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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
London O Hull 4
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£45.23+ £1.26 shipping

on 12 October 2003
The year is I986, we're talking miners, we're talking Thatcher, we're talking a shortarse northern guy preaching record industry nationalisation - behold, if you will,the world of the Housemartins. Their brand of jangle pop is still felt in indie circles (just listen to Lucksmiths or Moxy Fruvous) and with good reason. Happy Hour is a euphoric piece of pop fluff until the penny drops and we're let into the eccentric and frankly exhausting pysche of P.D Heaton, draped in delicous harmonies and Smiths-esque guitar. The lyrics lack the same creativity as later Beautiful South efforts (in fairness, they had less to work with, the album is a socialist propaganda showcase to make Rage Against The Machine blush) but Heaton's vocal is in its prime. As a result, the radically different gospel and a cappella segment isn't half as cringeworthy as it should have been, with a soaring 'Just Like A Shelter' a personal highlight. Initially fast-paced with a tongue-in-cheek soulful climbdown, London 0 Hull 4 is an essential album for anybody who suspected the 80s had some substance under the gloss.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 February 2012
The Housemartins' debut album released in 1986 is a brilliant example of compelling pop music, produced by a band with a strong (left-wing) political commitment. It would, however, be a crying shame if their political beliefs put anyone off listening to this masterpiece, which contains more brilliant musical hooks than most bands achieve in an entire career. Most people who have only heard (superficially) of the band will probably know them via the singles Caravan of Love (their cover of the Isley Brothers' song) or Happy Hour (which opens this album) - indeed, despite being a great song, Happy Hour is actually, for me, one of the weaker songs on this album.

The Housemartins' sound (particularly the sound produced by guitarist Stan Cullimore) on this album is derivative of bands from this post-New Wave (or punk) era, such as the Undertones and even (at times) The Smiths . However, regardless of influences, the key component of the band's sound is the extremely tight playing by the rhythm section, comprising drummer Hugh Whitaker and bass player Norman Cook (yes, the same man who went on to become the renowned DJ, Fatboy Slim). Paul Heaton's melodic (and rather high-pitched) vocals, often accompanied by harmony/falsetto backing from the rest of the group, provide the perfect (and somewhat original) rounding off to the band's overall aural effect.

The 16 songs on the album comprise 13 originals (predominantly written by Heaton and Cullimore) and 3 covers. The originals are principally up-tempo songs, all with brilliant guitar hooks, my favourite examples being Get Up Off Our Knees, Anxious, Sitting On A Fence, Sheep and We're Not Deep. As is the band's wont, lyrically these songs all rail against injustices in society, including global poverty, society's herd-like behaviour, societal breakdown, vested interests in the press and workplace conformity (injustices that are sadly just as relevant now).

There are also two up-tempo instrumentals, Reverend's Revenge and the awesome (a word I rarely use because I hate its modern usage, but in this case it is totally appropriate) The Mighty Ship. This latter song is 1 minute 50 seconds of pure brilliance, with Stan's guitar going at ten to the dozen and Paul laying down a superb harp over the top - I defy anyone (and I mean anyone!!) not to get up and dance to this (even I do!). Is there any comparably brilliant short, pop instrumental? Maybe, A Beard of Stars by Tyrannosaurus Rex? As for the band-penned slower songs, the killer song is Flag Day, a heart-rending lament to the fact that charity flag days can never deal with the underlying causes of poverty in society.

Mention should also be made of the three covers included. For me, the outstanding example is the gospel choir-backed version of Jamaican reggae artist, LLoyd Charmers' superb I'll Be Your Shelter (Just Like A Shelter). There are also excellent versions of Curtis Mayfield's epic People Get Ready and the Bobby Scott and Bob Russell-penned He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, which was a huge hit for The Hollies.

I must also admit to having had the music of The Housemartins drawn to my attention only in the last few years (other than, of course, being aware of the Happy Hour and Caravan of Love singles at the time of their release). Indeed, as will be well known to long-standing fans, Heaton also went on to produce some superb (and somewhat more sophisticated) pop music with The Beautiful South. Despite being a southerner myself, I willingly yield to this (Hull) band's greatness.
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on 28 August 2006
The best of northern music on one disc. They have their own sound and their own beat. They could never be mistaken for another group. Paul and his group make this album deliciously addictive thanks to the lyrical content, subject and originality. One listen to his voice and you will play this album over and over again.
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on 12 October 2014
Bought to replace a lent/not returned copy, which I admit I had not played for some time.

