Rocks In The Attic #382: Simply Red – ‘Picture Book’ (1985)

RITA#382I remember Simply Red being around when I was younger. Not the band themselves, I didn’t bump into them at social gatherings or anything, but I do remember them being played on the radio a lot. For some reason, I associate their music with being in the underground market in Manchester’s Arndale Centre. I’m not exactly sure why. It might have been the first time I recall hearing one of their songs, blaring out from a radio inside a shop.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s an unfortunate association – you know that horrible, rancid odour you smell inside a butcher’s shop? The whole of Manchester’s underground market essentially smells like that, because of its one butcher’s shop that doesn’t have a door or anything to keep the stench inside. Your Mum thinks she’s doing you a favour by picking you up a few pairs of cheap socks, but you soon realise that they smell of mince. Same with the three pack of white t-shirts she bought you for P.E. They might eventually smell of B.O., but brand-new they smell like beef and onions.

I would have been seven years old when this album was released. I remember cuts from this and the follow-up albums being played on Atlantic 252 – a new radio station that we could get on the long wave frequency, discovered when we were on holiday in Cornwall. Broadcast out of Ireland, it was the first commercial radio station available across the UK.

It’s now commonplace to ridicule Mick Hucknall and Simply Red, but this debut album is great. They might have quickly devolved from a blue-eyed soul group into a no-frills pop band, but when I hear something like Come To My Aid or Money’s Too Tight To Mention, all I want to do is dance.

Just before I left the UK, I was temping for Cooperative Financial Services in Manchester. A couple of us had started a new email game where we were passing comment on things in the office through the medium of song. It started from one guy ridiculing our new filing trays, whose bold primary colours he described as ‘red, gold and green’ (from Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon). My retort was a comment on one of the hot girls in his team who had come to work that morning in short shorts (hot pants really), much to the dismay of their Manager – ‘shorts are too tight to mention’. My colleague enjoyed it so much, he stood up and applauded, from the other side of our open-plan office.

Hit: Holding Back The Years

Hidden Gem: Come To My Aid

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