Album #561 – Picture Book
Simply Red may describe the hair color of the lead singer but, the music is more black and blue. Their first album is a combination of r&b, soul and pop. Mick Hucknall’s voice is one of my favorites in all of pop music. It’s full of color and emotion along with a raspiness and flavor that connects with his British roots. I’m beginning to realize that the singer’s voice plays a big role in my taste. If it is unique and full of emotion, I end up loving it. If it is an imitation, not so much. Working in radio for 3 years full time has also given this characteristic a more developed sense of importance. On the surface, Simply Red could be written off as just some other mid 80’s white r&b/sophisipop band, because of their lead singer. But, they are so much more. In fact over the years, Simply Red has had a diverse lineup of musicians, from different races and backgrounds. They are also more soulful than their contemporaries. Hucknall’s voice has as much soul as his influences do. As a result, they are not your typically cookie cutter sophistipop group. The best example of their talent is their version of the Talking Heads’ song Heaven. Mick and the boys slow down the tempo and make the tune like something Otis Redding or Wilson Pickett would have had in their repertoire. I can’t talk about Picture Book without mentioning the album’s big hit: Holding Back The Years. What a song!! If you want a tune about heartache, this is your song. Every time I need a pick-me-up, this is the song I go to. Hucknall’s performance on the track is haunting and captures the emotions of that time in someone’s life brilliantly. I really enjoyed listening to the album and it has inspired me to go deeper into their work.
Other highlights include: Come To My Aid, Sad Old Red, Jericho and Money’s Too Tight (To Mention). Overall, I give Picture Book, 4.5 out of 5.
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