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He has the pipes
December 1, 2010 7:02 AM   Subscribe

In defense of Simply Red. A look at Mick Hucknall, and the 25 years since the band's debut Picture Book.
posted by Askiba (43 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Chumbawamba use Simply Red as an unsuccessful torture device against James Hetfield on their newest album.
posted by nomisxid at 7:29 AM on December 1, 2010


I never felt much pull towards Martine McCutcheon until I discovered that she, whilst inebriated, threw up in Mick Hucknall's hair. Then she became my favourite person of all time.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 7:36 AM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Behead those who defend Mick Hucknall.
posted by Ted Maul at 7:41 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always liked mid-80s Simply Red, but I've always had kind of a thing for "blue eyed soul" of the British variety. I know nothing about Hucknall's personal life either way, and don't care much. He seems to be kind of an obnoxious git, but this makes him different from a lot of other musicians exactly how?

The article reminded me that I seem to have lost my copy of Picture Book somewhere along the way, though, so I put it on my wish list. I have no guilt about my pleasures, either. Music snobs and haters to the left.
posted by immlass at 7:44 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


"It's a pity you didn't sign the Smiths, but you were right about Mick Hucknall. His music's rubbish, and he's a ginger."
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:46 AM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Let's not turn this into a ginger-bashing thing, please. Hucknall's already done enough damage to our reputation on the world stage.
posted by Ted Maul at 7:48 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been to Mick Hucknall's drinking establishment in Castlefield. It has a cheese and pate bar.
posted by mippy at 7:59 AM on December 1, 2010


All I really know of Hucknall is the single "Holding Back the Years" which I actually remember kind of liking as a kid.

Am I right in assuming he's like a Brit Michael Bolton?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:00 AM on December 1, 2010


Behead me, then. Picture Book, for what it is, is a perfect album, albeit frozen in its moment in time like a beetle in amber. Men and Women is damn near close to perfect. Everything else after that is kind of meh. Or, as the linked piece archly describes it, "largely anodyne, dinner party soul."

Hucknall's probably an ass, I've never met the man. But so are a thousand or more other pop celebs. I'm not sure what all the red-hot hate's about.
posted by blucevalo at 8:09 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


As someone who spends loads of time digging through used CD bins, I've seen a whole lot of Simply Red discs over the years.
posted by davebush at 8:10 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I bought the 12 inch for Money's Too Tight (To Mention) when I was in high school. That's about as far as I got with Simply Red.
posted by Sailormom at 8:17 AM on December 1, 2010


I'm sure this FPP will go down well with our Prime Minister, Tony Blair. He's a good friend of mine and, like me, loves your website.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:20 AM on December 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Damnit, spent too much time looking for an awesome previous comment about...Simple Minds.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:22 AM on December 1, 2010


Sorry, I can't hear the name anymore without immediately following it in my mind with "pink pancakes".
posted by gimonca at 8:23 AM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


To be fair, if you don't know Mick Hucknall by now, you will never, ever, ever know him*.


*I realize this was a cover.
posted by inturnaround at 8:29 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only time Simply Red were acceptable was in the episode of Only Fools and Horses where Rodney and Cassandra got married. (10 mins YT)
posted by episodic at 8:29 AM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


But...when I look into your eyes, I see the sun rise.

I'm not a fan of Simply Red but Sunrise is an awesomely cheesy song. Works well with jazz hands.
posted by shmurley at 8:32 AM on December 1, 2010


I read that essay last week and thought it was spot on. Picture Book is indeed a great album, and Men & Women is pretty darn good.

I actually had no idea that he was so hated, or anything of his private life, until I saw this article. Upon a few seconds reflection I realized I couldn't care less.
posted by the bricabrac man at 8:32 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


This article was a cold slap in the face for everyone who assumed that most 80s rock stars had died long ago of cocaine-induced heart attacks.
posted by tommasz at 8:40 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had no idea I was supposed to hate this guy. Thanks Metafilter!
posted by swift at 8:52 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like holding back the years. Why does Simply Red need defending? Plenty of bands have had asshole frontmen.

Being American means not getting Mick Hucknall hate, as well, so that's a plus. Apparently he's done something unpleasant in Britain?
posted by Eideteker at 8:53 AM on December 1, 2010


fearfulsymmetry: “It's a pity you didn't sign the Smiths, but you were right about Mick Hucknall. His music's rubbish, and he's a ginger.”

That line in the movie always made me sort of giggle. I mean, it makes perfect sense – Tony Wilson was a money-grubbing tosser who spent half a decade relentlessly fucking over the guys in New Order, so I'm sure he regretted not getting on the Smiths gravy train. But the Smiths were just Simply Red with better hair and a slightly more arrogant fuckface of a frontman.
posted by koeselitz at 8:55 AM on December 1, 2010


Also, this is why I feel such a kinship with Britons: their favorite national pastime is bile.
posted by koeselitz at 9:00 AM on December 1, 2010


I remember Simply Red being really credible to start off with. Profiles would reference Mick Hucknell being in a punk band, and there was even a Whistle Test profile.

Then they got popular, and the credible people started to hate them.

