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ONCE UPON A TIME

DESCRIBED BY JIM KERR HIMSELF AS THEIR MOST COMPLETE WORK TO DATE, THIS IS THE STORY OF THE MAKING OF SIMPLE MINDS’ SEVENTH ALBUM, THE MULTI-MILLION-SELLER THAT LAUNCHED THEM ONTO THE WORLD STAGE…

SIMPLE MINDS

Simple Minds’ Once Upon A Time was originally released in October 1985, whereupon it became the band’s most successful album to date, shifting two million copies in two months, reaching pole position in the UK and the Top 10 in America. It bequeathed four Top 20 singles and launched the band on a 15-month-long world tour that made them one of the biggest attractions on Planet Earth, right up there in the stadium super-league with U2. It – and the attendant single Don’t You (Forget About Me), a US No. 1 even though it didn’t appear on the album – brought them a whole different type of fan to those reared on the leftfield drones of 1979’s Life In A Day, the throbbing prototechno of 1980’s Empires And Dance and the experimental pop alchemy of 1982’s New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84).

“There’s no doubt,” agrees Jim Kerr, speaking to Classic Pop in October 2015, exactly 30 years after the release of Once Upon A Time. “It was the peak of us, the commercial peak, that and Street Fighting Years [1989].

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TRACK BY TRACK

1 ONCE UPON A TIME

“This was always going to be the album opener,” says Jim Kerr. “John Giblin had this arty funk thing going on, this pulse. The title made it feel like the intro to a story,” he adds, citing it as an example of Bob Clearmountain’s musical signature. The track was the result of the final jamming sessions at Barwell Court in June 1985. Charlie Burchill has called it “a funky jam with a big fanfare, slightly reminiscent of those records at the time with big brass arrangements.”

2 ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID

It might not have been a concept album, but there was, decides Kerr, thematic sequencing in terms of the music. “After the onslaught of Once Upon A Time and the beginning of it all, there were these beautiful chilled chords – you can imagine us thinking, ‘This is what you’d want to hear now.’”

Issued as the third single from the album in March 1986, it reached No. 9 in the UK and No. 28 in the US. Could Kerr tell it would be a big song? “I think so, especially after we got to New York and got [vocalist] Robin Clark on it doing the female parts. I guess we were thinking of a single, a song and sentiment that anyone could like… you’ve got to understand that, throughout the recording and the whole process of putting the album together, there was this unspoken voice in all our ears going, ‘Don’t You… is No. 1 in the Billboard charts, so you’d better have something to follow that up.’”

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About Classic Pop

The results are in! The latest issue features the Classic Pop 'Top 100 Albums of the Eighties' - as decided by our readers - including the classics of the decade, some cult favourites and a few wildcards to boot. PLUS! We give the Classic Pop verdict on David Bowie's new album 'Blackstar'… Elsewhere in the issue we investigate the classic pop of Christmas, delve into Sparks' weird and wonderful back catalogue, survey Simple Mind's classic album 'Once Upon A Time' and take a closer look at the leftfield sleeve art of John Foxx. Interviews include Visage's Steve Barnacle, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, Susanna Hoffs, McAlmont & Butler and modern synthpop duo Hurts.