Vinyl Friday #17: Simple Minds “Once Upon a Time”


I always get the feeling that it’s pretty uncool to like Simple Minds. I’m not sure why, though. Of course “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” is an absolute classic tune, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with genuinely liking them as a band.  Anyway, despite its terrible album name, Once Upon a Time is a decently good album with some solidly composed songs mixed in with fantastic singles. “All the Things She Said” isn’t pretty good for some rocking 80s snapping dance moves (you know what I’m talking about), but “Alive and Kicking” is the golden song. It’s one of my favourite songs ever.

And yes, I will willingly admit this, I do listen to that song many times when I’m trying to tell myself “I can do it!” The song is pretty much my equvilant to those bad motivational posters that everyone’s mom’s post on Facebook. Now that I think about it, the music video – which was filmed in New York state – is set in a place that looks perfect for a nice motivational saying:

I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday! I’m going to make the rest of my life the best of my life!

Or something. I just did a quick search for motivational quotes because apparently my mind is too full of other useless information. But this whole album just sounds of early-Sunday light sounds. It’s easy to pass it off as fluff, but as I’m re-listening to it while I write, this is actually better than I remember. Certainly a great seventh album. Better than a lot of other bands’ seventh albums.

It’s pretty apparent from the photos that this album is a pretty weird copy. For one, this is apparently from the Beloit Public Library. I don’t even know where Beloit is, but thanks to a quick Google search, it’s apparently in the very south central part of Wisconsin – a couple hundred miles away from where I picked this up. I found this baby in the back of this really weird thrift store my friends and I would frequent in high school.

This isn’t like a nice Goodwill-type thrift shop, but one of those religiously-based ones that sometimes has great vintage blouses, but is mostly full of scarf belts and overly-worn terrycloth bathrobes. Their media section in the back is a literal hell. Full of tapes, N*Sync compilation CDs and the scariest record section. People scoff at the album selection at most thrift stores, but this is literally the worst of the worst. Everything there goes for 15 cents because the selection usually consists of albums that not even Lawrence Welk would want.

Thankfully the collective ignorance of the people in Northern Wisconsin meant that this actually good album found its way into the mix. Once Upon a Time for 15 cents, literally the cheapest find in my collection. Since it was at one point a prisoner of a library (imagine borrowing albums from a library now-a-days), the sleeve has been torn up completely to fit into its special little plastic case. I like to think this casing keeps the sleeve protected, you know, despite the fact that some horrible person completely deconstructed this album like a savage. But bonus points because there is still the old school envelope in the front full of stamps from the dates checked-in and checked-out. I can confirm that this was a pretty popular with the kids in Beloit.

This is the grand joy of buying second-hand albums. Who was the little devil that owned this before? Did he rob the Beloit Library of their 80s new wave selection? Did the Beloit Library finally have enough of the burden and cast their albums to the wind to scatter and spread across the state? Oh I’ll never know, but I like to think whoever had this was cheeky enough to kick it off a library and never ever return it.

On a completely unrelated note, I always forget that Simple Minds are Scottish. That just makes then that much better.