I immediately indulged in the free Autorip (CD not yet received) and was transported back to the Birmingham Odeon, circa 1984, when they supported Blancmange. It was the start of a beautiful relationship.

This album is up there with all time classic debuts. You may not agree with some of Paul Heaton's politics/views, but you can't deny the lyrics are well penned, the tunes are catchy and the harmonica interludes are divine.
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VINE VOICEon 7 September 2013
Like most of the reviewers I bought this to replace a cassette tape! I'd forgotten how good it was.....Its perfect, thoughtful pop at its best....It was brought back to my attention by The Worlds End soundtrack.....The World's End.....which has many a great track on it.....
The mid 80's were a difficult time for many and records such as these helped get us through.....A good buy that reminds me of visiting Hull in the 80's and staying at the Newland Homes....So for me its definitely Hull 4 London 0......
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on 13 May 2010
Oh my days - there is nothing quite like music to take you back to a place and a time in your life - unless it's a smell of course ... London 0 Hull 4, I only bought it to help speed tidying up, it worked for my best friend and me when we lived together broke but happy all those years ago when men were men and women were fiesty - but not in an uncool grrrl power way: we were Feminists and drank pints, not because it was fashionable, but because we liked it! How odd it was - to remember every single word - to the mortification of my neighbours no doubt - and to think, "I still agree with every word of Anxious, Sheep and all of that." Also, thought how things had turned a full circle when I listened to how newspapers supported all things blue - Sam Cam and Dave being put up as The Greatest Love of All (until Nick chucked her out of bed of course). I know the Housemartins are dead and gone - not literally of course - Heaton is doing whatever he is doing, one married a laddette and one went mad and did something odd and I can't think of the last one. Never mind - the band is long gone, but really and truly? Great music never, ever dies.
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on 25 June 2009
One of the feel good British albums of the 80s, The Housemartins combination of classic British pop with controversial lyrical topics made them one of the most popular British bands of the mid-late 80s. Many of the song deal with controversial subjects yet many of the songs are brilliant for many reasons. Some of Paul Heatons lyrics are heartfelt and some of the songs remain catchy and fresh even today. There isn't really a bad song on here most songs on this album are good for many reasons like happy Hour,Get up off our knees,Over There,Think for a Minute etc. Maybe the only weak points on the album are Lean on Me and Reverends Revenge, yet still with or without the inclusion of these tracks this debut is fun and brilliant in the same sentence.

Key Tracks:Happy Hour,Think for a Minute,Over There,We're not deep,Freedom

Also Buy:'The Smiths' by 'The Smiths'
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on 9 May 2012
This is such a good album; full of catchy tunes (if a bit 'samey' in places) and Paul Heaton's insightful lyrics. You can see where the Beautiful South came from and how they were a progression from this, which was a brilliant start.

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on 3 September 2013
Heard Happy Hour Again somewhere, and it spurred me on to get the CD to replace my tape which I can no longer play in the car. Enjoying it as much as the first time around. One of the best Housemartins LPs in my opinion.
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on 7 March 2013
I recently picked up the cassette (!!) of this album at a jumble sale - which seems rather fitting, somehow - for a measly 50p. I hadn't heard it since the mid-1980s, when my then-girlfriend was utterly obsessed with it (The Smiths aside, she played little else). Though I was preferred The Jesus & Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Big Flame, & their ilk back then, I was secretly rather fond of London 0 Hull 4 - it always seemed like a breath of fresh air in comparison to some of the noisy twaddle I was listening to back then.

Hearing it again, it sounds better than ever - I'd go as far as to say that there's not a bad song on it (even the instrumental interlude, "Reverend's Revenge", is blink-&-you'll-miss-it brief). It's a shame that The Housemartins (I refuse to call them the "Housies" - urrgh) are so steadfastly overlooked these days - though their influence is negligible, they were a very popular band in their (brief) time, & a one with an admirable message (or two) to impart as well. Sadly, it's difficult to imagine a band as intelligent & opinionated as The Housemartins scoring a #1 in the singles chart these days.

A fine LP - purchase with confidence, etc!
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