September 16, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Beautiful South

One of my favorite mod friendly bands of the mid-80s was The Housemartins, so it was nice to discover The Beautiful South in the early 90s and hear Paul Heaton's great voice again backed by Dave Hemingway's drumming, this time with richer, more sophisticated songs than previously.

The band scored a number of top ten hits early on thanks to clever song writing, a sharp musical sense that combined sixties pop and jangly guitars, with a more folksy vibe, but all with a kind of 90s post-new wave sound. And it didn't hurt to have a female vocalist, Briana Corrigan, the equal of Heaton. But it was the release of a greatest hits compilation that truly valted them to stardom. Shocking everyone, Carry On Up The Charts opened at #1 on the UK charts and sold millions of copies, making the band a household name. Corrigan left and was replaced by another equally talented female, and the band's next two albums produced more hits, notably the song here "Don't Marry Her." Over time The Beautiful South's sound edged more towards folk and country, fortunately all the while the acerbic, witty lyrics and rye sense of irony remained throughout. Heaton and company have written some the best lyrics ever put to music.

In 2007, after almost 20 yearas together and sales of more than 15 million albums, the band split up with most members launching into solo projects. Earlier this year several of the former members announced their intent to reform as The New Beautiful South, sadly without Heaton, but with British singer Sandi Thom.

The Beautiful South -- Don't Marry Her

The Beautiful South -- This Old Skin
This Old Skin was a single released from the band's 2004 covers album, Golddiggas, Headnodders and Pholk Songs, and was reportedly a remake of a song originally recorded by The Hepplebaums. It was later revealed to be an original written by Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway and The Hepplebaums apparently never existed.