This is the third in the Under the influence series I have bought, the others being Morrissey and Paul Weller, and I feel this latest entry offers the best insight into how these tunes have moulded the artists output. Heaton has been known to wear his influences on his sleeve in the past and this has been no bad thing, his love of soul has provided some highlights in his long and varied career, although this was most obvious in his Housemartins years. Therefore, there is little surprise in the inclusion of the legendary Al Green and Lee Dorsey.
Those who have listened to the most recent Beautiful South album, Gaze, will have noticed a strong country influence and there are a couple of according tracks here including Willie Nelson's Valentine. Heaton has not presented an entirely old school selection as the inclusion of such artists as Ugly Duckling testifies, but the older selections do sit more comfortably alongside Heatons own material. Elvis Cotello's Lipstick Vogue is a welcome surprise and one of the few homegrown tracks on the album, Heaton's tastes appear prominently Stateside.
There is a feeling that due to copyright reasons the selections for these albums may be a little limited, and this certainly shapes the flavour of the project, that said Heaton namechecks the also-rans in his sleevenotes in abundance, and we should be grateful he has not opted for the obvious.
I'm a great fan of Paul Heaton, I always have been, but I would love him to use these inspirations so much more in his music as each TBS album becomes more and more predictable. Even an album of cover versions would be welcome (The Housemartins' covers were fabulous). Heaton has a fantastic voice and it has been years since he's written material that gives him a chance to shine with it.
That said this is a great compilation, eclectic and entertaining from start to finish. Beautiful!