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The Beautiful South


Release Date: 10.27.03
Record label: Mercury Records
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


This Old Bird
by: Peter Naldrett

Quirky lyrics, memorable tunes and talented vocals are the bread and butter of Beautiful South albums. But as Gaze is about to be trucked to shops across the country, it’s about time we put Hull’s finest under the magnifying glass to find out exactly what is there.

The album, which has taken an age to get here and is finally out through Mercury Records, as ever features frontman Paul Heaton joyfully performing many a witty ditty. Chipping in with their quality voices are also former Housemartin Dave Hemmingway and new signing Alison Wheeler, who seems to combine the qualities of former female singers Jacqui Abbot and Briana Corrigan. But just how long can we go on listening to Heaton’s songs about self-indulgence, inadequacies and ironic life observations?

Such a three year gap from the South’s style has left me out of sync with their musical take on life, and I have to conclude that I am tired of their tired style, which hasn’t changed since "Song For Whoever" reached the top ten in 1989. If we’re going to be totally honest, you have to go back to 1996’s Blue Is The Colour for that last quality Beautiful South album, and the impact of their colourful singles lost impact soon after Welcome To The Beautiful South formed the basis of Heaton’s comeback. That welcome is still warm some 14 years later, but people wanting to take it up have got older, wiser and don’t want re-hashed formulae in their stereos time and time again.

And so, I play the album and I sing along. I will go to see them on their forthcoming UK tour and am sure I will enjoy myself. But the happiest moments will be the older songs, not just because of nostalgia but simply because they were much better. The Beautiful South are still beautiful, but take a look at those crows feet. Just look. 28-Oct-2003 9:30 PM