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In my opinion this is The Beautiful South's second best album behind Choke. If it didn't have 19 tracks on it and say only the average 12 or 13 then it would have been the best by far. Track 19, which is called Chicken Wings, is one of my all time favourites. It is a heart wrenching tale of a young boy who can't flourish because his family have never been good at anything and can be summed up with the following lyrics 'Son you were born a dud in a family without spark, Yes you've got those chicken wings you just can't fly.? There are other great songs such as 'til you can't tuck it in' which is a duet between Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbot who are portrayed as a middle age couple and basically she is getting fat and he is turning grey. Paul Heaton wrote after finding his first grey hair. Closer Then Most is a catchy tune about a one-night stand. i also enjoyed ?property quiz? and ?10?000 feet?. But to be critical it can become slow in places with songs such as 'The River' but on the whole for 74 minutes of listening it does manage to keep you highly entertained.
The Beautiful South have been around for many years now, having released their first album in 1989. Fronted by the extremely talented singer/songwriter/producer, Paul Heaton, formerly of The Housemartins, the band have very little chart success for their singles, but their albums are always great sellers. Painting It Red is no exception. Out of all their eight albums, this one has the slickest finish and the most professional looking presentation. It looks extremely classy. The CD arrives in the usual case, but with a box over the top, which has ten squares cut out, to fit over the ‘paint palette’ effect on the CD cover. There is also a beautifully presented song words booklet, which is separate, so avoiding the need to take out the cover insert and inevitably lose it amongst the washing pile. Even the CD itself is a lovely matte silver, very tasteful indeed. There are apparently three different versions of the album out – with 17, 19 and 20 tracks respectively. I bought the album for £12.99 from 101cd.com and it has only seventeen. (Typical!) Check on www.beautifulsouth.co.uk for further details of the various album differences. We expect cynical lyrics and hard-hitting issues to be addressed by The Beautiful South. Previous albums have included themes of alcohol abuse, relationship break-ups and the evils of Thatcherism. The tone of each album is often a reflection of what has been happening in Paul Heaton’s personal life. Things seem to be looking up for him now then, as this has much more of a positive feel to it than Blue Is The Colour, for example. My two favourite tracks are right at the start of the album and have both been released as singles – Closer Than Most and Just Checkin’. Both are quite fast and very catchy. Closer Than Most is Paul singing throughout, with this track rather reminiscent of some of The Housemartins’ songs. Its highest chart position was 22, last September.
Just Checkin’ is Paul and Jacqui together, accompanied by a lovely beat which guarantees toe-tapping and head-nodding. Released with The River, it scraped to number 59 in December. Considering the poor chart positions attained by those first two tracks, it is sourly ironic that the next track is called Hit Parade and contains the lyrics “I never hit, It never hit, My hit parade.” It is slower, more melodic and quieter than the first two tracks and well illustrates the versatility of Paul Heaton’s voice. Nice enough, but not sparkling. This is followed by Masculine Eclipse, a beautiful ballad featuring Paul and Jacqui again. Their voices complement each other’s so well, it will be interesting to see how they develop musically, now Jacqui has left. The lyrics of this one are very clever, as usual, dealing with heartbreak while using metaphors of sinking ships! Pretty song, rather swayable... ‘Til You Can’t Tuck It In increases the pace again, after a couple of slower tracks. This returns to an earlier theme of ageing, lamenting greying hair and increasing waistlines, similar to the wrinkle-counting of Prettiest Eyes in 1994. Gentle, clever, rather sad… If We Crawl is track six and a song I have only heard properly once, because it contains a word I am phobic about! But my partner has played it many times out of my earshot and assures me it is the worst track on the album, so I’m not missing much. Moving swiftly on, we have Tupperware Queen, another example of the poetic brilliance of the writers. This kind of group really do need a song words booklet, as they are wonderful stand-alone poems, with the music just enhancing their effectiveness and increasing the audience. Jacqui sings this one, a rather moody piece but another one that will stay in your mind in that irritatingly memorable way. Half-Hearted Get (Is Second Best) is probably my least favourite track
