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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 5 February 2001
You've been drinking too much and depriving her of the time you said you'd spend with her. It's all there, in this album's lyrics. In the end, you're glumly forced to admit they're telling the truth. And it hurts, because when The Beautiful South sing the truth, they make no attempt to dress it up in cosy little euphemisms.
"We still got closer than most" rings the central line of Closer Than Most, the album's first single and second track, but the edge of guilt in Paul Heaton's voice suggests this is only half the story and we're left to guess the other half. Later on "Love takes time, we all agree" is followed up by "but time's not the easiest to please". Moments of unbearable poignancy here are levied with humour, as is the norm on a Beautiful South album, although the humour here is a few shades darker. The overall mood is resignation that this is as good as life's going to get. And the band breaks all the rules of the Pop Album in getting their message across.
Rule One - all pop albums must start with a cheery number. With this (obviously not) in mind, Painting It Red opens with Who's Gonna Tell, a serious meditation on the ageing process and how most of us go into denial. No self-help manual ever contained truer words than the following - "it's the news that everyone dreads, you're no longer painting it red".
Yes, the truth hurts, no matter how you choose to dress it up. While 1998's Quench was The Beautiful South at their pop-friendly best, Painting It Red is easily their most fully realised album. Everything fits beautifully. There might be fat on the bones of the ordinary joes they sing about but there's no flab on this album. Indeed, Painting It Red might be the album, which puts the beautiful into Beautiful South. On songs like the gorgeous Masculine Eclipse, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbot's voices become one as never before, showing two sides to each emotion and two angles of approach for each argument and in the bits in between they illustrate without saying out loud that these are the reasons why men and women are, what they give to each other, and more importantly, what they hold back.
Having assumed the role of the alcoholic rake with talent, who's realised he can't go on any longer than this and is bent on warning others of the dangers that lie down this path of life on Quench Heaton here, as both a writer and a singer, comes on as a sort of regretful guardian angel. There's ample proof of my argument in Who's Gonna Tell and, less obviously, in Just Checkin', but the clearest proof has to be in Hit Parade ("that tune's not mine, it's Kenny Paul's", indeed), where Heaton puts his arm around your shoulder and takes you on a metaphorical pub crawl through his greatest heroes and influences - musical and otherwise. It's an invigorating trip, made all the more welcome by Heaton's unusual willingness to let his guard down so that you the listener can see the real him. Despite being a band effort, this is very much Paul Heaton's album.
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on 20 June 2001
What can I say? I loved this. My only complaint is that at 19 tracks it can be a bit of an endurance test- if it had been pruned a bit (removing 'The River', 'Masculine Eclipse', 'Chicken Wings' and 'Hit Parade' jump to mind) it would have been even better. But still, the South are one of the best and most honest bands out there. They're always seen as gloomy, but I've always thought this was a misnomer for the band that produced 'Perfect 10', 'Prettiest Eyes' and, on this record, 'Til You Can't Tuck It In' (the only real love song ever produced by a pop group) and 'The Mediterranean'. They're still the best.
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on 17 December 2000
As someone whose followed the Beautiful South for 7 years now, I eagerly awaited the release of Painting It Red as I do with all their albums. I have to admit, its by no means their best (Miaow still can claim that honour), but Paul and Dave R still manage to write good song after good song and after a few listens the album instantly grew on me. 'You Can Call Me Leisure' is genius, as is 'Hot On The Heels Of Heartbreak' and 'Property Quiz', which nobody else ever seems to mention but it features a great vocal by Paul. It would be nice if they would experiment a bit now and again, but at the end of the day, you always know what to expect with a Beautiful South album and so you never really want them to change. The album hasn't sold very well but so what? Those who have bought it know they've purchased a good album. I saw them live at Brixton last Tuesday (12th Dec), and was suprised by how many old tracks they did. Whether this was due to Jacqui's departure or not I don't know but it would have been nice to have heard some of the new stuff live. But they managed to cope without her well enough (Paul and Dave H singing 'Perfect 10' was a highlight!). It will be interesting to see where they go from here after Jacqui leaving, but you can always guarantee that Paul and Dave R will not stop doing what they are good at - writing great songs.
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on 5 September 2003
What can I say? Another classic from the Beautiful south. critics say this album is to be enjoyed by adults. i'm 17 and still find it great. Its a long album by any groups standards and although some tracks wouldn't be very missed- A little piece of advice ,the river and Hit parade namely, all the songs are great. it does take a bit of getting used to- unlike Choke and Quench where they're instantly likeable. the faster songs on this album are better- Till you can't tuck it in , You can call me leisure, and Half hearted get for example.
Heaton and Rotheray have not lost their song writing touch here and it is probably one of their best albums. I can guarantee that you'll be singing songs such as Just checkin', Closer than most and Whos gonna tell everyday and it is one album that won't be out of your cd player.
I eagerly await the release of the new album 'Gaze' out in October- if its as good as this we won't be disappointed.
