Humberbeat's 10 Greatest Hits according to:
Matt Stephenson - Hull Daily Mail 15/04/2004
click on the bands to read more...
- The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars: David Bowie (1972)
- Carry On Up The Charts: The Beautiful South (1994)
- London 0 Hull 4: The Housemartins (1986)
- Sade: Diamond Life (1984)
- Fine Young Cannibals: Fine Young Cannibals (1986)
- Frost And Fire: The Watersons (1965)
- Eden: Everything But The Girl (1984)
- Slow To Fade: Red Guitars (1984)
- Eat Yourself Whole: Kingmaker (1991)
- The Life And Times Of Phoebus Brumal: Fila Brazillia (2004)
Slow To Fade: Red Guitars (1984)
The first album by Hull's most independent indie pioneers, released on their own label Self Drive Records, reached number three in the indie charts and stayed there for six months.
Back when the John Peel show on Radio 1 was essential listening, the Red Guitars were his favourites, producing well-crafted, intellectual, experimental pop which blended punk with various electronic sounds and a smattering of African rhythm and guitar.
Released in 1984, the album was very much of its time, establishing a political stance which paved the way for the Housemartins.
The indie spirit and success of the Red Guitars is a foundation of Hull's
Adelphi-centered music scene.
The Life And Times Of Phoebus Brumal: Fila Brazilla (2004)
This is the ninth album from Hull's funkiest production duo Steve Cobby and Davis Man McSherry.
Fila are relentless musical innovators, each album - from debut Old Codes New Chaos (on Hull-based Pork Recordings in 1994) too their latest - pushes back the boundaries. Where Fila have led the likes of Royskopp and Lemon Jelly have followed.
Unashamedly underground and musically eclectic, Fila defy categorisation but plough a unique funk-punk-jazz furrow that is somehow very Hullish.
Try albums Jump Leads and Black Market Gardening for a further taste.
Eat Yourself Whole: Kingmaker (1991)
Their trademark was a pop sound and hook-filled melodies. Kingmaker caught people's attention with a distinctive three-piece approach to indie pop that was encapsulated by their debut outing.
Arriving at the start of the Brit pop boom along with Blur and the Wonderstuff, Kingmaker's high-energy approach to their music, coupled with thoughtful lyrics, appealed to the student market, where Eat Yourself Whole was bought in droves.
Singles such as Really Scrape The Sky and Two Headed Yellow Bellied Hole Digger offered a glimpse of their diverse influences.
Kingmaker suffered at the hands of the NME, who took pleasure in building them up and then knocking them down.
Storm the Reality Studios: Dead Fingers Talk (1978)
Dead Fingers Talk, although never very well known, was an important band ahead of its time. Tom Robinson, for one, reportedly took heart from Bobo Phoenix's frank discussions of gay life on this record before taking the militantly gay stance that first won him recognition.
On this lone album, DFT play with a gritty recklessness reminiscent of the early Velvet Underground, a resemblance heightened by Mick Ronson's audio vérité production. (Forget overdubs!) Singer/songwriter Phoenix's tunes don't mince words: Nobody Loves You When You're Old and Gay is simultaneously cutting and hilarious, while Fight Our Way Out of Here mixes desperation and anger. Elsewhere, he offers optimistic tunes just to show he's well rounded, but these too have a harsh intensity.
Not to be missed, if you can find it.
Ira Robbins. (Copyright © 2006 Trouser Press LLC.)
Eden: Everything But The Girl (1984)
No, they're not from East Yorkshire but they met here, took their name from the legendary slogan of a Hull furniture shop in Beverley Road, and their first album Eden features a nod to local folkies The Watersons with a song named Frost and Fire.
Tracy Thorne and Ben Watt were both signed (separately, Tracy with the Marine Girls, Ben as a solo artist) to the Cherry Red label when they met at the University of Hull.
Romance blossomed, accompanied by Eden's brand of winsome acoustic jazz - not a million miles from the likes of The Style Council or even Sade.
It seems perfectly fair to blame Everything But The Girl for the likes of Katie Melua and Norah Jones.
Frost And Fire: The Watersons (1965)
The first family of British folk music - Mike Waterson, Norma Waterson and Lal (Elaine) Waterson and their second cousin John Harrison - and yes folks, they're from 'ull.
Back in the late 50s and early 60s, folk was hip and The Watersons were leading lights, travelling the country, collecting and performing the old English songs which had been passed down the generations.
On Frost And Fire The Watersons sing the songs which have accompanied age-old rituals marking the passing of time.
Ditch your received prejudices about folk music - think of it as English blues instead. Unadorned songs, beautiful harmonies and timeless local voices.
Fine Young Cannibals: Fine Young Cannibals (1986)
When Hull-based ska band the Akrylyx split up and abandoned their deal with Polydor, singer Roland Gift formed Fine Young Cannibals with Andy Cox and David Steele of The Beat.
On FYC's first single, Johnny Come Home, Gift's wah-wah staccato soul voice was a revelation. The group worked a funky Motown groove, Steele and Cox danced freaky-style, and Gifty both looked and sounded fantastically exotic - yet just like the Housemartin's, he was one of our own.
