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Blue Is The Colour - The Beautiful South

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Genre: Rock - Pop Rock / Artist: The Beautiful South / Audio CD released 2001-03-19 at Mercury Records Ltd (London)

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    9 Reviews
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      11.10.2010 23:49
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      The fall of The Beautiful South!

      Though I had always been a big fan of The Beautiful South, and The Housemartins before them, for me this album signified the break-up of my love affair with the band. Whilst this album was just about okay, many of the songs on it for me felt disappointing and uninspirational and it was with much regret that I decided that enough was enough!

      The most well known singles taken from this album will be Don't Marry Her, complete with their more explicit lyrics than those found in the radio edit (and what exactly was the point in that? The dodgy language found in a couple of the lines adds nothing to the song!?!) and Rotterdam (Or Anywhere) both of which were two of the weakest singles this band ever produced!

      My favourite track is Artifical Flowers; a beautiful cover of an old Bobby Darin number which, though slightly maudalin and depressing, has elements that reminds me of the old Beautiful South!

      The rest of the songs featured here do very little for me at all and this is an album best enjoyed by only the really really die-hard Beautiful South fans or maybe new-comers who enjoyed the strains of Don't Marry Her and don't know any better!

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        10.11.2009 13:58
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        Beautiful South at their best

        ~~~~~~~~~~~
        INTRODUCTION
        ~~~~~~~~~~~

        It is beyond doubt - in my mind at least - that a good song is formed of that rare combination of melody and lyrics. In my view, a song that sounds good but has no lyrical depth has little staying power - melody appeals to the heart, but lyrics are what engage the brain. To belabour the point just one stage further, the melody attracts you, but the lyrics are what ultimately keep you interested.

        Indeed, it was the catchy melodies and compelling hooks that drew me to the music of the Beautiful South in the first place, but even after listening to their songs and albums countless times over the years, each listen is still rewarded with new discoveries, new nuances and new revelations. My favourite Beautiful South album (despite the regrettable name - I am an Arsenal fan after all) is "Blue Is The Colour", released in 1996.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        A BIT ABOUT THE BAND
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        The Beautiful South - most often described as an alternative rock group - were formed in the late 1980's out of the ashes of the Housemartins. Founded by Paul Heaton (singer and main songwriter) and Dave Hemingway (lead vocalist), they were joined by Sean Welch (bass), Dave Stead (drums) and Dave Rotheray (guitar).

        The band has had various female vocalists throughout their career - originally Briana Corrigan (1988 to 1994) and then Jacqui Abbot (1994 to 2000), before Alison Wheeler joined the band for its last three years (2003 to 2007). Many of the songs on this album - "Blue is the Colour" - are fronted by Abbot, who was arguably the most successful of the three female vocalists.

        The band produced ten studio albums over their 19 year career, finally breaking up in 2007, citing "musical similarities". As such, their break-up was achieved with the same characteristic wit and tongue in cheek insouciance that positively infected most of their music.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        A BIT ABOUT THE ALBUM
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Never has an album been so aptly named. The themes explored on this album - as well as the manner in which they are melodically and lyrically delivered - are "blue" in every sense of the word. Whether it's the timeless and overtly sexual themes of love, lust, and betrayal, or a reference to an emotional state of being, this album covers it all.

        Despite that, it's not hard to listen to, as the Beautiful South use the melody of their songs to lighten what would otherwise have been an unbearably dark and moody effort. The heavy themes are lifted by the wit, humour and sarcasm employed by the band in their songs. It won't be to everyone's taste, but for those looking for a bit of depth to their music, you could do a lot worse.

        Blue is The Colour was released in 1996 and is the bands fifth studio album. It was received as both a commercial and critical success, hitting No.1 in the UK album charts in November 1996. It spawned four singles - the most successful of which were "Rotterdam" (No.5) and "Don't Marry Her" (No.8). The lyrics of the latter were altered for mass market airplay ("f*ck me" changed to "have me" and "sweaty b*ll*cks" bizarrely became "Sandra Bullock's").

        The CD includes an insert with song lyrics and a smattering of information on the band. Interestingly, although all of the lyrics are printed in English, they are also printed in one other language on the facing page (Arabic, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German and Italian amongst others). The CD is currently available on Amazon.co.uk for a bargain £4.98 and (obviously) carries a warning for explicit lyrics.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        SELECTED SONGS
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        > Don't Marry Her

        The album opens with the guitar led, tongue in cheek ditty "Don't Marry Her" sung with understated, but scathing sarcasm by Jacqui Abbot. Told from the perspective of a kept woman, waiting patiently for her married family man to turn up for their weekly assignations, the song is full of some lyrical gems ("She's a PhD in "I told you so", you've a knighthood in "I'm not listening"...).

