New Gold Dream holds a special place in my heart because it is the first Simple Minds record I ever owned. It was the record that really got me to dismiss their “80s Music” legacy and seriously examine their back catalog.
The story of "New Gold Dream" begins in January 1982, when the group recorded demos for “King Is White and In the Crowd,” “Promised You a Miracle,” and “Hunter and the Hunted.” Following these demo sessions, the group returned to the road until the end of spring. A completed version of “Promised You a Miracle” was released as a single in April 1982. Much to everyone’s surprise, it crashed the top twenty, landing at number 13.
With a top-20 U.K. single and a supportive record label, Virgin, behind them, the band retreated to Fife in late spring to record some more demos for the new album. Producer Pete Walsh would later recall “They would jam for two hours on the same song, and then we would listen to it back on cassette, pick the good bits and make the song around that. A lot of it was what they'd call pure shit, or not very good anyway, and there were some magic bits that maybe were never captured on the album.”
Following the Fife rehearsals, the group headed to London to record the album’s basic tracks. Virgin encouraged Walsh to capture the energy of the group’s live sound, and so it was decided that the album would be a live studio album with minimal overdubs. To achieve this, the band would play each song several times, and Walsh would assemble an edit of the best performances.
Now, lineup changes were nothing new to the group. So it was rather unsurprising when they ran into drummer issues while recording the album. Drummer Kenny Hyslop, who played on “Promised You a Miracle,” left the group after that single’s release and Mike Ogletree was quickly drafted in to replace him. But despite his competence on the road, the other lads found his style of drumming was not meshing well with the new material. In an attempt to rectify this, Pete Walsh suggested his friend Mel Gaynor to fill in the gaps. Ultimately, both Ogletree and Gaynor are credited on the album’s sleeve:
Ongletree plays on:
“Colours Fly and Catherine Wheel"
"Somebody up There Likes You”
"New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
while Gaynor plays on:
"Someone Somewhere in Summertime",
"New Gold Dream.",
"Hunter and the Hunted"
"The King is White and in the Crowd".
Upon completing the basic live tracks, the band again moved house to record the overdubs. This time to Virgin’s “The Manor Studios” in rural Oxfordshire. The manor was more country club than recording studio, and the group regularly dipped out to swim or play ping pong when they found themselves feeling stuck. If only every band had this sort of luxury...
Interestingly enough, Simple Minds did not stop touring altogether while recording. A quick examination of their 1982 calendar shows that they managed to squeeze in a number of European Festival appearances between June and August. That the group were able to keep such a hectic schedule AND be productive in the studio is impressive. It really makes me wonder how bands today can defend taking such lengthy pauses between touring and recording.
The first word that comes to mind when I think of “New Gold Dream” is FOCUS. “Sister Feelings Call/Sons & Fascination” and “Empires and Dance” may have been ambitious, but they were cluttered and even sound unfinished in some parts. But it seems as though the heavy experimentation that defined Simple Minds’ first four albums paid off. On “New Gold Dream,” they emerge as a band with a sound that is very much their own. While the album does sound glossier than previous releases, it never comes off as boring. The melodies are strong and memorable, and the songs are cohesive. So unlike "Empires and Dance," it's much easier to listen to this album start-to-finish on repeat.
My favorite song on the album? “Hunter and the Hunted,” because it features it features a keyboard solo byHerbie Hancock. Apparently, the jazz-funk legend was recording in a studio next door when the band asked him if he’d like to contribute to the album. His solo is probably of the most poignant and moving performances on the album.
*Interestingly enough, this album sits very comfortable next to Roxy Music’s final release, Avalon, which was released in June of 1982. Simple Minds, like many of their contemporaries (e.g. Duran Duran), were heavily influenced by Roxy Music. So it’s rather interesting to notice how their work matched up stylistically in 1982.
More Information HERE
Wikipedia Entry HERE