new pop and we were amazed to find ourselves within that, because 18 months, two years prior, with records like, Real to Real… and Empires and Dance, I guess it was much more ‘art rock’. We didn’t really easily see ourselves on Top of the Pops or even magazines like Smash Hits – all that stuff was still to come. It was all about getting an audience – but it was all about trying to get on the cover NME and get a piece done by Paul Morley and people like that, that was such a big deal. But a year and a half later, it wasn’t that wasn’t important any more – it was – but so was this idea that you could be a pop band as well and everyone from The Associates to Echo and the Bunnymen etc. were starting to appear on Top of the Pops and indeed Simple Minds ended up there as well.

We weren’t quite sure what we were, but the live thing had certainly given us something different from some of those new pop bands. The live thing, indeed the international thing, the fact that we not only played live but travelled all over the place playing live, had given us a core identity, that we felt we had, but it seemed we could add to that identity as well.  I think all of that was going on.

SDE: When you were on Top of the Pops and the New Gold Dream album and singles were doing well in the charts, were you worried that if you went down that road too far you might not be able to get back or get distracted from playing live and communicating with an audience.

JK: No, because people like David Bowie and Roxy Music and some of the stuff we had grown up with had managed to do that. The most we ever felt that, was a bit later on from the period we’re about to talk about when we had the number one in America [Don’t You (Forget About Me)] essentially with a much hyped movie theme tune and there was a feeling of ‘oh God, this is great’ but we hadn’t felt we had merited it and we were worried about it being a one hit wonder. We had a couple of months of that feeling then, but not around New Gold Dream. Any worries that we would have had would have been fleeting because we’ve had this core live thing it was much more based on a traditional rock band. A rock band in the sense that you turned up and you play, and people jump up and down and go mental.

SDE: When you were touring that New Gold Dream album did you feel any limitations in terms of performing that material live because of the subtleties and the studio layers and the texturing?

JK: Yeah we did. We always enjoyed the challenge of playing live but it could be very, very frustrating because from one gig to the next, you didn’t really know what you were going to get in terms of sound, even soundcheck, quality of PA, it was all very much making it up as we went along which meant that you could have two great gigs and then two terrible sounding gigs, which was very depressing. Also we were very hard working and very disciplined and rehearsing and stuff but by the time we got on the road it would only take somebody to go missing for a couple of hours before the gig and go on stage blaring, and there wasn’t quite the discipline then.  But compared to now because of technology and because of experience and because of all manner of things, the gigs are a lot more consistent in terms of putting across the sound, as it should be.

SDE: Regarding that summer of 1983, there is always a lot of talk about Simple Minds and U2 and you shared a few festivals around that period. In terms of who influenced whom, do you think you both influenced each other as much as them influencing Simple Minds?

JK: The first time I saw them play it was at a two-day festival in Belgium.  The first day they had been on stage before us and everyone had said to me ‘they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread’ and all that stuff.  I got the chance to see them and they were very good but they weren’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. We went on after them and had one of these gigs of our life, so you were feeling hot to trot. However, the next day when I saw them, when we went on before them they were on another planet, they were just so good.  What had happened was that they had just got off the plane on the first day and they were lacking the energy I was expecting, but anyway, they had a great sense of entitlement, they were really going to go for it, they weren’t caring what anyone was saying and they didn’t care what NME thought, they were there and they had played in America and they had had their first gold disc and they were adamant that they were going to be the biggest band in the world.

Their whole attack was really, really impressive and how they were reaching out to the audience and that was really impressive.  So when anything is impressive I think it influences you to a degree, you know, a light goes on in your head.  There was a great independence to them.

The second part of your question I think is answered by a book that was put out by them about two or three years ago about the sessions for The Unforgettable Fire where both Daniel Lanois and Eno talk about meeting Bono and Edge for the first time, and they both separately say that they were mentioning New Gold Dream and they wanted to do this textural thing and blah de blah.  I think that answers your question.   

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SDE: So at what point when did you start thinking about the next record? When did you start thinking about writing new material and when did you eventually get into the studio?

JK: Well the only frustrating thing going on in that post New Gold Dream period was that as much as we liked playing live, we weren’t having the chance to get in [to the studio] and be creative and pick things up where we had left off. There was a window in February/March 1983 and we went, of all places, to a place in Lincoln – a rehearsal studio complex that was set up by a guy called Bram Tchaikovsky who used to be in a band called The Motors.

So we were there for about two weeks. There are demos from them on YouTube – it doesn’t say they are from there but I know they are from there – of three or four tracks, so three of four tracks that ended up on Sparkle in the Rain.  So that was the first time that we got to writing and I guess we were laying the foundations.

