The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Other music and recommendations.

Moderators: tom_cas1, Caitlin, MrMagpie

User avatar
AdvertBreak
Posts: 5571
Joined: 24 Jan 2015, 17:34
Location: Gorgeous Wiltshire

The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by AdvertBreak » 05 Apr 2015, 22:37

Two top bands I often forgot I like as much as I do because they are never mentioned anywhere despite them both being successful (it once being said that 1 in every 7 UK households owns a Beautiful South album). This was going to be a thread dedicated to just the one but like how The Specials thread is basically about Fun Boy Three, I decided to combine the two bands.

The Housemartins were almost up to the standard of The Smiths in many cases and like with Joy Division, their only two albums are both notch. Beautiful South are very British sounding, and their sophisticated sound compared to the indie pop of the Housemartins is a nice contrast. They have made many great records, and many of them are on their quite dark (and very underrated) 0808 Beautiful South album, my favourite album of 1992. I haven't heard all their albums (there are, after all, quite a few) but I find them to be one of the most hideously overlooked bands of the 90s.

User avatar
DrSleepless
Posts: 291
Joined: 30 Mar 2015, 07:50

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by DrSleepless » 08 Apr 2015, 02:54

Love The Housemartins but could never get into The Beautiful South. Tried a few times but never got it.

Pasta
Posts: 692
Joined: 08 Jun 2014, 12:11

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by Pasta » 08 Apr 2015, 15:13

never listened to beautiful south but i do love housemartins

also norman cook solo is great

User avatar
Mallard No. 22
Posts: 2436
Joined: 01 Oct 2014, 07:46
Location: North East UK

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by Mallard No. 22 » 13 Apr 2015, 07:02

:| Lean a bit too much towards the passive audience for my liking.

However, The Housemartins injected some energy into the dull late 80s - some of their singles, other than the biggest hits, are overlooked.

And when The Beautiful South got to no. 1 in 1990, it was regarded as quite an achievement for such a song and artist. By this stage, the media tie-ins with music were becoming obvious, but 'A Little Time' seemed to have reached the top on its own merits.
"Everybody's Doing It...So Do It Too...."

User avatar
Mark72
Posts: 1122
Joined: 07 Sep 2014, 09:52
Location: Oxford. U.K.
Contact:

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by Mark72 » 13 Apr 2015, 09:08

I had and loved Me and The Farmer on 7" in the 80s! Note to self must download the album! :D
“I need something to remind me that there’s something else”

User avatar
AdvertBreak
Posts: 5571
Joined: 24 Jan 2015, 17:34
Location: Gorgeous Wiltshire

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by AdvertBreak » 13 Apr 2015, 09:32

Nice comments. London 0 Hull 4 is definitely worth it I'd say. Really a forgotten classic. :)
Its interesting that The Beautiful South became as big as they did, what with Carry On up the Charts going 5xPlatinum etc. because the sound is rich. Catchy and well produced but rich, but then I suppose it was the 90s afterall, or at least they arrived in the late 80s when rich sounding pop music from Stock Aitken Waterman or whatever was chart music. A Little Time is indeed an odd little song that I can imagine didn't really sound anything at all like a Radio 1 standard track. I suppose the same could be said for Caravan of Love, no.1 in 1986, right? I can imagine Radio 1 liked The Housemartins but probably only liked it for being a capella, because I get the impression that, being Radio 1, they aren't really ones for very religious songs.

Also a Norman Cook fan here. :)

elasticaman
Posts: 559
Joined: 09 Jun 2012, 10:42

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by elasticaman » 16 Apr 2015, 19:11

my entire childhood is summed up by a chewed up cassette of carry on up the charts

User avatar
Mallard No. 22
Posts: 2436
Joined: 01 Oct 2014, 07:46
Location: North East UK

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by Mallard No. 22 » 19 Apr 2015, 07:04

AB - 'Caravan Of Love' being a capella was probably deemed right for Christmas. Just as The Flying Pickets version of 'Only You' had been three years before.

'A Little Time' followed two other big hits by The Beautiful South the year before. It was a surprise (though a good one) that it reached number one - maybe it found a quiet week amidst all the film & advert songs ;)

But amongst this there was a core of music fans (leading into a wider audience) who were merely looking for melodic songs between the processed SAW and power ballads. And this was noted at the time.

Mark72 - 'Me & The Farmer' was the kind of good, overlooked Housemartins single I was referring to. 'Think For A Minute' was another.
"Everybody's Doing It...So Do It Too...."

