The penultimate entry in my list of “ten perfect albums” is “Blue is the Colour“* from The Beautiful South. Never been sure how to classify their music, but google informs me that they’re “pop rock”. Apparently.
I don’t really remember how I discovered the Beautiful South. My sister Audrey loves them, as did her late husband (my brother-in-law) Kev. It feels like The Beautiful South have been part of my life forever, but realistically I was probably 8 or 9. I don’t have strong memories of the first few albums though, just songs.
I think this is my favourite Beautiful South song. (Until I listen to another one, and then that’s my favourite too). I know some people who otherwise like their music that struggle with this one, given the scratchy vocals as Paul Heaton channels the style of Tom Waits, but I love it. Blue is the Colour is a darker album than most of their output, but we’re still not quite as bleak as Glasvegas.
One of the first songs ‘everyone else’ seems to think of when you mention The Beautiful South in conversation, this single was huge in the UK.
Don’t Marry Her
Much like “If Lovin’ You Is Wrong” on my Faithless post, Don’t Marry Her is the song that almost invalidates this album as being perfect by my own definition. Growing up in a household where “people only swear because they have nothing to say”, the album version of this often had to be skipped. I’m still amused by the sticker on the front of the CD case “Track 1 contains some blue language” indeed. Censored for the radio edit, I think quite a few people were taken aback when they heard the album version. Pretty directly equivalent to the variations between the radio version and original of Radiohead’s “Creep”. Both versions stand up as great songs, but the original versions present strong cases for the use of profanity for emphasis.
The Sound of North America
Timeless, lyrics that it seems will always be appropriate.
Relationship with the album
While this is one of their more melancholy albums, listening to it is still often a source of happiness for me. (Although it is great if you do want to listen to something melancholy and Morrissey’s insistence on being an awful human makes it impossible to enjoy The Smiths.)
Whenever I hear The Beautiful South I feel close to my family, and Blue is the Colour continues to be my first choice for putting an album on and hearing it straight through “as is”.
The Beautiful South
I remember hearing Jo Whiley describe them as everyone’s second favourite band. Obvious hyperbole aside, that does resonate well with me. Although I mentioned this to Aud once and she was happy to assert that they were her favourite, so there’s that.
This year I got tickets for a “The South” gig for Aud, and we went along with my nephew. The South featuring former members of The Beautiful South and still singing a lot of their songs, it was a great gig. Would still be great to see Paul Heaton live at some point though.
Other albums and songs
Carry on up the charts
This is one of my favourite albums, and would have been in this top 10 if it wasn’t a greatest hits album. You obviously can’t count those for risk of coming across a bit Alan Partridge “the best of The Beatles”. Pick it up here*.
Sail This Ship Alone
Yes, also my favourite Beautiful South song. I might not remember when I discovered the Beautiful South, but one of my fondest memories of them is listening to this song on a car journey. Aud and Kev took me on holiday with them, and we sang this all the way there (I assume there were other songs, but I mostly just remember this and “Night Boat to Cairo” by Madness. I’ll Sail This Ship Alone is best sung at top volume, pronouncing all 27 syllables in “sail”.
Song for Whoever
Also known as that one song I made my friend Sam sing over and over with me 20 times when I was very drunk, and my other friends like to remind me about it. (I think Sam would like to forget, to be honest.)
In my defense:
1. It’s a great song
2. This was on the Xbox 360 Game “Lips” and there was a limited amount of songs available
3. Did I mention I was very, very, drunk?
Don’t think this needs any further introduction, my favourite Beautiful South song. Ahem.
Perhaps more so than other artists I’ve picked, there are multiple contenders for perfect albums from the Beautiful South. Quench* came pretty close, but I’m happy I’ve chosen the right one in Blue is the Colour. It is perfect.
*As usual, these links are affiliate ones, which may earn me a small commission if you buy something.