Simple Minds

Original Gold

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Original Gold is a two-disc set that combines low points from Simple Minds' discography: the experimental 1979 LP Reel to Real Cacophony and 1991's attempted comeback, Real Life. The collection doesn't make any sense since the albums have nothing in common. Reel to Real Cacophony symbolizes the group's post-punk days; drunk on the robotic, synthesized beats of Kraftwerk and the chilly, atmospheric collaborations of David Bowie and Brian Eno, Simple Minds are desperately groping for ideas on Reel to Real Cacophony. It's a strange, hookless mess, void of any emotion or insight. There's bountiful energy but no focus, and the music feels cold and distant. Reel to Real Cacophony is a difficult record to sit through; it's hard to imagine that this is the same band which would eventually hit number one in the U.S. with "Don't You (Forget About Me)" in 1985. Real Life, on the other hand, finds Simple Minds aiming for relevance in the '90s. Released before Nirvana's grunge breakthrough, Real Life sounds remarkably like a U2 record, especially the lovely "See the Lights" and "Stand by Love." Real Life is the antithesis of Reel to Real Cacophony: It's languid, overly polished, and rather bland. If Reel to Real Cacophony is the epitome of young rebels unleashing their quirks in the studio, Real Life is the audio equivalent of radical hippies settling down to become soft-spoken yuppies. Like Reel to Real Cacophony, it's not awful or embarrassing; however, Simple Minds were a glittering prize between 1982's New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) and 1985's Once Upon a Time, and Original Gold shines nowhere near as brightly. By joining two full-lengths from Simple Minds before and after they were great, Original Gold is the most bizarre and useless entry in the Scottish new wave group's library. Don't check it out.

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