[lang_fr]Simply Red: Biographie [/lang_fr][lang_en]Simply Red: Biography[/lang_en]

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C’est en 1984 que le groupe Simply Red a vu le jour, sous l’impulsion de Mick Hucknall, étudiant aux Beaux Arts et ancien leader de la formation rock Osiris, puis du groupe punk Frantic Elevators ! Celui-ci est né le 8 juin 1960 à Manchester, d’un père fan de soul music.

Il réunit quelques amis à lui, Tony Bowers, Chris Joyce et Tim Kellett, et les convainc de monter un groupe ensemble. Il l’appelle Simply Red, en référence à sa couleur de cheveux et au club de football de Manchester United.

Dès l’année suivante, Money’s Too Tight rappelle les grandes heures de la Tamla Motown et fonctionne partout dans le monde, particulièrement aux Etats-Unis. Il est tiré de l’album Picture Book, dont est aussi extrait Come To My Aid.

Stars:

S’ouvre alors une période faste pour Simply Red qui enchaîne les tubes (Holding Back The Years, Maybe Someday), extraits de Men And Women, et entreprend une grande tournée mondiale. Son apothéose est atteinte lors de quatre concerts à guichets fermés dans le mythique stade de Wembley à Londres.

If You Don’t Know Me By Now, la reprise de Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, est le point d’orgue de l’album suivant, A New Flame, qui s’appuie aussi sur It’s Only Love. Un opus dans lequel Mick co-écrit deux morceaux avec Lamont Dozier, l’un des mastodontes de la Motown.

Mais le meilleur est à venir avec un disque au nom prédestiné: Stars, la plus grosse vente mondiale du groupe avec dix millions d’exemplaires écoulés. Joyce et Bowers ont été remplacés par un percussionniste japonais (Gota Yashiki) et par Shaun Ward. Le disque, enregistré près de Venise, sort en septembre 1991 et est porté par le morceau titre ainsi que par Something Got Me Started et la ballade For You Babies.

Au total, le groupe vend plus de quarante millions de disques en une décennie !

Break:

Hucknall est toujours aussi fan de soul et réalise l’un de ses rêves en chantant en duo avec Ben E King lors de la cérémonie des Grammy Awards. Il prend ensuite un peu de repos, la nouvelle tournée 92/93 ayant été épuisante. Il s’installe à Milan, écume les clubs de jazz, fait le DJ et coproduit un disque de Björk.

La suite est pourtant moins rose, Simply Red perd de sa superbe, comme en témoigne l’accueil plutôt tiède réservé à Life en 1995. L’année suivante, le titre We’re In This Together est l’hymne du championnat d’Europe de football, organisé en Angleterre.

Pour Simply Red, les ventes baissent, les albums Blue puis Love & The Russian Winter, sortis en 1998 et 1999, sont des échecs qui leur valent d’être mis à la porte de leur maison de disques !

Qu’à cela ne tienne. Mick Hucknall, devenu entre-temps propriétaire d’un restaurant chic de Paris, le Man Ray, ne jette pas l’éponge et son obstination s’avère payante en 2003.

Home:

C’est cette année là que Simply Red publie Home, annoncé par le single à succès Sunrise. Un titre samplé sur un tube des années 80 du duo américain Hall & Oates (I Can’t Go For That).

Un tube qui permet aux anglais de partir en tournée comme à la grande époque. Un périple dont le dvd « Live In Sicily » est un superbe témoignage. Il a été filmé dans le théâtre antique de Taormine.

Simply Red joue également à Paris, le 21 juin 2003, pour la fête de la musique, aux côtés de Cunnie Williams.

Ecoutez Simply Red sur 121 WebRadio

Un grand merci à Pierrick Roux

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Simply Red are an English pop band. Their style draws influences from pop, rock, jazz, lovers rock, and blue-eyed soul. Over time, the name « Simply Red » has come to refer less to a specific group of musicians, and is widely regarded as a name for Mick Hucknall’s recordings.

Career:

Simply Red’s roots originate from the notorious 1976 Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Manchester art student Mick Hucknall was one of the many young music fans present, along with original members of Joy Division, The Smiths and Buzzcocks, who was inspired to form a band after witnessing that gig. The first incarnation of the band was a punk group called The Frantic Elevators. This band existed for 7 years, with limited releases on local labels, but split in 1984 with only limited local attention and critical acclaim for their final single, « Holding Back the Years ».

After the demise of The Frantic Elevators, Hucknall linked up with manager Elliot Rashman. By early 1985 Hucknall and Rashman had assembled a band of local session musicians and began to attract record company attention. Around this time the group adopted the name Simply Red (after Hucknall’s nickname, which denoted hair colour, football allegiance to Manchester United and left-wing political affiliation). They signed to Elektra in 1985, with the somewhat changeable line-up of Hucknall, Tony Bowers (bass), Fritz McIntyre (keyboards), Tim Kellett (brass), Sylvan Richardson (guitar) and Chris Joyce (drums).

Their first single, released in 1985, was « Money’s Too Tight (To Mention) », a cover of a soul standard originally recorded by The Valentine Brothers. This single had a big international success, reaching the UK and Irish Top 20, later the American, French and Dutch Top 30, and the Italian Top 5, beginning a successful career in Italy, sometimes more successful than in the UK. Their debut album, Picture Book, was also released in 1985.

In 1986 the band re-recorded a song that the Frantic Elevators had recorded earlier, « Holding Back the Years », in a more accessible pop style, which was this time a major hit, peaking at #2 in Great Britain, #3 in the Netherlands, #20 in Italy and later #1 in Ireland and in the United States, establishing Simply Red as a household name. The song remains the band’s most recognized work. The album began to sell more copies, and became an international hit album.

Their second album, 1987’s Men and Women saw the band adopting a more sober and professional image, with bowler hats and colorful suits replacing their earlier ragamuffin look, and the introspection and social commentary of their debut replaced by a blue-eyed soul sound with funk influences. Around this time Hucknall became a tabloid personality, drawing attention and criticism for his alleged womanising, and gaining a reputation as « a lecherous loudmouth » and bien pensant. Despite Hucknall’s bad reputation and the album’s mixed reviews, Men and Women was a commercial success.

With their third album A New Flame in 1989, Simply Red adopted a yet more mainstream populist sound aimed for commercial rather than critical success, typified by their cover of Harold Melvin’s pop classic « If You Don’t Know Me By Now », which became their second U.S. #1 hit and one of the biggest singles of the year internationally; and their greatest success until now. Hucknall was by this time an international superstar, being photographed with models and Hollywood celebrities. This seemed to harm the band’s coherence as a unit, with Hucknall declaring in 1991 that Simply Red was « essentially a solo project ».

The band’s popular career peaked later that year with the release of Stars, which became the best-selling album for two years running in Europe and the UK (though notably had far less success in the US than their previous albums). Stars mixed Hucknall’s anti-Thatcherite political lyrics with an easy-listening lounge-jazz sound, apparently to avoid alienation of their existing fanbase.

After touring and promoting Stars for two years, Simply Red returned in 1995 with « Fairground », a dance-influenced track featuring prominently a sample from Zki & Dobri’s Goodmen project. A massive radio hit, « Fairground » went on to become the band’s first British #1, amid critical panning. Its parent album Life sold more than a million copies in the UK alone, making it the fourth-biggest seller of the year. The band followed this up with cover heavy Blue in 1998.

Then came Love and the Russian Winter, an album that many fans (and Mick himself) haven’t appreciated too much. Subsequent releases have mostly been greatest-hits collections, although the band did release « Home » in 2003, a mixture of original songs and covers, including a version of The Stylistics song « You Make Me Feel Brand New ». Simplified followed in 2005, mainly an album of stripped down versions of their Classic hits.

The single ‘Oh! What A Girl!’ released in September 2006 came from their forth coming new album « Stay ».

On 2nd February 2007 lead singer, Mick Hucknall, announced that he was expecting a baby daughter in June 2007 with his long term girlfriend Gabriella Wesberry. Romy True Hucknall was born in London June 18th. An announcement on Hucknall’s web site described mother and baby as « doing fine » and said « Mick is on cloud 9! » Numerous fans posted their congratulations.

Simply Red released their 10th studio album worldwide on 12th March 2007, called « Stay ». This was preceded by the new single “So Not Over You”, released on 5th March 2007. The last single from the album was the title song « Stay », released on 28th May 2007. The band will be on an accompanying tour during the first half of 2007.

The band also had a cameo appearance on the hour-long 2007 season premiere of Family Guy, as the last member of the themed « Red » wing.

Discography:

Picture Book (1985)
Men and Women (1987)
A New Flame (1989)
Stars (1991)
Life (1995)
Greatest Hits (1996)
Blue (1998)
Love and the Russian Winter (1999)
It’s Only Love (2000)
Home (2003)
The Very Best of Simply Red (2003)
Simplified (2005)
Stay (2007)

Listen Simply Red on 121 web Radio !

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