The Beautiful South


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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

Annotator Daryl Easlea begins his liner notes to the Beautiful South's entry in Universal Music International's discount-priced Gold series of double-CD compilations by commenting on the surprising fact that the best-selling album in the U.K. in the 1990s was the group's 1994 hits collection, Carry on Up the Charts, and it is therefore worth noting that all 14 of the tracks on that disc are repeated among the 36 on this one. (In the U.S., a 15th track was added to Carry on Up the Charts, a cover of "Dream a Little Dream of Me"; that song is not contained here.) Easlea ends his essay by describing Gold as "Packed with all their major hits and album tracks from their first decade," a statement that is only true if you don't count the missing "Pretenders to the Throne" (which reached number 18 in the U.K.), "How Long's a Tear Take to Dry?" (number 12), and "The River/Just Checkin'" (number 59); all three, not coincidentally, no doubt, are included on 2002's Solid Bronze: Great Hits. That album was criticized at the time of its release as an imperfect follow-up compilation to Carry on Up the Charts, and Gold, which in addition to being incomplete is sequenced randomly, is not ideal, either. Probably, one can no longer blame that on the group, which decamped its original label, Go! Discs, in 2003, after Universal had acquired it in 1998. Even if a few favorites are missing, however, Gold is still a good gathering of what is arguably some of the most popular British pop music of the 1990s (and given Paul Heaton's black-humored lyrics, that's saying something), presented at a reasonable price. (These statements, of course, apply primarily to Great Britain. The album was not released in the U.S., where the Beautiful South's profile, never high, was practically nonexistent in 2006.)

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