The Housemartins London 0 Hull 4
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Has there ever been a band where the members have gone on to such disparate occupations? Paul Heaton we know about - he invented mum rock with the Beautiful South, sold nine billion copies of 'Carry On Up The Charts' and remains one of pop's most doggedly loyal footy freaks. Bassist Quentin 'Norman' Cook decided it would be a laugh to wear loud Hawaiian shirts and marry Zoe Ball while at the same time reinventing rave to no small degree of success. Jangly guitar maestro Stan Cullimore went on to bonk and bash Ulrika Jonson, play some football and still managed to find some time to indulge in a spot of dogging. Only joking. That was Stan Collymore. Stan Cullimore opened a vegetarian delicatessen before launching another more successful career as a children's author and script writer for the BBC. Meanwhile, original drummer Hugh Whittaker decided to take up amateur surgery and rearranged somebody's features with an axe before being held at Her Majesty's pleasure. 'London 0 Hull 4' was originally released in October 1986 on the influential Go-Discs label during a stark period for British music, where such esteemed greats as Nick Berry, Five Star and Cutting Crew roamed the dressing rooms of Top Of The Pops on a weekly basis. The Smiths were gone, the C86 bands were still finding their feet, Madchester was still a twinkle in Tony Wilson's eye and Ian Brown and John Squire were still a) talking to each other and b) goths. This deluxe edition of the Housemartins' debut is a fabulous reminder of what a fine and necessary group they were. "Happy Hour" remains a beguiling combination of group harmony, Stan's catchy, shimmering guitar and a scathing lyric that decries the 80's preoccupation with success and wealth. Unbelievably, it got to number three in the charts. "Get Up Off Our Knees" continues in a similar vein with a youthful exuberance and energy, while the more melancholy "Flag Day" (another single) is a plea for real heroes rather than simply do-gooders with its intriguing refrain: "It's a waste of time if you know what they mean /Try shaking a box in front of the Queen / 'Cause her purse is fat and bursting at the seams" No punches being pulled here. There isn't really a duff track on the album. One tiny complaint that may be levelled is that the while the material is universally fabulous, the light-as-a-feather production by John Williams (no, not that one) is a little same-y, although the gospel stylings of 'Lean On Me' are a nice contrast to the jangle pop that precede it. The second disc is where the unreleased treasures are hidden, with eight previously unheard tracks and the obligitary collection of b-sides. Heaton's vocals are a revelation here as he growls, moans and falsettos like a man possessed. In particular, 'I'll Be Your Shelter' is a lost classic, a gospel hymn with a joyous feel to it akin to the 'Stones 'Shine a Light'. Even the choir at the end doesn't grate - seriously impressive stuff. Superb acapella versions of Curtis Mayfield's 'People Get Ready' and gospel standard 'Joy Joy Joy' show just what a versatile and intriguing band The Housemartins were. Less impressive is 'Rap Around the Clock' which is some kind of throwaway bonkers hip hop mash up - the birth of the Fat Boy perhaps? The Peel Sessions and Janice Long BBC Sessions are solid, workmanlike versions of album material and sound almost identical to the studio versions, the sign of a really tight band establishing their sound and setting out their stall in grand fashion.