. It’s not particularly bad, but there’s just something about it which turns me off somewhat. Heaton’s voice is digitally distorted, which is one thing I find annoying, but it also seems rather heavy on the whining and wailing. Oh, and it’s repetitive too. I admit to hitting fast-forward on this one. This is followed by The River, the third released track so far. Paul singing lead vocals, lots of lyrics about water again, beautiful poetry, another slow one. This is such a pretty tune too, but it does go on a bit after a while. Look out for a brass band too, not my favourite kind of music, but it fits this song well and is atmospheric. Baby Please Go is faster and poppier – not that The Beautiful South really ‘do’ pop. This is the first time I have noticed Dave Hemingway taking lead vocals on this album. He has a lovely voice too, rather smoother than Paul Heaton’s, so the combination works very effectively. You Can Call Me Leisure is another of my favourite tracks on the album, as it contains a wonderful plinky-plonky bit in the background! A lively, catchy bit of music is a stark contrast to the lyrics though, which begin with : “You look a younger more beautiful version of death But I’m scared to hold you close or smell your breath” Final Spark is a realistic boy/girl look at marriage, a no holds barred view without any trace of rose-tinted spectacles. This harks back to A Little Time from 1990, but without such a bitter edge. In fact, the whole tone of the album is more of resignation, than bitterness. Paul and Jacqui share this song, and once again, clever lyrics and a nice little tune make this another highlight. 10,000 Feet is about love and the expectations of both genders – “some women need the proof in every chocolate, every flower”. Up-tempo, catchy, a rather lighter tone than the previous track. Another song th
at makes good use of Jacqui and Paul’s contrasting voices and another track that is one of the better ones – not that there is much wrong with the album, but we all have favourites… Hot On The Heels Of Heartbreak has some twangs of country music in it, but with cutting, incisive lyrics: “If you could pull yourself away from that mess Surely if you could pack a punch then you can pack a dress” Track fifteen - The Mediterranean – a child’s spelling test nightmare. Yes, more sea imagery, I wonder if Mr. Heaton has been spending a lot of time on a boat lately? Dave Hemingway takes lead vocals again on this one. It’s harmless enough, not worth fast-forwarding, but it just hasn’t grabbed me yet. A Little Piece Of Advice is full of more deep poetical meandering which deserve to be set reading for A-level English Lit students. The tune starts off with what sounds like a xylophone, quite unusual for a contemporary album. Again, it’s pretty, with strong vocals by Jacqueline Abbott, but I’m not particularly fond of the tune. It’s okay though. I think the problem with the last few tracks on an album is that they don’t get played as much as the early ones, so they often suffer from under-exposure. Finally on my album is Property Quiz. (Of course, you might have another two or three tracks on yours, you lucky people!) Paul sings this clever song, about moving out of a house, only to be replaced by the new man in his ex’s life. There are plenty of examples of black humour in this one, such as “Every weed in the garden’s mine, But the lawnmower’s his”. Brilliant. One of the best tracks too. It usually takes me a few plays to get into a new album by The Beautiful South, but this one was different, I liked it straight away. It’s a nice mixture of slow and fast songs, with some little gems amongst them – even
if the single-buying public disagree!
I already have two Beautiful South albums - Carry on up the charts andQuench and liked them both. I didn't think that they could possibly get any better, but the Beautiful South never cease to amaze. The tunes in this album our very memerable with the exception of a few songs (The River, Chicken Wings, Masculine Eclipse), and every song stands out in theirown specific way. The best tracks are 'Medditeranean', 'Final Spark', and 'You can call me leisure'. The lyrics are as good as other albums by the group, especially those toThe Medditerranean, which is about how Paul got off drugs. The style to the songs vary, and so you have to listen to the whole album. If you liked Quench, you'll love this album, and with 19 tracks (20 on limited Edition CD), it is great value for money
After a well deserved break the Beautiful South have delivered another solid album, packed with a great collection of new material. This album may prove particularly attractive to newcomers as some of the tracks appear more experimental than before- although that said, every track is accomplished and well polished. Out of all the tracks, I thought the most enjoyably diverse/different was 'Half Hearted Get is Second Best', as this represents a timbre I haven't heard from the Beautiful South before- harsh filtering and a powerful vocal. They have a bash at many different styles over the album,- all of which carried off to great effect whilst retaining the unique Beautiful South character. Overall an impressive album, with equally impressive longevity.
