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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Picture Book

Simply Red

1985

Buy At Rough Trade
Picture Book
Album Summary

Picture Book is the debut album by British pop and soul group Simply Red, released in October 1985. It contains the U.S. #1 single "Holding Back the Years", the band's most successful single, and a cover of The Valentine Brothers' "Money's Too Tight (to Mention)". Three other singles were released from the album: "Come to My Aid", "Jericho", and "Open Up the Red Box". The album helped Simply Red earn a 1987 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. "Holding Back the Years" was also nominated for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals. A special version of the album was released on the then new Compact Disc + Graphics, or CD+G format which when played on a suitable CD player, 4 bit raster graphic images, text and animations would also be displayed on a connected TV screen.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.89

Votes

10231
Genres
New Wave
Soul
Pop

Reviews

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Thu Jan 20 2022
1

The funny thing is listening to this album, it was even worse than I expected it to be. There have been some dubious selections so far which make me question the validity of the 1001 albums but this takes the biscuit. I refuse to believe that this is one of the 1001 greatest albums ever made. If you Google 'Best albums of 1985' you get lists with some great albums, none of which are by Simply Red.

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Mon Jan 02 2023
2

ATTENTION K-MART SHOPPERS: THERE IS A BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL ON PAMPERS IN AISLE 7.

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Thu Jan 20 2022
1

Band has big "Jamiroquai but different be-hatted cunt in charge" vibes.

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Wed Feb 23 2022
2

"This is the second Simply Red song on this tape. One's unforgivable. Two's a war crime. Can I fast-forward?"

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Mon Mar 08 2021
4

I know I will be alone on this one but I can appreciate this sort of 80s sophistipop. The talking heads cover was a bit of a surprise and I didn't love it but I generally enjoy the confluence of synths and soul from this era. 3.5 up to 4.

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Fri May 20 2022
2

I think all this soft 80s adult-oriented pop is payback for me having missed the two Black Sabbath records. That's on me, guys. You make a deal with the devil and the devil wants his due. I didn't mind "Heaven," "Holding Back the Years," or "Picture Book." But I'm going to have that lower octave singing of the line "Open Up the Red Box" stuck in my head the rest of my life and I am not sure I deserved that one.

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Mon May 24 2021

Simply Shite more like, amirite.

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Wed Jun 02 2021
4

Mick Hucknall has an amazing voice. Their best songs sounds like he's vocally grappling with the music; all snarls, growls and whips. This album contains a lot of Simply Red's best songs, like U2 I'm not sure why this band is seen as 'uncool' but I guess that's someone else's loss.

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Wed Jan 25 2023
2

Wow… this is dull. Cheesy organs, unnecessary saxophones, and an allegedly soulful singer. When you think you’re nostalgic for the 80s, just put this on and be cured.

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Thu Oct 05 2023
1

More a function of the rough day I’ve had but I’m somewhat saddened at how warped the list selection feels day after day. 900+ albums in and time after time I’m presented with some new British monstrosity of a band that somehow makes the same music as the 500 others before it. I would redo this whole project from scratch if it meant the selection contained exciting, underground albums that deserved the praise and recognition of being in the top 1001 of all time, not whatever this shite is Dimery be damned

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Tue Aug 17 2021
2

We listened to this over breakfast at which point my co-judge offered her opinion that it was "stinky", and on second listen (with headphones) I agree that a few songs, especially the debut smash hit, "Holding Back the Years" are over-the-top stinky. But I liked the title track and though I usually hate covers, I thought their version of Heaven was transformative. He has a great voice and I like the fact that the theme of not having any money shows up in a number of songs. So 5/10 from me with rounding down due to the radio-ready production.

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Mon Jul 12 2021
4

Enjoyed this, tight 80s smooth soulful pop. Reminded me of Phil Collins/Genesis at times and Michael Jackson at others. Fav track: Jericho

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Wed Nov 08 2023
3

An album that cranks up the 80s aesthetic and sprinkles in some thoughtful lyrics.

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Tue Jun 01 2021
5

definitely smooth and not in a lacklustre way. It feels like a lot of love went into this album. Feels like sitting at a bar with a drink and a stranger, just to swap stories and part ways.

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Mon Jul 12 2021
5

I like the purple skin on the album cover. Billy Idol sprang to mind, both of there styles are very soulful. I especially like the intricate percussion parts.

