The Beautiful South An ordinary group of people with an extraordinary job...
The Beautiful South were a British pop band (described by some as rock/alternative/indie) formed as most like to describe, from 'the ashes of the Housemartins' in the late 1980s. This description is generally used because three of the original members of the Beautiful South were also ex Housemartins, notably Paul Heaton, David Hemingway and Sean Welch (the Housemartins roadie!)
Heaton originally concieved the band with the idea of himself and David Rotheray (ex Newpolitans, Velvetones) who lived on the same street as Paul in Hull, writing the songs and David Hemingway taking lead vocals to give Paul more of a back seat. So with Paul on vocals and songwriting duty, David H on vocals and Sean recruited as Bassist, Rotheray was promptly given Guitar duties and Paul recruited David Stead as drummer.
The original Beautiful South line up was born. For the first album, Paul decided that a female vocalist was also needed, and recruited northern Irish Briana Corrigan (ex Anthill Runaways) for backing on their first studio album (Welcome To... The Beautiful South), she quickly became a full time member of the band.
Their first single 'Song For Whoever' was released in May 1989 and crept slowly up the charts to number 2. It was kept from the top spot by Soul II Soul's 'Back To Life. Their debut album 'Welcome To The Beautiful South' was released in August to mixed reviews, followed by the second single 'You Keep It All In' in September.
The band’s second album 'Choke' followed in 1990 and produced the band’s only Number 1 hit, 'A Little Time'. The accompanying video in which Briana and Dave looked about ready to murder each other, was nomiated for 'Best Video' at that year's Brit Awards.
Their third studio album '0898 Beautiful South' followed in 1992. After the release of 0898 it was becoming more apparent to the band that Briana wanted to record and write her own material. There was rumour that she also had ethical disagreements with some of Heaton's lyrics, particularly songs such as '36D' which criticised British glamour models and the industry that employed them. When Paul sent her some of the lyrics that he’d written with Dave R for the forthcoming album ‘Miaow’ she made the decision to leave the band and pursue a solo career. Dave Hemingway later remarked, "We all agree that we should have targeted the media as sexist instead of blaming the girls for taking off their tops".
Heaton met Jacqueline Abbott at a Beautiful South after-show party in St Helens and remembered her vocal talents. She became affectionately known as "the lass from the glass" - a reference to the Pilkington factory in St Helens. Abbott's first album with the band was Miaow in March1994. Hits included 'Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud)' and a cover of Fred Neil's 'Everybody's Talkin'', previously popularised by Harry Nilsson.
November 2004, saw the release of 'Carry On Up The Charts' a "best of" compilation consisting of the singles to date plus new song, 'One Last Love Song'. Some foreign versions of the album also included Dream A Little Dream of Me which was recorded for the soundtrack to ‘French Kiss’.' 'Carry On Up The Charts' took even the band themselves by surprise in terms of it's success. It is estimated that one in seven households in the UK owns a copy.
In 1995, the band was one of the support acts for US rock band R.E.M. on the British leg of their world tour. On this tour the band played an extra night when Oasis pulled out of their Huddersfield appearance. The Beautiful South played 'Some might say' and dedicated it to any Oasis fans at the gig.
1996 saw the release of studio album 'Blue Is The Colour' which featured hit singles 'Rotterdam' and 'Don't Marry Her'. The album was well-received by the public and on BBC and commercial radio and went on to sell over a million copies. 1997 saw the Beautiful South headlining stadium concerts for the first and last time, in Huddersfield and at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London. Support for the Huddersfield concert was provided by Oasis.
1998 saw the release of Quench, with immediate commercial success, again reaching number one in the UK album charts. 'Perfect 10' the first single to be released from the album also provided the band with uncharacteristic singles chart success. (It reached number 2 in the UK charts). The album is also notable for being more up tempo and being the first where Norman Cook was used as 'Rhythm Consultant'.
'Painting It Red', a 20 track album (The Beautiful South’s longest ever) followed in 2000, but in an era full of boybands and girlbands, new music for adults was not particularly popular. However the release still charted at number 2 and cemented the band’s ever present popularity. Unfortunately (and somewhat unexpectedly) Jacqui left the band in October 2000 for ‘personal reasons’ in the middle of the US tour; however the band completed the tour with Paul and Dave splitting vocal duties between them. The UK tour continued in December without her.
In 2001 the band released yet another compilation in the form of 'Solid Bronze : Great Hits', and then proceeded to take a hiatus from recording. During the bands hiatus both Dave Rotheray and Paul Heaton decided to tackle solo projects, Dave Rotheray forming Homespun and Paul recording a solo album under the pseudonym Biscuit Boy. At this time Dave Hemingway also tried his hand at a solo project and worked with the likes of London based Gospel band Citizen K., where he met Alison Wheeler. At the time Dave promised Alison that he would ‘recommend’ her to Paul as they would be inevitably looking for a female vocalist for future Beautiful South recordings.
The band regrouped in 2003 and true to his word Hammy spoke to Paul and Alison was recruited as the newest female vocalist for the album ‘Gaze’. In true Beautiful South style she quickly earned herself a band nickname and was dubbed Alison 'Lady' Wheeler jokingly by her band mates, who felt that her demeanor and education at Cambridge (Trinity College) was in contrast to the band's trademark working-class northern image. Alison quickly became a permanent member of the band and went on to feature on all of the band’s remaining releases.
In 2004 the band took a slightly different musical direction with the release of' Goldiggas, Headnodders and Pholk Songs', an album of song covers arranged in what could only be described as 'Beautiful South' style. Tracks included ELO's 'Livin' Thing', Grease's 'You're The One That I Want', S Club 7's 'Don't Stop Moving'' and Blue Oyster Cult's (Don't Fear) The Reaper.
One track from the album,' This Old Skin', was presented as a cover of a song by an obscure band known as The Heppelbaums. There is still speculation about whether or not this is an original Heaton/Rotheray composition and whether the vocals is infact Paul’s and not The Heppelbaums lead singer.
The band's final studio album 'Superbi' was released in May 2006. The first single, 'Manchester', started off as a poem - "If rain makes Britain great, then Manchester is greater" – 'a sodden tribute' to the city in which he now lives, said Heaton at the time. "The tracks cover love and loss and all that happens in-between …"So many pop songs are written about 15-20 year olds. We've never really targeted them, or newly weds. We write about people who've lived together most of their lives".
After two very successful tours in 2006, it might have come as surprise to some that the band was ready to throw in the towel. But they were...
The band released a statement on 31 January 2007, in which they joked their reasons for splitting were "musical similarities" - a reference to "musical differences" which are often cited as the reason for a band's split. "The band would like to thank everyone for their 19 wonderful years in music," the statement also said. Paul later clarified this in an interview by saying that the band had been making similar sounding albums for the past ten years. It is estimated that by the end of their career The Beautiful South had sold in excess of 6,500,000 records worldwide.
In May 2007, ‘The Slide’ jukebox musical was premiered in Swindon, based on the music of The Beautiful South.
Discography: Welcome To The Beautiful South Choke 0898 Miaow Carry On Up The Charts Blue Is The Colour Quench Painting It Red Solid Bronze: Great Hits Gaze Goldiggas, Headnodders and Pholk Songs Superbi Gold Live at the BBC
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