Picks and Pans Review: Men and Women

updated 04/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Simply Red

Last year Simply Red released a debut LP that seemed impossible for the band to top. A combination of songs that traveled by turns through rock, jazz, R&B and soul, it was packed with an incandescent spectrum of melodies written and sung mainly by Mick Hucknall, the band's emotive lead vocalist. The album burst with musically rich ideas, interpreted by the kind of musicians who could put them across. This LP doesn't live up to the challenge that debut represented. Although Hucknall's piercing tenor and the band's ensemble work are as impressive as ever, most of the tunes on Men and Women are aimless, R&B-based dance cuts that fail to generate heat. Not even contributions on two tracks from Motown composer Lamont Dozier and some invigorating, Detroit-style horn arrangements help much. The lyrics try to communicate something about intimate relationships, but Hucknall, 27, doesn't seem to have enough to say yet to devote a whole album of songs to the subject. The Right Thing is a fairly explicit bedroom vignette about how "I ain't never gonna stop to get what you got/You better take what I bring." Infidelity ("my middle name") is a boastful declaration of independence that's followed by—what else would you expect in these circumstances?—Move On Out. Strangely enough, right in the middle of this somewhat cynical look at love is a thoroughly romantic Cole Porter ballad, Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye. The sensitivity with which Hucknall interprets this song suggests that in theory, anyway, he has the touch to become a strong pop songwriter. (Elektra/Asylum)

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