Category: The Beautiful South

The Beautiful South – Choke

ARTIST: The Beautiful South         Choke_(The_Beautiful_South_album_-_cover_art)

TITLE: Choke

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION:  #2 UK

SINGLES: A Little Time (#1 UK), My Book (#43 UK), Let Love Speak Up Itself (#51 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not in the US.

LINEUP: Paul Heaton, Dave Hemingway, Briana Corrigan, Dave Rotheray, Sean Welch, Dave Stead. Gary Barnacle, Kevin Brown, Pete Wingfield, Tony Robinson, and Damon Butcher added horns and keyboards all over the record.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the elegant and cynical pop group may have been to clever for regular punters in the UK, but it’s still a fine album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Listening to the first few tracks of their second album, you get the sense that the Beautiful South is coming into their own – not that their first album wasn’t fully formed. But Briana Corrigan is now a full member, and Dave Hemingway’s vocal contributions are more noticeable.

The second track. “My Book”, while not a successful single, was clever and brilliant, sounding like an older pop track with modern embellishment and with clever lyrics that seem to skewer the narrator and society at the same time. Then, for some reason, the ballad “Let Love Speak Up Itself” didn’t hit, either, probably since the lyrics were twisted, which on the heels of “A Little Time”, a ballad Hemingway and Corrigan shine, was a disappointment.

Through the album, though, the production and arrangements are adult sounding and sophisticated, yet playful and inventive. The band wasn’t trying to make singles, it seems, and that was just fine, as the album plays well as a whole.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The video for “A Little Time’ won the 1991 Brit Award.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but the final track (a cover of “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” by the Dramatics, was left off the first pressings by accident.

GRADE A-: A clever, almost too clever, pop album.

The Beautiful South – Welcome to the Beautiful South

ARTIST: The Beautiful South
TITLE: Welcome to the Beautiful South220px-Welcometo
YEAR RELEASED: 1989
CHART ACTION: #2 UK
SINGLES: Song for Whoever (#2 UK), You Keep It All In (#8 UK, #19 US Modern), I’ll Sail This Ship Alone (#31 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Yeah, if you’re British.
LINEUP: Paul Heaton, Dave Hemingway, Dave Rotheray, Sean Welch, Dave Stead, Briana Corrigan. Pete Wingfield plays keyboards.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut record from the follow-up group the Housemartins becomes a big success, replacing the tight, jangle guitar music with sweeping, lush pop.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There may have been hints in the final year or so of the Housemartins that they were more than just a guitar band, and when Heaton and Hemingway formed the Beautiful South they definitely made a pop statement. Using lush arrangements with piano, horns, strings and keyboards and highlighting the vocalists, the Beautiful South made their message go down quite easy. Though they weren’t afraid to experiment, like the choked guitar break on “Girlfriend”.

The songs were still full of scathing social critique like most of the Housemartins’ songs. Heaton and co-writer Rotheray slipped in a lot of topics in this first album, including domestic violence and hooliganism.

If the songs messages were subtle, the album cover was most definitely not. Woolworth’s, at the time the largest UK retailer of music, refused to stock it, so the band had to change the cover for them. 220px-BSWelcome2

It’s a successful debut full of great, lush pop that’s expansive and cleverly arranged.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Corrigan was just a guest vocalist on a few tracks, but she soon joined as a permanent member. Hemingway was the drummer for the Housemartins on their last album, but was just a singer for this band.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Not really, though “Straight In at 37” wasn’t on the vinyl. But by then, vinyl wasn’t the medium of choice.

GRADE: A-: From top to bottom a solid debut of a different kind of Brit pop, as it were.