Sunday, 26 December 2010

Simply Red Are No More

Back around 1986 a new band started a career with "Money's Too Tight To Mention" - the band were credible, lauded by the then (as now) cynical music press, the songwriter had been in a punk band having attended an early Pistols gig in Manchester.  He was red haired, claimed to have been an outcast but was determined to make it in music as this was his passion.  Isn't that how our musical heroes should be.  Further evidence of this solid foundation (in an artistic sense) was that his next single was self written in his early teens, related to his lack of a mother who deserted him when he was very young. "Holding Back The Years" was a song to be admired and the world acknowledged that here was a songwriter to be watched.

The album "Picture Book" brought a lot more with nods to jazz, soul and pop. What a future.  On "Men and Women" the "difficult" second album he delivered again but upped the ante, acknowledging the past (Cole Porter's "Evr'y Time We Say Goodbye")  political comment - on Thatcher in particular; worked with Lamont Dozier; even covered Sly Stone's "Let Me Have It All" making it his own. 

I don't need to run through his career but I feel that it is easy to forget that Mick Hucknall is one of the British Greats with a pedigree to be reckoned with - not just measured in sales figues or bums on seats at vast halls around the world.  We should acknowledge that this guy has delivered a body of work second to none over the past 25 years.  Great influences, a foundation of musical knowledge, always with great musicians.  He does have the record sales and not just at home.  He is mocked due to the excesses of the eighties but that will pass - just as we now acknowledge the 70's as a watershed decade for music where we once rubbished it for glitter, flares, afros and disco.

We love to pull our successes apart in this country - 'we build em up only to pull em down' as they say.

In the eighties during the rise of SR I missed out on some tickets for the first large (Wembley Arena) London gigs.  I am a fan of the band and whilst that interest has palled of late due to my (and probably Mick Hucknall's) musical tastes developing to other things, I regularly play those first 5 albums (important: not just the odd track- but whole sets as they were intended).  With all of this in mind I have attended two gigs on the farewell tour (although 11 months apart) including last week's Final Show at the O2.

There are many reviews posted which reflect the quality of that gig by far better reviewers than I.  All I can say is I thought it was amazing with no low points for me.  A great gig - yes to the faithful but what a way to go.  Apt that a solo start to "Holding..." was the last song of the night/tour/band but it was delivered with that wonderful voice sounding as good as it did 25 years ago

a great song, a great voice and a great band - I'm fortunate to have been there.

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