What I also remember about that which was pretty interesting because Sparkle in the Rain could have been an entirely different sounding record.  We wanted to work with this guy called Alex Sadkin. He came up with Simon Draper from Virgin and they had a first hearing of where we were and it was all very positive. He wasn’t available at the time which then obviously led to [Steve] Lillywhite but I was thinking of how that would have been such a different record, and it’s a funny thing I can’t really imagine Sparkle in the Rain produced by Alex Sadkin, but I can imagine New Gold Dream produced by Alex Sadkin

SDE: What tracks would you have been playing him early versions of?

JK: Well they wouldn’t have been ready, but we would have been working on them, or the melodies of Speed your Love and Book of Brilliant Things, and I think ‘C’ Moon. I used to record everything with just the ambient mic in my ghetto blaster and I preferred the sound of that to the sound of the records.  So it was quite good listening to it today as scrappiest and amateurish as it sounds, it was very evocative.

SDE: Presumably, you had no intention of making New Gold Dream part 2?

JK: Never. It was never a question. We’ve always moved on. There are always new sets of influences or desires or we get bored very quickly. We always think of the Steve Lillywhite factor when it comes to Sparkle but I think the real factor – because it is a departure – the real thing was [drummer] Mel Gaynor and it was really Steve that pumped that up. I think the whole record should be about the excitement from having Mel integrated.  Although he played on New Gold Dream he wasn’t integrated.

The success of New Gold Dream had taken us into the big festivals. We never ever sat down and had planning meetings or anything like that, but I think it was just a collective subconscious of how things should be and how things could work better or what we might need and going into those bigger places, I am sure we noticed how the different fire power that we had from Mel really suited. 

SDE: There must have been a really positive mood.  You must have felt you were on an upward path to very something good.

 JK: There was a sense of joy and ambition and I think we felt we were going to get a crack at bigger things and I felt we were going to get a career – that’s a better way of putting it.  Because up until then we really didn’t know, we really didn’t know, and the band was always in debt and then suddenly it was adding up financially as well.

SDE: The Alex Sadkin thing didn’t work out, so whose idea was it to bring Steve Lillywhite on board?

JK: Probably mine. I don’t think I owned any of the records he had made, but it had come to us that we were working within a rock band framework and he was this ‘go to’ guy for that.  He had done U2 of course, Big Country and the Peter Gabriel record and we loved that, but when everyone else was messing about with Linn drums in that period and really doing the ‘shiny top’, Steve seemed like one of the few guys left who actually knew how to record the band and that was a big deal.  Actually, the biggest selling point was meeting Steve because he has a fantastic personality. I don’t know what age Steve was when we met him [he was 28] but he had done so much and yet he was very boyish and super-energetic; he made you feel that there was going to be no problem.

SDE: Was there ever any question that you make another album with Peter Walsh?

JK: Outside of the first few records when we worked with John Leckie, we never worked with anyone consecutively.

SDE: Why is that, do you think?

JK: What I will say first of all, we have enjoyed everyone who we have worked with.  We like producers, we like what people bring to the party.  A lot of the bands used to meet and they would say producers get in the way or they ruined this or they ruined that. We didn’t feel like that, we loved the experience that they brought and it was also great to have someone you could, at the end of the day, leave it to them.  “It’s your problem you’ve got to sort it.”  That felt great, but I also think we got the best out of everyone on our albums.  I guess maybe we felt that we got the best out of them so why go back again.

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SDE: When you started working with Steve, did the song writing process change at all, because of Steve’s influence or was it fairly much as it had been before?

JK: I can’t really remember Steve being involved in the song writing. For instance, the record for Jimmy Iovine [Once Upon A Time], he was all over us before we got anywhere near the studio.  Americans were much more about the song whereas none of the UK guys we had worked with… we would play them demos and they would go, ‘that sounds good, that sounds good, let’s do it’. You would cross the ‘T’s and dot the ‘I’s but there was not much involvement from any of those guys, Peter Walsh, Steve. I wish there was, because certainly from the experience of Iovine, it’s always good if you have someone saying, ‘do you really think that’s finished?’ Sometimes the first thing is the best thing, but I think with the benefit of hindsight the record does suffer on the second side – it got patchy because if we had kept up the quality of the first side I think it would have been really something but putting in a Lou Reed cover [Street Hassle] and having that instrumental [Shake Off the Ghosts] showed another month or so of song writing might not have gone amiss.

SDE: So if you could change something about that record you would probably make some tweaks to side two then?