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on 14 May 2006
This was my first beautiful south album, after "Solid Bronze" and its amazing. All songs have a great melody and are really catchy. This album made me fall in love with the band, and get all their albums. Its great the way there's 19 songs on the album, so it was a while before it left my cd player. What made me get the album was when I heard the song "just checking" on the radio, it got me more into them than i already was. This album is a must for any south fan, and is by far their best, I love it so much. Paul Heaton, Dave Hemingway and Jacqueline Abott sound lovely taking lead on the songs, and always make me want to sing along. The lyrics may seem suprising at times, for what type of happy music they do, but I think it makes it sound even better. An amazing album, good title for it as well! Can't wait till their new one comes out.
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on 16 January 2001
Yes, another TBS review punning Hull in the title. Sorry, cant help it. The South are probably the most constantly underrated and meligned band in Britain (just look at their constant marginalisation by industry orientated radio). One of the cruellest reviews of their live shows referred to them being the soundtrack of radio 2. This is indicative of the sort of person who sees only image and never substance, which is at first glance the problem with this album. Songs such as Tuppaware Queen and Masculine Eclipse wrong foot you from the start and it is so easy to only hear the tinkling of Damon's ivories and not the punch the lyrics carry (respectively suburban drudgery and being screwed in a relationship). As ever, the key to Heatons genius is the way he picks out the problems that people have in their lives and gives us a soundtrack to them. Its hard to feel self pity after Hot On The Heels Of Heartbreak. This album ranks up their with the best the South have put out, with 0898 and Miaow topping the list. In turns dark and brooding and up beat and happy (The Meddetaranian) this shows a band fully content with themselves and their image, which puts them so very far ahead in sheer maturity stakes to Robbie and Liam. One can only hope the band continue after Jaquie's departure and recruit a third vocalist. The South are a soundtrack to peoples lives, if they end now the British music scene will have lost a great asset.
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This is the seventh album from Hull's greatest musical export, the Beautiful South. A record for people who appreciate the importance of good lyrics and a well crafted musical backing that is never too clever for its own good or overshadows the lyrics. Paul Heaton has come up with a series of great songs telling tales of real life in his usual cynical, sarcastic style. The rest of the band have provided a set of jazzy, jaunty backings that perfectly compliment the songs and the various singer's voices. With a range of tempos and moods, there is something here for everyone. At their best when tackling everyday real issues such as getting old or infidelity, tracks such as `Till You Can't Tuck It In' and `Just Checking' are standouts, along with the irresistibly sing-a-longable `Closer Than Most' and `The Mediterranean'. If I have any criticism it is that at 19 tracks the album is a little stretched. There is a bit of filler here, and perhaps cutting 6 or so tracks would have left it feeling a little less flabby (and left plenty of material for another LP!)
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on 15 March 2001
I found this album in the duty free section at Heathrow, and spent the whole seven hour flight listening to this album again and again and again. Two reasons. Firstly, each track needs at least two or three listenings before you can realise just how wonderful they are, and secondly, once you do realise, you are hooked on them and just can't stop listening. As usual, we have the wonderful lyrics form Paul, and the wonderful melodies from David R, and the fabulous vocals of the three. The best tracks are Til you can't tuck it in, You can call me leisure, and The Mediterranean. The only tracks I skip are Masculine Eclipse, The River, and Chicken Wings. Here is what I think of each track:-
Who's gonna tell - 9/10 Closer than Most 10/10 Just Checking 9/10 Hit Parade 8/10 Masculine Eclipse 5-10 Till you can't tuck it in 10/10 If we crawl 9/10 Tupperware Queen 9/10 Half Hearted Get 9/10 White Teeth 9/10 (L.E. Only) River 4/10 Baby Please Go 9/10 Call me Leisure 10/10 Final Spark 10/10 10000 Feet 9/10 Hot on the Heels 9/10 Mediterranean 10/10 Little Piece of Advice 10/10 Property Quiz 10/10 Chicken Wings 5/10 (Dissapointing end to the album)
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on 7 January 2001
As with some of the other reviewers, I found that certain tracks were an acquired taste. However, after a few plays I find it very difficult to pick out a "wrong'un". The weakest of the selection (Closer Than Most or The River, IMHO) would still stand out confidently on their own. It is nice to hear Dave Hemingway being given a chance to exercise his vastly under-rated vocal skills and velvet harmony. The Meditteranean makes a beautiful contrast with some of the darker tracks on this album, and it it executed superbly. I have to wonder whether the sublime Tupperware Queen will ever see the singles shelves after Jacqui's departure. I sincerely hope so.
In three words: BUY THIS ALBUM.
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on 9 March 2005
I am a serious Beautiful South fan. There are a lot more of us about than you might think. Just go to one of their concerts for proof (I've been twice). There still aren't enough though, so buy this underrated, excellent album. However, if you aren't familiar with The Beautiful South at all, you might want to start with Blue is the Colour or Quench. I started with this one and they're now my favourite band, but I'll admit it is a little bulky. Still, once you're a fan, bulk is better.
Not the place to start, but still one of their best, combining quality and quantity.
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