Number Ones: #150


  • SIMPLY RED It’s Only Love (Elektra)
  • Week Ending 28th January 1989
  • 2 Weeks At #1

Simply Red were the second act in a row who first appeared on the scene in 1985, but had to wait until January 1989 to top my personal singles chart. Unlike the Fine Young Cannibals, Mick Hucknall & co. had come close – agonisingly close – before.

In the early years of compiling my Top 40, I would be so full of eagerness and excitement to note down all the fantastic new singles and reflect that in chart positions that I would often create a “midweek” version, before finalising it all by the Sunday. Twice on these “midweeks”, Simply Red were sitting at #1; in August 1986 with (Open Up The) Red Box, and again in February 1987 with The Right Thing. Both would ultimately land in the runners-up spot. Infidelity, the follow-up to The Right Thing, also reached #2 on the finalised chart, giving the band a trio of near-misses.

There were no such problems for the lead single to album number three, A New Flame. Partly due to fortuitous timing (see also: FYC) but also due to being a gorgeously produced and sumptuously performed groove thang, It’s Only Love not only went all the way but entered at #1.

I had enjoyed 1987’s Men And Women album (itself a #2 on my album chart, thanks to being released the same day as The Joshua Tree), but Hucknall had felt it was missing the warmth and vibe of debut set Picture Book so decided to reunite with the producer of that album, Stewart Levine.

Commercially, the result was pure gold, A New Flame giving them a UK chart-topper and going on to sell over a million copies. For me, I still think Men & Women had the better songs overall; beyond It’s Only Love (itself a cover), only the title track and the outspoken She’ll Have To Go really clicked with me straight away.

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