JK: Well there were two things I would have done. I would have pushed on more with the song writing and advanced some more songs and therefore not included the Lou Reed cover.  That should have been a bonus track or something on a B side. The other thing I would have done, and as much as I really cherish Steve’s bombastic production, the fact that it features on every single song is a little bit too one-dimensional over the whole album.  They are a couple of things that looking back now I would have adjusted.

SDE: Did the more direct sound, and as you say the more bombastic production, did that translate into less overdubbing and therefore less tedium in the studio?

JK: Well the nature of it would have, yes, but I don’t think there was tedium in the studio.  The band also could pretty much play it live and it all had to be done in four, five, six weeks so it wasn’t like months and months of stuff.

SDE: Did you have an A & R man at Virgin Records who was coming in and saying “I don’t hear a hit, boys”?  How did the relationship with the record company work, while you were recording the album?

JK: That is a good question because what happened with Sons and Fascination, which was our first Virgin album, we had done demos of tracks like The American and Love Song and Sweat in Bullet so they knew what they were getting and were liking it. When it came to New Gold Dream we had done Promised You a Miracle in a John Peel session prior to the album and everyone said, ‘that sounds like a hit’.  There wasn’t anything like that with Sparkle.  The only thing we had done in advance, I think we had gone over to play in Dublin as part of U2’s Homecoming gig and we were rehearsing in London for a couple days just above a shop and Derek Forbes had come up with this idea – it still was an idea, it wasn’t even a finished song, but within an hour we had come up with Waterfront and had a verse and it had such a great, great feeling about it and we said, ‘let’s just play it – let’s start with it’.

And indeed we did and although it wasn’t recorded, word had got out certainly within Virgin, and I guess from Bruce Finley – who was not only a great manager but a great publicist for the band. There was a feeling that that was up our sleeve and as I said, Simon Draper had been up with Alex Sadkin and heard some of the early stuff with hooks and things. There was an element of, you know what, Simple Minds are on their way  and they know what they’re doing. They’re working with Steve Lillywhite and that would have led to an element of trust.

SDE: The album went to number one in the UK when it eventually came out.  How much satisfaction did you get from that commercial success?

JK: There would definitely have been something of course, there would have been something but I don’t remember there being any pressure of it being number one or anything like that. I think maybe overshadowing that was the fact that around the same time as the recording come out they had put on tickets for shows and we had sold out like ten nights at the Hammersmith Odeon which was unbelievable back then, almost unheard of.  That was probably, again, being a live band, that was probably much more tangible to us in a sense, tangible as being like ‘wow, this is really something’.

Jim Kerr was talking to Paul Sinclair. READ Part 2 here.

“… Boys from a council estate, multimillionaires having a ball and doing exactly what we wanted to do but having to put up with a hectic schedule – give me a break!”.
Read part two of this interview only on SDE next week.

Sparkle in the Rain super deluxe edition box set is released next week.


5-disc super deluxe box set


Deluxe Edition


Blu-ray audio


Vinyl Edition

Track listing

Disc: 1

1. Up On The Catwalk
2. Book Of Brilliant Things
3. Speed Your Love To Me
4. Waterfront
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

Disc: 2

1. Waterfront (Edit)
2. Hunter And The Hunted (Live B – Side)
3. Waterfront (Extended Remix)
4. Speed Your Love To Me (Edit)
5. Bass Line (B – Side)
6. Speed Your Love To Me (Extended)
7. Up On The Catwalk (Edit)
8. A Brass Band in Africa (B – Side)
9. Up On The Catwalk (Extended)
10. A Brass Band in Africa Chimes (B – Side)
11. Waterfront (Single Version)

Disc: 3

1. Shake Off The Ghosts [Intro] (LIVE – Barrowlands Glasgow 1984)
2. Waterfront (LIVE – Barrowlands Glasgow 1984)
3. Up On The Catwalk (LIVE – Barrowlands Glasgow 1984)
4. The Book Of Brilliant Things (LIVE – Barrowlands Glasgow 1984)
5. Glittering Prize (LIVE – Barrowlands Glasgow 1984)
6. The American (LIVE – Barrowlands Glasgow 1984)
7. King Is White And In The Crowd (LIVE – Barrowlands Glasgow 1984)
8. Speed Your Love To Me (LIVE – Barrowlands Glasgow 1984)
9. Someone Somewhere In Summertime (LIVE – Barrowlands Glasgow 1984)

Disc: 4

1. Promised You A Miracle (LIVE – Barrowlands Glasgow 1984)
2. Big Sleep (LIVE – Barrowlands Glasgow 1984)
3. New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) [Live] – Take Me To The River [Live]
4. Love Song [Live] – Glory [Live] (LIVE
5. Waterfront (Radio One Session)
6. Kick Inside (Radio One Session)
7. New Gold Dream (Radio One Session)

