13 Songs, 46 Minutes

Mastered for iTunes
Mastered for iTunes
TITLE TIME
3:11
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5

16 Ratings

16 Ratings

Can't wait!

icarosol

Mick and Simply Red marked an era in my life. Their concert in Cuba has to be one of the most beautiful concerts ever by any group or artist. Can't wait for the release of all the songs from this new album.

Love them!

Janrod

All original songs & apparently back with their sound that make them stars. Welcome back!

Simply Red triumphs with their swan song "Big Love"

pranavc

In the spirit of full disclosure, I would not like to emphasize that this review is a copy of the review posted on the "radio creme brulee" music blog. Now that I've said that, here goes:

30 years in the music business (most of it in the commercial limelight) is infinitely longer than any new artist aspires for these days. This is an achievement that blue-eyed pop/soul outfit Simply Red has pulled off incredibly well. Last year, they announced a world tour to celebrate their 30th anniversary as a band. Fans were undoubtedly pleased and were excited to relive the special musical moments that Simply Red has crafted with their superior artistry over the years. What many did not know was that the band was secretly working on growing their legacy in advance of their tour in the form of a new studio album featuring newly written and recorded music. The album “Big Love” (slated for release on June 1, 2015) is the fruit of this endeavor. Fortunately, for fans, “Big Love” is truly is an essential expansion of the Simply Red legacy.

If “Big Love” were to be released on Vinyl with a slightly reordered tracklist, it would be very fitting since stylistically speaking, there absolutely is an A-side and a B-side for this album. The songs on its A-side are characterized by a smooth jazz vibe that successfully emulates the magic and sexiness that made Simply Red’s “The New Flame” a career masterpiece. In fact, it is safe to say that the album’s highlights are on its “A-side”. “Daydreaming” bears a striking resemblance to Al Jarreau‘s “Moonlighting theme” and serves as the perfect soundtrack to a Manhattan sunset. The album’s achingly beautiful title track “Big Love” just might be 2015’s official “slow dance track of the year”. The song’s horn solo accompanied by a beautiful string arrangement is bound to leave the listener longing for more. “Ghost of Love” is every bit the modern romantic classic. “Love Gave Me More” is reminiscent of the flavor of jazz that crossed over to the pop mainstream in the 80s due to the efforts of acts such as Basia, Sade, The Style Council, and Everything But The Girl. All of these songs are going to induce the desire for repeated plays.

The songs on the album’s “B-side” are characterized by a vibe that translates better to a live environment than it does to a studio album. Songs such as “Tight tones“, “Coming home“, and “Woru” would sound far better live in a smoky little pub or in another intimate live venue. The album’s lead single “Shine On” is a fairly indicative of what the stylistic “B-side” of ‘Big Love” sounds like.

The album’s cohesion stems from the musicians’ generous use of lush string arrangements, beautiful instrumentation, classic production, goose-bump inducing saxophone solos, and the warmth of lead singer Mick Hucknall‘s voice. Hucknall has clearly enjoyed a new wave of inspiration that is reflected via the top-notch songwriting on “Big Love“.

The album’s lyrical standout is Mick Hucknall’s beautiful ode to his late father Reg aptly titled “Dad“. Hucknall applauds his father for “years of devotion” after his mother Maureen left the two of them when Hucknall was three years old. The song’s wistful undertone is more obvious on lyrics such as “When I think of you, I wish I could phone you, I get sad, I can’t call you“.

While “Big Love” is a huge step up from the band’s 2007 album “Stay” (which at times felt like an easy-listening overdose) and is probably their finest album since “Stars” in terms of quality, it does have its share of imperfections. First, it does not have an obvious “pop radio” single of the likes of “Fairground“, “Sunrise“, “Money too tight to mention” or “Stars“. Fortunately, it compensates with a healthy amount of “jazz pop radio fodder” – especially with the title track “Big Love” and “Ghost of Love“. Second, over the last 30 years, Simply Red has demonstrated a staggering versatility boasting several stylistic incarnations ranging from blue-eyed soul (“If you don’t know me by now“), to funk and jazz-flavored pop (“How could I fall“, “Enough“), MOR easy-listening (“So not over you“, “Say you love me“) all the way to dance-worthy pop (“Sunrise“, “Fairground“). As the band’s “swan song” album, “Big Love” does not exactly showcase this career-defining diversity. Third, the album probably features more songs that fit on its stylistic “b-side” than they do on the heartwrenching “A-side” of “Big Love”. That being said, the comments about imperfection are more an indication of the fact that I hold Simply Red to a higher standard – one that they have lived up to quite well on “Big Love” – for which I heartily applaud them. Kudos to Mick Hucknall and gang for keeping the band’s progress on the album under wraps and sweetening their parting gift (i.e. their world tour) to fans with this surprise of an album.

