Tuesday, 6 November 2018

The Beautiful South - Live At The BBC Box Set


This is a phenomenally excellent box set of BBC Sessions live takes from The Beautiful South and a complete live set from a Blackburn gig. There are also live recordings from Brighton and London too. There are some overlaps with the "BBC Sessions" double CD issue and some that appear only on here (and some also appear only on the other). It would be a totally painstaking thing to tabulate them all, so I will simply say that a fan who wishes to cover all their available BBC Sessions/live concert recordings would be better off getting both of them, as I have.

Despite being a huge admirer of the group's quirkily cynical material, I had never perceived them as being a live act. The songs and their emotive album delivery had always been enough for me.  I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, at how good the versions of the material in this set is, both instrumentally and vocally. Paul Heaton's vocals are most impressive and the musicianship excellent.

For reviews of the actual albums that the songs come from, see the listings for those albums. It would be a bit superfluous to go through all the individual songs here. They mostly come from the first three albums and are invariably outstanding. Some of the BBC Sessions recordings are stripped-down, acoustically-driven versions, which are always interesting to hear. As always on BBC Sessions releases as well, the sound quality is uniformly excellent. One problem that these sessions gives, though, is that some tracks are repeated as they are played on several separate sessions, such as "You Keep It All In" which appears three times. They are different versions, though - a full band one, an acoustic and piano one, and a live gig one.

Overall this is a highly recommended box set from a most underrated group.


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