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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 19 August 2017
Good final album from the BS, although PH was right, the similarities were there!
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on 18 May 2006
Being a die hard fan of The Beautiful South, I was excited to hear that they were releasing a new album. I pre ordered Superbi and it arrived just a few days ago. I haven't stopped listening to it since. First impression was that there was nothing new here but after just a few plays it grabbed my attention. The lyrics are quirky and cleverly written.

Not sure I like the country & western sound that this album has adopted, but nevertheless, the tunes are catchy. I especially love 'Manchester'. (Very brave of the band considering they will be playing there this forthcoming tour!!).

Listen carefully to the lyrics, give the album a chance and you won't be dissapointed.

Still love the 'old stuff' best though!

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on 15 June 2006
Well, we all allowed the South the indulgence of the covers album, even bought it for the hoot of having Olivia Neutron-Bomb and Blue Oyster Cult's finest moments cut down to size, but the five year wait for some decent original material has tried the patience more than somewhat.

Lyrically this album is spot on, by turns fragrant, sharp, whimsical, droll and acerbic. Age must have caught up with them because, apart from the clapped out old bus on the cover, there's a good helping of ruminating on mature love and relationships (Cat Loves The Mouse, where one naughty word earns the album its black and white sticker, and When Romance Is Dead), as well as the tribute to home town Manchester. But there is still time for social comment, as they touch upon such things as the public attacment to the cult of celebrities and soaps rather than the troubles in the world (Meanwhile).

Musically, things are on the whole a little more jaunty and uptempo than we're used to. There is a distinct country flavour, with banjos, mandolins and honky-tonk pub pianos much in evidence. Tunes and melodies are subtle - there is nothing that grabs you immediately or will sell a million - and grow on you. Paul, Dave and Alison's vocals are as strong as ever, and they combine and contrast perfectly.

Overall, it's a good album, not earth-shattering, but it'll do for now. At least it sounds as if they enjoyed recording it. And, by the way, the only difference between this and the limited edition is the packaging - this is the jewel case version.
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on 4 May 2006
Superbi is the 9th studio album, not counting Carry on up the Charts and the Covers album.

It's been 17 years since the Beautiful South appeared and has the idea gone stale, or can they still capture the listener's imagination.

In fairness their last album of original material, Gaze was a mixed bag. The covers album did little to endear people although it received some critical acclaim.

Superbi needs to be a good album, it needs freshness, it needs something else, and it needs conviction and belief.

Does it have it? Well having heard a pre release version I am pleased say it does, it certainly bristles with confidence, the sort that has been lacking for the last few years.

It also bristles with new instruments, not heard before on a South album and new styles, most notably a country feel, especially tracks like Rose of my Cologne and Never Lost a Chicken to a Fox. These tracks are going to split people, personally I love them, and they sound fresh and different.

Lyrically the album is as strong as ever - from the lyrics to the excellent Meanwhile to the sadness and beauty of Bed of Nails, Paul Heaton does not let us down.

The album is preceded by the track Manchester - a jaunty upbeat number that does seem the immediate choice from the album.

This album is a real move away from previous Beautiful South Albums, it is still recognisable them as Beautiful South, but there seems to be a revolution happening here. Here though lies perhaps the problem, there are no poor songs as such, but in terms of style the album is not always consistent. Hearing a country influenced song one moment then suddenly a bitter sweet relationship song the next in traditional South Style can be a little disconcerting. Although listening to the album in order it is apparent the band have thought about this as the slower numbers never follow on from each other.

This is the best album they have put out in a long time, it maybe lacks the more complex song arrangements from albums like Miaow but this album shows there is still life in the band yet.

Alison Wheeler, still seen as the new girl on the block, despite this been her third album is stunning and she is rightly given lots to do, her voice is strong and sultry and the band have used this to great effect.

This is a really good album, and no one should be disappointed on hearing it.
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on 29 August 2006
A more confident album than 2003's "Gaze."

Lead-off track - "Manchester" - suggests nothing ground-breaking but a charming consolidation.

Elsewhere country-flavoured tunes are in abundance that are pleasant if somewhat forgettable.

Where this album really takes shape is on "Meanwhile" which is a stylish and intelligent bit of pop and "Bed Of Nails" which is a heart-rending tune sung beautifully by Heaton and Alison Wheeler.

Other than that nothing here of note other than the usual quality lyrics but slightly pedestrian music. Much of it - like "Tears" - feels like it's been done before.
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on 17 May 2006
At first i thought oh dear has something gone wrong. But the more you listen to this album, the better it gets, there is possible 7 good tracks on the album and are very cathcy.

However much better than there 2 privious albums, tracks like The Rose to my Collogne and Meanwhile are just pure south, they are back on track and is simply a must for all south fans
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on 15 May 2006
The Beautiful South return with their 10th studio album, Superbi. And as a long-time fan of the band it was pleasing to hear just how fresh the band sound after all these years. Saying that the album represents a 'change in direction' would be going a little too far, but there is a lot on this album that is different from what they have done before. There are new sounds, instruments, styles, yet the album avoids sounding experimental. Superbi is the closest to country the band have sounded, yet converseley at the same time its the closest to rock they've ever been.

There are some tracks that are very typical in style of Paul Heaton - current single 'Manchester' is remeniscant of the 1994 hit Good as Gold, the finale 'Tears' is strikingly remeniscant of The Real Blues which appears on Heaton's solo album Fat Chance. At the same time there are songs on here that sound nothing like anything they've done before. The best examples are 'The rose of my cologne' and 'Never lost a chicken to a fox', and the final minute of 'From now on' sounds almost like something out of Chicago.

For me, the stand out track on this album (and my tip for the second single) would be 'When romance is dead'. The lyrics are very astute, and this for me is one of the best ballads the band have done, it is heavier and more guitar and drum orientated, especially towards the end. I think this song would be very radio friendly, and given the necessary air-play (which sadly the band never seem to get any more) could be a big single.

This is a very good album. Certain tracks may not grab you at first, but they will grow on you with repeated listenings.
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VINE VOICEon 15 May 2006
The Beautiful South have seemed in a strange position commercially for some years now; whilst they've had some huge hit singles - 'Song For Whoever' and 'Perfect 10' both number 2, 'A Little Time No' 1, 'Rotterdam' No 5 and a couple of number 8's, the majority of their many singles have actually been relative flops, and they haven't had a big hit single since 'Perfect 10' in 1998. Similarly, their first greatest hits album remains one of the biggest selling albums of all time in the UK, however since the end of the nineties they seem to have been in inexorable commercial and critical decline.

I really love the band, have all their albums, apart from the last one of covers, and believe them, at least in terms of the quality of many of their tunes and lyrics to be simply one of the best pop groups of all time. However, as we all know there are other things, such as influence, originality and a dynamic stage act which make for a great band or artist; and it could be argued that BS do lack a number of these qualities.

To compare them to the Velvet Underground or Led Zeppelin for example - unlikely but enlightening comparisons. I would argue that The Beautiful South have a greater number of quality tunes than The VU or Led Zep (and their lyrics at least wipe the floor with Zep's or Oasis's, to quote another example). Furthermore, I actually find them consistently more pleasurable to listen to than VU or Zep, but in terms of pop/rock history Beautiful South can never be mentioned in the same breath as either of the two earlier bands. This I think is the crux of their problem - they're regarded as worthy, but rather dull these days. Apart from their hard core fans, the public appear to have given up on them, and the critics who originally praised them now seem to have fallen out of love with them. I already know that the reviews for this album will be average at best.

In short the band has fallen into a rut.

So what of Superbi? Well, it's certainly much better than Gaze, their last original work, which was probably their weakest offering - too wordy and full of tunes that sounded the same. I would suggest that it's also more consistent than the double album Painting It Red, which also had its fair share of unmemorable numbers. Superbi is therefore probably their strongest album since Quench in 1998 or possibly even since Blue Is The Colour from 1996, which is still probably my favourite BS album.

They've consciously tried to change and vary their sound slightly with the introduction of different instruments such as banjo, dobro and mandolin. This gives some of the songs a country feel, especially the opener `The Rose Of My Cologne', which as one of the stronger songs I would imagine will be the next single after `Manchester.' The latter is another catchy piece which has witty lyrics and name checks many Manchester locations, however I don't think it will return them to anywhere near the top of the charts. The album also features a number of the BS trademark male/female exchange songs - notably `The Cat Loves The Mouse,' but this isn't in the same league as some of their earlier tunes in this genre such as `You Keep It All In' or `A Little Time.' Other highlights are the jazzy, `The Next Verse' and `Never Lost A Chicken To A Fox', another country sounding tune, and the excellent 'From Now On,' another duet. But once again too many songs sound the same or have echoes of previous BS tunes. `Meanwhile' and `Space' for example, while not bad tunes sounds like quite a number of other BS songs, which after a time all seem to blend into one, and therefore become rather generic and forgettable. There were times when I used to think Heaton and Rotheray were up there with Lennon and McCartney, but then it's the too numerous moments like this over recent albums that make me realise why they'll never be in the same class.

I'm not really sure where The Beautiful South can go from here. I've bought the album and have enjoyed it because I like the band, but they've only partially climbed out of the rut and I can't see Superbi worrying the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the top of the charts. Still if this is their last album, it's a fair way to go out and thanks for the great music they've given us over the years.
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on 22 May 2006
On the first couple of listens to this album, I was left feeling rather underwhelmed. The songs (with the exception of 'Manchester') sounded relatively bland and dull. On further listens though, I think this is one of their best albums for many years. The change in direction is slight- there is a country twang to a couple of their songs ('Cologne' and 'Never Lost a Chicken...) but apart from that, there is the usual blend of slow tunes and witty ditties packed with meaningful lyrics. Give this album more than a couple of listens and you'll probably love it!
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on 26 May 2006
Eagerly awaited this cd and was not disappointed in anyway. Paul and the rest of the band deliver their ususal musical genuis and in their experimentation they have encompassed a new and very 'catchy' cd sound. The single Manchester is sure to have even the most sceptical people foot tapping along. The rest of the album consists of beautiful ballad style songs and the usual darker numbers. All in all an excellent offering from one of britains finest bands !!!
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