Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Housemartins: London 0 Hull 4 (1986)

The Housemartins only produced two real records plus a bunch of compilations. Paul Heaton went on to form The Beautiful South, but by that time, I had mostly lost interest. This LP commences with one of the more enduring Housemartins tunes, Happy Hour. Even casual fans will recognize a few other tunes from this LP, like Sheep, Think for Minute, Lean on Me, We're Not Deep, etc.

And now for the weird news. The band used its platform to preach about about Christianity, albeit sometimes in somewhat subtle ways. The back cover of this LP, for example, contains this perplexing statement which is full of cognitive dissonance:

"Take Jesus – Take Marx – Take Hope"

Wow, that's Jesus and Marx together in one package, all thrown in with hope, no less. I can't imagine anything less hopeful than Marxism or Jesus. Moreover, Karl would not have approved. Bizarrely, that statement seems to stand in contrast to the sentiments dispensed in the song, Sheep:

"And when you see a can I see a crook
And when you see a crowd I see a flock
It's sheep we're up against
Sheep we're up against"

Aren't congregations referred to as sheep? Aren't sheep those people who can't think for themselves and follow superstitions blindly? I realize that the band might be saying that people are sheep in reference to a whole host of issues, like voting and politics in general, but how can you exempt religion from that argument? If people are sheepish idiots, people are sheepish idiots, as the song so rightly says:

"They've never questioned anything, they've never disagreed
Sometimes I think they must have wool in their ears"

I would apply the above statements to the huge numbers of people who blindly follow ancient superstitions. Despite that, I would call this a fun and happy record, though one that hasn't aged as well as I might have thought.

Sometimes, a strong indication of how much I like a band is reflected in whether I own any CDs. I have no Housemartins CDs.

Oh, and on a final note, it rankles me when people favourably compare the Housemartins to the Smiths. The Smiths were a top-shelf band; the Housemartins were not.

No comments: