The last cut on the original vinyl side one is an emotional ballad. It was written in memory of Mark Ashton a friend of Somerville and Richard Coles who died of HIV/AIDS. Mark Hooper of The Rough Guide to Rock writes that this cut may be Somerville's "most impassioned moment". It was among the first pop songs to address AIDS. "For a Friend" reached number 28 on the British charts. It was featured in the soundtrack of the 2014 film Pride.
The album cover is white with a grey five-pointed star containing two faces in profile (the group's logo). Directly above the star is the band's name in plain all capital letter. Above the band's name in red flowing script is the album title 'Red'. The title is a nod to the duo's socialist leanings. The US issue features the cover in red.
Opinions vary as to where this album stands next to its predecessor, Communards. Andy Kellman of AllMusic's retrospective review feels it "tops their respectable debut in nearly every aspect" and that the singles "Tomorrow" and "There's More to Love Than Boy Meets Girl" are "stronger than anything on the debut". On the other hand, Kate Walter of Spin said it is "weaker than [their] sizzling debut album". Balancing these opinions was Mark Hooper of The Rough Guide to Rock who wrote that the album is "every bit as accomplished as its predecessor".
Kellman's review praises the production work of Stephen Hague and calls the album "a defining Euro-dance record of the latter half of the '80s". Walter credits Cole's "rickety–tickety synthesizers" and "tingly keyboards" along with Somerville's "squeals" and "whoops" as strengths of the album but bemoans the cohesiveness of the album's side two.