ARTIST: The Beautiful South
TITLE: Welcome to the Beautiful South
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.
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.