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Fri Feb 19 2021
4

The band finds a steady R&B groove reminiscent of '60s Stax house band the MG's, and, as with the MG's, it's all in the service of a big-voiced soul singer, in this case a British redhead. Features the U.S. number-one "Holding Back the Years" and the U.K. Top 20 "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)."

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Wed Jan 31 2024
4

Very 80s. The upbeat tracks especially were very fun. Stand-out: Come To My Aid

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Mon Feb 12 2024
4

When I put this on, I immediately prepared myself for a rough ride. I figured this would be bad, and for some reason I wanted to hate on it. I think the consensus that it wasn’t amazing got to my head. But truthfully I just couldn’t hate this. This comes off to me like a more glitzy and glamorous Jamiroquai or Steely Dan. And I kind of hate it for that. But like I said, I couldn’t pretend to not like this for very long. I’m just a sucker for this sound, no matter who does it. And this does have some genuine highlights. The stretch from Jericho to Holding Back the Years is excellent. And the vocalist has some really great and powerful moments on here. This feels so smack dab right in the middle of the 80’s, which makes total sense considering the release date. This is a combination of many things, from the new wave influences, to even the title and cover art, which have a very artsy fartsy feel. I can understand why certain people would be put off and interpret this as rather pretentious. I find that there isn’t much to latch onto as an outsider. If you like this genre, you will find enjoyment in this. If you don’t, this isn’t going to change anything for you. It might make it worse, honestly. Rating: 7/10

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Wed Nov 01 2023
3

This was a decent album. Had some catchy songs. It works well as background music, but for a dedicated listening session it wasn’t my vibe. Very groovy though.

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Fri Jan 29 2021
2

I actually have this album on vinyl so I’ve listened to it before. Although the singer has a pretty unique/cool voice and a few of the songs are really catchy and funky, I just didn’t really enjoy this album overall. Maybe with repeat listens more songs would grab me. Reminds me a lot of Hall & Oates, but not as fun and awesome. Stand out tracks: come to my aid, look at you now and moneys too tight.

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Wed Feb 03 2021
2

A version lesser than "Go Back Jack Do it Again" of Steely Dan. Ok

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Wed Nov 16 2022
2

when the reds go marching, on on on! he's like the much better prototype of the used teabag that is ed sheeran. hideous ginger creature, the pastiest of things with suspisious eyes using predominantly black music styles to sing music that gets the women going. the prototype completed women though didn't he. can't see ed sheeran ever conquering slick mick in the all time tables. micks got a pretty good voice if you didn't know what he looked like, but there's just something so jarring about MOR soul being belted out by someone who looks like an eco warrior that's been trapped in a tunnel for the last 5 months surviving off stale golden wonder crisps and drinking his own piss.

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Sun Jan 31 2021
5

Fabulous take from the 80s. Can’t believe I’d never listened to this before

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Tue May 18 2021
5

Got through the first half, realized this album is a masterpiece in my eyes

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Wed May 12 2021
5

Classic 80s music. Memories of college and dance clubs 🥰

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Mon May 24 2021
5

Classic. Virtually every song is excellent.

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Sun Dec 19 2021
5

Amazing album. So fun to listen to and definitely will be revisiting again.

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Wed Feb 16 2022
5

Fav songs: - Come to My Aid - Money's Too Tight (To Mention) - No Direction - Picture Book

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Fri Oct 07 2022
5

This album was shockingly awesome

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Wed Nov 16 2022
5

There's 2 or 3 pretty good songs dotted amongst a load of absolute drivel. I preferred The Frantic Elevators, but who doesn't? Mick Hucknall though innit, so he deserves 10 stars, never mind 5.

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Sun Nov 27 2022
5

Everyone now and then I come across an album that has it, and this has got it. Not much more to be said aside from the fact that I loved the cover of Heaven especially the big sax. Jericho has got some serious attitude to it. A very good obviously 80s album that never gets "too" 80s (thanks to a very heavy soul or something influence). I also love that in this case I am absolutely zero influenced by prevailing opinion cause I've never even heard of him. I actively avoid preconceptions as a hard rule for all these albums but in reality they sneak in every now and then - here is a pure unadulterated love of a record.

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Thu Dec 22 2022
5

This is great. 1985 but does not seem 45+ years old. A really good blend of pop, funk, soul, r&b. For me, evokes the feeling of having been emotional over something for a long time, feeling tired of it, and turning inward and a bit cold with a new veiled perspective of the world.

