IN THIS NEW EDITION OF THE MOUTHCAST HULL-BORN DAVE HEMINGWAY REFLECTS ON HIS TIME AS DRUMMER IN THE HOUSEMARTINS AND AS ONE OF A TRIO OF VOCALISTS IN THE GROUP WHICH GREW FROM ITS ASHES, THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH.
The Housemartins’ particularly Northern brand of ‘cuddly political pop’ gained national recognition in the UK during summer 1986, when second single HAPPY HOUR and debut long-player LONDON 0 HULL 4 both reached the Top Ten. It was to be the band’s high watermark year; six months later a capella single CARAVAN OF LOVE hit number one in the run-up to Christmas, but there was soon a shift in personnel. On the recommendation of departing drummer Hugh Whittaker, Dave Hemingway joined the band shortly before the recording of second album THE PEOPLE WHO GRINNED THEMSELVES TO DEATH. In true tongue-in-cheek style the premise for the video of FIVE GET OVER EXCITED, the new line-up’s first single, was Hemingway kidnapping Whittaker and replacing him. A handful of further singles followed in 1987, including ME AND THE FARMER and BUILD. In retrospect the latter was the key moment on the album as it featured co-vocals from Hemingway and, perhaps, planted something of a seed in frontman Paul Heaton’s head. The Housemartins called it a day around the release of third album NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL QUITE GOOD (a collection of singles, b-sides, rarities and radio sessions). Hemingway, fully expecting to have to return to his office job in Hull, felt grateful for his fifteen minutes of fame – but it wasn’t over yet. Heaton formed The Beautiful South and asked his former drummer to join as vocalist…
The Beautiful South were one of the most successful bands of the 1990s. An early string of Top 20 albums included the definitive WELCOME TO THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH (1989) and CHOKE (1990), perhaps two of the best records released in that era. The band’s twin templates could roughly be described as sugar-coated political pop and bittersweet Jack and Vera Duckworth kitchen sink drama. Fourth single A LITTLE TIME (with Hemingway on lead vocals alongside Briana Corrigan) fell into the latter category and hit number one in the UK. Female vocalists came and went – Corrigan was replaced by Jacqui Abbott, who fronted during the band’s most commercially successful years before herself being replaced, by Alison Wheeler. The Beautiful South eventually split in 2007, archly citing “musical similarities”. Once again Hemingway felt grateful for this (second) fifteen minutes of fame – but, once again, it wasn’t over yet. He recorded a low-key solo album (the absolutely impossible-to-find HELLO CRUEL WORLD) before forming The South – to all intents and purposes The Beautiful South without Paul Heaton. After a couple of years touring the UK and appearing at festivals with a setlist comprising old hits and favourites alongside new songs from The South’s debut album SWEET REFRAINS, Hemingway and Wheeler (and co) head out for a short run of dates later this year…
Buy The South’s album SWEET REFRAINS in MP3 format here
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