Some extracts from ICA 111.
The self-styled ‘fourth-best band in Hull’ only released two studio albums and nine singles in their all too brief time together before two of them (Paul and Norman) went onto enjoy more fame and fortune in later bands or as solo artists, one of them (Stan) did all sorts of things before becoming a very successful writer of children’s book and TV scripts for a young audience and the other (Hugh) was part of other indie-pop outfits before he ended up in jail.
Fun, Fun Fun. On the surface that was what The Housemartins seemed to always be having, but just about every single lyric masked a bitter take on what life was like in the Thatcherite UK of the mid 80s, particularly if you happened to live in what had been traditionally working-class towns in the north of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. “Feigning concern, a conservative pastime”
The last thing they did before they broke up (in 1988)….and vowed never to reform (although in an interview a few years back, Norman Cook said they would do so, but only if The Smiths reformed first!). And appropriately enough, here’s their equivalent of The Headmaster Ritual, proving that Manchester didn’t have a monopoly on teachers who were all too quick to pour scorn on those who weren’t academically minded.
Some of the social messages could get lost amidst the jaunty upbeat tunes which the band were most famed. Not so when they slowed things right down. New homes, new roads, new infrastructure right across green countryside at a time when traditional communities in poorer parts of the country were crying out for support and investment to recover. Environmental and economic madness.
Even more of an anti-royalist rant than The Queen Is Dead and yet didn’t create the same amount of controversy. That’s what happens when you have a jaunty tune which helps to disguise the sentiments involved.