Picture Book (Simply Red album)

Picture Book is the debut album by British pop and soul group Simply Red, released in October 1985. It contains the U.S. #1 single "Holding Back the Years", the band's most successful single, and a cover of The Valentine Brothers' "Money's Too Tight (to Mention)". Three other singles were released from the album: "Come to My Aid", "Jericho", and "Open Up the Red Box".

Picture Book
Studio album by
Released11 October 1985
StudioSoundpush Studios in Blaricum, the Netherlands
RAK Studios, London
ProducerStewart Levine
Simply Red chronology
Picture Book
Men and Women
Singles from Picture Book
  1. "Money's Too Tight (to Mention)"
    Released: 20 May 1985 (UK)[1]
  2. "Come to My Aid"
    Released: August 1985
  3. "Holding Back the Years"
    Released: November 1985 (UK)[2]
  4. "Jericho"
    Released: February 1986
  5. "Open Up the Red Box"
    Released: 1 August 1986[3]

The album helped Simply Red earn a 1987 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. "Holding Back the Years" was also nominated for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals.

A special version of the album was released on the then new Compact Disc + Graphics, or CD+G format which when played on a suitable CD player, 4 bit raster graphic images, text and animations would also be displayed on a connected TV screen.

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [5]
Q     [6]
The Village VoiceB+[7]

In The Village Voice, Robert Christgau wrote that there were essentially "only two songs on this album", "Money’s Too Tight (to Mention)" and "Heaven", but that Hucknall and the band carry off the album "on mood and groove alone".[7]

Reviewing the 1996 re-release for Q, Nick Duerden described Picture Book as "the most accomplished debut of its year". He said of Hucknall, "With the most prodigious voice this side of Motown and a burning socialist heart, here he infuses everything with a passion that he's rarely matched since."[6]

William Ruhlmann, in a retrospective review in AllMusic, felt that Simply Red produced "a steady R&B groove reminiscent of '60s Stax house band the MG's" and that Hucknall was a "big-voiced soul singer".[4] In the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, Andy Robbins attributed the record's commercial success in both America and the UK to "Holding Back the Years", which he feels is Hucknall's best vocal performance. Robbins noted rock and jazz sounds, along with soul influences.[8]

Commercial performanceEdit

The album was commercially successful, appearing in the top 30 album charts of twelve countries, and achieving platinum certification sales in four countries, including the United States and United Kingdom.

Track listingEdit

Side one
1."Come to My Aid"Mick Hucknall, Fritz McIntyre4:03
2."Sad Old Red"Mick Hucknall4:33
3."Look at You Now"Mick Hucknall3:02
4."Heaven"David Byrne, Jerry Harrison4:32
5."Jericho"Mick Hucknall6:03
Side two
1."Money's Too Tight (to Mention)"John Valentine, William Valentine4:13
2."Holding Back the Years"Mick Hucknall, Neil Moss4:30
3."(Open Up the) Red Box"Mick Hucknall3:56
4."No Direction"Mick Hucknall, Dave Fryman3:41
5."Picture Book"Mick Hucknall, Fritz McIntyre5:49

2008 Collector's Edition bonus tracksEdit

Disc one, CD: remixes
1."Money's Too Tight (to Mention)" (The Cutback Mix)John Valentine, William Valentine8:29
2."Come to My Aid" (Survival Mix)Mick Hucknall, Fritz McIntyre6:40
3."Holding Back the Years" (Extended Mix)Mick Hucknall, Neil Moss5:48
4."Jericho" (Extended Mix)Mick Hucknall6:47
5."Open Up the Red Box" (Extended Mix)Mick Hucknall6:24

Disc two, DVD: Live at Montreux Jazz Festival (8 July 1986)