Disc 5

  • • Sparkle in the Rain 5.1 Surround Mix
  • • Sparkle in the Rain New Stereo Mix
  • • Waterfront (Promo Video)
  • • Speed Your Love To Me (Promo Video)
  • • Up On The Catwalk (Promo Video)
  • • Waterfront (TOTP)
  • • Speed Your Love (Oxford Road Show)
  • • Up On The Catwalk (Oxford Road Show)

SuperDeluxeEdition.com helps fans around the world discover physical music and discuss releases. To keep the site free, SDE participates in various affiliate programs, including Amazon and earns from qualifying purchases.


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Kevin Galliford

Only just read this!, great interview & fascinating to read an article on the background which you never really get at the time in such detail. One of my favorite ever albums of the 80’s & maybe even all time,I remember playing the tape on my Amstrad stereo with space for records below ,

[…] compared to some recent deluxe sets which have worked so hard in this area including Simple Minds (Sparkle in the Rain, Once Upon A Time), Alanis Morissette (Jagged Little Pill) and Tears For Fears (Songs From The Big […]

[…] second part of the SDE interview with Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr. Make sure you’re read part one from last week before proceeding! SuperDeluxeEdition: You have said a few times about being a […]

Gary c

Mine hasn’t arrived yet, but Steve H forums are reporting problems with one of the mixes. You heard anything yourself?

gary c

Any word on the stand alone Blu Ray?

Barrie Sillars

Apart from the odd spelling mistake and formatting errors previously mentioned, the big problem is on the DVD. The stereo mix, well isn’t stereo! It’s mono! I was playing this on headphones and switched between the default multi setting, which is really good and sounds fantastic to stereo (to listen to the hi res mix) and gulp, everything is in the centre channel. Someone else mentioned this on the Steve Hoffman forum so it seems to be a real issue. I am sure as more people get their boxes this will be talked about more. It seems no one checks the discs as well as the text.


Dear Paul, I’m an italian fan of Simple Minds, and in these days I’m listening the SDLE of Sparkle in The Rain. What a lot of memories!
It was 31 years ago and still sound fresh….
Now the question is : there are plans for further release of other Simple Minds album. I can’t wait for them! Please somebody can tell me something about that? Thanks for the patience and apoologise for my English, that I think i very poor….


Grazie Paul!!! You’re nice!!!!

Well, after all it’s a good new!!!! I think there’s a lot of material
lying in the Archives, it’s time to open them….


Am I the only one who absolutely loves their version of Lou Reed’s Street Hassle?
On another note I’d really like the same box set treatment for New Gold Dream and Empire & Dance

Great interview Paul!


Great to read Kerr’s comments in full. I just got the big “Sparkle” set and was surprised that apparently nobody proof-read the booklet. (The typesetting of the song-by-song section seems to have gone wrong at some stage: there are random paragraph spacings and unnecessary line breaks, resulting in the last sentences or paragraphs missing from the book!.) Obviously a lot of work went into assembling this (still) beautiful package, so it’s really a shame that nobody looked at it before it went into production.
And yes: “Sons & Fascination/Sister Feelings Call” next please!


Jim Kerr’s referencing of John Leckie reminded me how their earlier records presaged his later production work with The Stone Roses.

These earlier Simple Minds albums sounded both uninhibited and completely unpretentious when compared to the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ approach of Ian Brown co-conspirators on their totally overrated eponymous debut which the music press were falling over themselves to praise beyond its merits.

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Jim Kerr is always a great interviewee and forever lacking the
self-aggrandisement Bono appears to be so fond of.

New Gold Dream may have been a career defining release for Simple Minds and in some ways has overshadowed the excellent album Sparkle In The Rain is and was. It would have been all too easy to do a New Gold Dream 2/3/4 etc.

The Steve Lillywhite production always reminded me of his work on Big Country’s brilliant debut album The Crossing.


Thanks paul, another great interview with one of my favorites, Jim Kerr of simple minds.

I wonder why the are so shy about their demos. They have tons of them, and in good quality too, unlike the ones posted on youtube and elsewhere.
the page was here, but is broken.

