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Simply Red (1985)

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  Summary  

Simply Red were a British soul band that sold more than 50 million albums over a 25-year career. Their style drew influences from blue-eyed soul, New Romantic, rock, reggae and jazz. Since their early days the main driving force behind the band was singer Mick Hucknall, who by the time the band broke up in 2010 was the only original member left.

  Biography  

 Pre-history: The Frantic Elevators (1977–1984)
Simply Red originated from the 1976 Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. Manchester art student Mick Hucknall was one of the many young music fans present, along with Mark E. Smith of The Fall as well as original members of the bands Joy Division, The Smiths and Buzzcocks. The first incarnation of the band was a punk group called The Frantic Elevators, which existed for 7 years, with limited releases on local labels. They split in 1984 with only limited local attention and critical acclaim for their final single, "Holding Back the Years".

 Formation and early success (1985–1988)
After the demise of The Frantic Elevators, Hucknall linked up with manager Elliot Rashman. By early 1985, Hucknall and Rashman had assembled a band of local session musicians, and began to attract record company attention. Around this time, the group adopted the name Red (after Hucknall's nickname, denoting his hair colour). The name Simply Red came about when the manager of a local venue was confused about the band's name and Hucknall replied that the band's name was "Red, simply Red." The resulting misnomer was printed on publicity posters as "Simply Red," and the name stuck.

The initial Simply Red line-up consisted of Mick Hucknall , David Fryman , Tony Bowers , Fritz McIntyre , Tim Kellett , and Chris Joyce . Bowers and Joyce had both previously been members of post-punk bands The Durutti Column and The Mothmen; Kellett had also been a member of The Durutti Column, though not at the same time as Bowers and Joyce.

Simply Red signed a contract with Elektra in 1985, but after recording one track ("Red Box") Fryman left the group and was replaced by guitarist Sylvan Richardson, who was billed only as 'Sylvan'.

"Red Box" would eventually see release on the group's first single, but as a B-side. The A-side of the band's first single, released in 1985, was "Money's Too Tight ", a cover of a soul song originally recorded by The Valentine Brothers. This single had big international success, reaching the UK and Irish Top 20, later the American, French and Dutch Top 30, and the Italian Top 5. Their debut album, Picture Book, was also released in 1985.

Several low-charting singles would follow for the band. Among the comparative flops was a re-recording of the Frantic Elevators' "Holding Back the Years", done up in a new soul-ballad style arrangement. Released as Simply Red's third single in 1985, the track initially placed outside the UK top 50. However upon being re-released in 1986, "Holding Back The Years" became a major hit, peaking at #1 in Ireland, #2 in Great Britain, #3 in the Netherlands, #20 in Italy and later #1 in the United States. The song established Simply Red as a household name.

Simply Red's second album, 1987's Men and Women, saw the band adopting bowler hats and colourful suits instead of their earlier ragamuffin look. As well, the introspection and social commentary of their debut album was replaced by a blue-eyed soul sound with funk influences. Veteran Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier co-authored two tracks with Hucknall for the album—these tracks were credited to 'Hucknall/Dozier/Hucknall' in the original album credits, as an homage to the famous Motown writing team of Holland/Dozier/Holland.

The album's lead single "The Right Thing" was another international hit, charting in the top 40 throughout Europe and North America. Several follow-up singles also met with modest success in the UK and elsewhere.

 Peak years (1989–1995)
Guitarist Richardson left after the release of Men and Women, and was replaced by Heitor Pereira . At the same time, saxophonist Ian Kirkham was added to the line-up.

With their third album A New Flame in 1989, Simply Red adopted a yet more mainstream populist sound aimed for commercial rather than critical success, typified by their cover of Harold Melvin's pop classic "If You Don't Know Me By Now", which became their second U.S. #1 hit, and one of the biggest singles of the year internationally; and their greatest success to the point.

Hucknall was by this time an international superstar, being photographed with models and Hollywood celebrities. This seemed to harm the band's coherence as a unit, with Hucknall declaring in 1991 that Simply Red was "essentially a solo project". The rhythm section of Bowers and Joyce left around this time; they were replaced by bassist Shaun Ward and drummer Gota Yashiki .

