A review of Simply Red’s Stars (1991)
British soul pop at its finest. Mick Hucknall came from a reggae and soul perspective, but was really always a crooner first. This is an incredibly strong collection of songs, and it’s still puzzling to me why this never took off more in North America. I loved this when I was 21; it’s still a very, very strong album whose loose, 70s soul stylings and Beatles-esque harmonies have held up well. And it was a record that took the world by storm – at least the UK, Europe, Australia, South Africa… in England, it was the album of the year in 1991 and spent something like 20 weeks at the top of the charts. This incarnation of Simply Red featured Gota on drums – a very talented Japanese jazz/fusion/house drummer and producer who would later released a number of interesting instrumental discs. In a way, this fit well into the developing nexus of sound that was springing up in England around this time… pop musicians were being influenced by the nascent dance scene, and this CD is somewhat of a precursor to Emergency on Planet Earth and The Return of the Space Cowboy by Jamiroquai which came out a few years later – and also had virtually no success at all in North America.