SH8 Sparkle In The Rain Demos
??? Unknown Date / Unknown Location
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Melody Demo #1]
a brass band in african chimes demo 1 (4:31) 9/10 Mick and Charlie play the main riff of the song repeatedly backed by a drum machine.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Coda Demo #1]
a brass band in african chimes demo 2 (4:57) 7/10 Mick and Derek concentrate on the end melody of Brass Band with some bass solos. Different drum machine pattern to the previous recording. It sounds like this was intended as a separate song before being fused onto the end of Brass Band In Africa.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Coda Demo #1 – Melody Demo #1]
a brass band in african chimes demo 3 (2:10) 9/10 Charlie now works on the coda with Mick. Includes lone guitar solo with the keyboards fading out. The keyboards return to the main Brass Band In Africa riff. Finishes abruptly.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Live Take #1]
a brass band in african chimeslive take 1 (2:19) 5/10 The whole band work on the track. Starts with studio chatter between Charlie and Mick. The melody and arrangement of the start of the song is already in place. Breaks off with Charlie: “There are some interesting bits in that.”
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Live Take #2]
a brass band in african chimes live take 2 (3:06) 5/10 After some brief words from Charlie, the band try a second take. There’s a brief break in the recording before the track stops.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Live Take #3]
a brass band in african chimes live take 3 (3:08) 5/10 A straight run through the track after Mel’s count. The band can be heard shouting cues to each other over the song. There’s some slight improvisation at the end.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Live Take #4]
a brass band in african chimes live take 4 (4:30) 5/10 A straight run through the track after Mel’s count. Much looser arrangement with improvision from Charlie and Mick. Main track ends with Mick improvising a final coda. The recording then cuts (at around 3:50) to a previous live take of the song which ends with a discussion by Charlie and Mel.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Live Take #5]
a brass band in african chimeslive take 5 (4:53) 5/10 A straight run through the track after Mel’s count. The track pauses near the end when Mel queries something, and then they run through it again. They almost crack the ending and the track stops with a discussion about chords.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Live Take #6]
a brass band in african chimes live take 6 (1:50) 5/10 A straight run through the track. Some improvision. Fades out.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Live Take #7]
a brass band in african chimes live take 7 (4:22) 5/10 A straight run through the track. Lots of improvision from Mick as they continue to work on the ending.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Live Take #8]
a brass band in african chimes live take 8 (2:43) 5/10 A straight run through the track after Mel’s count. Fades out.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Live Take #9]
a brass band in african chimes live take 9 (3:30) 5/10 A straight run through the track after Mel’s count. They almost nail the ending before Mick gives up and starts jamming something else. Mel can be heard suggesting they try it again.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Live Take #10]
a brass band in african chimes live take 10 (4:41) 5/10 Another run through. Ends with a short guitar phrase by Charlie.
A Brass Band In African Chimes [Live Take #10]
a brass band in african chimes live take 11 (4:41) 4/10 Slightly rougher recording of the above.
All The Things She Said [Demo]
brass band and all the things she said demo instrumental (5:00) 10/10 [Old Chapel Final Demo] The choruses are clearly All The Things She Said with different verse melodies. Has a fade at the end instead of the abrupt stop on the demo tape.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Bass Jam]
book bit 1 (0:42) 3/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Derek produces the alternative Book verse melody whilst Mick adds eerie overtones. “Fucking great” as Jim comments.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Drums]
Drums (4:21) 7/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Mel’s drums only. Derek’s bassline can just be heard.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Keyboards #1]
Pads #1 (1:13) 7/10 [???] Mick’s keyboards only for the Once Upon A Time live version of the song.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Keyboards #2]
Pads #2 (1:48) 7/10 [???] Mick’s keyboards only for the Once Upon A Time live version of the song. Longer version of the above.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Album Version]
book of brilliant things – alt mix (4:15) 9/10 [Townhouse] Final album version.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Instrumental Take #1]
book of brilliant things instrumental take 1 (2:29) 8/10 [Townhouse Rough] An early, incomplete version of the album mix. Some lyrics. Choruses and intros intact. Verses just feature drum and bass. Fades out during the second verse. Probably a recording taking halfway through the Townhouse recordings.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Instrumental Take #2]
book of brilliant things instrumental take 2 (1:47) 3/10 [Rockfield Rough] Extremely rough recording of an improvised version of the above. Lots of studio talk and direction. Backed by a drum machine.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Instrumental Take #3]
book of brilliant things instrumental take 3 (4:20) 7/10 [Townhouse Rough] Very similar to the album version, except the keyboards are higher in the mix with some slight improv. No vocals. Recording slightly flat. Probably a recording taking halfway through the Townhouse recordings.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Demo]
book of brilliant things demo (5:11) 9/10 [Old Chapel Final Demo Edit] Whilst the chorus identifies the song, the verse arrangement and its melody are completely different (vaguely like See The Lights). Fades out at the end.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Jam #1]
brilliant jam!1 (8:06) 7/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Jam based around the alternative melody for Book Of Brilliant Things. Parts sound similar to the verse melody of Once Upon A Time.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Jam #2]
