Monday, October 21, 1985

Simple Minds’ Once Upon a Time released

First posted 7/9/2010; updated 10/9/2020.

Once Upon a Time

Simple Minds


Released: October 21, 1985


Peak: 10 US, 11 UK, 3 CN, 7 AU


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.9 UK, 2.49 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: alternative rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Once Upon a Time
  2. All the Things She Said (3/22/86, 28 US, 9 AR, 9 UK, 65 CN, 46 AU)
  3. Ghost Dancing (11/15/86, 13 UK, 72 AU)
  4. Alive and Kicking (10/12/85, 3 US, 2 AR, 7 UK, 3 CN, 21 AU)
  5. Oh Jungleland
  6. I Wish You Were Here
  7. Sanctify Yourself (12/28/85, 14 US, 3 AR, 10 UK, 17 CN, 46 AU)
  8. Come a Long Way


Total Running Time: 40:12


The Players:

  • Jim Kerr (vocals)
  • Charlie Burchill (guitar)
  • Mick MacNeil (keyboards)
  • John Giblin (bass)
  • Mel Gaynor (drums)
  • Robin clark (backing vocals)

Rating:

4.048 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)

About the Album:

Simple Minds had been around since 1979, releasing seven albums. They’d found success in the UK, reaching #3 with 1982’s New Gold Dream and #1 with 1984’s Sparkle in the Rain. Those two albums charted in the U.S., but neither cracked the top 60. However, the band’s fortunes changed in America after their chart-topping song “Don’t You Forget About Me” from 1985’s The Breakfast Club soundtrack.

Before the close of the year, the band followed up that success with their seventh studio album, 1985’s Once Upon a Time. The album “captured the heart-wrenching excitement found in bands such as U2.” MW Part of the success was attributable to Jimmy Iovine, who produced the album. He’d previously worked with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, and U2. He pushed for a more guitar-driven sound and for “more energetic vocals” WK from Jim Kerr. The band’s heavy synth-pop beats had relaxed a bit and Charlie Burchill’s charming playing style was most noticeable.” MW “This album was one of their best, most likely leading the pack in the band’s album roster, because it exuded raw energy and solid composition not entirely captured on previous albums.” MW

The “bombastic pop rock sound” WK resulted in a trio of top-40 hits for the band in the U.S.: the “arena-friendly” WK Alive and Kicking (#3), Sanctify Yourself (#14), and All the Things She Said (#28). All three also reached the top 10 in the UK and on the Billboard album rock chart in the U.S.


Notes: A deluxe edition added a second disc of B-sides and rarities, including “Don’t You Forget About Me.”

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Saturday, October 19, 1985

A-ha hit #1 with “Take on Me”

First posted 11/2/2019.

Take on Me

a-ha

Writer(s): Magne Furuholmen, Morten Harket, Pål Waaktaar (see lyrics here)


Released: October 19, 1984


First Charted: July 13, 1985


Peak: 11 US, 12 CB, 13 RR, 4 AC, 2 UK, 2 CN, 12 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 1.46 US, 0.5 UK, 7.0 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: 4.0


Video Airplay *: 951.32


Streaming *: 482.00


* in millions

Review:

Magne “Mags” Furuholmen and Pål Waaktaar became friends at 12 years old in the Oslo, Norway suburb where they grew up. They met singer Morten Harket while playing school dances and club dates in a band called Britches. The trio eventually went to London where, in 1983, they started shopping demo tapes to record companies. They eventually caught the attention of John Ratcliff, the studio manager where a-ha worked. Ratcliff and Terry Slater, formerly of EMI, offered to manage the band and arranged a showcase which included executies from RCA, CBS, EMI, and Warner Brothers – the latter of whom signed the band. BR1 Originally the trio wanted a Norwegian name which people could say in English. However, when Mags saw a song in Pål’s notebook called “A-ha” it seemed like a great name. BR1

The band first recorded “Take on Me” in 1984. It reached #3 in Norway, but didn’t gain an international audience. The group went back to the studio to re-record the song at Slater’s suggestion. Producer Alan Tarney “beefed it up with more instrumentation and energy.” SF The resulting synthpop tune combined keyboards, a drum machine, and acoustic guitars with Harket’s voices reaching higher notes throughout the song. WK

In the United States, Jeff Ayeroff championed the song at Warner Bros. and commissioned a new video for it. He hired Steve Barron, who did the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” to direct. SF He crafted a revolutionary video which combined live action and pencil-sketch animation. The roughly 3000 rotoscaped frames took 16 weeks to complete. WK It caught fire, garnering heavy rotation on MTV and eventually winning six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards. As of September 2019, the video still gets about a half million views a day. WK It ranks as one of the top three videos of all-time according to Dave’s Music Database, behind only Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.”

The video helped the song achieve international success. It finally charted in the UK, hitting #2. It went to #1 on the Eurochart for 9 weeks and topped the singles charts in 36 countries, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Swden, and Switzerland. WK The song has been described by All Music Guide’s Tim DiGravina as “a new wave classic.” WK


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Awards: