Simply Red are back! Four years since the triumphant Blue Eyed Soul, one of the UK’s most treasured bands return with their brand new studio album, Time.
Over 12 vivid, heartfelt, life-giving tracks that mix soul, funk, R&B and blues, Simply Red's Time demonstrates an unerring ear for, feel for, and passion for songs that move the emotion and the imagination, propelled by the sensational pop masterclass of “Better With You.”
Mick Hucknall was a Manchester art student when he saw the Sex Pistols at the city’s Free Trade Hall in 1976, one of the few people who can legitimately claim to have been at the concert that gave birth to the Manchester punk rock scene. It was Hucknall’s own punk band, the Frantic Elevators, that recorded the original version of “Holding Back The Years,” but Hucknall was too much of a melody-loving soul to be a three-chord wonder for long, and in 1985 Simply Red were born.
“For me, music has to be instinctive,” says Hucknall, on the soulful direction his band took. “It’s why I rejected the academia of being an art student: I knew that I had to make something that gets to people without their knowing why. Above all I have an obsession with melody, which I inherited through my love of the Beatles. All I’ve ever really wanted to do is to create melodies that are simple but refined. I’m evangelical about it: music takes you to a place that nothing else can take you to and it’s my job to contribute to that.”
It’s the reason why Simply Red, despite their longevity, despite a following that has seen them sell 60 million albums, have never fit in or been defined by a trend or movement. It has helped give the music a timeless quality that has seen the band have top ten hits through the '80s, '90s, and 2000s. “We’ve never been part of a scene,” Hucknall confirms. “It’s a reason why we’ve been criticized: for being too successful. One in five homes in Britain have a Simply Red album. That’s not going to endear you to the average Radiohead fan.”
The success of Simply Red lies in their soaking up the music closest to their heart - soul, funk, and reggae - and making it sound like Simply Red. The band’s 1985 debut album Picture Book headed into a '60s R&B groove, 1987’s million-selling Men and Women went towards funk, and the vastly successful albums A New Flame (1989) and Stars (1991) found the balance between pop and soul, but they all shared the same spirit. When Simply Red veered into modern dance music with the number one hit “Fairground” and the 1995 album Life, they imbued it with their own, unique sound. Simply Red can even do a Bob Dylan cover - check out their version of “Positively Fourth Street” from 2003’s Home - and make it their own.
“You can shut your eyes and listen to any of our recordings and you know who it is instantly,” says Hucknall. “That’s an aspect of our career I’m proud of.”