Friday, November 29, 2013

FDF Volume 4 Issue 326 - Simply Red - A New Flame

Album – A New Flame
Artist - Simply Red
Key Players - Chris Joyce – drums. Tony Bowers – bass. Tim Kellett – trumpet and keyboards. Fritz McIntyre – keyboards and backing vocals. Ian Kirkham – saxophones. Heitor T.P. - guitars. Mick Hucknall – vocals.

Produced By – Stewart Levine

Release Date – February 1989

Overview - This was the third full length album from Manchester England band “Simply Red”. This would be the bands first number one album in the UK and it would sell over 500K copies in the US alone. Defined as “blue-eyed soul” music they'd blend pop with jazz and reggae to outlast many bands in doing so. They'd sell more than 50 million albums world wide. Around the time of this album Hucknall started to call the band a “solo project” and that started to stain things and members would leave the band. Even with that news the “band” would continue on for close to 10 more years.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – Ten tracks at just over 40 minutes is started with, as expected soul sounding “It's Only Love”. The layers of horns and slapping bass under the brilliant keyboard and light guitar all add to the vibe. Hucknall has a smooth delivery and his range seems to go baritone to tenor and right back again. The song finds that deep soulful groove and holds it. The keyboards a bit brighter on "A New Flame"  with a slew of percussive instruments layered through. The backing vocalists continue to add to the impressive feel. There are a lot of layers and the mix is solid so you can hear each instrument. “You've Got It” feels a little mellower than the previous two tracks, while at the same time holding its solid soul vibe. The song grows and we get the first real saxophone section from Kirkham and, although brief it fills it out even more. The soul review is in full swing as
"To Be With You"  has the full horn section and slapping drums. If you close your eyes you can visualize the dark and smoky room filled with this music. A solid track that showcases each section of the band. “More” brings the percussive instruments back and Hucknall is a bit more hushed allowing the keyboard to lead the progression but Hucknall really showcases his range later in the track.. “Turn it Up” is more in the vein of the uptempo soul, where the band really seems to shine (at least to these ears). The full horn section is always a treat. “Love Lays Its Tune”mellows it back down and the band finds their deep groove. “She'll Have To Go” has and 80's pop synth intro.
"If you Don't Know Me By Now"  is their cover of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes classic. The song would go to #1 and the cover is probably heard more these days than the original. The album concludes with “Enough” and bass and synth heavy soul review.

Where are they now? - The band released their final studio album in 2007. Hucknall then released a solo record and the band would reform for a final one off show in December of 2010.

FDF Overall Take - The album has what is advertised, some really soul based tracks. It is probably overlooked because of its age, but the band fully compliments each other and their sound. A best of collection might be the best route for most to take, but this is a pretty solid and rewarding listen.

Links - “Find out More”, Follow em and Buy


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