The mid-80s saw a fusion of punk and new wave with funk, Tamla and gospel. James Brown and Curtis Mayfield sat comfortably on the indie-disco dancefloors alongside The Clash and The Jam - FYC's debut album fit the bill perfectly.
Diamond Life: Sade (1984)
Okay, so Sade Adu was the voice and the face, but the slick sound came from the Hull-born combo bassist Paul Denman and saxophonist Stuart Matthewman.
Inspired by Mick Ronson, punk Denman jacked in his job at BAe and headed off to London to make his fortune as a musician, soon joining with old Hull mate Matthewman, who was in an unknown jazz-funk band called Pride with Sade.
The ropey name was soon dropped and Sade herself became the product. Diamond Life, with its hit singles Your Love Is King, Smooth Operator and Hang On To Your Love, sold lorry loads and spent 98 weeks in the UK album charts.
London 0 Hull 4: The Housemartins (1986)
For anyone who was growing up in the north of England in the mid-80's, the four cardigan wearing geeks called The Housemartins - singer Paul Heaton, guitarist Stan Cullimore, drummer Hugh Whitaker and bassist Ted Key (later replaced by Norman "Fatboy Slim" Cook) were The Beatles.
The band's anti-image image, on-your-sleeve left-wing politics and humour tinged with anger spoke to a generation of post-punk doleys and drop-outs when the country was going through huge changes.
And the songs were great. Happy Hour, Sheep, Flag Day and Think For A Minute captured the spirit of the times. With its telling title, this is the Hullest of Hull albums.
Not to mention...
Caravan Of Love: The Housemartins (1986)
From: 10 Albums for people who actually DON'T like "classic rock".
The Housemartins - Now that's what I call Quite Good. Another comp LP from a group known as a singles band. These guys had a 3 year (by choice) career that shook the world. Calling themselves the "4th best band from Hull" they wrote pop songs with an overtly political and social overtone that are just fantastic. In fact their only #1 in England was actually an acapella song called Caravan of Love. (referred to as the "Christmas sellout") Led by Paul Heaton, who has the voice of an english choirboy, their music crosses all lines and is just infectious. I would definetly want some "Humberbeat".
Carry On Up The Charts: The Beautiful South (1994)
You could say its a cop-out to include a "best of" album in East Yorkshire's top 10 album chart, but this is a notable exception.
When Carry On Up The Charts was released, we woke up to the fact that The Beautiful South had somehow slipped into the nation's musical consciousness while we'd all been busy doing other things. After all, this album's owned by one in seven households in the UK.
The worst you can say about the band that morphed out of The Housemartins is that they're a bit AOR. But Paul Heaton writes clever, poetic grown-up lyrics about the more complicated aspects of human relationships. And thanks to Dave Rotheray and the band, once those tunes get their hooks into you, they don't let go.
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars: David Bowie (1972)
One of the most important, influential pop albums of all time - and it's got Hull and East Yorkshire written right through it.
David Bowie was a relatively unknown, experimental pop star until he linked up with three talented musicians from East Yorkshire - drummer Mick "Woody" Woodmansey, bassist Trevor Bolder and sometime-Hull-City-Council-gardener-later-guitar-god Mick Ronson. They became The Spiders From Mars.
While glamourgirl-spaceman Bowie pranced and postured and made his excellent pop art in his glittery jumpsuits and make-up, Ronno, Woody and Bolder backed him with sufficient musical clout and moody credibility to stop him looking like some kind of freak who fell off a Christmas tree.
Ronson was a member of Hull band The Rats and it was bandmate John Cambridge (who played on the Space Oddity album) who introduced Bowie and Ronson in 1970. The pair hit it off and began a creative partnership that was to last well into the 70s.
Ronson drafted fellow Rat Woody Woodmansey and our lads formed the backbone of the Hunky Dory album.
Hull lad Bolder was next into the mix and the classic Spiders line-up was complete. Bowie later stated:"They played the part perfectly. They were, at the time, the number one spacey punk rock band. Everyone was absolutely right - right out of a cartoon book. They were great musicians."
On July 6, 1972, when the band performed Starman on Top Of The Pops, the world changed for teenagers. Suddenly anything was possible. Boys could be girls, rock'n'roll came from outer space and life was to be lived as if the world was ending. But Ronson wasn't just a backing musician. He scored many of Bowie's most complex numbers, practically co-wrote Lou Reed's Transformer, and released several great solo albums.
Hull's favourite rock son deserves to be at number one. Bowie couldn't have done it without him.
Songs In The Key Of Fuck Off: Cracktown (2004)
This gloriously outspoken Hull-based outfit revolves around the musical and lyrical talents of Silver Fox and King Rat. Their music is some of the most hectically exciting, socially-cutting and technically breathtaking that is going down right now in Hull, as their album of storming acoustic-based, tongue-in-cheek-folk-punk-rock-rap songs demonstrates.
All the tracks combine hearty blasts of mouth organ with swathes of deliciously gruff-yet-soulful vocals and are highly charged with folk-punk-rock leanings. The lyrics are cutting and may cause offence as demonstrated by the anti-patriotic but amazing Best of British: "Why wave a fucking flag? There's nothing worth defending."
