Simple Minds eventually became an abusive byword for blustering, earnestly political stadium rock, but this is a fine album. Its more-instruments-is-better style of production was typical of 1989, and the bigness is indeed sometimes ponderous and overpowering. But it can be sweepingly romantic, like on the opening track and "Let It All Come Down". Their slick pomp-rock sound is distinctively Scottish, and has reflections in the equally good contemporary album "Raintown" by Deacon Blue.
"Belfast Child" gave the album a deserved hit, based on the folk song "She Moves Through the Fair". It builds up a powerful crescendo with taste and timing. "Kick it In" adds some rock to the pomp. Admittely, including all of "Belfast Child", "Mandela Day" and a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Biko", laid them open to the usual mockery for being rich white rock stars mouthing off about world politics. But, hell, it was 1989, the year of the fall of the Eastern bloc, and the man himself was about to get out of jail. So what if yet another band reflects the world-changing times with a few more stadium anthems.
July 29, 2004