It would be truly easy to look at any offering from Mick Hucknall and in light of some of Simply Red’s lesser recent offerings rip it to pieces. Tempting as that was this is not a Simply Red album. Hucknall steps out into the limelight on his own for the first time for an album of covers that is as the title suggests a tribute to an artist of yesteryear.
‘Tribute To Bobby’ is Hucknall’s own personal spin on the songs of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland. He does as we already know have a decent set of pipes on him and as is always the case makes a point of surrounding himself with first class musicians. The whole affair starts with promise in the shape of ‘Farther Up The Road’ with a genuine energy that makes the listener want to seek out the original immediately.
Alas beyond this point it soon becomes an exercise in by the numbers slick white pop soul. Effortlessly crafted with Hucknall coasting through these numbers. It should be good and in places there are little chinks of light that illuminate the otherwise beige musical backdrop that you find yourself mired in (‘Poverty’ the forthcoming single being one such moment, ‘Yolanda’ is another).
As for the rest of the material, well the songs will intrigue the first time listener but all I wanted to do was seek out the originals and hear how they performed in their original context. Sadly in this modern incarnation they all seemed a little pointless. Songs of suffering it would seem are the hardest to translate and the elements of despair and heartbreak in the lyrics are somehow lost when performed by someone who hasn’t lived them to the same degree as the originator did.
Maybe a live performance will spruce things up a little bit, Mick plays the London Indigo 02 Arena on the 9th & 10th July.