Simple Minds

The Best of Simple Minds

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Simple Minds, the Scottish group led by Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill, has had a very different career in the U.S. from the one it's enjoyed in its native U.K., and that leads to different estimations of this compilation. As far as Britain is concerned, it is a much-needed, comprehensive collection of the band's hit singles, no less than 26 of which placed in the charts between 1979 and 1998, including eight that hit the Top Ten. But Simple Minds' stateside success was much more modest. The group is recalled as a phenomenon of the synth pop style of the mid-'80s, when it went to number one with "Don't You (Forget About Me)" from the movie The Breakfast Club, then broke three Top 40 hits from its gold-selling 1985 album Once Upon a Time. Subsequent efforts were not nearly as popular, and by 1998 its most recent album, Néapolis, wasn't even given an American release. On U.S. terms, therefore, the two CDs and nearly two and a half hours of The Best of Simple Minds are much more than fans really need. If they give it a chance, however, they will hear a band that had much more to offer than its American chart-topper. The album is not in strict chronological order, but the first disc covers material from 1979 to 1986, much of it heavily produced music in which every possible hole is filled by keyboard sounds, big drums, and Kerr's echoey vocals declaiming portentously. The second disc, covering the years 1989 to 1998, leaves more space in the arrangements to make room for even more serious lyrical sentiments. Virgin probably counted on the '80s revival during the early '00s to justify this American release, and U.S. fans who know only Simple Minds' few stateside hits will find much else to admire here.

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