Containing one song from 1979's Reel to Real Cacophony, three songs from 1980's Empires and Dance, and five songs from 1981's Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call, Themes for Great Cities' purpose, upon its 1982 release, was to introduce U.S. listeners to Simple Minds' early albums -- all of which, first album Life in a Day excepted, were only available as imports at the time. It's apparent that the compilers at Stiff chose tracks that would be less likely scare off those who became attracted to the band through the more accessible New Gold Dream. While each selection is strong, the compilation as a whole doesn't provide a fair representation of a post-punk band that was wildly experimental during the years covered here, and it's impossible to consider this phase without thinking of "I Travel," "Changeling," "Citizen (Dance of Youth)," "This Fear of Gods," "League of Nations," "70 Cities as Love Brings the Fall," and about a dozen others. They were as much of an album band as they were a singles band. Thankfully, the albums this compilation draws from eventually became available in the States.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman