Simply Red had two slightly differing profiles on either side of the Atlantic. In England, Mick Hucknall's stylish white-soul outfit were superstars on the order of Sade or Rod Stewart. Their albums were lifestyle accessories for young professionals living the good life. In America, though, Simply Red were viewed as a pretty good group with a couple of hit singles. Their following was wide, ranging from Top 40 listeners to acolytes of the smooth-jazz scene. Founded in 1984 by one-time punk Hucknall (the Frantic Elevators), the band issued its debut, Picture Book, the next year. A cover of a somewhat obscure R&B song by the Valentine Brothers, "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)," established a left-of-center image for Simply Red. It was the next single, "Holding Back the Years," that was the true smash. A pulsing mid-tempo ballad, it made No. 1 in America and seemed to promise clear skies for Hucknall and company. Instead, Simply Red's U.S. fortunes proved hit or miss. "The Right Thing," from 1987's Men and Women, was a minor hit, but it wasn't until another remake -- this one of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' dramatic "If You Don't Know Me by Now" -- that Simply Red really made impact again in the States. Since then, the band has been something... Read More
... of a cult act in America, as the likes of Stars (1991) sold millions of copies in its homeland. Despite lineup changes over the years, Simply Red have continued recording. Hucknall has also contributed mightily by way of the Blood & Fire reggae reissue label, which he co-founded in the mid-'90s.