        It works because it's so matter of fact - so full of references to the monotony of everyday life. A superb example of Beautiful South at their melodic and lyrical best - the song hooks you in with a catchy melody, but its lyrics reward a careful listen.

        "And the Sunday sun shines down on San Francisco bay and you realise you can't make it anyway. You have to wash the car, take the kiddies to the park - don't marry her, f*ck me."

        > Mirror

        This is another understated effort by Abbot that opens with an engaging guitar riff before the snare drum kicks in to give it drive and impetus. However, the frivolity and lightness of melody hides a much darker subject matter. This time, she sings from the perspective of a world-weary prostitute, thinking and commenting about her clientele ("They could be fat, they could be thin, they could be black, they could be white...).

        As she sings the words, it's clear that she deals with her unhappy situation by externalising ("not much a girl can do but open and close...") while wishing for something better, but never convincing the listener that she has the will to extract herself from her current situation.

        "They do have feelings, but just right now I feel a feminine receptacle, that's just what I am... just the best target practice for a misguided man..."

        > Liar's Bar

        In turns difficult to listen to, and at otherwise strangely compelling, this unashamedly brutal song about alcoholism is delivered dramatically and convincingly by singer Paul Heaton in a style reminiscent of the legendary, gravel voiced Tom Waits. Accompanied by a simple, bluesy, swaying guitar and piano led backing track, you find yourself strangely unbalanced, staggering about and seeing life through the inebriated haze of the narrator.

        "I'm a travelling businessman, I just stopped in for one drink - you'll find that I'm not like the other men - their noses are red and mine is only pink..."

        > Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)

        Probably the lightest song on the album, it's not surprising this succeeded as a single. Abbot leads on vocals, backed at times by guitars, accordion, violins and various other instruments, which creates a slightly international, worldly atmosphere to the song. At first it sounds like an observational piece, as the singer comments unflatteringly about the denizens of a club, café or bar (most likely the latter) remarking about the universality of the situation (hence the chorus - "this could be Rotterdam or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome..") but the lyrics - which are probably the most ambiguous on the album - could be about a lot of things - it's up to the listener to decide.

        "And the women tug their hair like they're trying to prove it won't fall out, and all the men are gargoyles dipped long in Irish stout."

        > Alone

        This song contains one of my favourite ever lyrics, but more on that later. This is a largely autobiographical song inspired (if that's the right word) by Paul Heaton's life experiences at the time. An ode to loneliness that is in turns comical, self-deprecating and despairing ("He knows hello in eighteen languages, "I love you" in only one - by the time he's got his phrasebook, the chance is usually gone.")

        It's a remarkable effort with a bluesy backing track perfectly accompanying Heaton's wistful and ever so slightly desperate voice. A catchy chorus and a foot tapping melody - allied to the exceptionally perceptive lyrics - make this a perfect end to an outstanding album. As for that lyric told you about?

        "And you can tell where we've been shopping by the bags beneath our eyes..."

        ~~~~~~
        VERDICT
        ~~~~~~

        Blue is the Colour is my favourite Beautiful South album and its easy to understand why it was such a success despite its dark (and arguably depressing) content. However, the band skilfully lighten the mood whilst never betraying the impact of their song writing.

        Consistently good, with nothing you could describe as a truly duff track, if you buy one album from the band (other than "Carry on Up the Charts" released in 1994 - their best compilation) I would argue that this is the one to go for. It is a varied, mature effort that rewards repeated listens. Recommended.

        "And we only smoke when bored, so we do two packs a day, and we've lost the difference between bored and lonely anyway..."

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        FULL TRACK LISTING
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        1. "Don't Marry Her" (3:23)
        2. "Little Blue" (3:17)
        3. "Mirror" (4:05)
        4. "Blackbird on the Wire" (4:57)
        5. "The Sound of North America" (4:02)
        6. "Have Fun" (4:44)
        7. "Liars' Bar" (5:53)
        8. "Rotterdam (or Anywhere)" (3:37)
        9. "Foundations" (2:44)
        10. "Artificial Flowers" (3:58)
        11. "One God" (4:12)
        12. "Alone" (4:58)

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          30.05.2009 11:30
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          An excellent well produced album that I would really recommend.

          Blue is the colour is the sixth album that was released by The Beautiful South and it really is a very beauitfully written album. The album is considered to be one of the more depressing and is suppose to reflect on Paul Heaton's life at the time. I bought this album for £12 from Asda and it is now available for just £5 from Amazon.

          Blue is the colour is a pop, rock album although it definately has a very country and folk appeal to it. I really liked how every song in this album was different which is more than I can say for a lot of albums. There are some great hits within the album such as "Don't marry her" which is quite pop rock and very upbeat. The beautifully sung excellent guitar melody featured in "Little Blue" is superb. Little blue is a beauitful song and I found myself listening to it over and over again.

