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sparkle in the rain: information

CB: "We had written and toured it before recording. It was going to be different live, with all the big dynamics. We'd debuted Waterfront when we supported U2 at Phoenix Park in Dublin. We knew the record was going to be like that."

JK: "New Gold Dream had taken us out to the European festivals for the first time and we started to think how it would be great if we could get across on the widest stages. Lo and behold, Waterfront turns up. We were never that calculated but, at the same time, we were analytical. The touring took over and, in a sense, it was a little half-finished. Some of my favourite stuff is on there, but it's bitty. The cover of Lou Reed's Street Hassle meant we'd run out of tracks. Now we say to do an album of 10 great tracks you need to be working on 20-25 ideas. And to top it all, it's got the worst album cover in the world."

Record Collector Interview
Record Collector #364
July 2009

MM: Simple Minds songs always have excellent titles. Do they come to you first before the music?

JK: The titles do they are separate. Ever since I was a kid, I had this notebook I donít know why but I had little pieces and stories in the book. It always struck me how language could work and how different phrases could strike you in different contexts. I suppose I always thought about song and album titles to be as striking as book titles. Sparkle in the Rain is one of my favorite album titles. You will laugh when you hear where I got the title from. We were working in the Townhouse studio, and it was a horrible day. I went outside and jumped into a taxi, we had a day or two to go before finishing the album, and we still didnít know the title. The cab pulled up next to a bus stop, and a guy was standing reading the paper. I canít remember what team it was but letís say it was Queens Park Rangers had played the night before. And on the back of the paper, it said 'Queens Sparkle in the Rain.' And I really liked that."

Jim Kerr and Mark Millar
January 2018

"There was no European in it, no President getting shot, no fugitives." Ė Jim

The band recorded their last David "Kid" Jensen session to support the album. It was recorded on the 11th September 1983 and broadcast on the 3rd October 1983. Jim and Mel were in the studio with Jensen when the session tracks were aired, and the broadcast also marked the first public play of the just-finished studio version of Waterfront.

  • Was there a New Gold Dream Part 2? "It wasn't good enough to create "New Gold Dream II", much as many of their new-found supporters might have wished for it. Several excellent new tracks were junked or comprehensively rewritten as the group felt their way with instinctive certainly towards the fierce uncluttered dynamics of "Sparkle In The Rain" - Adam Sweeting.

  • Writing sessions began at The Chapel, a recording studio near South Thoresby, Lincolnshire in February 1983. (They would've preferred Rockfield but the studios were fully booked.)

  • "Every January and February is the same to me. We always use January and February to work on new ideas. We never really get around to forming them, so they're always half-baked. - Jim.

  • The entire band (Jim, Charlie, Mick, Derek and Mel) were there to simply jam and try and come up with new material.

  • Some tracks were based around the rhythm patterns of the xxx synth with Charlie and Mick MacNeil jamming over the top.

  • At the end of the sessions, a six-track demo tape was produced.

  • The one sided acetates were cut before the album was named; but by the time the one sided test pressings were pressed on the 2nd December 1983, the album was called Sparkle In The Rain.

  • In February 1984, Sparkle In The Rain was the first Simple Minds' album to be released simultaneously on vinyl, cassette and CD. The vinyl copies included a glossy inner sleeve with heavily stylized graphics, whilst the CD booklet featured exclusive pictures of the band and some of the lyrics of Book Of Brilliant Things.

  • A limited edition white vinyl pressing was also available, although the only difference (apart from the colour of the vinyl) was a sticker on the sleeve.

  • No other collectable versions of the album appeared, except in Canada, where a limited edition run were pressed in transparent vinyl. This has become the most collectable of the various commercial releases of the album.

  • Promotional issues were also lacking, with one exception. Whilst the gold stamped promo from the US was worth looking out for, Virgin Canada issued a promotional Sparkle In The Rain notepad with the album's shield graphic on every page.

  • One of the rarest, and oddest, of the special pressings, was the test pressing from Virgin New Zealand. This one-sided test pressing features the A-side of the album, and on the blank vinyl on the flip, the record company staff have etched "Merry Xmas Love Virgin NZ" and signed their names.