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Thu Jan 05 2023
5

Fun, electronic, neon-feeling album, that gets you nodding your head and tapping your feet.

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Sun Feb 26 2023
5

I love it so very much, I'm so glad it was recommended 😍

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Sun Apr 30 2023
5

9/10 some really amazing stuff here a bit dorky at times, but for the most part it’s super solid

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Thu May 11 2023
5

Que discazo loco, me encantó. De los mejores que escuché.

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Wed Jun 14 2023
5

This was like 12 different genres yet I still loved it. Funky

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Wed Jul 05 2023
5

Warm and enjoyable over big speakers for pretty much anyone who lived and loved through the 80s a wonderful reminder of the joy of Simply Red and his bouncy locks and magical voice... And what a nice way to wake up. Great blue eyed soul (was it always called that?).

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Thu Jul 06 2023
5

Absolute banger of an album. Forget what you think of Mick Hucknall, just listen to it!

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Sun Oct 01 2023
5

What a likable pop album. The songs are catchy, the sound is full, the lyrics playful, and the guy's voice is great. Plus, where else have you heard a dance tune about Raegonomics?

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Fri Oct 06 2023
5

Felt in love with simply red with this recommendation, absolutly amazing music.

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Fri Oct 13 2023
5

Really liked this one. Surprisingly amazing. Kinda loved it.

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Mon Nov 20 2023
5

5 Star album right here. I think it's their best work. I'm not the biggest fan of Simply Red, but this album is phenomenal!

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Mon Nov 20 2023
5

Man, this took me back. Mick Hucknell's vocals are soulful and land in the dead center of the blues. I listened to the whole album with pleasure.

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Wed Dec 20 2023
5

This album was really good. Super interesting. 80s synth pop flair with soul based vocals and some touches of jazz instrumentals from time to time. Really weird in a good way. Favourite songs: Look at You Now, Money's Too Tight (To Mention), Holding Back The Years, Open Up The Red Box, Jericho, Sad Old Red, Come To My Aid, Heaven, No Direction Least favourite songs: if forced to pick, Picture Book 5/5

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Fri Jan 05 2024
5

Say what you like about Mick Hucknall; the man can sing. Amazing debut and can bear repeated listenings, of which there have been many since uni. Can totally forgive a Talking Heads cover (the impertinence!). Favourite track is predictably Holding Back the Years, but it’s a tough call as they’re all belters IMO.

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Mon Jan 29 2024
5

An album that is enjoyed by all that listen to it. Definitely a good choice to add to any music collection.

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Wed Jan 31 2024
5

Love it. Very jazzy and old school like me.

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Fri Feb 16 2024
5

Very surprised that I liked them so much.

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Wed Feb 28 2024
5

another band i have never heard of until now and DAMN do they slap. seriously, my jaw was to the floor the moment the first track played, with really awesome keyboard accompaniments, super catchy lines, and a whole theme centered around the appreciation for life, then and now... this is absolutely an album i will be listening to again and again.

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Thu Mar 07 2024
5

I feel like I normally wouldn't be so down for this but I had a blast listening lmao great way to start a monday morning. Bit of grooving, great voice, the cover of Heaven was absolutely killer, all round cool asf

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Fri Jan 22 2021
4

Was actually not bad. Good discovery!

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Wed Jan 27 2021
4

Finally a really good 80's album. 4.2 I could listen to this front to back and be content.

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Tue Jul 13 2021
4

Never heard of this group, but this was a really nice album. At times it reminded me of a version of Peter Cetera with an extra helping of soul. What genre is this, exactly? It's somewhere between pop, R&B, and soul, and I like the exploration of that blended space. The kind of thing that could be called easy listening. Favorite tracks: Holding Back the Years, Jericho, Open Up the Red Box, Come to My Aid. Album art: Really like this one, a cool painting both in aesthetic and temperature. Never seen it before, but it leaves an impression (see what I did there?). 4/5

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Sat May 08 2021
4

Wow! A lot of fun. I'll admit that I was sick of another "Debut album by British pop & ___ band". This list is lousy with debut albums by British pop and [something]" artists. Great beats. Real 80s. Sound. Michael Jackson-esque vocals. Really surprised to hear that these dudes hail from Manchester. I found the Heaven cover to be a bit lame, but mostly because I think Talking Heads are untouchable. Money is my favorite track.

