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Customer Review

on March 24, 2007
Mick Hucknall has always been one of those people that the public either love or hate. People on Simply Red's website forums seem to think of Mick as a God, whereas the press are not nearly as generous, often slating his music. Simply Red's 10th studio album is unlikely to garner favour from those in the `hate' category but it'll almost certainly be a hit with fans and should convert a few others along the way. `Stay' finds Mick at a happy point in his life - he now has a long-term girlfriend with a recently announced baby on the way and Mick wants to sing about this new-found happiness, and also have a rant or two at the end of the album. `Stay' certainly has an energy and vibrancy that has been unseen for a while. It's a welcome return to some new material, after 2005's effort `Simplified', which contained mainly re-workings of classic Simply Red tracks. The album is slightly rockier than previous releases, but that shouldn't put anyone off and it is a welcome direction for them.

The first five songs on the album are love songs, but they are not all mushy and they have a respectable melody to them. Many people will probably be able to identify with the lyrics of `So Not Over You', whilst `The World and You Tonight' has a refreshing and catchy tune to it. `Oh! What a Girl' provides one of the albums funkier tracks and the soaring horns and the slight hint of innuendo make for a good combination. Possible future single `Stay' also has a catchy pop tune.

Hints of soul are included with `They Don't Know' and the blues infused, autobiographical `Good Times Have Done Me Wrong', has a raw sound that suits Mick very well. It also showcases three of the band's brightest stars - Kenji Suzuki on guitar, Ian Kirkham on saxophone and Dave Clayton on piano. `Lady' is a sophisticated song and Ian Kirkham's sax solo at the end shows he has lost none of his talent over the years. Kenji gets another chance to shine on `Money TV', a cool sounding rant, possibly aimed at reality pop. `Death of the Cool' and `Little Englander' end the album nicely, although die-hard fans may find `Little Englander' a slightly strange song for Simply Red, what with the whistling and the child choir, but after a few listens it becomes surprisingly enchanting, as Mick launches into rant mode, possibly at his critics (`Judge me go on it amuses me...'). A mention also for the cover of The Small Faces song `Debris', another strong song, although unusually for a Simply Red cover, it is questionable whether it beats the original.

Overall, this is a good solid album from a good solid band. One of the problems Simply Red seem to have is that everything is compared to the `Stars' album, which may not be such a good thing as it could be said that it was an album for its time (although it still remains an all time classic). It's difficult to begin to compare `Stay' to other albums but Mick's voice is as strong as ever, the band is in top form and the album is very well produced. Well worth a listen.
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4.5 out of 5 stars