The Beautiful South

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The Beautiful South
Paul Heaton w mic Beautiful South concert.jpg
The Beautiful South in concert.
Background information
Origin Hull, Yorkshire
Genres Alternative rock, pop rock, sophisti-pop, jangle pop
Years active 1988–2007
Labels Go!, Ark 21, Mercury, London, Sony, Elektra
Associated acts The Housemartins
Past members Paul Heaton
Dave Hemingway
Dave Rotheray
Dave Stead
Sean Welch
Briana Corrigan
Jacqui Abbott
Alison Wheeler

The Beautiful South were an English pop/rock group formed in 1988 by two former members of the Hull group the HousemartinsPaul Heaton and Dave Hemingway—both of whom performed lead and backing vocals. Other members throughout the band's tenure were former Housemartins roadie Sean Welch (bass), Dave Stead (drums) and Dave Rotheray (guitar). After the band's first album (recorded as a quintet), they were joined by a succession of female vocalists, all of whom performed lead and backing vocals alongside Heaton and Hemingway – Briana Corrigan for albums two and three after appearing as a guest vocalist on one, followed by Jacqui Abbott for the fourth through seventh albums, and finally Alison Wheeler for the final three Beautiful South albums.

The group broke up in January 2007, claiming the split was due to "musical similarities",[1] and having sold around 15 million records worldwide.



Paul Heaton and David Hemingway had initially come to attention as (respectively) the lead singer and "singing drummer" of the successful Hull jangle pop band The Housemartins, who had scored seven UK Top 40 singles and two Top 10 albums between 1986 and 1988. (Heaton was with the Housemartins for their entire existence; Hemingway joined in time for their second and final album.) The band were known for blending overt socialist politics and a form of Christianity, having baited the British monarchy, the building industry and South African apartheid in their songs as well as including gospel elements in their music. The Housemartins often claimed to have set a fixed lifespan for themselves, and the members duly brought the band to an end in 1988 at the height of its success. Heaton and Hemingway immediately began work on setting up a new band, naming it "The Beautiful South" as a sarcastic comment on their staunch Northern roots.

The third initial bandmember was Dave Rotheray, a songwriting guitarist who'd previously played with Hemingway in two other Hull bands, The Newpolitans and The Velvetones. At the time Rotheray was studying for a PhD at the University of Hull and living on Grafton Street, where Heaton also lived. Rotheray and Heaton became the songwriting team for The Beautiful South, which was conceived as a quintet with Heaton and Hemingway (who was no longer drumming) as the two lead singers. The core band was completed by David Stead (ex-Luddites/Vicious Circle) on drums and former Housemartins roadie Sean Welch on bass guitar. Also important to the band's sound was studio keyboard player Damon Butcher - though never an official member of the group, he would end up playing virtually all the piano and keyboard parts on the band's albums.

Debut album release[edit]

The band's first album Welcome to the Beautiful South was released in 1989 and promptly produced a Number 2 UK singles chart hit, "Song For Whoever". With the follow-up single "You Keep It All In" reaching number 8 and "I'll Sail This Ship Alone" reaching number 31, the band were soon set to equal or surpass the success of The Housemartins, while the songwriting built on and expanded the trenchant social critiques which the previous band had been known for (topics included nationalism, domestic violence, football hooliganism and the self-serving industry of love songs, and the album's disturbing cover art also drew attention). Northern Irish singer Briana Corrigan was featured as a background vocalist on the album. Her contributions proved so successful that she was soon promoted to full membership status, as the band's third vocalist.


In 1990, The Beautiful South released their second album, Choke. Two singles - "My Book" and "Let Love Speak Up Itself" - charted outside the Top 40, but the album also provided the band's only Number 1 hit, a Hemingway/Corrigan duet called "A Little Time". The video - featuring the aftermath of a domestic fight - won the 1991 BRIT Award for Best Video.[2]

Third album & Corrigan's departure[edit]

The band's third album 0898 Beautiful South followed in 1992. It provided another Top 20 hit in the shape of "Bell Bottomed Tear" as well as two further Top 30 hits, "Old Red Eyes Is Back" and "We Are Each Other", although a fourth single "36D" only placed in the Top 50. "We Are Each Other" also became the band's biggest hit in the United States, peaking at #10 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in 1992.[3]

