After their greatest-hits album, “Carry On Up the Charts,” did just that and sold more than 2.5 million copies alone in their native England in 1995, members of The Beautiful South easily could have rested on their laurels.
Instead, “Carry On Up’s” shocking wave of success – keep in mind, it nearly outsold the Spice Girls – was just what they needed.
“The album before that, ‘Miaow,’ soured me a bit,” Dave Hemingway, one of the band’s three main vocalists, said during a recent vacation in Las Vegas. “It didn’t do very well, but then the greatest-hits album came out, and it was such a strange, pleasant surprise. It challenged us a bit, to make an even better album. There was no pressure on us; we just tried to make the best album we could make.”
The result: “Blue Is the Colour,” The Beautiful South’s fifth studio album. It debuted at No. 1 in Britain in November 1996 and spawned a few more great hits, such as the lyrically twisted “Don’t Marry Her” and “Rotterdam (or Anywhere),” keeping their unprecedented momentum intact. The album was issued stateside to less fanfare Sept. 23 on Miles Copeland’s Ark 21 Records.
They have an avid following in the United States, but not enough to carry them on up the charts.
“That’s probably our own fault,” Hemingway said, “because we have never toured more than six weeks here. We just don’t tour a whole lot, period. Also, when the radio stations get our albums, they don’t know what to do with them. They don’t know whether it’s country, rock, pop, folk. They don’t realize it’s a little bit of everything.”
Hemingway and fellow Housemartins member Paul Heaton formed The Beautiful South in 1989 with bassist Sean Welch, drummer David Stead and guitarist David Rotheray. Heaton and Rotheray soon became a prolific songwriting team, putting the pen to 11 Top 10 U.K. hits.
Jacqueline Abbott, discovered singing at a party, was added to the band for “Miaow,” and plays a growing role on “Blue Is the Colour,” singing lead or duet on five tracks.
“We’re really enjoying ourselves,” Hemingway said. “We didn’t need the best-of album creatively, because we were always doing good songs. In fact, when the label first suggested a best-of album, we were against it. A greatest-hits album usually means it’s the end of your career. In the end, we gave in, and it’s given us new life.”
BWF (before we forget): Carry on up with The Beautiful South on the Web @ www.beautiful-south.co.uk. … The Beautiful South album discography – “Welcome to the Beautiful South” (1989); “Choke” (1990); “0898 Beautiful South” (1992); “Miaow” (1994); “The Best of The Beautiful South: Carry On Up the Charts” (1995); “Blue Is the Colour” (1997).