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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Simply Red

Stay

Review by Gary Hill

I remember dismissing Simply Red as some ‘80’s pop vehicle that had no substance. Well, as my tastes have become more and more diverse over the years I’ve found that a lot of bands I used to write off have some merits. This disc shows that Simply Red is one of those acts. This disc starts off a bit pedestrian, but once it kicks into gear it shows off a stellar combination of R & B, blues and retro classic rock that will have you tapping your feet and singing along. It has some great musical moments and guarantees that I’ll never write this group off again.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The World and You Tonight
This is a gentle rather balladic song that has a retro texture seeming to combine bubble gum pop of the 1960’with Roy Orbisson. The arrangement gets a bit overblown at times.
So Not Over You
The mode that leads off here feels a bit more modern and a keyboard based ballad is begun. This is a lot more pure vintage R & B than the one that preceded it, and I think it would have made a better opener. It reminds me a bit of 10cc at times. I like this one quite a bit.
Stay
The first really energetic cut on the disc, this one comes in with a killer faster paced groove. It’s the best we’ve heard to this point and one of my favorites on the CD. This is really a great one.
They Don't Know
Here’s another energized number with a more traditional R & B sound, complete with horn section. This is another strong one. It has a mellower balladic motif on the verse, but the chorus is one of the catchiest on show here.
Oh! What a Girl
This is a bit rockier in texture and has a cool funky groove. This is another of my favorite cuts on the disc. The whole picture (the bluesy guitar soloing, smoking horn section, killer rhythm section and strong vocal performance) all serves to elevate this one to a top slot in the playlist.
Good Times Have Done Me Wrong
With a bit more techno approach on the introduction, this one quickly picks up the pieces of the funk, and is one of the funkiest cuts on the whole CD. It’s also one of the standouts on show here. I really like the bluesy vocal performance on this one. The guitar solo is especially tasty.
Debris
An acoustic ballad motif is the order of business here. This has a definite “classic rock” feeling to it. It’s actually a nice change of pace and another highlight of the CD.
Lady
Here we get an even deeper funk on this retro textured jam. It’s a slow and dirty sort of groove that is very cool. Once again, it presents a nice bit of variety. The vocal performance on this one, along with the musical arrangement, is very potent. This is another song that stands above the bulk of the disc. I like the saxophone solo, too.
Money TV
A cool bluesy guitar arrangement makes this one another winner. It’s quite retro and very fun. It seems like by this point the disc just keeps getting better. This one feels like a cross between some traditional blues guy and Steely Dan. The guitar work is extremely tasty, but the whole arrangement is stellar.
The Death of Cool
This has a slower groove, but almost misses the mark. For my money it’s only the great stream of consciousness vocal delivery that saves this one from mediocrity. Perhaps that’s got more to do with the strength of the material that preceded it, but either way, this one relies almost entirely on the vocals to pull it off. The keyboard solo is nice, too, though.
Little Englander
While this balladic number has its moments, it strikes me as one of the weaker pieces on show here. As such, I question it’s position as the final track on the CD.
 
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