Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Simply Red

  • Picture Book [Elektra, 1986] B+
  • Men and Women [Elektra, 1987] B
  • A New Flame [Elektra, 1988] C+
  • Greatest Hits [EastWest, 1996] *

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Picture Book [Elektra, 1986]
I like Mick Hucknall enough to not want to mention that there are only two songs on this album--one by David Byrne, one by the Valentine Brothers, both of which he runs away with. And until the last two tracks--the finale is "Picture Book" itself, which wanders worst of all--he and his Brit soulsters carry it off on mood and groove alone, and with hardly a love song, either. B+

Men and Women [Elektra, 1987]
Where the two covers carried the debut, they drag the follow-up. But Mick Hucknall's originals are improving, and their guileless self-interest has its advantages--"I Won't Feel Bad," about his right to make pots of money because he's not the power elite, and "Infidelity," about his right to fuck around because it's his right, are more convincing for their refusal to shilly-shally. They're also more convincing because Hucknall's an inherently convincing singer. All this is relative to the Anglopop norm, however. Better hot narcissism than cool narcissism, and better soul acolytes than Bowie clones. But not that much better. B

A New Flame [Elektra, 1988]
First album never mentioned his roving third eye and got him noticed. Second told the unvarnished truth about his fast way with the ladies and didn't make him a star. So the third comes on as smarmy as Tom Jones, and not so he'll get laid more--rack jobbers have been his great romantic disappointment. What else can a poor boy do, 'cept try to be the white Teddy Pendergrass? C+

Greatest Hits [EastWest, 1996]
while they merely lionized the obliging Mick Hucknall, we fell for the odious Michael Bolton, which ought to scare the Anglophobia out of anyone ("Money's Too Tight To Mention," "So Beautiful") *