After the end of The Housemartins in the late-80s, it turned out that Norman “FatBoy Pizzaman” Cook wouldn’t be the only member who would go on to have further chart-topping success. The frontman of The Beautiful South was Paul Heaton, who was also their main songwriter, and various female vocalists would be used over the years too.
Their style of songs is typically “British”, it is difficult to describe, but although they do seem cheery on the surface, when you listen to the lyrics a little closer, they are rather wry and cutting, a combination that not many other groups have been able to do. They started off as they intended to carry on when in June 1989 their debut single “Song For Whoever” was released.
This was about interchangeable love songs, and this reached no. 2. They followed this with “You Keep It All In”, which was another Top Ten hit. They finished off 1989 with “I’ll Sail This Ship Alone”, and by this point, The ITV Chart Show felt that they deserved the honour of Best New Act. But they had their biggest success in October 1990 when “A Little Time” was released, and this went on to be a chart-topper.
This was a two-way between vocalists Dave Hemingway and Briana Corrigan, I hope that Paul wasn’t too jealous that he wasn’t involved. This also won them a Brit award for the memorable video. They went on to have further hits in the early-90s including “Old Red Eyes Is Back”, “Good As Gold (Stupid As Mud)”, and a cover of “Everybody’s Talkin'”.
And in November 1994, their best-of album “Carry On Up The Charts” was released, and this was famously rather successful. This honestly couldn’t have flown off the shelves any quicker if there had been a sticker on the cover that said “Free £50 Note Inside”. Going into the mid-90s they had further Top Ten hits with “Rotterdam” and “Don’t Marry Her”. Their last big hit was in October 1998 when “Perfect 10” reached no. 2.
Paul was always considered to be a rather personable and down-to-earth interviewee. I do remember in the days of Teletext’s music pages Planet Sound, there was a letters page. Most of the comments would consist of people trying to prove that they were “real music fans” with their edgy hard-hitting opinions like “I don’t like Westlife” and “James Blunt isn’t real music”. But Paul is the only actual pop star that I can recall who took the time to write that page to offer his views.
The Beautiful South continued to have hits going into the 2000s, although they weren’t as big, and some started to feel that their formula was beginning to become a little tired after more than a decade. They eventually split, and Paul has gone on to release several more albums, and go on tour, where he as a remarkably large amount of popular hits to choose from to perform.