This is probably an easy one to guess from the title. The lyrics are pretty memorable; so much so it was difficult to try and pick one that wouldn’t jump out at you.
The act could technically be included as part of the 80’s British Invasion, but they sounded quite different than many of those memorable groups and artists. This band had a sense of R&B mixed in with their pop sound. And in Mick Hucknall, a very soulful lead singer. His vocal and thissong turned into their first big hit.
Today’s 80’s Mania Monday song is “Holding Back The Years” by Simply Red.
Simply Red was formed from the ashes of a band called the Frantic Elevators, formed in 1977 after a concert by the Sex Pistols. The group were together for seven years, releasing several local singles and getting some local acclaim but never making a big break internationally. The last single the group made was a version of “Holding Back The Years.” Hucknall took that song and re-made it, and that’s the version that we know and love today.
Hucknall and his new manager, Elliot Rashman, assembled a group of local session musicians and started making new music. Naming the new group Simply Red, they were signed by Elektra Records in 1985 and began recording their debut album, Picture Book. The first single released by the new group, a remake of the Valentine Brothers'”Money’s Too Tight To Mention,” was fairly successful in the UK and Ireland, then became a top 30 hit in the U.S. after today’s song hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Reminiscent of one of the old soul ballads, the song began rise to fame of Simply Red and Hucknall as well. By the time Simply Red split up in 2010, Hucknall was the only original member left; many of the group’s later albums were performed by session musicians, with Hucknall’s vocals. Today’s song has produced a number of covers, with quite a few having been done by R&B and Smooth Jazz artists, such as Angie Stone, Alyson Williams, Pieces Of A Dream, Randy Crawford, The Isley Brothers and Rick Braun. In 2015, Hucknall reformed Simply Red with new musicians primarily for touring: first for a 30th Anniversary tour in 2015, and a 25th Anniversary tour for the release of their album Stars, which proved to be their biggest international hit (it didn’t do quite as well in the United States).
Even today, this song still resonates with me; I can remember getting the album while I was in college on the strength of this song alone. There are other cuts from the album that still stick with me, and I followed the group with their subsequent albums, with A New Flame and the aforementioned Stars becoming two more of my favorites by Simply Red.
Do any of you have memories of this song? If so, leave them in the comments. As always, thanks for reading and listening.