Simply Red: Picture Book Alternate Format Discography

Alternate Format Discography

Picture Book's vinyl release [Elektra EKT 27] came with a printed poly-lined inner sleeve and a lyric sheet, along with sleeve art by Dexy's Midnight Runners and George Michael designer Peter Barrett, who took a black-and-white photocopy of a Simon Fowler photo of the singer and coloured it in with marker pens and crayon – no, really.

Many a cassette version of this release [EKT27C]would doubtless have got a hammering on car stereos in the late '80s, but there's not a lot to write home about the release in this particular format.

Picture Book appeared on CD [960 452-2] less than six months after the album that will forever be synonymous with the rise of the format – Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms. And by the time sales took off and Mark Knopfler and co. had spent 19 weeks in the Top 10 the following spring, the shiny new format was starting to attract a similarly affluent audience to Mr Hucknall's brand of blue-eyed soul.


By 1990 Picture Book had also been released in the CD+G (Compact Disc+Graphics) format [60452-2-G-G1T], which, when played on a compatible player hooked up to a screen, would display graphics, text and animation to accompany the songs.

But unless you're a karaoke nut keen to see the lyrics rolling out before you, the better non-extras CD option is the 1992 reissue [EW9031-76993-2, pictured above]. The band's fourth album Stars was enjoying a second year in succession as the UK's top-selling album, which surely promoted the decision to digitally remaster Picture Book. US remastering maestro Bernie Grundman did the honours.

This expanded edition of the album [564-69514 5] features such attractions as the 'Cutback Remix' of 'Money's Too Tight (To Mention)', and the 'Survival Mix' of 'Come To My Aid', either of which could be used to answer any curious modern day music fan's enquiry, 'Alexa, what did '80s extended 12in remixes sound like?'. Lots of added electronic drum claps and extended squiggles of extra synth, and a few repeated bridges and choruses.


To contemporary ears, though, they dilute the appeal of these songs rather than enhance it. Much more worthy of your attention is the live DVD that comes with the package, recorded at Montreux Jazz Festival in July 1986, capturing a skin-tight band with Hucknall in exceptionally good voice.

VINYL reissue (2020)
It took until 2020 for Picture Book to be reissued on vinyl, including a limited edition red pressing [East West 0190295173975]. And although it isn't a 180g affair, and the sleeve and lyric inner are simply reprints of the originals, online feedback from fans suggests the pressing hits the spot pretty squarely.