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Once Upon a Time (Simple Minds album)

Once Upon a Time is the seventh studio album by Scottish pop rock band Simple Minds, released in October 1985 by record label Virgin (A&M in the US).

Once Upon a Time
Once Upon a Time (Simple Minds album - cover art).jpg
Studio album by
Released21 October 1985
StudioThe Town House
Simple Minds chronology
Sparkle in the Rain
Once Upon a Time
Live In The City Of Light
Simple Minds studio albums chronology
Sparkle in the Rain
Once Upon a Time
Street Fighting Years
Alternative cover
Alternative cover
Alternative cover
Alternative cover
UK picture disc cover
UK picture disc cover


The album paired the group with music producer Jimmy Iovine. He had worked with artists featuring an aggressive guitar-based sound, including singer-songwriters Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Nicks, and he brought that approach to the band. Iovine particularly pushed frontman Jim Kerr, aiming for more energetic vocals.[1]

Although already successful in their native U.K. and various countries in Europe and Oceania, Simple Minds had also recently become popular in the U.S., mainly due to the Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff-penned "Don't You (Forget About Me)". That track appeared on The Breakfast Club soundtrack and had become a #1 hit there. However, the band deliberately left the track off the album due to their reluctance to record it. Still, the bombastic pop rock sound proved influential in the construction of much of Once Upon a Time, particularly the arena-friendly single "Alive and Kicking". Once Upon a Time also shared many influences with their previous studio album, Sparkle in the Rain, which explored a similar songwriting style.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [2]
The Great Rock Discography8/10[3]
Record Collector     [4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [5]
The Village VoiceB−[6]

Released on 21 October 1985 by record label Virgin (A&M in the US), Once Upon a Time topped the UK charts, and peaked at No. 10 on the US charts, spending five consecutive weeks in the Top 10 of Billboard and 16 weeks in the Top 20.[citation needed]

Four singles were taken from the album: "Alive and Kicking" (UK No. 7, US No. 3), "All the Things She Said" (UK No. 9, US No. 28), "Sanctify Yourself" (UK No. 10, US No. 14), and "Ghost Dancing" (UK No. 13).

Music critic MacKenzie Wilson has retrospectively praised the album for AllMusic, stating that it provided listeners with a "raw energy and solid composition not entirely captured on previous albums." He also particularly lauded singles "Alive & Kicking" and "Sanctify Yourself."[1]


Once Upon a Time was available with two covers upon its original LP release. The alternate cover uses the back image for the front and vice versa. It also moves the Simple Minds logo to the right of the cover. The two cover images fit together when placed side by side or above each other, and the release of the album in British record shops saw the two covers placed in a grid, alternating like the two colours on a chessboard. The album cover was standardised for the original CD release and this version has since been used for the various reissues of the album. A collectable picture disc LP was also produced. Housed in a luxury gatefold die-cut sleeve, the record featured the mottled gold effect of the sleeve. A unique lyrics sheet was also packaged in the gatefold. A magnetic jigsaw puzzle was also produced by Virgin Records to promote the album.

The album has been re-released in remastered form on several occasions, most recently in 2015. Virgin Records reissued the album as a remastered edition in 2002 (cardboard vinyl replica edition) and early 2003 (jewel-case). It was released on SACD in 2003. In 2005, Virgin released another reissue of the album: a DVD-Audio version (actually, the disc bears a DVD-Audio/Video logo), which is notable for being a completely remixed album. All the tracks were remixed in 5.1 surround sound, and additionally, a downmixed 2.0 stereo version was created for compatibility with non-surround DVD-Audio set-ups. The tracks on the remixed album differ in length in comparison to the original version. In most cases, they are longer than in the original mix. All the tracks on the remixed album contain material that has frequencies above the CD-Audio cut-off frequency, reaching beyond 30 kHz (a tribute to the original analogue multi-track tapes, and to the producers). In 2012, the original 8-track album was included in the box set 5 Album Set, which also included four other Simple Minds albums: Sons and Fascination, New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), Sparkle in the Rain and Street Fighting Years. On 4 December 2015, multiple formats of the album were re-issued as Deluxe and Super Deluxe editions, including a Deluxe double CD digipack and a Super Deluxe 5 CD / 1 DVD boxset.[citation needed]


In 2008, Once Upon a Time was listed as the 864th greatest album of all time by the French retail chain Fnac.[7]

In 2013, "All the Things She Said" was featured on a radio station in Grand Theft Auto V, the fourth best-selling video game of all time (as of February 2017).

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, and Mick MacNeil.[8], except where noted.

Side A
1."Once Upon a Time"5:45
2."All the Things She Said"4:15
3."Ghost Dancing"4:45
4."Alive and Kicking"5:26
Side B
5."Oh Jungleland"5:14
6."I Wish You Were Here"4:42
7."Sanctify Yourself"4:57
8."Come a Long Way"5:07
  • The 'deluxe edition' of Once Upon a Time consists of disc 1 (The Original Album) and disc 2 (B-Sides and Rarities).
  • The 'super deluxe edition' of Once Upon a Time consists of all 6 discs.


Simple Minds


Weekly chartsEdit

Year Chart Peak
1985 UK Albums Chart 1
US Billboard 200 10
Australia (Kent Music Report)[9] 7
Canadian Albums Chart 3
Italian Albums Chart 2


Year Single Chart Position
1985 "Alive and Kicking" UK Singles Chart 7
US Billboard Hot 100 3
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 2
1986 "Sanctify Yourself" UK Singles Chart 10
US Billboard Hot 100 14
US Mainstream Rock Tracks 3
"All the Things She Said" UK Singles Chart 9
US Billboard Hot 100 28
US Mainstream Rock Tracks 9
"Ghost Dancing" UK Singles Chart 13


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Belgium (BEA)[10] Platinum 75,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[11] 2× Platinum 200,000^
France (SNEP)[12] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[13] 2× Gold 500,000^
Greece (IFPI Greece)[14] Gold 50,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[15] Platinum 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[16] Platinum 15,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[17] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[18] 3× Platinum 900,000^
United States (RIAA)[19] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b c d e f Wilson, MacKenzie. "Once Upon a Time – Simple Minds". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  3. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2006). The Essential Rock Discography (1st ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 970. ISBN 1-84195-985-5.
  4. ^ Elliott, Mark (January 2016). "Simple Minds – Once Upon A Time". Record Collector (449). Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  5. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly, eds. (1992). "Simple Minds". The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. ISBN 0-679-73729-4.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert (1 April 1986). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Les 1000 CD des disquaires de la fnac". Listology. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  8. ^ ASCAP database search.
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ "European Gold & Platinum Awards 1986" (PDF). Music & Media. 27 December 1986. p. 33. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Simple Minds – Once Upon a Time". Music Canada. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Les Certifications depuis 1973: Albums". Retrieved 26 May 2019. (select "Simple Minds" from drop-down list)
  13. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datebank (Simple Minds; 'Once Upon A Time')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  14. ^ "Gold & Platinum Awards 1987" (PDF). Music & Media. 26 December 1987. p. 44. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  15. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Simple Minds – Once Upon a Time" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 26 May 2019. Enter Once Upon a Time in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  16. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Simple Minds – Once Upon a Time". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  17. ^ "Sólo Éxitos 1959–2002 Año A Año: Certificados 1979–1990" (in Spanish). Iberautor Promociones Culturales. ISBN 8480486392.
  18. ^ "British album certifications – Simple Minds – Once Upon a Time". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 26 May 2019. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Once Upon a Time in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  19. ^ "American album certifications – Simple Minds – Once Upon a Time". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 26 May 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External linksEdit