The band's career peaked in late 1991 with the release of Stars, which became the best-selling album for two years running in Europe and the UK . The album spun off five top 40 singles in the UK, and the singles "Something Got Me Started" and "Stars" were also significant chart hits throughout all of Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

After touring and promoting Stars for two years, Simply Red returned in 1995 with "Fairground", a dance-influenced track prominently featuring a sample from Zki & Dobri's Goodmen project. A massive radio hit, "Fairground" went on to become the band's first and only British #1. Its parent album Life sold more than a million copies in the UK alone, making it the fourth-biggest seller of the year. By this time, the band was officially Hucknall, McIntyre, Kirkham, Pereira, and new backing vocalist Dee Johnson. Guest musicians (including Sly & Robbie) filled in on drums and bass. During live shows and TV-show appearances Simply Red were also backed up by Steve Lewinson on bass, Velroy Bailey on drums, and second backing vocalist Sarah Brown.

 Mick Hucknall years (1996–2010)
McIntyre, the only original remaining band member aside from frontman Hucknall, left the group after the Life album, as did Pereira. From 1996 forward, Simply Red was essentially a trade name for Hucknall and a bevy of session musicians, which would vary from track to track as needed—although it should be noted that all post-1996 Simply Red albums and live shows did include contributions from sax player Ian Kirkham. As well, backing vocalist Dee Johnson and returning drummer Gota Yashiki (who would also play bass and co-produce several tracks on the group's later albums) were also frequently involved with the band's later recordings and shows, as was new keyboardist/co-producer Andy Wright.

The group issued the compilation album Greatest Hits in 1996, reportedly against Hucknall's wishes. The album featured one new track, a cover of the 1973 Aretha Franklin hit "Angel" which was co-produced with The Fugees . Released as a single, "Angel" hit #6 UK.

1998 saw the release of the cover-heavy Blue, which spun off four UK top 40 singles, including the top 10 hits "Say You Love Me" and "The Air That I Breathe" The follow-up album, 1999's Love and the Russian Winter, was a relative disappointment, spawning two minor hits that failed to hit the top 10.

Simply Red were at this point dropped from their label. Hucknall subsequently set up 'simplyred.com' to handle releases of new recordings; the new label/website venture proved to be quite successful, as many of the band's simplyred.com releases sold and charted about as well as their earlier recordings.

The band released Home in 2003 which was a mixture of original songs and covers, including a version of The Stylistics song "You Make Me Feel Brand New", which hit UK #7. The album went Double Platinum in the United Kingdom, Gold in Canada, and Platinum in Europe. It featured two other hit singles: "Sunrise" (#7 UK) and "Fake" (#21 UK).

Simplified followed in 2005, mainly an album of stripped down versions of their classic hits. The single "Perfect Love" made it to number 30 on the UK charts, the band's final top 30 placing.

The band's tenth—and as it would turn out, final—studio album Stay was released on 12 March 2007. This was preceded by the single "So Not Over You", released on 5 March 2007, which would peak at #34 UK. Follow-up single "Stay" peaked at #36 UK, and was the band's final placing in the UK top 100 (although they would release several non-charting follow-up singles in the following years).

Hucknall released his first solo album, Tribute to Bobby on 19 May 2008.

Mick Hucknall announced that the name Simply Red would be retired after a farewell tour that started in early 2009, and ended in 2010.

"I've kind of decided that the 25 years is going to be enough, so I intend that the 2009 will be the last Simply Red tour."

The band's official line-up as they wound down was Mick Hucknall , Ian Kirkham , Dave Clayton , Kenji Suzuki , Kevin Robinson , Steve Lewinson and Pete Lewinson . All had played on each of the band's last three studio albums, alongside other session musicians.

Simply Red's final concert took place at the O2 Arena in London on 19 December 2010. The concert was shown live at cinemas throughout the UK.

