Change has been one of the central themes to the career of British band Simply Red. Not only was the band for the most part a revolving door with lead singer Mick Hucknall as the only constant fixture, but the band also boasted several stylistic incarnations ranging from blue-eyed soul (“If you don’t know me by now“), to funk and jazz-flavored pop (“How could I fall“, “Enough“), MOR easy-listening (“So not over you“, “Say you love me“) all the way to dance-worthy pop (“Sunrise“, “Fairground“). The unifying element across their 30-year long legacy is lead singer Mick Hucknall’s distinct and warm vocals. To celebrate this great musical legacy, Simply Red had announced a 30th anniversary tour (rather unsurprisingly, the US was excluded) despite having disbanded in 2010. Fortunately, they are delving into more than just nostalgia to rekindle the love that they have enjoyed globally over the years. A few days ago, they returned with a surprise announcement of a new album titled “Big Love” (slated for release in June 2015). The album’s lead single “Shine On” saw the light of day a couple of days ago on BBC Radio 2 (we here at Radio Creme Brulee have also started giving the song 5 spins a day).
“Shine On” is stylistically a mid-point between the songs from the “New Flame” era (1989) and the “Stay” album (the band’s last album released in 2007). It is not nearly as goosebump-inducing as some of the songs on “New Flame” while not being nearly as MOR or ballad-driven as almost everything on the “Stay” album. Its verses and chorus are fairly pedestrian and not particularly memorable. Furthermore, the lyrics in the first and second verse are virtually identical – which could potentially make lead singer and lyricist Mick Hucknall sound lazy – which he absolutely is not. That being said, the song does have one of the greatest elements of Simply Red’s music – a fantastic saxophone solo towards the end of the track. One cannot help but think that this celebratory mid-tempo jam is likely to sound better when performed live than it does in its studio recording incarnation. Die-hard Simply Red fans (us included) are bound to love this song but it is not likely to create a new or younger fanbase in the way that the hit single “Sunrise” did back in 2003.
One of the unfortunate downsides to a stellar legacy is the inevitable comparisons that people are bound to make between new material from a band and the career-defining albums or songs by that band. Maybe we require more time for “Shine On” to grow on us before we consider it to be a Simply Red essential. That being said, the band also previewed a snippet of another new track titled “Ghost of Love“. This song, without a doubt, would have made a better candidate for the album’s lead single. It has the words “modern classic” written all over it.
Despite our moderately harsh criticism of the new Simply Red single, which stems less from the song and more from how it compares to the band’s classics (which the band has its fair share of), we prefer a pop music landscape with Simply Red in it to one without them.
Here is a full-length audio clip of “Shine On”:
STAR RATING: 3 out of 5 stars
We are an American internet radio station that broadcasts worldwide. The station features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. The music of Simply Red is a fairly regular staple on our station. Currently, “Shine On” by Simply Red is getting 5 plays a day on our station.
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