808s / The UK's Greatest Hits

The UK’s Greatest Hits: 14. Stars – Simply Red

StarsSimplyRedalbumcoverStars – Simply Red – 1991

First listen?: No

The UK loves a bit of Mick Hucknall. The most unlikely front man on the list, as the 90s began Simply Red were simply massive. Stars was the biggest peak for them, never giving up a chart hit higher than number 8, but selling millions of albums. I was genuinely surprised to discover how big the band were for so long before Stars, I had assumed this was a one of. I was wrong, Stars was merely the highest point in a long career of huge album sales, the biggest album of the year in both 1991 and 1992. Something Got Me Started does exactly that, a funky, catchy slice of pop that sets the tone for an upbeat and consistent album, one I had forgotten was this good. Biggest hit Stars is glorious, it starts small, but gives way to that massive vocal on the chorus. Simply Red never push it too far though, safe in the knowledge that a catchy hook and riff is enough to create a timeless song. Nearly 25 years since Stars was first released the album sounds surprisingly fresh even now thanks to this careful approach to songwriting. The rest of the album is track after track of top quality pop taking elements of funk, reggae and soft rock across tracks like Freedom, Model and For Your Babies. It manages to walk the line between diverse and familiar, 5 seconds into each song you know it has to be Simply Red. This is a group who had worked for years honing their song, building up to Stars, an expansive and exciting album that fully deserves the huge success it had. My earliest memories of CDs that would be played in our house is of Stars and follow up Life; Stars was released a few months before I was born. I found myself singing along to lyrics of songs I had last heard when I was a tiny child. Stars is a truly timeless record that takes me straight back to those years.

Rating: 9/10

Will I listen again?: Yes!

Best Track: I have to go for Something Got Me Started, that hook is too damn catchy. Also I’m hypnotized by Mick’s dancing in the video.

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