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Originally released in October 1985, ONCE UPON A TIME became Simple Minds’ most successful album to date, shifting two million copies in two months, hitting the top spot in the UK and making the top ten in America. It spawned four top-twenty singles and launched a fifteen month long world tour that kept Simple Minds’ name in the music weeklies for most of 1986. And with Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain providing a production dream team, and Anton Corbijn contributing to its instantly recognisable artwork, then ONCE UPON A TIME had all the attributes of a classic 1980s album.
Following the release of SPARKLE IN THE RAIN, Simple Minds undertook a 30-date US tour supporting The Pretenders. The barely populated halls and disinterested audiences they played to, meant the album campaign ended on a flat note. Undeterred, the band regrouped at the newly opened Barwell Court in Esher, Surrey to rediscover their strengths, start writing new material and prepare for a serious of New Year Barrowland gigs for which they were assured a heroes welcome. They dug up old demos, took existing songs and played with their tempos, arrangements and melodies and tried almost everything to find those elusive ideas which would lead to new songs. As the November nights grew longer, the elegant Tudor buildings of Barwell Court started to echo to the beginnings of ONCE UPON A TIME, as recognisable instrumental versions of Ghost Dancing, I Wish You Were Here and Come A Long Way started to take shape.