Simply Red: Picture Book Production Notes

Production Notes

When recording Picture Book, Simply Red ended up out of their comfort zone technically as well as geographically (the LP was mostly recorded at Soundpush Studio in the Netherlands). But thanks to a mixture of raw ability and youthful malleability, they were up for the challenge of meeting producer Stewart Levine's lofty standards.

'We rearranged every song completely', drummer Chris Joyce told The Hustle podcast in 2018. 'Every song was taken apart and reconceived and we worked on the rhythm sections, getting them locked in. It changed the whole way we were doing the songs [and] brought that maturity to the sound.'

Despite the notion of Simply Red as slick purveyors of smooth blue-eyed soul, Joyce said it was the first time he'd worked in a studio with a click-track. 'It was a huge learning curve for all of us [but] it brought a level of sophistication to it.'

Trumpet player Tim Kellett remembers how his solo on 'Holding Back The Years' came about. 'I'd been listening to Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue, and he used a harmon mute – a bulky metal thing you stick in the end of the trumpet. I decided to put one in. Poor Levine must've thought: "What's he doing now?" But I played something spontaneous and everyone liked it. A trumpet was a pretty rare instrument to be used in pop at the time and Levine was going, "I can't believe it, man. We've got a trumpet solo".'

Levine would go on to produce three more of the band's albums. He has said of his approach, 'It goes back to my early days as an arranger. It didn't matter how brilliant the arrangements were if you didn't make the singer sound their best'.