The warm, mellifluous voice of Paul Heaton often masks the jagged satirical content of his lyrics.
From pointed political jabs like “The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death” to darkly comical love stories such as “Something That You Said,” Heaton′s work with the Housemartins and the Beautiful South has had countless listeners obliviously humming along to his biting wit. In the ′80s, Heaton was the leader of the Housemartins. Like the Smiths, the Housemartins were college radio all-stars in the U.S.; although the group′s jangly riffs and brainy, humorous songs couldn′t draw mainstream acceptance in America, the band shared a portion of the Smiths′ sizable cult of devotees. In 1986, the video for the Housemartins′ “Happy Hour” was selected as a Hip Clip of the Week on MTV; the rollicking single is still a favorite of′80s flashback shows on modern rock stations.
After the Housemartins disbanded in the late ′80s, Heaton then fronted the Beautiful South, a group that mirrored the Housemartins′ no-frills approach. Nevertheless, the Beautiful South expanded Heaton′s musical canvas, exploring jazz and even country influences. While many critics and student-run radio stations in the U.S. continued to laud Heaton′s talent, the Beautiful South became far more successful in England, where they charted several number one albums. The group called it quits in 2007 and Heaton shifted his focus to his solo career. Although Paul′s first solo release was back in 2001 [albeit under the pseudonym Biscuit Boy], it wasn′t until 2008, with the release of The Cross Eyed Rambler, that Heaton started putting out records under his own name.
In Autumn 2009 Paul teamed up with Manchester musicians Jonny Lexus (aka Jonny Wrong), Jonny Wright and Pete Marshall, and set about working on his third solo album Acid Country.
The album was recorded in Colne, Lancashire at Modern English Studios with The Earlies members Christian and Nicky Madden and mixed by Tom Dalgety In May 2010 Paul and his band headed off on their "Pedals and Pumps" tour, playing local pubs in an attempt to promote the local pub. Paul combined this tour with another passion of his, cycling. He cycled from show to show, accompanied by the support act and long term friend, Gus Devlin, covering nearly 1000 miles.
Heaton and his band played in the Left Field Tent at Glastonbury 2010, closing the stage on the Sunday evening with a duet with tent-curator and old Go! Discs cohort Billy Bragg.
His third solo album, Acid Country was released in September 2010 and charted at number 51.
In November and December 2010 he supported Madness on their “Do Not Adjust Your Nut Tour” performing mostly songs from Acid Country, as well as material from his second album. He also sang Housemartins hits Caravan of Love and Me and the Farmer and covered White Man In Hammersmith Palais by The Clash.
In between touring Acid Country, Paul and the band started work on putting together a series of demos Paul had recorded with fellow Beautiful South member, Dave Rotheray, and current guitarist Jonny Lexus.
The 8th, commissioned by The Manchester International Festival, was based around the concept of the 7 deadly sins, the 8th sin revealed by Heaton himself during the performance. For the piece, each sin is given a section of the song, and is sung by a different singer representing that sin. The guest singers featured on The 8th were London based soul singer Wayne Gidden (Lust), Scottish singer/songwriter Aaron Wright (Wrath), Scottish singer/songwriter King Creosote (Gluttony), Manchester singer/songwriter Simon Aldred from Cherry Ghost (Greed), former Beautiful South Singer Jacqui Abbott (Envy), Manchester based gospel singer Yvonne Shelton (Sloth) and Hull based country singer Mike Greaves (Pride).
The sections were linked together with a narration written by English actor/playwright/producer Che Walker.
It was narrated by American actor and star of The Wire Reg E. Cathey
The debut performance was in July 2011, in the Festival Pavilion Theatre in Albert Square, Manchester. This was the first time in over 10 years that Paul and Jacqui Abbott had shared a stage, and the first time Jacqui had sung publicly since leaving The Beautiful South in 2000.
The 8th toured in July 2012 alongside an album release of the song.
Bio, taken from Paul's offical website.
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