  • The album was released on Virgin's budget range in March 1991, anticipating increased demand after the release of Real Life. It was reissued on LP (Virgin OVED 346) and cassette ( Virgin OVEDC 346).

    Released 36 years ago this week. Listen to Waterfront and you tell me if the record sounds dated? Although not for me to mark my own report card, I'd vouch that Steve Lillywhite's production makes it feel timeless. Much like the river that our city was built on in fact. The same one that by chance, after a walk along its bank during a July sunset, inspired the chanted lyrics that gave an image to Derek Forbes' roadhouse tune.

    Despite our excitement on release, music critics were not universally receptive to Sparkle In The Rain. Only 40% were welcoming of our new direction, and although I could not understand their grumbling then, I can do so a bit more now. Likewise a fair number of fans, entranced by our previous album New Gold Dream, hoping for more of the same, were to be disappointed. But Simple Minds are never keen on repeating, then and now. Change has been the lifeblood of our band, no matter how awkward or how painful it can sometimes be.

    Alternately a lot of people loved that album. And we had no problem in seeing it become our first UK No 1. Also featuring Up On The Catwalk, Book Of Brilliant Things, Speed Your Love To Me, East at Easter, among others. The energy of music is breathtaking throughout. Lyrics? Well I'd say that they are uniquely Simple Minds. And it's not that easy to be unique. Don't believe me? Try it for yourself and let me know how you get on?

    Any faults on the album? Of course. Going back to Steve's production? Great as it is, it could have done with more light and shade. And we could have done with more rehearsals before recording began. If so, some of the songs on the second side would have had better arrangements, become better songs.

    No doubt it would also have helped if yours truly had written more lyrics upfront - as opposed to keeping everyone in the dark until the last minute. (Akin to asking everyone to run a marathon - without telling them where the finishing line is?)

    Fave song? One that I would want to listen to right now? Well, its early morning and the last thing I'd want to do is listen to my voice. Being so, I'd choose the charming instrumental that works as the album finale. It's called Shake Off The Ghosts. And I could listen to a whole album of that kind of stuff.

    Jim Kerr
    7th February 2019

  • The album was remastered in 2002 as part of an extensive Virgin campaign. It was released as a limited edition vinyl replica CD and standard edition CD. This version remains on catalogue.

sparkle in the rain: quick reference
LP   Sparkle In The Rain Virgin V 2300
A1. Up On The Catwalk(4:45)
A2. Book Of Brilliant Things(4:20)
A3. Speed Your Love To Me(4:25)
A4. Waterfront(4:49)
A5. East At Easter(3:30)
B1. Street Hassle(5:15)
B2. White Hot Day(4:33)
B3. "C" Moon Cry Like A Baby(4:21)
B4. The Kick Inside Of Me(4:45)
B5. Shake Off The Ghosts(3:58)

MC   Sparkle In The Rain Virgin TCV 2300
1-1. Up On The Catwalk(4:45)
1-2. Book Of Brilliant Things(4:20)
1-3. Speed Your Love To Me(4:25)
1-4. Waterfront(4:49)
1-5. East At Easter(3:30)
2-1. Street Hassle(5:15)
2-2. White Hot Day(4:33)
2-3. "C" Moon Cry Like A Baby(4:21)
2-4. The Kick Inside Of Me(4:45)
2-5. Shake Off The Ghosts(3:58)

CD   Sparkle In The Rain Virgin CDV 2300
1. Up On The Catwalk(4:45)
2. Book Of Brilliant Things(4:20)
3. Speed Your Love To Me(4:25)
4. Waterfront(4:49)
5. East At Easter(3:30)
6. Street Hassle(5:15)
7. White Hot Day(4:33)
8. "C" Moon Cry Like A Baby(4:21)
9. The Kick Inside Of Me(4:45)
10. Shake Off The Ghosts(3:58)

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Waterfront Speed Your Love To Me

Up On The Catwalk