          The album also contains "Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)" which is a fantatsic guitar riff and is my favourite in the album. It has a mixture of guitars and violins in the introduction which sounds umbelivable and the chorus really si powerful. There are some other songs in the album such as "One God" which does have very beautiful lyrics, however it does not have the same quality as the other racks in the album.

          I really think this album was brilliantly produced and the tracks really are varied. There are some exceptional tracks on this album, particularly "Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)" and Little Blue. I would really recommend this album because there are some excellent tracks that make it worth getting. It really is a beautifully written album and is what I would call easy listening. I hope this was useful and thank you veyr much for reading!

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          14.10.2003 22:40
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          With computer problems persisting , it was time for a break , time to recharge my batteries , and what better a way than to listen to music . Fancying a break from the norm , I trawled my way through my CD collection , and came across a much forgotten CD - ?Blue Is The Colour? by The Beautiful South - now hey that?s an album worth re-aqainting with again , and while at it , why not do a DooYoo review , for when those little bugs have been sidelined . So who are The Beautiful South , well in a previous incarnation they were known as The Housemartins , but when that group split , the founding members regrouped , along with a few new faces as The Beautiful South . They comprise of : Paul Heaton - Vocals Jacqueline Abbott - Vocals Dave Hemingway - Vocals David Rotheray - Guitar Sean Welch - Bass David Stead - Drums This album is from 1996 , and catches the group in what can only be described as a synical mood , with songs that capture all that is wrong with our world , while being poetry of immense nature . It conains twelve quality tracks , lasting a total of 49 minutes 54 seconds , namely : 1) ?Don?t Marry Her ? What an opening track . Catchy or what . A song about a womans lost love , that is about to marry someone else , and her plea of ?Don?t Marry Her , Fuck Me? inbedded on what he?s getting into ! 2) ?Little Blue? A great guitar line , emphesises a song , about a woman , that is both poignant and reminding us of someone that we know - ?Little Blue , how do you do , your smile looks like heaven , but your eyes hold a storm about to brew ? . 3) ?Mirror? A lady of the night , looking at whats become of herself . A moody song with some great lyrics , such as - ?Not much legs can do but open or close , those things are aboveus whores? 4) ?Blackbird On The Wire? A male view on the woman of his dreams , untouchable of course ! ? Eyes
          to take you dancing , mouth to leave your wife , legs to run away with and you wonder why ?? Heart that makes you bypass every other girl , smile that keeps you grinning at he madness of the world? . See what I mean . 5) ?The Sound of North America? A cynical look at life across the pond . ?The sound of New York City isn?t police sirens wailing , It?s the sound of Wall Street tills , while everbody?s failing .? Now that?s harsh , but somewhat true ( or so it was ) . 6) ?Have Fun ? A song for the dejected , even the rejected . For those in remorseful mood - ?Have fun , and if you can?t have fun , take someone elses fun , ?Cause somene sure had my mine , they came in , now they?re having a whale of a time?. 7) ?Liar?s Bar? With lyrics sung so gravel voiced , you can just imagine the drunk singing this . A song of a man , first denying alcholism , but by the end of the song finally admitting it to himself -?I?m a travelling businessman , I just stopped for a drink . You?ll find I?m not like the other men , their noses are red whilst mine is only pink . And they didin?t choose the drink , their drink chose them?..... 8) ?Rotterdam ( Or Anywhere)? Now almost everybody will recognise this cheerful little ditty . A tongue in cheek look at life as it is -?And if everone is blonde , and everone is beautiful , and when blonde and beatiful are multiple , they become so dull and dutiful? . How true ! 9) ?Foundations? An upbeat tune , looking at lifes up and downs, but very apt , and one that all of us can relate to - ?Build your planes from Airfix , ?Cause you?ll only lose the war , write your love letters on rice paper , at least you?ll feed the poor?. 10) ?Artificial Flowers? This song is the only reason you should need to buy this album . Ironically , not penned by TBS . A melencholy tune , of a young girl , orphaned , but who works until her young death . Could a
          lmost be based in the 30?s , probably was . This song starts with simple piano accompanyment , yet by the end is fuly supported , yet the delivery of the vocals , leads you away from the background music . But do listen out for them , quite superb - ? And they found poor little Annie all covered with ice , Still clutching her poor little shears , Amidst all the blossoms she has fashioned by hand , And watered with all her young tears?. 11) ?One God? ?The world is turning Disney and there?s nothing you can do , You?re trying to walk like a gaint but you?re wearing Pluto?s shoes? . Yep another look at our world , but is smacks of truth - ? The world won?t end in sadness , it?ll end in family fun, with Coca Cola clouds behind a Big Mac sun? . Brilliantly delivered . 12) ?Alone? A song about us all and our hum drum lives - ?Hearts built like reservoirs , words built like dams , thoughs built like juggernauts , our actions built like prams?. So there you have it , a breakdown of the song titles , and my interpretatations , along wih some choice lyrics to prove my point . As for the cover , well it?s a twenty page booklet , that has the usual line up /credits and song lyrics , funnily enough , each song also has a foreign language counterpart , a different language for each song , with such diversity as Chinese , Greek and French .A superb cover painting by Art Murphy is reproduced behind the disc itself . If you only ever own one The Beautiful South album , then this should be it . If you have an Our Price , Virgin Megastore etc , where listening posts are available , ask the staff to put this CD on and take a quick listen to it , but beware , it?ll make you want to buy it , after which you will play it to death , such is it?s playability .