Both Choke and 0898 Beautiful South illustrated the growing fullness of the band's sound. Both featured Pete Thoms and Gary Barnacle as regular contributors on brass and woodwind, and also featured Corrigan as lead vocalist on several tracks. Her contribution helped to characterise the bittersweet kitchen sink dramas played out in the band's often barbed songs and allowed Heaton and Rotheray to explore and express female perspectives in their songwriting. However, the latter approach had mixed success, demonstrated later in 1992 when Corrigan chose to leave the band to pursue a solo career. Although her decision was partly prompted by a desire to record and promote her own material (which was not getting exposure within The Beautiful South), she had also had ethical disagreements over some of Heaton's lyrics, most notably "Mini-correct", "Worthless Lie" and the 0898 Beautiful South single "36D", which criticised the British glamour industry via scathing comments about glamour models. Five years later, Hemingway would admit "we all agree that we should have targeted the media as sexist instead of blaming the girls for taking off their tops".[4][5][6]

Jacqui Abbott joins the group[edit]

In 1994, St Helens supermarket shelf-stacker Jacqui Abbott was brought on board to fill in as the new third lead vocalist for the band. Heaton had heard her sing at an after-show party in St Helens and remembered her vocal talents. Heaton referred to her as "the lass from the glass" – a reference to the Pilkington factory in St Helens. Abbott's first album with the band was Miaow in 1994. Hits included "Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud)" and a cover of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'", previously popularised by Harry Nilsson.

Carry On Up The Charts[edit]

November 1994 saw the release of Carry on up the Charts, a "best of" compilation consisting of the singles to date plus new track "One Last Love Song". Released at a time when the group's album sales had been waning, the album was a huge commercial success.[7] It secured the Christmas number one spot on the charts and became the second best selling album of the year. In 1995, the band was one of the support acts for R.E.M. on the British leg of their world tour. On this tour the band played an extra night when Oasis pulled out of their Huddersfield appearance. The Beautiful South played "Some Might Say" and dedicated it to any Oasis fans at the gig.

Blue Is The Colour[edit]

The 1996 album Blue Is the Colour sold over a million copies and featured hit singles "Rotterdam" and "Don't Marry Her". The album demonstrated the band's gradual shift towards a country music sound, and was well received by the public and on BBC and commercial radio.[citation needed] In 1997 the Beautiful South headlined stadium concerts for the first and last time, in Huddersfield and at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London. Support for the Huddersfield concert was provided by Cast.[citation needed]


The album Quench (1998) was released with similar commercial success, again reaching number one in the UK album charts. "Perfect 10", the first single to be released from the album, also provided the band with uncharacteristic singles chart success. The album is also notable for being more uptempo and being the first on which Heaton and Hemingway's former Housemartins colleague Norman Cook was used in a consultancy role.[8]

Painting It Red release & Jacqui Abbott leaves[edit]

Although 2000's Painting It Red (2000) made number two in the UK charts, the album suffered promotion and touring difficulties, and a substantial number of the CDs were faulty. Jacqui Abbott left the band in the same year, discouraged by the pressures of touring and needing to concentrate on looking after her son, who had just been diagnosed with autism.[9][10][11] After completing their tour obligations, the band marked time with a second greatest-hits album (Solid Bronze) in 2001, and took time time off to refresh themselves. Heaton embarked on a solo career under the Biscuit Boy (a.k.a. Crakerman) alias[12] and released the Fat Chance album in 2001. Although critically acclaimed, the album did not sell well and was reissued under Heaton's own name the following year.


The Beautiful South regrouped in 2003, with new recruit Alison Wheeler taking on the role of female singer. This lineup recorded Gaze in 2003, following it with 2004's Golddiggas, Headnodders and Pholk Songs, an album of unusually arranged cover tunes including "Livin' Thing", "You're The One That I Want", "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and "I'm Stone in Love With You". One track from the album, "This Old Skin", was presented as a cover of a song by an obscure band called "The Heppelbaums"; it was later revealed to be an original Heaton/Rotheray composition.

Final album released[edit]

The final Beautiful South album Superbi was released on 15 May 2006. It was recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios, a farm in Bakewell and at producer Ian Stanley's studio in Enniskerry, County Wicklow. It was mixed by Bill Price (Sex Pistols, Clash, Guns N' Roses). Paul Heaton's hand is recognisable in quirky song titles such as "The Rose of My Cologne", "The Cat Loves The Mouse" and "Never Lost A Chicken to a Fox". The first single, "Manchester", started off as a poem – "If rain makes Britain great, then Manchester is greater" – 'a sodden tribute' to the city in which he now lives, says Heaton.


After a band meeting on 30 January 2007, they decided to split.[1] They released a statement on 31 January 2007, in which they joked that their reasons for splitting were "musical similarities" – an ironic reference to "musical differences" which are often cited as the reason for a band's split. "The band would like to thank everyone for their 19 wonderful years in music," the statement also said.

In May 2007 the band's music was used in a jukebox musical entitled The Slide (book by Adrian Davis).[citation needed] It was premiered at the Phoenix Theatre, Swindon.


