On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82. From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend. Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day. For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet. And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).
In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post. On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40. On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1.
As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”
Manchester, England’s Simply Red had been together only months before reaching No. 1 worldwide with the wonderful “Holding Back The Tears” in 1985 and 1986. After that success, and the success of their debut album, PICTURE BOOK, for their second album, MEN AND WOMEN, Simply Red got some shiny new clothes and brought up the level of their Blue-Eyed Soul.
The first single from MEN AND WOMEN, “The Right Thing,” seemed like quite the right choice as the first single, and to promote their updated look and sound. Released just before MEN AND WOMEN, “The Right Thing” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at the end of February 1987 at No. 96.
“The Right Thing” made a steady climb up the Hot 100 and in late April 1987, it became the band’s third Top 40 hit here in America in as many tries. And, for two weeks in mid-to-late May 1987, No. 27 was the right peak for “The Right Thing.”
Around the globe, “The Right Thing” reached No. 4 in Belgium, No. 5 in The Netherlands, No. 9 in New Zealand, No. 10 in Switzerland, No. 11 in the U.K., No. 12 in Ireland, No. 17 in Australia, No. 25 in Canada and No. 27 in Germany.
Although Simply Red had two popular No. 1 songs in the 80s – “Holding Back The Years” and their soulful 1989 cover of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” – they were arguably more popular in their U.K. homeland than here in the U.S.
On the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1986 and 1991, Simply Red had just five Top 40 hits, while in the U.K. between 1985 and 2007, Simply Red had 31 Top 40 hits, 10 of which reached the Top 10, and one of those went to No. 1 – 1995’s “Fairground,” which was sadly not a hit in America.
By 2010, Simply Red had released 10 studio albums, five compilations, five live albums and countless singles, and singer / songwriter and Simply Red leader Mick Hucknall was the only original member left.
After a needed five-year break between 2010 and 2015, Simply Red returned with seven members (including original Simply Red keyboardist, Ian Kirkham). They released their first studio album in eight years, titled BIG LOVE, and it was their first studio album with the EastWest record label since the label dropped them in 2000 (Simply Red’s previous three studio albums were self-released).
In 2016, Simply Red kicked off a “25 Years Of Stars Live” tour, celebrating the 25th anniversary of their biggest-ever U.K. album, STARS. The title track is a longtime personal favorite. And Simply Red will continue to perform live in 2017.
For whatever reason, I have a lot of friends who do not like Simply Red…at all. But, some do. I admit here that I am not their biggest fan, but I do love a lot of their music, and out of all the songs that made them famous, the one that had the right stuff was this song. It’s fun, so damn soulful (especially the 12″ remix), and for me, has exactly “The Right Thing”…