Go back to 1993 and try to imagine this: Radiohead releases their debut album in April, skips right over the Bends/OK Computer era, and puts out their second album, Kid A, in October. It sounds inconceivable, yes, but a parallel situation actually happened, albeit in another decade to another band -- a band that eventually went on to fill stadiums and mar its best material in those venues with bloated egos, lengthy guitar solos, a plague of late-'80s midrange, and other disastrous forms. Like Radiohead, Simple Minds started with a respectable debut that was contemporary but not exactly exceptional. However, there were hardly any traces of that band left in the second album, Reel to Real Cacophony, which came only half a year later. By the end of 1982, the band had released another three albums (plus one EP) and swept up millions of fans along the way. This period of the band -- one hesitates to say phase, since each album seems like its own phase -- is best experienced on an album-by-album basis. The straight-ahead post-punk of Life in a Day, the fractured whims of Reel to Real, the sparse disco of Empires and Dance, the expansive, echo-laden prog-pop of Sons and Fascination, and the band's crowning achievement, New Gold Dream, are each worthy of complete immersion. If that's too much to dig into, Early Gold is a very concise alternate that cherry picks the singles from those albums. And since the choices for the singles were nearly faultless, this is a good introduction to the group prebombast. Consistently great and unpredictable at the same time, the Simple Minds heard here stands in stark contrast to what came after their snowballing success.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman