Thursday, August 14, 2014


Buy the Valentines

Buy the Huck

Come on then, who remembers this, the original version from 1982. I thought probably not, but it isn't too bad at all. Indeed, given the current de rigeur derision applied to ol' Ginger Top and the Simplys, as we call them this side, you could possibly argue that it's better. But of course it isn't, as the revisionists have forgotten 2 salient points: 1. When Simply Red first appeared they were an astonishing breath of fresh soulful air in a tired chart, and 2. By cracky, the boy could sing. And I mean really sing. So, yes, it may be now witty to exude boredom and roll one's eyes at their/his mention, they really being, to all intents and purposes, one and the same, but surprise yourself, play that 1st elpee again.

So who were the Valentines? And did the song ease their plight? Well, it got to 41 in the Billboard chart in 1982, but I can't honestly say I can think of any other of their songs, over a 4 album career, 1979 - 87, whatever wiki says. Seeing as the 2 Valentine Brothers, John and Billy, wrote it, I'll even bet they weren't too sad to see it peak their own success, reaching 28, 4 years later than their own, and number 13 in the UK.

And Mr Hucknall? I'm sure you know the all the well known stuff, but let me celebrate some of his quieter sung moments. Pre- Simply Red, he had been inspired to form a band after watching the Sex Pistols play in Manchester, another one of those gigs claimed by 1000s yet probably attended by really very few. Known as the Frantic Elevators, fame largely evaded them, but they did do an earlier version of, I guess, the "other" SR big hit , which, frankly, needed the revision and polish later gifted it.

After the demise of Simply Red, just him and anonymous session men by then, in 2010, he issued a tribute to one of his own favourite singers, the estimable Bobby "Blue" Band, essentially trying to champion his corner. Too bland by far, said the critics, but I find that harsh, and I am sure the back catalogue of Bobby will have taken a fair old hit from it's existence. You lot may know this one , first by Mick and then, by Bobby.

I was a little shocked by his next move, depping for an absent Rod Stewart in 2010's Faces reunion. Given his earlier and open rubbishings of the rock idiom, it seemed an odd move. I also note no new material came out of it. Here's a clip. And, I have to say, it's great. Until he starts singing, when it all gets a bit, well, karaoke. No wonder he went running back to safety and sales with 2012's ghastly American Soul, almost aping the recent output of Stewart himself. Hey ho, where did it all go wrong, as his bank manager won't be saying.....

A last bouquet, tho', to follow my brickbats, and that is his founding and backing for Blood and Fire records, issuing a respectable stream of dub and reggae compilations, for which I have to forever hold him high. Here is an unashamed plug.

Oh, you want to hear his version! You should have said!