Recent US dates and the superb Painting It Red prove that Paul Heaton is capable of both aging gracefully and quitting booze. In fact, he should just be hitting his stride now as a lyricist. American fans went wild, with and without Jackie, and though Paul probably had reason to want to drink on the US tour after Jackie up and split, he didn't. Well, maybe he had some near-beer. Send words of encouragement to the band so that they will carry on with the upcoming UK dates and Ireland. They'd better play Dublin as I already have my room booked! Besides, the new album is too good for them to decide not to carry on.
Most of the other reviews here for this album seem to give it 5 stars which I do find a little hard to believe. I've been a fan for a long time and nearly own every cd they've released, and this one is good but not as good as some of the others. Quench was a return to the original Beautiful South form providing an excellent album that was exactly what us fans wanted. This one though has taken some elements of that but not enough. A lot of songs sound tooo country & western at times, and it's hard to listen to it and pick out which one they will choose as the next single, as the song that stands out the most is the current single! It's worth buying as it is still very good, but don't expect vintage Beautiful South.
...Buy this album! That's it, that's all I have to say. Oh, more needed? Okay then. Normally, when writing about an album, and especially when writing about a Beautiful South album, I would go through the CD on a track by track basis, describing the ups and downs of each track as it comes on the album. However, with 20 tracks an opinion of the 2CD version of the Beautiful South's latest album "Painting It Red" written in such a way would take far too long to read and you'd drop off to sleep before I got anywhere near the end. So instead what I'm going to do is give a general feel for the album and end with some comments made by people on the Beautiful South mailing list - The List for Whoever. The album itself is very, very polished and professional. I can't explain why, that is just the impression I am left with after 50 gazillion listens. Whilst some may say the format is tired, that Paul Heaton's relentless lyrical search for the perfect woman should have been put to rest a long time ago, I disagree. On first listen it is the 'bouncy' tracks that will grab you. The ones that got me were "Closer Than Most" (which the British record buying public did a great dis-service when it was released as a single a short while ago), "Just Checkin'", "Tupperware Queen", "Half-Hearted Get (Is Second Best)", "Baby Please Go", "You Can Call Me Leisure" and "A Little Piece of Advice". Don't be fooled though, they are just at the surface of the album. When you start to delve deeper you discover some real musical masterpieces. For me "The River" (CD 2 track 1) has to be among these. At first it sounds dull, miserable, slow and boring but closer listening reveals that it is actually a damn fine ballad: "Love takes time we all agree and time's not the easiest to cheat..." When I f
irst listened to the album I concluded that there were no stand out songs like "Perfect 10" (Quench), "Liars Bar" (Blue Is The Colour), "Hold On To What" (Miaow), "Old Red Eyes Is Back" (0898), "I Think Tonight I Fancy Myself" (Choke) or "Song For Whoever" (Welcome To...). How wrong I was. The lyrically superb and uplifting "Hot On The Heels Of Heartbreak" stands up proudly, as does "The Mediterranean" and the foot tappingly good, beat-heavy "Half-Hearted Get (Is Second Best)". As a fellow LFW member said this album is wonderfully varied. From slow ballads ("The River") to poppy tunes ("Baby Please Go") to scary moral songs ("A Little Piece Of Advice"). That is the beauty of Heaton's writing and Rotheray's tunes. The tunes reel you in then Paul's lyrics smack you in the chops. An example, how about Jaqui singing: "Guard your body with the best barbed wire and ward off foe with the fiercest of fire..." Or Paul signing: "The part of love I'm scared of is the actual taking off I can take a bumpy landing But the start must be soft..." As for other peoples comments :- "i can´t stop listening to it... it is so different to Quench, so refreshing..." "It seems like they've taken all the best bits from the last 10 years and mashed them all together into 20 new songs " I have not regretted buying this album and I don't think you will either and with 20 tracks for the same price as other artists albums with 10 tracks you can't lose. Get it, now! What are you still here for?
