Simple Minds are one of the biggest British rock bands of the 1980s from Scotland who first formed in 1977. Throughout the decade, they had a string of hit singles, the biggest of which was 1985’s “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” which was featured on the soundtrack to the film The Breakfast Club. Other major hits include “Belfast Child” and “Alive and Kicking”.
They have much massive commercial success, producing five chart topping albums and selling over sixty million albums worldwide. Of all of the bands to emerge from Scotland, they are easily one of the most successful. Although, they do not quite have the same prominence today, they still continue to tour and record with a very loyal fanbase.
They have had several line-up changes throughout their career, with vocalist Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill being the only original members.
# 11 – Waterfront
This 1983 single was the first to be released from the album Sparkle the Rain. It has one of the most unique bass riffs ever, one that literally consists of a single note and yet manages to not sound repetitive. This record marked a new more rock-based sound for the band. It certainly proved to be a wise move as it managed to chart high all over the world. In the Uk it charted at number thirteen. It is a staple of Simple Mind’s live shows and is one of their signature songs.
# 10 – I Travel
This song is the opening track from the band’s third album Empires and Dance released in 1980. It was actually released as a single but failed to chart. Much of the album’s lyrical content was influenced by their experiences of touring over the past couple of years in support of their first two albums. Although it was more successful than their previous album which failed to chart, it charted rather low at number forty-one in the UK.
# 9 – Sense of Discovery
Next we have a track from the band’s modern era taken from 2018’s Walk Between Worlds. Prior to this album’s recording, the band went through several major personnel changes. This track, like much of the album is very good and shows that Simple Minds are a band who can still make interesting music four decades into their career. The album was very well received critically and charted high in several different countries, reaching number two in Scotland.
# 8 – Themes for Great Cities
This track is taken from the band’s fourth record which was a double album released in 1981 titled Sons and Fascination/ Sister Feeling Call. This track is opening number of the second half. The record was a significant one in the band’s history as it got them recognized by a wider audience across the world. This track is often regarded as crucial in the development of synth pop and has a very different sound to much of the more pop/rock oriented sound that the band are known for.
# 7 – Someone Somewhere in Summertime
This was the third single from the fifth album New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). Despite not reaching the same kind of chart success as their previous two singles, it has become a fan favorite both live and in general. It peaked higher in Ireland where it reached number nineteen as opposed to the Uk where it reached thirty-six. It is one of the band’s most commercially accessible releases, almost bordering on eighties soft rock.
# 6 – Sons and Fascination
And here is the title track of the previously mentioned fourth album. Both halves of the album were recording during the same sessions. It was also the last album in the band’s catalog to feature the line-up that had been the same as the previous record. It is another track that, like much of the album shows a more experimental side to Simple Minds, featuring use of electronic instrumentation. There are many who would say that they were a more interesting band at this point before going in a more commercial direction.
# 5 – Naked Eye
Here we go all the way back to the band’s early days with this track taken from their second album released in 1979 titled Real to Reel Cacophony. The album was recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios. This track, like much of the rest of the album was reportedly written in the studio as they apparently only had four songs written before going in to record. This is very early Simple Minds and is much less commercially accessible. It would certainly be put in the post-punk category and even has elements of progressive rock to it.
# 4 – New Gold Dream
Here the title track from New Gold Dream which is another classic example of the band’s commercial pop period. The album was a massive success, reaching number three on the UK Album charts. Also, like much of the band’s material, it was received very well critically at the time, with many writers giving the band praise to create very catchy pop hooks whilst at the same time still managing to make their music sound innovative and interesting.
# 3 – Don’t You (Forget About Me)
This song was released in 1985 and was not featured on any of the band’s albums. The band did not actually write it themselves. Instead, it was composed by producer Keith Forsey and guitarist Steve Schiff while they making the score for the film The Breakfast Club of which it was featured on the closing credits. Both were Simple Minds fans and had the band in mind to record the song. They were reluctant to record it at first because they did not want to perform a song that they had not written. However, it was a massive commercial success and is now one of the band’s biggest songs.
# 2 – Alive And Kicking
As we close in on our number one spot on our top 10 Simple Minds songs list we turn to one of the band’s biggest hits. “Alive And Kicking,” served as the follow up to their worldwide smash “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” The band would have another big hit on their hands as the song hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985. Not bad for a year in which Bruce Springsteen, Prince, and Dire Straits as well as many others were tearing up the charts.
# 1 – Belfast Child
The final entry on this list was released in 1989 and was featured on the album Street Fighting Years. It reached number one on the UK singles chart as well as charting high in several different nations across Europe. It is yet another Simple Minds hit that received great critical acclaim. It was particularly praised for its epic sound. Its B Side was “Mandela Day”, which was a tribute to the South African activist Nelson Mandela.