There’s only two more days until the the big seven day “Pre-Holiday Recovery Week”, so all I have to do is survive this morning’s long 16k run, this afternoon’s 5k swim and tomorrow’s long bike and I’m home-fucking-free, baby!
Ho! Ho! Ho!
Likewise, I also have to burn off the guilty-pleasure Big Mac I scarfed down last night on the way home from the annual TryForce Christmas party last night. Hey, I’m allowed to have some fun! Of course, now I have to pay the piper so to get things started today I have the ‘Now That’s What I Call Quite Good‘ album by the Housemartins.
For those of you not-in-the-know, The Housemartins began as a busking duo between Paul Heaton and Stan Cullimore in Hull, who then went on to be a very active alternative rock band in the 1980’s. Many of the Housemartins’ lyrics were a mixture of Marxist politics and Christianity, reflecting singer Paul Heaton’s beliefs at the time. The band split in 1988, but the members have remained friends 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. I was first acquainted with the Beautiful South back before a co-worker named Tamara (of whom, I always wondered what happened) at the St. Catharines Museum and Lock 3 Viewing Complex where I worked throughout my high school years, warmed me up to them. I think I even have the original cassette stashed away in my closet somewhere waiting to be rediscovered some day.
The band ultimately released two albums, ‘London O Hull 4‘ (1986) and ‘The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death‘ (1987), and this album is the post-breakup greatest hits album released in 1988. So, yeah, basically, it’s the two albums worth of singles smashed together and released as a Greatest Hits to satisfy contractual obligations. However, there are a few various unreleased album tracks, B-sides and BBC radio session recordings to give it a bit more color.
At their most basic, the Housemartins were a “singles” band, meaning that today’s run was all set to spirited, short 2-3 minute long ditties. Even removed from their album context, highlights including ‘Bow Down‘, ‘Build‘, a remarkable “Come-to-Jesus” reading of Luther Ingram’s ‘I’ll Be Your Shelter‘, a cover of the Isley Brothers’ ‘Caravan of Love‘* (which garnered the band their first and only UK chart topper at #4), ‘You’ve Got a Friend‘, ‘Lean On Me‘, and ‘The Light Is Always Green‘ all boast the immediacy and infectiousness of classic pop radio fodder, even if their actual mainstream appeal was minimal at best. The two tracks for which I am most fond of include the poppy and amazing ‘Happy Hour‘ and, of course, ‘The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death‘. Both of which bring fond memories of high school dances and driving around in my friend Michelle’s car to mind. Other key moments I discovered on the album were the gospel-tinged ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother‘, and ‘Freedom‘ which, it has to be said, has the perfect cadence for a quick and easy tempo trot.
So with this last long run in the bag, it’s time to quaff down a protein shake, some yogurt, and apple and start making my way to the pool for my last long swim leading into “Recovery Week”.
*It’s also rather satirical that at this exact moment when I’m listening to this anthem of brotherly love and peace in my ear buds that I was also almost run over on Sherk Rd. by some jackass in Dodge Caravan. So much for the “Caravan of Love”.