Subsequent solo and group work by various members[edit]

Paul Heaton[edit]

With the 2007 dissolution of The Beautiful South, Heaton formed a new band "The Sound of Paul Heaton".

Heaton's second solo album The Cross Eyed Rambler was released on 7 July 2008, and was preceded by the single "Mermaids and Slaves" on 30 June, and he toured in support of it throughout July. The album charted at number 43.

Heaton released his third solo album, Acid Country in September 2010.[13]

In 2011, the Manchester International Festival endorsed the writing by Heaton of an anthology of songs based on the 7 deadly sins, to be called The 8th. The song was broken down into a section for each sin, which was to be performed by a different artist. The singers for the original piece were: Wayne Gidden, Aaron Wright, King Creosote, Simon Aldred, Cherry Ghost, Jacqui Abbott, Yvonne Shelton, and Mike Greaves. The individual sections were incorporated with a narration written by Che Walker.[13] The 8th debuted in July 2011 at the Festival Pavilion Theatre in Manchester's Albert Square.

After the debut, six further performances of The 8th were announced for the Summer of 2012.[14]

He reunited with former Beautiful South singer Jacqui Abbott in 2013 to record new material. The result, What Have We Become?, was released on 19 May 2014. The album reached number 3 in the UK Albums Chart. On working with Abbott once again, Heaton said: "Working with Jacqui again was like going into your garage and discovering a beautiful, covered up Rolls Royce that hadn't been started in years. Jacqui is one of the best singers I've worked with and is also part of my past. It was only a matter of time before I asked her."[15]

The album campaign saw the pair make publicity appearances on a variety of TV and radio programmes, including The One Show, Live at Edinburgh Castle, Sunday Night Live at the Palladium, and Aled Jones' ITV show Weekend, BBC Two at Glastonbury Festival performing acoustic versions of second single "Moulding Of A Fool" and a cover version of Dolly Parton's "Islands in the Stream", Channel 4's Sunday Brunch and Pointless Celebrities.

David Rotheray[edit]

Dave Rotheray continued his work with Homespun for another year, before splitting the band in 2008 to pursue a solo career.

Rotheray announced the release of his first 'solo' album, The Life of Birds for 16 August 2010, on the Proper Music label.[16] Although ostensibly a solo effort, the record featured collaborations with ten different singer/songwriters including Alasdair Roberts, Jim Causley, Eliza Carthy and Camille O'Sullivan.

Briana Corrigan[edit]

Corrigan moved to Dublin, Republic of Ireland, where she wrote and recorded an album with Dave Couse. The album was never released although both have recorded songs from that period in later solo works. She was also part of the Dublin music collective, Lokomotive, which released a number of singles on an independent label. Corrigan then stepped away from the music industry to secure a master's degree in Creative writing from Queen's University Belfast and split her time between bringing up her young family, acting and writing. In 2006, she performed in the first Irish tour of 'Mum's The Word' – a West End hit described by Stage magazine as, 'a wickedly funny account of motherhood that nobody should miss'. In 2006, she returned to the studio to write and record a new album. The end result was the 2012 album, Red Bird, released on her own label, Redbird & Anchor Records. The same year she wrote her first play which toured nationally throughout Ireland and Scotland in Autumn, 2012.

Jacqui Abbott[edit]

Jacqui Abbott left the band in 2000,[9][10] because of the pressure of touring, to concentrate on looking after her son, who had just been diagnosed with autism.[11]

Abbott reunited with Paul Heaton in June 2011 to perform in his musical The 8th, while in 2013 they recorded a new album What Have We Become?, released on 19 May 2014; it reached Number 3 in the UK album chart.

Abbott toured the UK and Ireland with Heaton in May/June 2014 performing at sold shows including London Shepherd's Bush Empire, Salford Lowry and Hull City Hall. The tour was accompanied by publicity appearances on a variety of TV and radio programmes, including The One Show, Live at Edinburgh Castle, Sunday Night Live at the Palladium, and Aled Jones' ITV show Weekend.

On Sunday 29 June they appeared live on BBC Two at Glastonbury Festival performing acoustic versions of second single "Moulding Of A Fool" and a cover version of Dolly Parton's "Islands in the Stream". During the summer of 2014 Paul & Jacqui performed at a series of festivals across the UK and Ireland including Glastonbury Festival, Latitude Festival, V Festival and Festival No.6.

On 11 November 2014, BBC Radio 2 broadcast a world premiere of "Real Hope", featuring The Grimethorpe Colliery Band, from the deluxe edition of What Have We Become?.

In November 2014 the pair toured the UK with sold out shows across the country, including at London's The Roundhouse Manchester Apollo and Sheffield City Hall.