brilliant jam!2 (38:18) 6/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Jam based around the alternative melody for Book Of Brilliant Things. From the same session as above, but the recording is rougher. The final verse melody appears at around 26:00 where the band really open up and the best improvisation starts.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Jam #3]
brilliant jam!3 (4:37) 6/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Jam based around the alternative melody for Book Of Brilliant Things. From the same session as above. They really nail the final verse melody here.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Jam #4]
brilliant jam!4 (9:08) 7/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Jam based around the alternative melody for Book Of Brilliant Things. From the same session as above. Some tape problems.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Jam #5]
brilliant jam!5 (8:19) 7/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Jam based around the alternative melody for Book Of Brilliant Things. From the same session as above.
Book Of Brilliant Things [Jam #6]
brilliant jam!6 (7:05) 7/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Jam based around the alternative melody for Book Of Brilliant Things. From the same session as above.
Clockwork [Demo #1 Drums & Guitars]
clockwork demo (drums and guitar) (6:01) 7/10 [Old Chapel Rough] A much longer recording of the first demo featuring just the drum machine and Charlie’s guitar. Reference keyboards can just be heard in the background. Some guitar improv at the end.
Clockwork [Demo #1]
clockwork – demo 1 (2:39) 9/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Mick and Charlie and a drum machine. This short recording fades in and out; the 6:01 recording (see above) suggests this could be from a longer version.
Clockwork [Demo #2]
clockwork – demo 2 (3:35) 7/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Later version of the song. Again, Mick and Charlie and a drum machine. The song is now overflowing with ideas and riffs. Slower than the first demo.
C Moon Cry Like A Baby [Jam]
c-moon – demo (5:36) 6/10 Studio jam between Charlie, Mick and Derek. The song is barely formed but the main riff can just be heard several times. The recording is badly distorted.
C Moon Cry Like A Baby [Live Take #1]
c-moon (live take 1) (3:45) 7/10 The whole band work on the track. The melodies and arrangement are similar to the albums with an extended middle-8. Stops abruptly.
C Moon Cry Like A Baby [Live Take #2]
c-moon (live take 2) (4:19) 7/10 The whole band work on the track. The melodies and arrangement are similar to the albums with an extended middle-8. Comes to a faltering halt.
C Moon Cry Like A Baby [Live Take #2]
c-moon (live take 3) (4:18) 5/10 Poorer recording of the second take.
C Moon Cry Like A Baby [Live Take #1]
c-moon (live take 4) (3:45) 5/10 Poorer recording of the first take.
East At Easter [Demo #1]
east at easter 1 (early demo) (5:38) 4/10 Grainy, muffled and flat recording of the original song which featured the East At Easter coda. Slow tempo version.
East At Easter [Demo #2]
east at easter 2 (early demo) (4:57) 4/10 Distored recording of the original song which featured the East At Easter coda. Slow tempo version.
East At Easter [Demo #3]
east at easter – demo 1 (4:24) 8/10 Good recording of the original song (with some tape chew) which featured the East At Easter coda. Fast temo version. Fast fade at the end.
East At Easter [Demo #4]
east at easter – demo 2 (4:48) 4/10 Rough recording of the original song which featured the East At Easter coda. Fast tempo version. Reaches a slow end.
East At Easter [Demo #5]
east at easter – live take (4:44) 5/10 Rough recording of the original song which featured the East At Easter coda. Fast tempo version. Reaches a quick conclusion.
I Wish You Were Here [Demo #1]
i wish you were here 1 (demo) (3:27) 5/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Fades in half-way through. Almost the final Sparkle demo. Some slight keyboard problems in this take.
I Wish You Were Here [Demo #2]
i wish you were here 2 (demo) (4:26) 7/10 [Old Chapel Final Demo] Better and more complete recording of the above. Very unlike the Sparkle demos. More like a Once Upon A Time version. Gradually stops at the end.
Shake Off The Ghosts [Loop]
shake off the ghosts – loop (5:56) 9/10 Loop of Shake Of The Ghosts? Could be a loop of the final seconds of Up On The Catwalk before the “best friends” lyric. Fades at the end.
Mick Idea #1
arpeggio idea (5:40) 7/10 Lone instrumental idea by Mick. Fades at the end.
Drum And Bass #1
drum & bass idea (6:31) 6/10 Slightly fuffled and flat drum and bass backing track.
Drum And Bass #2
drum & bass idea 2 (4:00) 8/10 Good recording of a drum and bass backing track. Different to the above.
Mick Idea #2
keys idea (1:41) 6/10 Lone instrumental idea by Mick. Still a basic jam. Recording features an annoying crackle.
Mick Idea #2
keys idea 2 (1:23) 6/10 Continuation of the above. Mick experiments with different keys. Recording features an annoying crackle.
Mick Idea #2
keys idea 3 (0:40) 6/10 Continuation of the above. Mick experiments with different keys. Recording features an annoying crackle.
Mick Idea #3
keys idea 4 (4:13) 8/10 More of a fully formed idea by Mick. A slightly sad melody but very representative of Once Upon A Time era work. Slight crackle.
Mick Idea #3
keys idea 5 (2:09) 7/10 Continuation of the above. Slight crackle and distortion.
Mick Idea #4
keys idea 6 (3:25) 7/10 A very fast melody. Includes Mick, Charlie and a drum machine.
Song #4 [Jam #1 Edit]
keys idea 7 (5:50) 4/10 [Old Chapel Rough] Poor and shorter recording of this instrumental jam by Mick.
Song #4 [Jam #1]
untitled 6 (take 1) (13:10) 7/10 [Old Chapel Rough] A slower melody based around a pre-set drum pattern of the machine they were using at the time. Appears to be just a jam by Mick. Lots of improv. Early version of the chorus riff used for Song #4.
Song #4 [Jam #2]
untitled 6 (take 2) (4:17) 8/10 [Old Chapel Rough] A continuation of the jam by Mick. Lots of improv. Slightly different drum pattern. Early version of the chorus riff used for Song #4. Seems to be a complete take of the song.
Song #2 [Demo]
untitled 8 (4:16) 8/10 [Old Chapel Final Demo] OK recording.
Song #4 [Jam #3]
untitled instrumental 1 (take 1) (11:07) 8/10 [Old Chapel Rough] The continuation of the jam by Mick of the chorus for Song #4. The song is gradually developing with lots of improv and key changes at the end.
Song #4 [Jam #4]
untitled instrumental 1 (take 2) (10:31) 8/10 [Old Chapel Rough] A continuation of Jam #3 by Mick. Much more experimental as the song moves away from its roots. Different drum patterns are introduced. Interesting synth experiments at the end. Complete track.
Song #2 [Demo]
untitled instrumental 6 (0:56) 7/10 [Old Chapel Roughs] Short segment of Song #2. Abrupt end. Slightly different take and mix to the final demo.