About Simply Red

Led by the vocalist Mick Hucknall, the English blue-eyed soul band Simply Red became international stars with their debut album, Picture Book. On the hit ballad "Holding Back the Years," Hucknall proved that he could sing soulfully without affectation, while their cover of the Valentine Brothers' "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)" proved that they could do light funk capably. With each album, their fan base expanded, especially in the U.K.

The band was formed in 1984 by singer Mick "Red" Hucknall (born Michael James Hucknall, June 8, 1960, Manchester, England) with three ex-members of Durutti Column -- bassist Tony Bowers (born October 31, 1952), drummer Chris Joyce (born October 11, 1957, Manchester, England), and keyboardist/brass player Tim Kellett (born July 23, 1964, Knaresborough, England) -- plus guitarist Sylvan Richardson and keyboardist Fritz McIntyre (born September 2, 1956, Birmingham, England).

The group signed to Elektra Records and released Picture Book (October 1985), which featured "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)," a Top 40 cover of a 1982 R&B chart single by the Valentine Brothers, and "Holding Back the Years," a Hucknall original that topped the U.S. charts. The single caused the album to go platinum, and made the group one of the major successes of 1986. Men and Women (March 1987), which featured two collaborations between Hucknall and soul songwriter Lamont Dozier, was less popular, though it generated the Top 40 hit "The Right Thing." (In the U.K., "Infidelity" and a cover of Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" also made the Top 40.) Richardson left in 1987 and was replaced by guitarist Aziz Ibrahim, who was replaced by Heitor T.P. (born in Brazil). The third album, A New Flame (February 1989), went gold due to the cover of the 1972 Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes hit "If You Don't Know Me by Now" that hit number one and became a gold single. (In the U.K., "It's Only Love" and "A New Flame" also made the Top 40.) By the time of the fourth album, Stars (September 1991), Bowers and Joyce had left, with Shaun Ward joining on bass and Gota on drums, and saxophonist Ian Kirkham had become a permanent member. Stars was a relative commercial disappointment in the U.S. (though it spawned Top 40 hits in "Something Got Me Started" and "Stars" and eventually went gold), but it became a major success elsewhere, especially in the U.K., where it was the best-selling album of 1991, topped the charts for 19 weeks, and spawned the Top Ten hits "Stars" and "For Your Babies" and the Top 40 hits "Something Got Me Started," "Thrill Me," and "Your Mirror." Worldwide, it had sold eight and a half million copies by the second quarter of 1993.

Ward and Gota were gone by the release of Simply Red's fifth album, Life (October 1995), leaving a lineup of Hucknall, McIntyre, Heitor T.P., Kirkham, and backup singer Dee Johnson. The album again proved more of a success at home than in America, topping charts all over Europe, as did its leadoff single, "Fairground," while spending only three months in the U.S. charts. Blue followed in May 1998. It topped the British charts and spawned Top Ten hits in "Say You Love Me" and a cover of the Hollies' "The Air That I Breathe" at home, but was a negligible seller in the U.S. In November 1999, Simply Red issued Love and the Russian Winter, which reached the U.K. Top Ten, with the single "Ain't That a Lot of Love" (a cover of a Sam & Dave song) hitting the Top 20.

After establishing the simplyred.com label, the band released Home in April 2003. It reached number two in the U.K., with the singles "Sunrise" and a cover of the Stylistics' "You Make Me Feel Brand New" becoming Top Ten hits. Two years later came Simplified, a collection of old and new songs that hit number three in Britain and number two in the Eurochart. Another two-year absence followed before the notable Stay in April 2007. It hit number four in the U.K. and number two in the Eurochart. By the time of its release, the lineup of Simply Red consisted of Hucknall, Kirkham, Sarah Brown (background vocals), David Clayton (keyboards), Peter Lewinson (drums), Steve Lewinson (bass), Kevin Robinson (trumpet), and Kenji Suzuki (guitar). Hucknall then decided to retire Simply Red but he revived the band in 2015, making a splash with the new album Big Love. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & William Ruhlmann

  • ORIGIN
    Manchester, England
  • GENRE
    Pop
  • FORMED
    1984

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