Simply Red

Life

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For Life, Simply Red retain the basic influences that fueled their earlier albums, especially American R&B of the early '70s, specifically the Marvin Gaye of What's Going On? and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes-era Teddy Pendergrass. Mick Hucknall's singing has calmed down and smoothed out on such songs as "You Make Me Believe" and "So Many People," but that only makes them sound more like the product of Philadelphia International Records. On "Fairground," he opts for a Latin-tinged sound that ends up evoking Herb Alpert more than Milton Nascimento; reggae turns up on "Out on the Range," and the big-time closer, "We're in This Together," is a South African-style anthem, complete with Hugh Masekela's flugelhorn. Stripped of the international superstar trappings, Life is, of course, pretentious, but it does have a couple of promising songs, notably "So Beautiful" and "Remembering the First Time."

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