User avatar
DrSleepless
Posts: 291
Joined: 30 Mar 2015, 07:50

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by DrSleepless » 19 Apr 2015, 14:41

Caravan of Love was the song I listened to when I was depressed, usually helped. :)

User avatar
Mallard No. 22
Posts: 2436
Joined: 01 Oct 2014, 07:46
Location: North East UK

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by Mallard No. 22 » 22 Apr 2015, 05:55

:D There were many worse songs in that late 80s period.
"Everybody's Doing It...So Do It Too...."

User avatar
AdvertBreak
Posts: 5571
Joined: 24 Jan 2015, 17:34
Location: Gorgeous Wiltshire

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by AdvertBreak » 29 Nov 2015, 19:12

I'm no fan of Robert Christgau, but when his head isn't up his own arse looking for self-indulgent word salad nonsense to pass as a "review", then he is actually a pretty good writer, writing essays such as this:

http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/rock/beautifu-98.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It's a very good essay on Paul Heaton and The Beautiful South, certainly one that takes a very worthy take and angle on him and the band.

Besides the essay, I personally find a pretty strange contrast with Paul and the successs of his music. To me he seems like an archetypal unique cult star. Very unique from voice to lyrics to music. And therefore the Housemartins and Beautiful South seem exactly like the bands that would have strong, very faithful cult fan bases. Which they do, I guess, but at the same time, it seems surprising to me that they would have such big commercial success, especially with a passive audience as Mallard hinted. The Beautiful South seem so confidentialy esoteric and bitter, not at all the sort of band that would rank up huge sales. And maybe that's because the passive audience weren't really paying attention, but I don't much hesitate in saying it was somewhat wasted on a lot of their fans, no matter if much of them were decisively come and go.

User avatar
Mallard No. 22
Posts: 2436
Joined: 01 Oct 2014, 07:46
Location: North East UK

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by Mallard No. 22 » 03 Dec 2015, 07:03

Heaton gives what a lot of the people are looking for - a straightforward song. This has been the foundation of his success.

Not rock, or indie, or dance, which can be harsher on the ear and have a more 'select' audience. Ironically these are the directions that Norman Cook went along.
"Everybody's Doing It...So Do It Too...."

User avatar
AdvertBreak
Posts: 5571
Joined: 24 Jan 2015, 17:34
Location: Gorgeous Wiltshire

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by AdvertBreak » 03 Dec 2015, 09:16

Indeed, such is the power of a pop song, no matter what it may either mask or even make outright obvious. The Beautiful South were out of line with everyone else. It's quite hard to put them under a single genre. Not even 'alternative rock' or 'pop rock' will do.

User avatar
Mallard No. 22
Posts: 2436
Joined: 01 Oct 2014, 07:46
Location: North East UK

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by Mallard No. 22 » 08 Dec 2015, 06:38

I recall that when they first emerged (c. 1989-90) it was said that the audience were seeking proper songs. Cut & paste/re-mix type sounds (rather than songs) were prevalent, and melody was disappearing. Beautiful South (& The Housemartins just prior) were fulfilling a need.

They were similar to The Lightning Seeds in this respect, and both bands were able to flourish under Britpop. Although they had the indie-ethos, their appeal was to the mainstream and this was borne out by the country-feel to their singles. And they were one of those artists like Texas and Travis who were able to use its Britpop styles within the blander post-Britpop scene.
"Everybody's Doing It...So Do It Too...."

User avatar
AdvertBreak
Posts: 5571
Joined: 24 Jan 2015, 17:34
Location: Gorgeous Wiltshire

Re: The Housemartins / Beautiful South

Post by AdvertBreak » 09 Dec 2015, 03:46

Those are good points. I don't really think of them as having a country influence until, and only during, the Britpop era though. From 1989-93, say, it seems pretty hard to trace their influences. Maybe if they had a drum machine and a keyboard instead of a piano, it would be sophisti-pop sorta stuff, and yet it sounds like a retalation against sophisti-pop what with their complete lack of electronic instrumentation. Not to mention there was also the focus on lyrics over music. Even the slightly more 'rocky' stuff (like "36D", a very nostalgic song) is a bit out of step.

And I agree with The Lighting Seeds comparison. It's hard to properly describe their sound as a one-man band. Life of Riley, Marvellous and the like all sound a bit electronic and yet its obviously not dance music and, as you say, within the indie-ethos.

Post Reply