Friday, December 05, 2008

today : I listen to The Beautiful South

I wouldn't call myself a fan of the Beautiful South. I never rushed out to buy their records, never even bought one of their albums, never seen them live, nor even tuned in to see them on TV. But yesterday I was tootling along in my car listening to one of my MP3 compilation CDs. What I did was simply strip out all the MP3 files from my computer and put them on CD for use in the car. I never bothered to make cases or tracklistings, so I just have a bunch of about 10 CDs, each with about 120 tracks.

It's fun to have random music. MIA followed by Grieg, AC/DC followed by Shearwater followed by Mann Parrish. I have this thing on the steering wheel that selects the tracks, so if one comes along that is jarring I just press it and it skips forward. Anyway, so there I was tootling along in the crisp, pale autumn sunshine and on came Rotterdam by The Beautiful South. It was a precursor to a knot of TBS tracks on the CD. Perfect Ten, You Keep it All In, I'll Sail This Ship Alone, Old Red Eyes is Back and some others.

And it struck me that TBS were a terrific band. I remember the Housemartins. I once saw them live just as they were getting famous. Something went wrong with the soundsystem and the band all congregated around the one working mike and regaled the audience with a cappella versions of a few songs until it was fixed. They were really good, and it's no surprise that two of them have gone on on the last 20 years to be hugely successful. It's rare that successful bands split up and more than one member avoids sinking into obscurity, never mind going on to be dead successful.

As I said, I am not particularly a fan. In fact there are some of their songs that I don't like much. But the beauty of the Beautiful South is that, as a band, they were kinda stealthily successful. They were like a little band that remained little even when they got big. Perhaps this was to do with Paul Heaton having already ridden the wave of pop success once before and not wanting to do it again. But they managed to avoid glamour gimmicks and stardom whilst remaining hugely successful.

And somehow I find it reassuring that the British public still have the taste to buy records by people who deliver song-craft and catchy tunes played simply on traditional instruments, as well as buying atrocious horrors such as Leona Lewis murderously disemboweling Snow Patrol's Run.

No comments:

Post a Comment