Dave Hemingway[edit]

Dave Hemingway was the first former Beautiful South member to release new material. Around the time of the band's split in 2007, he released a solo album called Hello Cruel World. The album was released as a download only on iTunes. The album's title was inspired by Hemingway's experience recording in the capital.

Other members[edit]

In 2008, Dave Hemingway, Dave Stead and Alison Wheeler reunited as The New Beautiful South, a nine-piece band also featuring longtime band associates. In 2010, the band changed its name to The South. The band continues to perform Beautiful South songs in concert and to write and release new material.[17] The debut South album, Sweet Refrains, was recorded at CowShed Studios in London during June and July 2012.




Non-LP/CD and ECD Single Releases[edit]

The Beautiful South released a few singles throughout their career that were not on the official albums but were later released on compilations. All were written by Paul Heaton and Dave Rotheray unless noted.[18]

"One Last Love Song" (released 24 October 1994)



  • "One Last Love Song" [3:35]
  • "Mr. Obsession" [3:34]
  • "You're Only Jealous" [2:47]

(* also released as a 7" vinyl single)

"Dream A Little Dream" (July 1995, CD only)

(*Recorded for the movie French Kiss. It was re-used in the film The Devil Wears Prada.

"Pretenders To The Throne" (November 1995, CD only)

  • "Pretenders To The Throne" [3:15]
  • "Virgin" [3:54]
  • "A Long Day In The Field" [3:13]

"The Root of All Evil" (5 November 2001, CD only)


  • "The Root Of All Evil" [2:40] (Heaton, Rotherway, Slattery & Shields)
  • "Free For All" [3:57]
  • "Perfect 10 (music video)


  • "The Root Of All Evil" [2:40] (Heaton, Rotherway, Slattery & Shields)
  • "Chicken Wings" (Original Version) [4:31]
  • "Rotterdam (music video)

B-Sides, EP-only, and Foreign Edition Bonus Tracks[edit]

There are almost eighty additional single B-side, EP-only and Foreign Edition Bonus tracks that have never been compiled on album or compact disc. Although some are cover versions, remixes, demos and either live or acoustic versions of songs previously released, most are stand-alone compositions.[18] The only release to feature all these tracks was an unofficial seven-disc set, "Good As Gold: The $600 Singles Collection".[19] The pages for the individual studio albums contains information on all singles released from the albums and their B-sides.


THE PUMPKIN (1992) Contains the band's first eight "music promos" and footage (*) from their March 1990 American tour.[20]

  • 2. "Woman In The Wall"*
  • 6. "Have You Ever Been Away"*
  • 8. "My Book"
  • 10. "Let Love Speak Up Itself"
  • 12. "We Are Each Other"

Much Later with...THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH (1997) Full length version of the "Later...with Jools Holland Special." First broadcast 21 March 1997 on BBC2 (a promotional version was also released)

  • 1. "We Are Each Other"
  • 12. "You've Done Nothing Wrong" – featuring Iris Dement
  • 17. "Hold Onto What?"


  • The Beautiful South: Munch – Our Hits (2003)
  • Live In The Forest (2005)


  1. ^ a b "Pop group Beautiful South split". BBC. 31 January 2007. 
  2. ^ "The Beautiful South". 19 February 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  3. ^ The Beautiful South. "The Beautiful South — Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Contemporary Musicians, Volume 19". 1 September 1997. Retrieved 26 July 2007. 
  5. ^ "The Beautiful South – the Band". BBC. 29 November 2001. Retrieved 26 July 2007. 
  6. ^ "A Little Time". Retrieved 26 July 2007. 
  7. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (9 October 1995). "Carry on Up the Charts: The Best of the Beautiful South - The Beautiful South". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Beautiful South". BBC News. 9 October 1998. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "It's All Two Beautiful". NME.COM. 23 November 2000. Archived from the original on 14 August 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2008. 
  10. ^ a b "Beautiful South - The Beautiful South: London Brixton Academy - Live Reviews - NME.COM". 14 December 2000. Archived from the original on 14 August 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2008. 
  11. ^ a b "Jacqui Abbott interviewed by Allan Johnson Radio 4 2nd June 2011". 2 June 2011. 
  12. ^ "Paul Heaton puts band on hold". BBC News. 16 August 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "bio". Paul Heaton Music. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  14. ^ "Los Campesinos! Announce Tour | News". Pitchfork. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  15. ^ McMullen, Marion (16 May 2014). "Beautiful times are here again". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  16. ^ Never Enough Notes
  17. ^ "We're Still Beautiful". The South. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  18. ^ a b "The Beautiful South Discography". Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "Good As Gold: The $600 Singles Collection". Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "The Beautiful South - Videos". Retrieved 21 November 2014. 

External links[edit]