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Simply Red - Simplified


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 new.

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 fan.

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 Perfect Love.

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.

 

Track listing:
1. Perfect Love
2. Something Got Me Started
3. Holding Back The Years
4. More
5. Song For You
6. Your Mirror
7. Fairground
8. My Perfect Love
9. Smile
10. Sad Old Red
11. For Your Babies
12. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye

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