The Beautiful South have to be the most reliable group in music today; Painting it Red was released 2 years to the day since Quench and 4 years to the day since Blue is the Colour. This time however, they have truely excelled themselves, not only in producing a 20 track double album, but also in producing their best work to date. Everything about this album is brilliant; not least the packaging which is completely different to their usual artwork, and is really unusual. It is also very impressive the way the group are still able to experiment with new sounds and still sound fresh after 11 years and 7 studio albums. I would really reccomend buying it now to get the limited edition 2CD version as you get an extra track 'White Teeth' which is very good and also the album makes more sense on two separate CDs as it seems like two coherent albums rather than one long disk. CD1: Track 1 - Who's gonna tell? Quite a strange choice for an opening track musically as it is really low key, but the lyrics amongst other things seem to be answering critics who think that the group is past it. It sounds like Greek Folk music with acoustic guitar and accordian. Track 2 - Closer than most The first single which only charted at no22 despite being well promoted and their most commercial single since Perfect 10. I personally think that it sounds a bit to close to 'Let's do the Timewarp again' from Rocky Horror show for comfort, but it is still a strong track, and is again something new for the group with electric piano and heavy electric guitars. Track 3 - Just Checkin' This is the first of many duets on the album and is a dialogue about a husband who has drunk himself to death. It is musically quite similar to Closer than Most to begin with, but is much catchier and would have probably made a better single. Track 4 - Hit Parade Here Paul Heaton sings in a really gruff voice, and the lyrics seem to be autobiographical. It i
s quite a bluesy number with a really nice chord structure. Track 5 - Masculine Eclipse I think this is one of the stand-out tracks of the album. The lyrics are almost surreal with the chorus being 'And woman you're a lighthouse/ While the candle only drips/ Girl you are a shining star/ In Masculine Eclipse'. It is a beautiful piano ballard, almost as good as 'Song for Whoever', and Paul and Jacqui both sing very sweetly. Track 6 - 'Til you can't tuck it in Although the lyrics explore the familiar theme of ageing the music is very different to what they have done before, sounding like one of Bacharach and David's more uptempo songs. Track 7 - If we crawl This is where the collaboration with Fatboy Slim is at it's most evident, with the rhythm sounding like it was created by a drum machine which doesn't really fit into the rest of the backing, giving quite an unusual sound. The lyrics, sung by Dave Hemmingway are equally odd with a chorus of 'And maggots not have finger/Wagged at by leach'; it is almost indecipherable as to what the song is about. Track 8 - Tupperware Queen Although this was apparently written in 3 minutes it doesn't show, with fantastic lyrics about a bored housewife, very convincingly sung by Jacqui Abbott, with a simple country piano backing. Track 9 - Half hearted get (is second best) This is the albums most unusual track, the music could quite easilly be used on an Eminem track. It is made up of a jazzy harpsichord line, which is looped, and loads of heavy drums. Paul Heaton sings over this both in his normal voice and through a vocoder. It sounds fantastic and just shows what a talented group the Beautiful South are, being able to sit this next to a piano ballard. Track 10 – White Teeth Another fairly dancey track, with lyrics which seem to be about the group cancelling dates on their last tour, but again this is treated in quite an abstract way with the f
antastic line ‘Don’t fire shots from double barrel/ If you know you’re single bore’. CD2: Track 1 – The River The best track on the album, although many others come close. Despite having quite bizarre lyrics which allude to people having fins, the song is beautiful. It has a backing of strings and brass band which give a gently symphonic air, while Paul Heaton puts on one of his best vocal performances for many years. It has been compared to ‘The Slide’ on the last album but it really is in a different league in terms of quality. Track 2 – Baby Please Go This sounds like a potential single, sounding a bit like Elvis Costello, and it is one of the most uptempo tracks on the album. It is unusually a duet between Paul and Dave, but Paul really steals the show singing in a dramatic falsetto. Track 3 – You Can Call me Leisure Another dance song, which seems to be an epitaph to someone who has just died, but the lyrics seem to be quite bitter with lines like ‘Your joyride didn’t feel bad enough to confess/ Till you placed the lemming on this family crest’. It has a very strong driving beat and creepy piano line making it sound a bit like Moloko. Track 4 – Final Spark I think this is another potential single, as it is really catchy, and is sung by Dave and Jacqui whose songs always seem to chart better than those sung by Paul. It has a guitar part identical to another song, I just can’t work out which song! Track 5 – 10,000 Feet This has quite a 70s funky backing, a bit like ‘Don’t leave the lights on baby’ by Belle and Sebastian, and although the lyrics don’t look very inspiring on paper, they fit in really well to this sound. Track 6 – Hot on the heels of heartbreak Although this is a really nice track I think it is the only song on the album which over does a certai
