Formed in 1984 by singer and writer Mick "Red" Hucknall (real name Michael James Hucknall) Simply Red was, and still is, one of the most influential UK bands that managed to mix perfectly blues, jazz, pop, crossover, and rock into an incredible sound which proved to be a formula that sold rather well all over the world. While the 80's were a time when a number of hard-rock bands were thriving and especially in the UK the heavy-metal movement had hordes of dedicated followers Simply Red went the opposite way creating a style which twenty years later sounds and feels anything but outdated.
In my opinion what separated Simply Red from the rest of the music scene was their ability to create music with pure perfection. The subtle finesse with which Simply Red crafted their tunes was truly unmatched as they blended melody and text in a way that very few bands did successfully. Add to the mix Mick Hucknall's captivating voice and you have a band that was, and still is, in a class of its own.
As strange as it may sound Simply Red always reminded me about Depeche Mode in a sense that these were the two groups that never really failed to impress me during the years (if anyone matched the blissfulness of Mick Hucknall's voice it was the extraordinary Tracey Thorn from Everything But The Girl). They were always innovative, pushing the envelope with unique arrangements and intelligently written music. Both of those bands matured well enough, unlike many of their counterparts, and during the 90s embraced to a certain degree the unprecedented boom of electronica and dance music in the UK. On a side note very few copycats went after their legacy (those that actually did failed miserably) and nowadays the style and legacy they created is somewhat of a trademark as so many other bands are being compared to them.
It was 1991 when Simply Red's Stars came out and broke all sorts of records becoming the biggest selling UK album of 1992. In fact, Stars was the record that made them a recognizable name around the world. Unfortunately, Simply Red always remained more of a marquee name in Europe than in North America where success has been rather sporadic for the British band.
A Starry Night with Simply Red captures the incredible success of the Stars album and follows the band in Hamburg, Germany at the peak of their sold-out tour. Some of the band's most memorable hits Holding Back The Years, Something Got Me Started, Thrill Me, It's Only Love, etc are included in this live DVD presentation. The following track listing represents the Hamburg show filmed for this DVD:
2. Sad Old Red
5. A New Flame
6. It's Only Love
7. Band Introduction
8. Your Mirror
9. Holding Back The Years
12. I Wish (Instrumental)
13. Let Me Have It All
15. Thrill Me
16. Come To My Aid
17. I Won't Feel Bad
18. Money's Too Tied (To Mention)
19. If You Don't Know Me By Now
21. The Right Thing
22. For Your Babies
23. Something Got Me Started
24. Closing Credits
How Does The DVD Look?
A Starry Night With Simply Red is offered by Warner Strategic Marketing in a sparkling new widescreen high-definition transfer that looks simply stunning. Since I received this DVD package I viewed the concert three times and to be honest there are no flaws that I could find worthy of discussing in this review. The presentation is flat-out immaculate. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's the image quality is as strong as you could expect. Deep colors, excellent contrast, no digital artifacts, this DVD looks perfect. In fact, it looks so good that the digital presentation almost bothered me a bit and a few times I went back looking for something to comment on. Well, needless to say I did not find anything worthy of discussing here. Excellent!!
How Does The DVD Sound?
To compliment a stunning picture quality Warner Strategic Marketing have provided an equally stunning re-mastered Dolby Digital & DTS 5.1 Surround Tracks. An amazing depth and clarity that nearly rival a studio sound the DTS track on this DVD is as good as it gets. I would specifically like to point the fact that the sound is of exceptional quality for a live performance-the DTS track, which is often unjustifiably expected to be loud carries a very lush and balanced sound quality uncharacteristic for live shows recorded more than 10 years ago. In addition the DVD offers optional English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles. Perfect!
In addition to the excellent presentation of this show in Hamburg, Germany there is 12 minute documentary/interview which sheds some light on the show and Simply Red as a group, certainly at the peak of their career.
Re-mastered in a high-definition transfer and complimented by the addition of nine new tracks not included on the original video release Starry Night With Simply Red is essential for music connoisseurs and fans of this extraordinary British group. Quite frankly I think that someone at Warner Strategic Marketing has simply outdone himself/herself. A marvelous set of live performances that offers a look at the magic shows that Simply Red are capable of putting together this set comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.