The Housemartins were an English indie rock group formed in Hull who were active in the 1980s[2] and charted three top-ten albums and six top-twenty singles in the UK.[3] Many of their lyrics conveyed a mixture of socialist politics and Christianity, reflecting the beliefs of the band[4] (the back cover of their debut album, London 0 Hull 4, contained the message, "Take Jesus – Take Marx – Take Hope"). The group's a cappella cover version of "Caravan of Love" (originally by Isley-Jasper-Isley) was a UK number one single in December 1986.

The Housemartins
The band looking down toward the camera
From left: Dave Hemingway, Paul Heaton, Norman Cook, Stan Cullimore
Background information
Also known asThe Fish City Five
OriginHull, England
Years active1983–1988
LabelsGo! Discs, Elektra
Past members

After breaking up in 1988, Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway formed the Beautiful South, while bassist Norman Cook became an electronic dance music DJ and producer, founding the groups Beats International, Pizzaman, and Freak Power, before rebranding himself as Fatboy Slim.

Career edit

The band was formed in late 1983 by Paul Heaton (vocals) and Stan Cullimore (guitar), initially as a busking duo. Throughout his tenure with the band, Heaton billed himself as "P.d. Heaton". Heaton and Cullimore recorded a demo tape with Ingo Dewsnap and Sharon Green of Les Zeiga Fleurs which brought them to the attention of Go! Discs. They then expanded by recruiting Ted Key (bass), former guitarist with The Gargoyles.[5] Their first live performance as a band was at Hull University in October 1984.[6]

The band's membership changed considerably over the years. Key left at the end of 1985 and was replaced by Norman Cook (later known as Fatboy Slim). Drummer Chris Lang was replaced[7] briefly by Dodger (Roger Wilde) on loan from local Hull band 3-Action! for their first few gigs as a 4 piece then by Hugh Whitaker, former drummer with the Gargoyles, who in turn was replaced with Dave Hemingway.[2][8] The band often referred to themselves as "the fourth best band in Hull", with the best three bands being Red Guitars, Everything but the Girl, and the Gargoyles.[2]

In 1986, having recorded two John Peel sessions, the band broke through with their third single "Happy Hour", which reached No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart.[9] The single's success was helped by a claymation animated pop promo of a type that was in vogue at the time, featuring a cameo by television comedian Phill Jupitus, who toured with the band under his stage name of "Porky the Poet". Their debut album, London 0 Hull 4, was released later in 1986 and contained their previous two singles as well as alternative versions of first single "Flag Day" and follow-up to Happy Hour, "Think for a Minute". At the end of 1986 they had their only UK No. 1 single on 16 December with a cover version of Isley-Jasper-Isley's "Caravan of Love".[2]

The song "Caravan of Love" was first performed by the Housemartins in their second Peel session in April 1986, before their initial chart success. At Peel's suggestion, the band then recorded another session (under the name the Fish City Five), consisting entirely of a cappella performances, and on at least one occasion (at The Tower nightclub in Hull, the same concert at which they were filmed as the Housemartins for the BBC programme, Rock Around the Clock), played support act for their own performance under this alternative name. The "Caravan of Love" single featured four a cappella gospel songs on the B-side.[citation needed]

The Housemartins' second album The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death was released in September 1987, and included their two previous singles "Five Get Over Excited" and "Me and the Farmer". A third single from the album, "Build", was released in November; a Peel Session from the same month provided a recording used for their last single "There Is Always Something There to Remind Me" in 1988. A farewell compilation album, Now That's What I Call Quite Good was released later that year.

The band split in 1988, but the members have remained in contact and have worked on each other's projects. Norman Cook has enjoyed significant success with Beats International and then as Fatboy Slim, while Heaton, Hemingway and roadie Sean Welch formed the Beautiful South. In August 2009, Mojo magazine arranged for The Housemartins' original members to get together for a photo-shoot and interview, for the first time in many years, but in the interview all the members maintained that the band would not re-form.

