Simply Red, the English band led by charismatic front man Mick Hucknall, was hugely successful throughout the 1980s and 90s and the great news is that they are back together and ready to hit the stage for their Big Love tour.
Simply Red can be described as a soul pop group but their distinctive sound also borrows from reggae, jazz and rock. Their unique sound, coupled with Hucknall’s immense song writing abilities, produced a number of massive hits around the world. To celebrate the unforgettable hits of Simply Red, we have selected the band as the subject for this edition of Five of the Best. The task, as always, was a tough one, but we think we’ve managed to narrow down the long list of great songs to the best five tracks – check it out!
Stars was released in 1991 on Simply Red’s album of the same name. The catchy pop tune was a solid performer on the music charts, reaching number 8 on the UK charts and climbing into the Top 40 of more than 10 charts throughout the world. The film clip for the song heavily features Mick Hucknall, the very recognisable face of the group. Hucknall has always been respected for his exceptional vocal range and Stars is an excellent showcase of the lead singer’s ability in that area. Stars is one of Simply Red’s most-recognisable songs and an excellent example of the group’s slick sound.
Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)
Money’s Too Tight (To Mention) was the son that put Simply Red on the map. The group released the single in 1985 and it was a big hit in many countries including the UK (#11), Italy (#4), Ireland (#9) and New Zealand (#8). Not a bad effort given it was Simply Red’s first ever UK single. The song was actually a cover of The Valentine Brothers, who released the track just a few years earlier in 1982. The song refers to former US President Ronald Regan and his ‘Reganomics’ – a set of economic policies introduced during his tenure. Lyrics even refer to Regan’s wife Nancy. While Hucknall did not write the track, we love this song. It is a testament to the band that their first ever single continues to resonate with audiences to this day.
Holding Back the Years
Holding Back the Years was the seventh track on the group’s debut album, Picture Book, and it remains to this day the most successful Simply Red song. The track was released in the UK in 1985 and charted poorly, reaching just 51 on the UK charts. A year later the track was reissued and it rocketed to the top of the US music charts and charted very strongly throughout the world. Mick Hucknall wrote the song at just 17 years of age. The deeply personal ballad is reportedly about the front man’s mother, who left him and his Dad when Mick was just three years old. The emotion in the song is very evident and this track is another fantastic example of Hucknall’s exceptional vocal range and song writing ability. Listen for yourself; we think you’ll agree this is an excellent Simply Red track.
Fairground is a great example of Simply Red’s experimental streak. The track is heavily influenced by reggae sounds but still holds its soul and pop flavour. The song was released in 1995 on the group’s Life album. The song was the only Simply Red track to make it to number one of the UK singles charts and it was also a top 10 hit in several countries. Fairground heavily samples Give It Up, a 1992 song released by The Goodmen. The song is upbeat and catchy and is an excellent example of Simply Red’s diverse sound. Have a listen; we know you’ll love it.
If You Don’t Know Me By Now
It wouldn’t be the 1980s if we didn’t include a huge power ballad. Simply Red admirably contributed to the genre with their massive hit, If You Don’t Know Me By Now, which was released in 1989. The song is a heartfelt ballad with powerful vocals from Mick Hucknall and was a major chart success throughout the world; it reached number 1 in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. The track is a cover of a song released by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. And while it has been covered by many singers, including Seal, Rod Stewart and Patti LaBelle, it is the Simply Red version that is best known throughout the world. Fans of The Office will recall the song took a comedic turn when David Brent released the single. We have included the video below along with the Simply Red version, which we are sure you’ll agree is a very deserving number one song on our list. Enjoy!
Simply Red – Big Love Tour 2016
Simply Red will perform at Vector Arena on February 27, 2016, and at Church Road Winery on February 28, 2016. Presale tickets are available from Monday September 7 and general public tickets will go on sale at midday on Monday September 14. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.