This shows exactly why Heaton and his bandmates have been so successful.
Chris Long 2007
Hull… musically speaking, there’s a reason why you could swap it’s first letter for a D. As creative hot-spots go, it’s not exactly vibrant – Kingmaker anyone? That said, they do have a way with words over on the East coast. After all, it was along the whispering corridors of the city’s university that Philip Larkin found many an ode.
While Paul Heaton isn’t quite in the same class as the great poet, it is his lyrical trickery more than anything else that launched The Housemartins out of East Yorkshire and into the big time. And it was the same penchant for mischievous wordsmithery that launched The Beautiful South out of the ashes of that band’s demise.
Soup brings together a collection of songs from both bands, with an emphasis on the latter, and shows just why Heaton and his bandmates have been so successful.
There’s the covers - that brave a cappella take on "Caravan Of Love" and the lonely distance of "Everybody’s Talkin'"; there’s the outlandish hits – an ever-exuberant "Happy Hour" stands high and healthy next to The Beautiful South’s only number one, "A Little Time"; and then there’s the real gems.
It’s a coin toss between the rambunctious "Me And The Farmer" and the sad epic "Build" as to which takes the Housemartins' crown on this compilation, but for The Beautiful South, the choice is simple.
Fine as the sneering "36D", "Rotterdam"’s ennui and the simple, straightforward kick in the guts that is "Don’t Marry Her" (included in its full uncensored glory) are, it is still the tongue-in-cheek lovelorn "Song For Whoever" that sounds as crisp and wry as it did when it first appeared a staggering 18 years ago.
But the decision to put this collection in chronological order means it doesn’t start or end well. "Flag Day" may have been The Housemartins' first single, but as an album opener, the paean to charity collections sounds frankly limp. At the other end, the lumpen "Just A Few Things That I Ain't" underlines why The Beautiful South have run their course, without it having to be rubbed in by including Heaton's odd and indulgent ode to his current home town, Manchester.
In-between though, there's the chance to hear a pair of bands grow, spread their wings and create something timeless.
Often misunderstood and overlooked by the barometer of cool, Heaton and his minions have beavered away nevertheless and become two of the finest exponents of pop Britain has ever had – and there's nothing dull about that.