Cracktown's songs flit between being politically motivated and disgruntled to being hilariously funny, and nearly all tunes are outstanding for their cleverly catchy and harmonious choruses.
Adapted from a review by Steve Rudd.
Ethel The Frog: Ethel The Frog (1980)
Ethel The Frog were the first Hull group to release a single on their own label with a cover version of Eleanor Rigby.
They gained national prominence for a song released on an album of unsigned Heavy Metal bands in 1978. This also attracted the interest of EMI but they had split before the album was released.
They were one of several bands who first appeared on the classic Metal For Muthas compilation (as did Angel Witch, Praying Mantis, Iron Maiden, and Samson, among others), one of the releases that keyed the rebirth of metal in England in 1980.
Fonda 500: ABCDELP (2004)
Out of their Hull HQ, this prolific gang of peculiar pop-rockers follow up January's 30-track strong LP, Spectrumatronicalogical Sounds, with another multi-textured gem. Themed around "hair", from gentle melodies to gigantic groovers and whispers, to wall-of-sound wig outs, this by turns acid-fried and whimsical end-of-summer outing valiantly jettisons the humdrum. It's nuts without being wacky, like the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band making merry with Brian Wilson, while being held in check by a strict, saucy chanteuse. Listen to it loud with the oil lamps on.
Gargoyles: Steamflapper (1988)
Formed in the early 80's by singer 'Mad' Eddie Smith, the Gargoyles quickly established a reputation in Hull as an excellent live band. However another local band, The Housemartins, were also growing in prominence, and eventually 'stole' drummer Hugh Whitaker and guitarist Ted Key. However both Ted and Hugh eventually became disillusioned with the growing fame of The Housemartins and had returned to the Gargoyles towards the end of the 80's. Their first album, Steamflapper, was released in 1988. Despite some interesting publicity (including the infamous nude interview on Look North) the album was not a huge success and the Gargoyles decided to call it a day.
Emma Rugg: Isolated Impressions (2003)
You can't help but get the impression that this is an artist who has the songwriting skills and sublime vocals to truly be a world class star.
Salako: Story Of Our Life So Far (2004)
James Waudby is a man with a lot to say. Nowhere is this more evident, or relevant, than on Hull's Too Good For England. The paradox between feeling proud of where you come from whilst being aware of its unseemly side is nailed. For all the grim-up-North rhetoric of certain bands, nobody has articulated it so accurately before.
Fabulous Ducks: Poultry In Motion (2005)
Recorded over three nights in Hull, Grimsby and Goole, Poultry in Motion perfectly captures the sound of seven middle-aged men desperately trying to remember which key they should be playing in and if they turned the gas off when they came out.
The Rats: The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Gripplestone And The Rats From Hull (1995)
The Rats were very popular locally during the 1960's but never made it nationally however two members of their varied line-up's, Guitarist Mick Ronson and Mick 'Woody' Woodmansey, went on to fame within David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars. An album called The Rise and Fall of Bernie Gripplestone and the Rats from Hull was released in 1995 two years after Mick Ronson's death.
Nyam Nyam: Hope Of Heaven (1985)
This is an album I was lucky to pick up when it was still in print, as this has never been reissued to this very day, sadly enough. A group that could've been around a bit longer but wasn't, although leader and main songwriter Paul Trynka would later be editor for Mojo magazine.
Of course you have to remember the time when this album came out, which would probably explain this band's brief existence. Around 1984 and 85 there seemed to be (in Europe anyways) a move away from rock towards dance music, with New Order, the Cure, and even SPK and the remnants of TG already trying to grab onto Chic's coat-tales. And of course there was the New Romantics movement, going against the grain of punk and post-punk towards fashion and style or whatever. And also Goth, aiming for Hammer-horror-for-laughs or else a lot of art-school references mostly stolen from whatever book the singer was reading that week...
Nyam Nyam were more similar to groups like the Stockholm Monsters (for example) in that Trynka's lyrics were more about personal situations that didn't seem to be based on a typical Bowie-style detached view. Of course NN were alot more varied in sound - melodic pop-rock one moment, near-unlistenably experimental the next... Hope Of Heaven came out on Beggars Banquet subsidary Situation Two when they were shooting for 4AD. Although the cover art is designed by 23Envelope, it's a bit more restrained and plaintive with merely a mundane "mother-and-child" family snapshot on the front.
Reviewed by Lawrence, 12/07/2005.
M G Greaves and the Lonesome Too: Diamonds Always Shine (1992)
M G Greaves and the Lonesome Too, who have supported fellow Humbersiders the Beautiful South on tour, have released Diamonds Always Shine. "If it's not the best British country music album I've ever heard," says Neil Coppendale, presenter of a six-part series entitled British Country aired on BBC Radio 2, "it's certainly in the top two or three. While all of the rhythms and instrumentation and melodies are country, all of the songs are British. They don't talk about smoky mountains or trucking down the freeway. They talk about Hull."
From an article in the Independent by Jasper Rees, 05/08/1993.