Featuring a picture of can of soup on the cover, the top half titled "The Housemartins Condensed" and the bottom half "The Cream of the Beautiful South," the album known as Soup was rather biased toward the latter of Paul Heaton's groups with just seven of 22 tracks from only two of the Housemartins' albums, London 0 Hull 4 (named after the fact that there were four of them and they were from Hull) and The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death. That's not a lot, considering that during their brief existence, the Housemartins only achieved seven Top 40 hits, all of which are included here except their cover of "There Is Always Something There to Remind Me." The band was more influential than its chart success would have indicated. Both the Housemartins' other major hits were included, the bouncy, jolly "Happy Hour" and the a cappella cover of "Caravan of Love," along with lesser hits "Five Get Over Excited," "Me and the Farmer," and "Build." Fifteen of the 22 tracks here are devoted to Heaton's second and even more commercially successful band, the Beautiful South. With nine Top Ten albums behind them, the Beautiful South had achieved more radio-friendly hits and continued to enjoy play on easy listening stations long after their peak in the early '90s. Songs such as "Song for Whoever," "You Keep It All In," "A Little Time," "Rotterdam," "Don't Marry Her," and "Perfect 10" are all here, along with some lesser hits spread throughout their career from 1989 to 2003. The Housemartins have not been very well served by their highly visible greatest-hits campaigns, including the low-key release Best Of in 2004 and Now That's What I Call Quite Good! (a parody title of Now That's What I Call Music, the compilation series) in 1988. The Beautiful South, however, had enjoyed one of the biggest-selling albums of the '90s with Carry on Up the Charts, and Solid Bronze had also been a successful hits compilation, but Soup is the first time that both of Paul Heaton's bands' songs had been brought together.
AllMusic Review by Sharon Mawer