In December 2009, Cullimore co-wrote songs for (and appeared in) a pre-school music series called The Bopps, which first showed on Nick Jr. in the UK in April 2010. Cullimore and Whitaker joined Heaton on stage during a show by Heaton and Jacqui Abbott in 2014 at Hull's The New Adelphi Club, on the stage where the band had signed their Go-Discs record contract, although it was not a Housemartins reunion. The trio performed the Housemartins hit "Me and the Farmer", and Cullimore and Heaton closed the show with a performance of "Caravan of Love".[10]

Musical style and lyrics edit

The band's early releases saw them described as jangle pop, which brought comparisons with bands such as the Smiths and Aztec Camera.[11][12] David Quantick, writing for Spin, described them in 1986 as playing "traditional '60s-style guitar pop overlaid with soul vocals".[13] Cook described the band as "religious, but not Christians", and the band's repertoire included gospel songs.[11][13]

Many of the band's lyrics have socialist themes, with Cook stating that "Paul realised that he hated writing about love...and that writing politically came easier to him", describing some of their songs as "angrily political".[13][14]

Band members edit

Final lineup edit

Former members edit

  • Ted Key – bass, vocals (1984–1985)
  • Justin Patrick – drums (1985)
  • Chris Lang – drums (1985)
  • Roger "Dodger" Wilde – drums (1985)
  • Hugh Whitaker – drums, vocals (1985–1987)

Timeline edit

Discography edit

Albums edit

Year Album details Peak chart positions
1986 London 0 Hull 4 3 35 21 3 9 124 [16]
1987 The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death
  • Released: September 1987
  • Label: Go! Discs
9 56 34 25 177 [16]

Singles edit

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
1985 "Flag Day" London 0 Hull 4
1986 "Sheep" 56 97
"Happy Hour" 3 38 25 23
"Think for a Minute" 18
"Caravan of Love" 1 2 3 5 2 7 1 2 24 Non-album single
1987 "Five Get Over Excited" 11 96 The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death
"Me and the Farmer" 15
"Build" 15 41 65 27
1988 "There Is Always Something There to Remind Me" 35 Now That's What I Call Quite Good
2003 "Change the World" (as Dino Lenny vs The Housemartins) 51 Non-album single

Compilation albums edit

Videography edit

(does not include "live" appearances on TV programmes)

  • "Sheep"
  • "Happy Hour"
  • "Think for a Minute"
  • "Caravan of Love"
  • "Five Get Over Excited"
  • "Me and the Farmer"
  • "Build"
  • "There Is Always Something There to Remind Me"
  • "We're Not Deep"

Biography edit

  • Swift, Nick (1988). The Housemartins: Now That's What I Call Quite Good. Tales from Humberside. ISBN 0-7119-1517-2.

References edit

  1. ^ Marshall, Lucy (3 April 2021). "Where iconic '80s Hull band The Housemartins are now". Hull Daily Mail.
  2. ^ a b c d Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 460–461. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Official Charts > Housemartins". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Musical Messages". Marxism Today (Interview). March 1987. pp. 45–47.
  5. ^ "The Gargoyles – Hull Adelphi Club 1986". Sheffield Tape Archive. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  6. ^ Frame, Pete (1999). Pete Frame's Rockin' Around Britain: Rock'n'roll Landmarks of the UK and Ireland. Omnibus Press. p. 204. ISBN 978-0711969735.
  7. ^ Swift 1988, p. 15.
  8. ^ "The Housemartins". Beautiful South and Paul Heaton Fans. Archived from the original on 26 December 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  9. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 261. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  10. ^ Longhorn, Danny (6 October 2014). "Housemartins reunite for Adelphi Caravan of Love as Paul Heaton joined on stage by Stan Cullimore and Hugh Whitaker". Hull Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  11. ^ a b Cooper, Kim; Smay, David (2004). Lost in the Grooves: Scram's Capricious Guide to the Music You Missed. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415969987.
  12. ^ Fletcher, Tony (2012). A Light that Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths. William Heinemann Ltd. p. 548. ISBN 978-0434022182.
  13. ^ a b c Quantick, David (December 1986). "Blinded by Gospel". Spin. p. 16.
  14. ^ Lamie, Maria (2003). Buckley, Peter (ed.). The Rough Guide to Rock – The Housemartins. Rough Guides. pp. 509–510. ISBN 978-1843531050.
  15. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St. Ives, New South Wales: Australian Chart Book. p. 142. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. the Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid 1983 and 19 June 1988.
  16. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Housemartins". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  17. ^ "THE HOUSEMARTINS IN NEW ZEALAND CHARTS". Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  18. ^ "THE HOUSEMARTINS IN DUTCH CHARTS". Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  19. ^ "DISCOGRAFIE THE HOUSEMARTINS". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  20. ^ "THE HOUSEMARTINS IN DER SCHWEIZER HITPARADE". Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  21. ^ "THE HOUSEMARTINS IN DER ÖSTERREICHISCHEN HITPARADE". Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  22. ^ "THE HOUSEMARTINS IN SWEDISH CHARTS". Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  23. ^ "THE HOUSEMARTINS IN NORWEGIAN CHARTS". Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  24. ^ "Australian chart positions pre 1989". Retrieved 18 March 2014.

External links edit