Review: Jack Foley
IN AN age when bands and artists like to re-issue old albums
with the odd extra track for good measure, or simply some slick
re-packaging, it's refreshing when one tries to do something a
little bit different.
Simply Red's Simplified may essentially be a greatest
hits selection but it does have the good grace to mix each track
up a bit.
Much like the old MTV Unplugged format, Simplified strips
down many of Mick Hucknall and co's past classics to their purest
form, while also adding some Latin flavours to others.
The result is to create an album of re-tuned work that manages
to make dated tracks sound contemporary and, in some cases, almost
There are also three new tracks, including recent single Perfect
Love, interspersed throughout to continue the feeling that
you're not merely listening to a retread.
The result is an album that appeals on several levels, even to
someone who hasn't previously counted themselves as a Simply Red
Highlights include the strings-laden, piano-driven Your Mirror,
which comes over all cinematic, and the laidback Spanish guitar
style of Holding Back The Years (one of several tracks
to benefit from a sprinkling of Latino flavour) - the guitar solo
makes an already romantic song all the more seductive.
An upbeat Latin influence, complete with genuinely funky rhythms
and beats, enlivens Something Got Me Started, while there's
a Burt Bacharach sound attached to the summer melodies of My
More startling still is the makeover given to Fairground,
which strips the dance beats away, tosses in a gospel-style chorus
and mellows things out considerably. It takes a while to get used
to but eventually wins you over thanks to the clarity of Hucknall's
vocals and its love-lorn lyrics.
Evidence of how the band have continued to refine their style
is found in one of the new tracks, Smile, a Hucknall-penned
ballad that's performed in a classic, crooning-era Sinatra or
Tony Bennett style. Again, it takes a couple of listens but can
be quite enchanting in its retro way.
For me, however, the album is at its strongest during the upbeat
tracks, with Perfect Love serving as an excellent intro,
thanks to its funky Cuban rhythms and deep, sassy female vocals
from Havana-based singer, Danae.
Simplified does, however, cater for every mood. It's
as romantic as you might expect from a Simply Red record, but
equally capable of having you dance the night away.
As such, it comes highly recommended - even for those (like me)
who haven't previously forked out for one of their records.