Best tunes of 1992: #9 The Beautiful South “Old red eyes is back”

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I’ve already written in passing on these pages about how I wrote all of my first year university essays to Beautiful South’s third album, “0898”. The reason behind this was quite simple: it was one of the first albums I purchased on compact disc. Of course, it was a quieter album and I wrote most of my first years essays late at night. You see, I was living at home at the time and it was the only quiet time I had to myself in a very full house. I remember one night in particular when I had two essays due on the following day and I hadn’t started either one. I hopped myself up on Jolt Cola and set myself down with the intention to write both that night. I finished one and started the other, printing both in the early hours of the morning while sipping away at a Folgers instant. And the whole night long, “0898” was playing.

You might think that the way I experienced this album that year might have intrinsically led to me tying it up with bad memories. But not so. It is because of those long, arduous sessions that I know this album I intimately. I know every song, every note, every word. Whenever I listen to it, a smile is brought to my lips, many times throughout the listen, for different songs, for different reasons.

Is this Beautiful South’s best album? In my opinion, yes. I realize I am biased here. But I am willing to fight anyone who disagrees.

“Old Red eyes is back
Red from the night before the night before
Walked into the wrong bar walked into a door“

The album starts off with “Old red eyes is back”, a track that wasn’t particularly obvious as a single, but there it was nonetheless, the first single, poking at us with a sturdy red finger. It begins with Heaton singing passion, all alone against the heavy-handed playing of a grand piano, then, at the end of the first verse, the rest of the band joins in, drums and guitars and synthesized strings, back up vocals and all, making a statement, an exclamation mark, railing against the evils of alcoholism. I was new to alcohol at the time, only just  experimenting here and there with beer and wine and rum. I’d had a good time with it but understood there were dangers there. And of course, I clung to the tragedy of it all.

“Old Red he died
And every single landlord in the district cried
An empty bottle of whiskey laying by his side
A lazy little tear running from each eye
They could never be blue“

The Beautiful South were a pop band but they were also a social conscience and that’s what I loved about them, especially at the beginning. Yes, there was that singular voice of Paul Heaton. But without the meaning that spoke to me, I may never have fallen for them.

I did, though, and this song is a big reason why. So, so good.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.

Vinyl love: The Beautiful South “Miaow”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: The Beautiful South
Album Title: Miaow
Year released: 1994
Year reissued: 2018
Details: black vinyl

The skinny: So this here’s the third and final (for now) installment in a totally unplanned series on the reissued Beautiful South albums in my vinyl collection. “Miaow” is the English alternative pop band’s fourth album and in my opinion, was their last great record. Much like on “Welcome to The Beautiful South“, the subject of the first of this series two weeks ago, the cover on this reissue is much different than the one I purchased on CD, many moons ago. But the reason for this was a controversy of a different sort. The owners of music chain HMV thought that the original cover of an audience of dogs expectantly looking up at a gramophone on a stage poked fun at their trademark. I’d never seen this replacement cover featuring sailing dogs until I received this reissue in the post. I’m still hoping that the band’s sophomore album, “Choke”, gets a reissue so that I can complete my collection of their must-have first four records. And well, I find myself wondering what that album cover will look like.

Standout track: “Hooligans don’t fall in love”

Vinyl love: The Beautiful South “0898 Beautiful South”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: The Beautiful South
Album Title: 0898 Beautiful South
Year released: 1992
Year reissued: 2018
Details: black vinyl

The skinny: Last week, I posted about how I purchased a reissue of The Beautiful South’s debut album, “Welcome to The Beautiful South“, without a second thought when I saw it became available for pre-order. This week, I’m back to admit that this was maybe a fib. I actually did have a second thought and that was that I’d also would love to be ordering their third record, 1992’s “0898 Beautiful South”, at the same time. Luckily for me, this very same album was also reissued a few short months later and I wasted the same little amount of time before getting on the pre-order train. “0898” was the first album by the British alternative pop group that I purchased and was in fact one of the first handful of CDs I ever owned, so it found itself getting played a lot. My only knock against this reissue is that they went a little cheap on the packaging. The photos jammed onto one side of the inner sleeve (that you can see above) were each on their own page of a multi-page booklet that came with the original CD. It’s a shame because the image for each song is, in and of itself, a lovely piece of surrealism. All I need to do to forgive the record company, though, is put the record on and turn it up and I’m transported back to the early 90s.

Standout track: “36D”