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            19.10.2000 15:48

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            Well this isn't the best album in the world, but it is very good. It's a little dark for traditional Beautiful South fans but if you do find it appeals to you then it can be very pleasing. There are some classic songs One God, Rotterdam and Artificial Flowers. The worst song on the album is Don't Marry Her due to too much 'Don't Marry Her, F**k me', which is a bit too much sometimes (especially as that lines part of the chorus, over and over!).... But, for all hardcore fans definitely worth buying, and it is very good!

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            30.09.2000 00:54
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            Blue is the Colour is not a favourite of mine, but then I should be judging an album on how good it is, I happen to think there are better TBS albums, althouh coming back to Blue is always pleasing, some songs like 'Have Fun' have matured well, there is a certain sound to Blue and you have to like that sound, some songs sound really good 'One God' great singing by Dave Hemmingway, 'Liars Bar' is an all time favourite for the lyrics alone. The album was meant to be a comeback album but TBS never have gone away. Each South album has a unquie sound and for me I never really felt at home with 'Blue', but is it a good album, well yes to be honest and it is certainly one that gets better with time, there are still a large array of classic songs here, the lyrics are also very strong. It also has those famous singles 'Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)' and 'Don't Marry Her' complete with orignal blue lyric, these weren't the only singles released from the album but were the most successful. this was actually the album that got interested in TBS i was so interested by the lyrics and sounds, I think the songs on here are so easy to listen to, they repersent the perfect yin yang idea, happy melodies with sinister lyrics. I would certainly recommend this album though, there are enough good tracks here and as a set of songs they make wonderful listening.

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            20.07.2000 22:46
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            Contrary to popular beleif i think 'blue is the colour' is the best album that beautiful south have produced. It has their two best songs on: - Don't marry her and Rotterdam and all the other songs are good also. i do not have all the album but out of the ones i do have this is definately my favourite and i would recommend it to all. I would like more of this type of album please and then the music industry would be sucessful once again.

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            03.07.2000 01:39

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            After the epic style of 'Miaow' and the 10*platinum success of 'Carry on up the Charts', the Beautiful South were faced with a difficult decision of where to go next. Rather than carrying on where they left off, they changed to a more acoustic, folky style. 1.5 million people bought the album, perhaps on the strength of the first two singles 'Rotterdam' and 'Don't marry her, f*** me'. However these did not reflect the style of the rest of the album which is lead by acoustic guitar riffs, and seems to ressemble the whimsical style of Belle and Sebastian. I think that this is the group's weakest album as it is just too low-key and miserable - the vocals are not nearly as dynamic as usual. The album reaches a low point with the awful, vomit-inducing cover of 'Artificial Flowers'. It is a sickeningly cute story about a girl who makes artificial flowers to stay alive before, surprise, surprise; she dies and goes to heaven surrounded by real flowers. Here it given an equally revolting piano and strings production. It is not to say that the album is all bad as the singles are fantastic and 'Alone' and 'Mirror' have a great blues feel.

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            24.06.2000 05:27

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            Blue is the colour is probably the worst album that The Beautiful South have produced. All there other albums have been fantastic, but this one was a bit hit-and-miss. There are some good songs like "Don't Marry Her", "Rotterdam" and "Liars' Bar" but there are also some tracks that I wasn't too keen on like "One God" and "Little Blue". That's not to say that they are bad tracks, they just aren't up to the standard of the Paul and Dave's usual standard. Not awful, but not great.

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        • Product Details

          Disc #1 Tracklisting
          1 Don't Marry Her
          2 Little Blue
          3 Mirror
          4 Blackbird On The Wire
          5 The Sound Of North America
          6 Have Fun
          7 Liars' Bar
          8 Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)
          9 Foundations
          10 Artificial Flowers
          11 One God
          12 Alone