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  Albums 

  Tracks  

Name Duration Released
It's Only Love 03:52 17/11/2008
So Not Over You 03:50 12/03/2007
The Death of the Cool 03:26 12/03/2007
The World and You Tonight 03:33 12/03/2007
Money TV 04:05 12/03/2007
Lady 05:00 12/03/2007
Debris 04:52 12/03/2007
Good Times Have Done Me Wrong 05:20 12/03/2007
Oh! What a Girl! 03:51 12/03/2007
They Don't Know 03:40 12/03/2007
Stay 03:04 12/03/2007
Little Englander 03:06 12/03/2007
Smile 00:00 2005
A Song for You 00:00 2005
Perfect Love 00:00 2005
Lost Weekend 00:00 06/2003
Positively 4th Street 00:00 06/2003
Home Loan Blues 00:00 06/2003
You Make Me Feel Brand New 00:00 06/2003
Sunrise 00:00 06/2003
Fake 00:00 06/2003
It's You 00:00 06/2003
Home 00:00 06/2003
Something for You 00:00 06/2003
Money In My Pocket 00:00 06/2003
Lady Godiva's Room 00:00 2003
Love for Sale 00:00 2003
We're in This Together 00:00 2003
Granma's Hands 00:00 2003
Ain't That A Lot of Love 03:56 02/11/1999
More Than A Dream 03:52 02/11/1999
The Spirit of Life 04:42 02/11/1999
Close To You 04:33 02/11/1999
Man Made The Gun 04:58 02/11/1999
Thank You 04:01 02/11/1999
Words for Girlfriends 05:07 02/11/1999
Back In the Universe 03:48 02/11/1999
The Sky Is A Gypsy 04:33 02/11/1999
Your Eyes 04:15 02/11/1999
Wave The Old World Goodbye 03:46 02/11/1999
The Air That I Breathe 00:00 05/1998
To Be Free 00:00 05/1998
Say You Love Me 00:00 05/1998
Love Has Said Goodbye Again 00:00 05/1998
Blue 00:00 05/1998
Ghetto Girl 00:00 05/1998
Mellow My Mind 00:00 05/1998
Come Get Me Angel 00:00 05/1998
Broken Man 00:00 05/1998
Night Nurse 00:00 05/1998
Someday in My Life 00:00 05/1998
Angel 04:01 10/1996
If You Don't Know Me By Now 03:26 10/1996
Money's Too Tight To Mention 04:29 10/1996
So Beautiful 04:58 24/10/1995
Never Never Love 04:19 24/10/1995
Fairground 05:33 24/10/1995
Lives and Loves 03:21 24/10/1995
So Many People 05:19 24/10/1995
You Make Me Believe 03:51 24/10/1995
Out on the Range 06:00 24/10/1995
Remembering the First Time 04:43 24/10/1995
Hillside Avenue 04:45 24/10/1995
Model 03:46 30/09/1991
For Your Babies 04:17 30/09/1991
She's Got It Bad 03:33 30/09/1991
Your Mirror 03:59 30/09/1991
Thrill Me 05:04 30/09/1991
Stars 04:08 30/09/1991
Something Got Me Started 04:00 30/09/1991
Freedom 03:52 30/09/1991
How I Could Fall 04:45 30/09/1991
To Be With You 03:22 02/1989
You’ve Got It 03:55 02/1989
A New Flame 03:57 02/1989
More 04:08 02/1989
Every Time We Say Goodbye 03:23 01/1987
I Won't Feel Bad 04:14 01/1987
Suffer 04:55 01/1987
Infidelity 04:09 01/1987
The Right Thing 04:19 01/1987
Come To My Aid 04:03 14/10/1985
No Direction 03:41 14/10/1985
Open Up The Red Box 03:56 14/10/1985
Holding Back the Years 04:30 14/10/1985
Money's Too Tight 04:13 14/10/1985
Jericho 06:03 14/10/1985
Heaven 04:32 14/10/1985
Look At You Now 03:02 14/10/1985
Sad Old Red 04:33 14/10/1985

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  Sources

Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Simply Red", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.