December 30, 2020

Simply Red - Picture Book (1985) - €10,00

Picture Book is the debut album by British pop and soul group Simply Red, released in October 1985. It contains the U.S. #1 single "Holding Back the Years", the band's most successful single, and a cover of The Valentine Brothers' "Money's Too Tight (to Mention)". Three other singles were released from the album: "Come to My Aid", "Jericho", and "Open Up the Red Box". 

Simply Red's debut was probably pretty fresh in the mid-eighties, among all that overwhelming synth. This record, while it definitely sounds like 1985, isn't all that clearly a "product of its time". Their jazzy soul and soulful jazz has aged well. 
The orange-headed leading man Mick Hucknall, with his impressive vocal delivery is clearly the star of this record. But instead of just putting on a show of vocal acrobatics, the group plays together damn well and provide an ejoyable and consistent listen with nine solid, good songs.

They proved that synthpop can be soulful and funky. Mick Hucknall easily switches from brest to falsetto voice. Come to My Aid is an energetic, funky opener with heavy bass and percussion. Sad Old Red is jazzy with saxophones and a relaxed swing rhythm. Jericho has weird lyrics spoken by a rich person to a young protege, with obsessive repetition. Money's Too Tight (To Mention), a cover from the Valentine Brothers, is about the recession in the eighties, a time of growing unemployment and Reaganomics. Holding Back the Years is a painful ballad about regret and disappointment. This is a pop album without any fillers.

Side A
A1. Come to My Aid - 4:03
A2. Sad Old Red - 4:33
A3. Look at You Now - 3:02
A4. Heaven - 4:32
A5. Jericho - 6:03

Side B
B1. Money’s Too Tight (to Mention) - 4:13
B2. Holding Back The Years - 4:30
B3. (Open Up the) Red Box - 3:56
B4. No Direction - 3:41
B5. Picture Book - 5:49

Release:  1985
Format:  LP
Genre:  Blue-Eyed Soul, Sophisti-pop
Label:  Elektra Records
Catalog#  EKT 27
Prijs:  €10,00

Vinyl:  VG
Cover:  VG

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