Sunday, February 10, 2019

"Holding Back the Years" by Simply Red

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2675
Date:  04/05/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Blue-Eyed Soul, Adult Contemporary, Sophisti-pop

Pop Bits:  UK Singer/songwriter Mick Hucknall started his career in the late 70s with a punk band he fronted called The Frantic Elevators. After that band broke up in 1984, Hucknall set out to form a new band. They would take on the name Simply Red (mainly due to "Red" being Hucknall's nickname and hair color) and their sound would lean towards the softer, groovier sounds of soul. The band got signed to Elektra Records and in '85 they issued out their first single, which was a cover version of  "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)," a song originally written and recorded by The Valentine Brothers in 1982 (#41 US R&B). It did well in the UK reaching #13. Three more singles were issued out from their debut album Picture Book, including "Holding Back the Years," but nothing really clicked. As '86 was rolling around, "Holding Back the Years" suddenly got a second lease on life. A reissue of the single turned into a significant hit reaching #2 in the UK. It's success then bled over across the pond to the States and by the time summer was in full swing, the tune reached the top of the US Pop chart. It was also a hit at AC getting to #4 while reaching #29 at R&B. The hit helped the album become a platinum seller reaching #16. The band would later grab two Grammy nominations, one for Best New Artist and one for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for this song.

ReduxReview:  The original version of this song was actually quite good (see below). The basis of the song was there and I liked the indie rock sound of it. However, Hucknall turned it into an 80s classic by changing the style, adding the chorus, and doing a slick arrangement that included a pretty sweet muted trumpet. The song is subtle but quite powerful and Hucknall's voice was never better. While I'd never become a real fan of the band, this is their lasting hit that still sounds great decades later. This is also a song that taught me words. There are two lines in the first verse - "strangled by the wishes of pater, hoping for the arms of mater." I had no idea what pater and mater were, but based on context I thought I knew what they might be. Indeed after looking them up my hunch was right. They are old British terms for father and mother based on Latin. Obviously I'll always remember the song itself, but I'll also remember that it introduced me to these words. It's fun when songs can teach!

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Mick Hucknall when he was seventeen. Neil Moss is listed as a co-writer, but apparently it was more of a "thank you" credit. Moss, who was in The Frantic Elevators with Hucknall, didn't write any of the song. Hucknall had his name added to the credits as a way of celebrating their friendship and musical partnership (they wrote several songs together for the band). The Frantic Elevators recorded the song in 1982 and issued it out as an indie single. The band's original version was more of a rock ballad and did not include the repeated chorus line of "I'll keep holding on." Hucknall revived the tune for Simply Red and with a style change and lyrical addition, it turned into a major worldwide hit.


No comments:

Post a Comment