Wish it had been more like the Tears for Fears boxset. But i will still be getting it regardless.

keep up the great work, and looking forward to the second half.

Alan Jones

Can I firstly say I have been an avid reader of SDE for some time but this is the first time I have commented. The site is a credit to you Paul and what great way I hope to make a living. Anyway I have been a massive fan of the Minds since reading the review of the Life In A Day album in NME and much of my hard earned and not to so hard earned since has been spent on rare / live / unreleased versions / seeing them live. With regard to Sparkle In The Rain era I can remember taping and still have the Kid Jensen session versions at that time featured on disc 4 of the new box-set, broadcast on 3 October 1983 – Waterfront, The Kick Inside Of Me, plus a super fast version of New Gold Dream (81, 82, 83, 84). I have the white vinyl UK and clear vinyl Canadian album versions. I have a three foot diameter circular promo cardboard promo window display (from Our Price, Bayswater). The main reason for writing was to say I think I have the demo / instrumental versions Jim is referring to which are White Hot Day, Speed Your Love To Me, Book Of Brilliant Things & Shake Off The Ghosts. My biggest regret was not buying some of the original album artwork (the black and white shaped design on the inner sleeve) for a tenner from a record store called Luigi & The Boys just off Oxford St, London where the Virgin Megastore was near Tottenham Court Road. Needless to say I will be purchasing all versions of the new release but have decided to go for the blu ray first.


Wow, very surprised at the comments regarding the peak of creativity with NGD. Sure this is a classic by all means, but speaking of creativity, what about Street Fighting Years ? They could have done Once Upon A Time part 2, they didn’t, just like Sparkle was a deliberate move from NGD as Jim explains.

Never twice the same record. That’s ballsy. Sometimes they kind of failed, but most of the time they succeded. That’s what I love about the Minds.

Mandela Day was a weird single and surprising success, and Street has strictly no obvious hit designed for arenas (though they did tour arenas !).

The only arena rock oriented album is really OUAT, Sarkle was released just before but just because of its agressive sound it was definitely no hint of what was about to come IMHO.

I’m very glad they do a deluxe edition of Sparkle, but every album indeed would deserve so.

