Formed in 1984 around the songwriting and soulful vocals of singer Mick "Red" Hucknall, Simply Red became an instant international success and has maintained a strong following around the world for over two decades despite an ever-rotating cadre of band members.
The group scored immediate results in 1985 with its debut release, Picture Book. The disc shot into the top 20 on the strength of its irresistible lead single, the plaintive ballad "Holding Back the Years." However, lost in the praise for that song was perhaps an even better cut, an uptempo remake of the Valentine Brothers' "Money's Too Tight To Mention" that was one of that year's hottest dance tracks. The group followed two years later with the less successful Men and Women, but recovered in 1989 with A New Flame, which included Simply Red's second #1 song, a decent remake of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know Me By Now." By the time of 1991's Stars, nearly the entire group membership had rotated at least once, and Simply Red was pretty much viewed as Hucknall and his backing musicians. Stars was a disappointment in the US (barely cracking the top 100), but was an unmitigated smash throughout Europe and became the group's biggest disc internationally.
Simply Red never again had a hit album in the US, though their next two albums,Life and Blue, continued their success overseas, particularly in the UK. They continued to record into the 21st Century, releasing Love and the Russian Winter and It's Only Love before establishing their own label, simplyred.com, in time for 2003's Home. That disc received some attention in the States for the title track and "Sunrise," a nice midtempo that sampled Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go For That."
In 2005 Simply Red signed with Verve for the release of Simplified, an album of acoustic remakes of some of Simply Red's biggest hits. Over the next few years, Hucknall began recording solo, issuing a Bobby "Blue" Bland tribute in 2008 and a collection of classic soul remakes, American Soul, in 2012.
by Chris Rizik