n theme – that of the country ballard; there is one on every album and whilst the group do it quite well, it gets a bit repetitive after a while. Having said that it is one of their better country songs and it does have good lyrics. Track 7 – The Mediterranean Another bizarre lyric, but I think this song is simply about why Paul likes writing his songs in Spain, and how the area has a good effect on him. The music is quite like Albatross by Fleetwood Mac. Track 8 – A little piece of advice Here the group are experimenting with more new instrumentation, this time xylophone. I think this backing works really well, and strongly contrasts with the lyrics which contain the very true line ‘There ain’t no government health warning/ on half the mad f**kers you meet’. Track 9 – Property Quiz This is definitely one of my favorite tracks of the album, as it sums up so well why the Beautiful South are such a brilliant group. The music has great dynamic contrast and is made up of subtle layers of loads of guitar and keyboard parts. Paul Heaton sings beautifully but the lyrics are very aggressive with a refrain of ‘And if his manhood needs the help of a scaffold or even a winch/ I will gladly supplement that extra little inch/ And if it ever reaches tie-break in the property quiz/ If they’ve got my fingerprints on/ They’re my tits and fanny not his’. Track 10 – Chicken Wings The album ends like it began with a really low key song with acoustic guitar backing and great lyrics. It is quite depressing folk music and is an odd way to end an album which is more optimistic than the group’s usual standard. The closing words are ‘All the luggage that the failure brings/ Is a swallow flying high that sings/ Look he’s got those chicken wings/ He may as well die’. Overall it is a bit like ‘Late Night, Maudlin street by Morrissey. <
br> Overall this is probably the best album yet to come out this year. Unlike most over long albums it unfolds with one brilliant song after another. It is amazing that a group which have been about so long are still able to sound so fresh and experiment with new things.
I heard 'Closer then Most' and wondered what TBS were going to do, a good song, but perhaps lacking polish of the singles from Quench, could they really pull off another classic album? Then I heard that it was going to be a double album, this is nornally a warning sign of self indulgence, where every studio doddle is casually tossed down to tape. Well I'm listening to Paint It Red now, the 20 track edition and it is quite simply one of the most stunning albums I have heard, perhaps I'm getting old and I'm getting soft but this is simply mind blowing music. Many tracks feature a back to basics approach, but believe me every track on this album is beautiful, sure some are not as good as others, but with 20 tracks what do you expect and at £12.99 for 20 tracks can you really complain? I have listened to good BS albums, but this is a good album full stop, I hope everyone gets to hear it. 'Just Checkin' has to be a single, a brilliant piece it strolls along with a catchy tune that will grab you and refuse to let go. 20 tracks gives TBS chance to really demorstrate all those influences that are the bedrock of their music, rock jazz, accoustic, blues, pop, they cram them all in. How this band gets better is beyond me, they hark back to earlier days with tracks like 'Til You Can't Tuck it In', it sounds like a good 1990 song, but with better production. The album starts off with a simple beautiful accoustic track called 'Who's Gonna Tell?', and this touches your heart, Paul's voice takes your emotions and runs away with them. Then there is 'The River', a distant realitive of 'I'll Sail this Ship Alone', but this is no bad thing, it is probably the most heart rendering song TBS have put together, complete with dreamy guitar its nearly six minutes of pure bliss. 'Hit Parade' sees Paul doodle a different singing
voice and providing another classic track. Good to see the interplay between Paul Dave and Jacqui returning, good to see Dave Hemingway singing some great tracks like 'Til We Crawl' You canspend time matching that front cover of colour charts to the songs inside the inaly booklet, clever funny stuff indeed. I thought 'Quench' was good, and it is still a five star album, but this blows it away. It's funny, it's sad, it's a rainbow of emotions some of which you probably never knew existed. This is a must buy album for any fan and just a must buy album. Beautiful stuff, how do they do it? Finally listen to the last verse in 'White Teeth', this band is not selling out, just growing. I will not stop playing this for many years to come. I want to say just how good this album is but words escape me, it takes me to all those places I dreamed of but never dared to believe exist. Exactly what great music should do.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Who's Gonna Tell
2 Closer Than Most
3 Just Checkin'
4 Hit Parade
5 Masculine Eclipse
6 Til You Can't Tuck It In
7 If We Crawl
8 Tupperware Queen
9 Half Hearted Get (Is Second Best)
10 White Teeth
Disc #2 Tracklisting
2 Baby Please Go
3 You Can Call Me Leisure
4 Final Spark
5 10,000 Feet
6 Hot On The Heels Of Heartbreak
8 Little Piece Of Advice
9 Property Quiz
10 Chicken Wings