Chris Harper

Took the words right out of my mouth! “Never twice the same record” Since I am an American my first SM song was Don’t You… My first SM record was OUAT. Imagine my surprise around 85 or 86 walking thru the record store in the mall and coming upon NGD. Then maybe a month or two later Life In A Day and RtoRC! Then again finding Sister Feelings Call,and then AGAIN SEVERAL years later finding out that the full album is Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call! And yes, yet AGAIN as a grown man in the military finally getting my hands on Empires And Dance. Not to mention compilations like Celebration and live albums such as Live In The City Of Lights. And all of their post SFY stuff. Indeed my friend NEVER twice the same album. It’s a shame they were labeled as ‘U3’ and the “poor man’s U2”. Bono has cited several times that SM INFLUENCED U2. I like U2….BUT I LOVE Simple Minds. Peace, God bless!


I was one of the thousands that sent Sparkle to number 1 on its initial release and I totally concur with Jim Kerr’s own observation that after a brilliant (if brash) side one, side two was like a collection of average b-sides. I honestly think they peaked with New Gold Dream, which was a fabulous culmination of all of those early albums and Sparkle was the turning point into ‘arena rock’ – they’ve never hit the creative heights of NGD since.

I won’t be getting any version of Sparkle being re-released but I really do hope for as much, if not more, special treatment of NGD – definitely one of the best albums of the 80s

Mark A.

Great interview. Now, how about using your pull to get a deluxe box for Empires and Dance?


A deluxe of Empires and Dance would be most welcome – however I presume that the 5×5 boxed set which had extras for each of the first five albums kind of removed the possibility of deluxe editions of any of them…

But I’d love to be proved wrong (Sparkle would definitely have been one of my least favoured choices for the deluxe treatment).

My top five would be:
– Empires and Dance
– Real to Real Cacophony
– Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call
– New Gold Dream
– Neapolis (strange to say but I love this album!)

gary c

PS Great interview, so good to hear some technical talk and music business talk from Jim, he can be a bit esoteric when talking about Simple Minds and their sound.
You did a fine job, Paul.

gary c

City of Light could be classed as a studio album given the tinkering that went on, wasn’t my favourite period musically or creatively.
The version of Book Of Brilliant Things they had played on the Sparkle Tour, and what it is now, doesn’t move me at all.
Here’s hoping that this next tour might restore some of those Sparkle songs to their former glory, I’m thinking immediacy, brevity here…


Nice work, Paul. Another great interview. Jim’s spot on with the weaknesses of the album, and the 1987 City Of Light versions of Book of Brilliant Things and East at Easter show that he realised fairly soon how much better those songs could sound, given a more varied treatment.

Friso Pasq

Wow, now that’s how an interesting in-depth interview with a musician is done. Great read, Paul. Looking forward to part 2.
By the way, are there extensive liner notes with the boxset? And have you had a hand in anything there?


Great interview Paul – thank you.

Saw Simple Minds at Hammersmith on the Sparkle in the Rain tour. Can’t remember too much about it though.

Sparkle has never been my favourite album:
– I find the production a bit ‘toppy’ and harsh sounding (possibly it was their reaction to the super-smooth sound of NGD)
– Side two is definitely weak (can’t stand the Lou Reed cover – I guess it doesn’t help that I don’t care much for the original)

However I would love to hear those demo tracks Mr. Kerr mentions – I’ll have to do some hunting on YouTube. Shame they aren’t included in the deluxe box


Thanks so much for this type of quality content… very rare these days. Keep up the good work. And Jim Kerr is such a nice guy. I love the way he answered your summer 1983 U2 question !


Simple Minds whilst not as globally massive as U2 are currently making the better music. Big Music is far better artistically than SOI. Such a pity that i will miss the Plymouth show in April due to being broke, thanks for that Bono!!!


Paul, are either of these interviews included in the boxset booklet?
Look forward to part 2 of the interview you did.

Martin Waldron

Great interview Paul, many thanks. Loved the album from it’s release back in 1984 and really looking forward to the SDE of Sparkle. I wonder if any of their other albums will get the SDE treatment (New Gold Dream, Once Upon A Time).

Craig Jacks

Nice interview…looking forward to part 2 next week!

Saw them here in Los Angeles last year and they were great.

Wondering why the deluxe (2-disc) version isn’t available in the US – it’s a nice option if you don’t need the live stuff.

Do you know?

Harry Williams

Wow… so much work! Fabulous interview Paul… Can’t wait to dive in and digest it all… and also for next week to read the second instalment! And isn’t he a gentleman? Nicest guy in pop… Kudos.