They did about 5 really good singles which is more than most bands.
posted by DanCall at 9:05 AM on December 1, 2010


There are many many reasons to loathe Mick, but to his credit he is responsible for the wonderful Blood & Fire record label.
posted by punilux at 9:06 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


ehh, Eide, he's apparently done the unforgiveable sin of transforming himself from a bitter, arrogant, outspoken blue collar poor chap, to a smug, arrogant, outspoken upper class prat. It doesn't look like his personality's changed a whit, only his income bracket.

Rich folk don't like uppity plebs, and have this attitude like the white trash should know its place and stay there. This works for both sides of the pond.

From what it sounds like the guy has always been kind of a douche. I'm really not even sure why anyone expects throwing money at him would solve that. It sure hasn't done a whole hell of a lot for Britney Spears and her dysfunctional mess of a family.

Talent and graciousness are rarely equivalent; it takes enormous ego and selfishness to succeed in the music industry, frankly. I'm never quite sure why pop culture feels it necessary to conflate the two.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:08 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


*note to self* RTFA in future.
posted by punilux at 9:09 AM on December 1, 2010


Oh - and, as they point out in the Quietus piece, he once said this:

"Tony Blair's a friend. I've said to him, 'You should have waited on Iraq'. He listens."

Which leaves me speechless.
posted by DanCall at 9:09 AM on December 1, 2010


Nice voice; shame about the face. And the music.

I am so glad someone linked TV Go Home. I am so glad that classic, gut-bustingly funny site is still up. Charlie Brooker... I love that guy. These days few people can make genuinely laugh out loud, but he does. Time and time again.
posted by Decani at 9:45 AM on December 1, 2010


I bought the 12 inch for Money's Too Tight (To Mention) when I was in high school.

The only was that anyone could make a mistake like that is if they've never heard The Valentine Brothers sublime original.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:12 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


three former members of Durutti Column in their line up
Now that I didn't know. Been listening to Vini and pals again a lot recently and it's still so fresh. Never though much of Mick Hucknall one way or the other, even when he was easiest to dislike.
posted by Abiezer at 10:15 AM on December 1, 2010


Ran across the following sentence about 15 minutes before seeing this post: Jean Nouvel is the Simply Red of architecture.
posted by xod at 11:48 AM on December 1, 2010


Being American means not getting Mick Hucknall hate, as well, so that's a plus. Apparently he's done something unpleasant in Britain?

Yeah, that's the difference. In the US, Simply Red had that "Holding Back The Years" song and that meh cover of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know Me By Now." And that's all we really heard of him.

In the UK, though, Simply Red sold millions of records of what the article calls "dinner party music." And that's a perfect description -- the sort of stuff you hear in the background of gallery openings and busy nights at the wine bar.

For example, Fairground. A month topping the UK charts, big hit elsewhere in Europe. You hear that, you start looking for the waiter with the chardonnay glasses and identifying your best route to pound the wine and get the hell out of the party.

In the US, "Fairground" didn't even crack the Hot 100.

So yeah, we missed that whole side of Simply Red, the sound of upwardly mobile Brits hanging on to their wine glasses in quiet desperation. We can be thankful for that.

(I'm not sure about us missing out on Kylie Minogue between "Locomotion" and "Can't Get You Out Of My Head," though. Seems like what the mid-90s US music scene could have used was some Sexkylie to shake us out of the post-grunge doldrums.)
posted by dw at 12:00 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, dw--that clip certainly proves your point.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:46 PM on December 1, 2010


I never knew anything about Simply Red other than "Holding back the years" -- I feel like I've been rickrolled, only this time I didn't smile.
posted by not_on_display at 1:57 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Men & Women is pretty darn good.

Yep. I don't know anything about the guy being a jerk but his cover of Sly Stone's Let Me Have it All is the main reason I bought that Simply Red album.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:21 PM on December 1, 2010


I recall a lot of angry response to his 'of course I don't wear a condom, it feels rubbish' type comments in the press. So there's that too.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:46 PM on December 1, 2010


MetaFilter: I had no idea I was supposed to hate this guy
posted by bwg at 5:47 PM on December 1, 2010


Mick Hucknall != Michael Bolton. Catalog-celebrating assclown aside, Mr. Bolton was nothing more than a presentable face with a decent voice for whomever owned those songs he recycled. Also, dated Ashley Judd, but then again, who hasn't?
posted by jsavimbi at 5:56 PM on December 1, 2010


I remember "21 Jump Street" (yes, that show with Johnny Depp) featured several Simply Red songs on an episode or two.
posted by girlhacker at 7:28 PM on December 1, 2010


'Oi Hucknall! When you're Simply Read-y!' (from my favorite episode of the IT Crowd.. somehow I hear Adam Buxton saying that in my head every day!)

You've all seen David Brent's hilarious music video for 'If You Don't Know Me By Now,' I'm sure?
posted by Mael Oui at 8:45 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually like Fairground - it reminds me of the winter I was thirteen, and hanging round Our Price waiting for boys to come in and buy Interesting Records.
posted by mippy at 3:02 AM on December 2, 2010


Mick Hucknall apologies to 1,000 women he slept with
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:42 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


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