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Fri Apr 16 2021
4

Beautiful brilliant neosoul album from the mid80s new wave Manchester scene no more no less

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Sat Jul 10 2021
4

What a voice! Simply Red's best album, by far. It aged, yes, but not too badly.

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Sun May 16 2021
4

Great 80s album. Found myeelf dancing

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Wed Apr 28 2021
4

not what i expected. very soulful.

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Tue Jul 13 2021
4

Big fan …. Liked these tunes

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Tue Jul 06 2021
4

This was way better than I expected. I knew the singles but the album was punchy with a very strong groove capped by a fine ,fine singer.

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Mon Jul 26 2021
4

Another one that works much better for me without the visual. Anyone who reads this: you must now sing the lyrics to Money’s too tight to mention to the tune of Let’s get ready to rumble by PJ and Duncan. Ta

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Thu Jul 29 2021
4

While I didn't recognize the name, I certainly remembered the single "Holding Back the Years". Great vocals and good groove to the whole album. I probably won't go back and listen to it again, but it was enjoyable. Solid 4.

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Fri Oct 08 2021
4

Ik ben niet zo hele bekend met het repertoire van Simply Red, anders dan de bekende hits. Dit album begint meteen herkenbaar en gaat daarna in een zeer lekkere jazzy vibe verder. ****

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Thu Nov 18 2021
4

Sad old red was a good song!

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Sun Jan 23 2022
4

Surprisingly funky. Main gripes are the vocals are slightly annoying and the lyrics have nothing. 8/10

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Sun Jan 23 2022
4

7/10. Maybe an 8 out of 10? Solidly enjoyable throughout, nothing grabbed my attention

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Sun Feb 20 2022
4

The debut album from Simply Red - classic stuff... ...although perhaps the overall album isn't as good as the (over-played at the time) Heaven and Money's Too Tight (To Mention)...?!

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Thu Feb 24 2022
4

Never heard of them. This was very cool, especially the first song

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Thu Mar 17 2022
4

The Talking Heads cover (Heaven) just doesn't approach David Byrne's tongue-in-cheek delivery, and frankly doesn't work for me, but overall it's a nice album. Anyone not moved by Holding Back the Years simply has no soul, in my opinion.

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Fri May 20 2022
4

Simply Red (and Mick Hucknall) have long been the butt of jokes and the sneers of critics on these shores, and as such I was primed to join in with the ludification. But...this is really good. Hucknall is a good singer, the album is full of grooves, and in 'Holding Back the Years' they have a ballad for the ages. I really dig the light funk groove that pervades - 'Come to My Aid', 'Jericho', 'Money's Too Tight' all sparkle. 'Sad Old Red' is a very decent cabaret jazz number. One that I'll stick on the stereo again in the near future.

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Fri Jun 17 2022
4

Rating: 7/10 Best songs: Long promised road, Money’s too tight

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Thu Jul 14 2022
4

I really enjoyed this album I thought it was very groovy and fun and overall enjoyable!

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Wed Sep 14 2022
4

I had not listened to this group before. The work has that classic British one-two hop-groove that can be quite funky at times. Lyrics surprisingly heartfelt and relatable - very authentically delivered.

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Fri Sep 30 2022
4

I vibe with all the style changes

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Sun Nov 13 2022
4

Debut album for Simply Red. Much soul through an 80s lens. Good stuff, but too few real standouts. 3.5/5

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Thu Dec 08 2022
4

I got into Simply Red with their Stars album in 1991. I loved that album, and later got into their Greatest Hits. So I knew and liked a few of the hits off this album. I'm glad to have had this come up as there are a lot of great new songs from Simply Red that already favorites!

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Thu Dec 08 2022
4

A hometown friend gave this to me, kind of out of the blue, right before I left for college. I would never have bought it for myself but I listened to it sometimes and enjoyed it. Still, I was surprised to see it on this list. I don't know why! It's really good. There are bits that certainly smack of the 80s but mostly I think it's aged pretty well and it's more suited to me in late middle-age than it was in my (rockin') teens. Very nice!

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Fri Dec 16 2022
4

actually really nice listen.

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Thu Dec 22 2022
4

This is 80s Simply Red which is awesome because I only found them in the 90s. It’s got “moneys too tight to mention” which is such a jam and blues tracks too. It’s nice to see how the band developed; I had to listen to the stars album straight after

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