  1. "Grandma's Hands" (Bill Withers)
  2. "Sad Old Red" (Hucknall)
  3. "Open Up the Red Box" (Hucknall)
  4. "The Right Thing" (Hucknall)
  5. "No Direction" (Hucknall, Fryman)
  6. "I Won’t Give Up" (Hucknall)
  7. "Holding Back the Years" (Hucknall, Neil Moss)
  8. "Picture Book" (Hucknall, McIntyre)
  9. "Love Fire" (Bunny Wailer)
  10. "Jericho" (Hucknall)
  11. "I Won't Feel Bad" (Hucknall, McIntyre, Tim Kellett, Chris Joyce, Tony Bowers, Sylvan Richardson)
  12. "Suffer" (Hucknall, Lamont Dozier)
  13. "Infidelity" (Hucknall, Dozier)
  14. "Money's Too Tight (to Mention)" (John Valentine, William Valentine)
  15. "Come to My Aid" (Hucknall, McIntyre)
  16. "Jericho" [Instrumental] (Hucknall)
  17. "Heaven" (Byrne, Harrison)
  18. "Move on Out" (Hucknall)
  19. "Look at You Now" (Hucknall)



Simply Red

Guest Musicians

  • Ian Dickson – tenor saxophone on "Jericho", "Sad Old Red" and "Heaven"
  • Ronnie Ross – baritone saxophone on "Jericho", "Sad Old Red" and "Heaven"
  • Francis Foster – congas on "Come to My Aid" and "Look at You Now"
  • David Fryman – guitar and backing vocals on "Open Up the Red Box"


  • Producer – Stewart Levine
  • Engineered and Mixed by Femi Jiya
  • Assistant Engineer – Chris Dickie
  • Mastered by Arun Chakraverty at Master Room (London, England).
  • CD Mastering – Barry Diament
  • Sleeve Design – Peter Barrett
  • Front Cover Photo – Simon Fowler
  • Back Cover Photo – Malcolm Heywood
  • Management – Elliot Rashman and Steve Todd, assisted by Andy Dodd and Clive Heylin.



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[24] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[25] Gold 25,000*
Belgium (BEA)[26] Gold 25,000*
France (SNEP)[27] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[28] 3× Gold 750,000^
Italy (FIMI)[29] Gold 250,000[29]
Netherlands (NVPI)[30] Platinum 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[31] Platinum 15,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[32] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[33] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] 5× Platinum 1,500,000^
United States (RIAA)[35] Platinum 1,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Simply Red singles".
  2. ^ "Simply Red singles".
  3. ^ "Simply Red singles".
  4. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "Picture Book – Simply Red". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  6. ^ a b Duerden, Nick (April 1996). "Simply Red: Picture Book". Q: 132.
  7. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (2 September 1986). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  8. ^ Robbins, Andy (2011). "Simply Red: Picture Book". In Dimery, Robert (ed.). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Hachette UK. ISBN 9781844037148. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  9. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ "austriancharts.at Simply Red – Picture Book" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  11. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Archived 11 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2011-10-31
  12. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Simply Red – Picture Book" (ASP). Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1986" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
  14. ^ "charts.nz Simply Red – Picture Book" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  15. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Simply Red – Picture Book" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  16. ^ "swedishcharts.com Simply Red – Picture Book" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  17. ^ "Simply Red – Picture Book – hitparade.ch" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  18. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Simply Red – Picture Book" (PHP). Official Charts Company. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  19. ^ "allmusic ((( Picture Book > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  20. ^ "Album Search: Simply Red – Picture Book" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 31 October 2011.[dead link]
  21. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1986". RPM. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  22. ^ "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  23. ^ "Billboard.BIZ – Year-end Charts – Billboard 200 – 1986". Billboard. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  24. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia’s Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 253.
  25. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Simply Red – Picture Book" (in German). IFPI Austria.
  26. ^ "European Gold & Platinum Awards 1986" (PDF). Music & Media. 27 December 1986. p. 33. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  27. ^ "French album certifications – Simply Red – Picture Book" (in French). InfoDisc. Select SIMPLY RED and click OK. 
  28. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Simply Red; 'Picture Book')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  29. ^ a b "European Gold & Platinum Awards 1986" (PDF). Music & Media. 27 December 1986. p. 33. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  30. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Simply Red – Picture Book" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Enter Picture Book in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  31. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Simply Red – Picture Book". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  32. ^ Sólo Éxitos 1959–2002 Año A Año: Certificados 1979–1990 (in Spanish). Iberautor Promociones Culturales. ISBN 8480486392.
  33. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Simply Red; 'Picture Book')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  34. ^ "British album certifications – Simply Red – Picture Book". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Picture Book in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  35. ^ "American album certifications – Simply Red – Picture Book". Recording Industry Association of America.

External linksEdit