Released today in 1986: Sheep

Go! Discs GOD9

Go! Discs GOD9

The Housemartins were a short-lived indie pop band from the north of England. During their brief time together, they declared themselves “the fourth-best band in Hull” but still scored eight hit singles, the first of which was Sheep. Given that they had a #1 by the end of the same year Sheep was released (with Caravan of Love), it might have been expected that they’d be around for some time, but longevity was never their plan. “We did see ourselves originally as three year project,” they told Melody Maker in January 1988. “The three years came to an end in June [1987], and we always decided we wouldn’t go any further than that. Looking at ourselves in the mirror and seeing the crows’ feet, we just decided not to become another Rolling Stones. We’ve gone as far as we can as The Housemartins, although not necessarily as far as we can in music.” But where did each of the Sheep-era members go next?

Hugh Whitaker (drums) was the first to leave The Housemartins, featuring only on their first album London 0 Hull 4. He parted with the others on good terms, though, and even appeared in the video for the first single they released without his contribution, being ‘kidnapped’ by his replacement Dave Hemingway. He returned to college to do a music course and went on to drum for various bands, mostly in Hull. It was thought at one point that he might join The Beautiful South, the group formed by another of his The Housemartins band-mates.

Paul Heaton (vocals) founded The Beautiful South in 1988 with Dave Hemingway, the drummer on The Housemartins’ second album The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death. The new band were regular visitors to the charts throughout the 1990s, having one #1 (A Little Time) and several Top 10 singles. They split in 2007 due to “musical similarities” (a nice twist on the usual ‘musical differences’ line offered by other long-running bands in explanation for their ending; The Beautiful South reasoned that their last few albums all sounded the same, so there was no point in going on). By this point, Heaton had already started releasing solo material. Last year he reunited with former The Beautiful South female vocalist Jacqui Abbott and they released an album titled What Have We Become?.

Norman Cook (bass) also remains active in the music industry. The king of aliases (I make it 33, one of which is ‘Norman’ which isn’t his real name either), he has been a key figure in British dance music over the past 25 years. His work of the 1990s was influenced by electronica and house (prior to The Housemartins, Cook had studied in Brighton and was active on the club scene there was a DJ). He was a member of a number of groups during that decade, the most successful being Beats International who made #1 in 1990 with Dub Be Good To Me. But it was under the name Fatboy Slim that he achieved greatest fame and success. He made #1 with Praise You, won two BRIT Awards and numerous MTV Video Music Awards (the latter for the memorable clips for his chart-topper, featuring a flashmob and directed by Spike Jonze, and Weapon of Choice featuring Christopher Walken), and secured an Ivor Novello award in 2007 for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. He has remixed The Beastie Boys among others and his current project is Brighton Port Authority.

Stan Cullimore (guitar) was considering what The Housemartins would do when the group came to end as early as June 1986, just as they were scoring their first Top 10 hit with Happy Hour. He told Record Mirror: “When you reach a certain phase – basically change careers. Become a football team… or open restaurants…”. And the latter suggestion is more or less what he did, running a whole food shop for a few years until the early 1990s. Although he has left the music industry altogether, he occasionally writes songs for children’s television shows which he has written, produced or presented. But it is as an author of children’s books that he has been most prolific: “If I say so myself, I have written lots of books,” he says on his website. “When the total got to about 120 I stopped counting.” He also writes for an adult audience as a journalist, focusing on travel and holidays for the national press and magazines. Now resident in Bristol, he also writes a regular column for the The Bristol Post called ‘Diary of an Urban Grandad’. Describing himself now as a “writer/ musician/ broadcaster”, he added ‘actor’ to his skillset in 2013 when he joined to cast of Bottom Knocker Street, written by and starring Phill Jupitus, who had appeared as an extra in the promotional video for The Housemartins’ 1986 Top 10 hit Happy Hour (that’s him reading a newspaper by the door as the band enter the pub).

NEW SINGLES on sale from Feb. 24
BANANARAMA Robert De Niro’s Waiting (London NANA6)
The HOUSEMARTINS Sheep (Go! Discs GOD9)
PET SHOP BOYS Love Comes Quickly (Parlophone R6116)
STRANGE CRUISE (Steve Strange) Rebel Blue Rocker (EMI EMI5549)


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