Simple Minds have taken their time in coming up with their first acoustic album. But given that they made their biggest commercial impact with towering singles like Promised You A Miracle and Don't You (Forget About Me), that's not surprising. The band became the standard bearers for a new kind of rock music in the Eighties when they added big choruses and widescreen atmospherics to the art-rock invention of the post-punk era. So, even in the 'unplugged' upswing that followed, when practically every major rock band stripped down their songs and played them acoustically, Simple Minds shied away.
But now, on Simple Minds Acoustic, they have found a way of doing the acoustic thing without losing their essence, and a dozen Simple Minds songs loved by millions now sound softer, more organic and even more likely to leave a lasting imprint. The synths are no more but the Celtic soul remains.
With so much music to choose from, picking a running order wasn't easy. But there were some numbers that had to feature. A quartet of songs from 1982's New Gold Dream album, all still performed live, were among them. For Promised You A Miracle, the band are joined by fellow Scot KT Tunstall, whose distinctive vocals, acoustic strumming and rolling bass groove transform a piece of music that was the band's first 'pure pop song' when it arrived in 1982.
Simple Minds Acoustic goes back further, too, with Charlie adding Spanish guitar to Chelsea Girl (from 1979 debut album Life In A Day). He also supplies acoustic lines with the feel of Led Zeppelin III on The American, the swaggering song that was the band's first single for Virgin in 1981. There are later highlights, too, with 1984's Waterfront joined by two songs from 1985's Once Upon A Time Alive And Kicking and a soulful take on Sanctify Yourself. From the following decade, 1991's See The Lights shows just what can be done when an acoustic guitar is treated with special effects.
The album concludes with Don't You (Forget About Me), the enduring Breakfast Club closing song that gave Simple Minds a number one single in America, plus a yearning cover of Richard Hawley's Long Black Train.