Beautiful South : Solid Bronze – Great Hits

Hits collection tarnishes reputation. Still, Christmas soon...

Talk about flogging sandbags to the Arabs. There are microbes in the earliest stages of evolution on the moons of Jupiter who’ve bought ‘Carry On Up The Charts’ twice. Yet here it is again with a different cover on it and with scintillating Early Sarff tracks like ‘I’ll Sail This Ship Alone’ and ‘Let Love Speak Up Itself’ replaced with clumpy, clog-hopping plumber’s favourites such as ‘Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)’ and ‘Don’t Marry Her’. And surely only the most absent-minded of goldfish would ever want to hear ‘Song For Whoever’ or ‘A Little Time’ again so what exactly, Mr Heaton sir, is the point?

The point, it turns out, is a thorough trashing ofThe Beautiful South‘s reputation as Machiavellian AOR guerillas. That delicate, cool little early-90s pop band wrapping barbed wire socio-political commentary in tinkly chart-shaped packages? Nah, mate, they were only [I]practicing[/I]. They really wanted to recruit a singer cloned fromSharleen Spiteri (Jacqueline Abbot), break out the slide guitars and tambourines and be Everything But The Girl in cagoules (‘Everybody’s Talkin”; ‘One Last Love Song’). Then they wanted to bash some bongos like Black Grape’s dribbling grandads and make painful penis puns on ‘Perfect 10′ (to recap, Paul likes slim girls whereas Jacquie likes blokes with whopping great cocks hanging off ’em).

Irony, subtlety, intelligence? Just a passing phase, pal… here, have you heard the Morcheeba mix of ‘The Mediterranean’ or Paul literally becoming Phil Collins on ‘Blackbird On The Wire’? Sigh.

Mark Beaumont