The group formed in Hull (U.K.) in 1983 and jokingly referred to themselves as the fourth best band in town (after Red Guitars, Everything but the Girl, and the Gargoyles). However, their seductive combination of upbeat guitar hooks and cutting lyrics endeared them to critics and fans alike. John Peel (the influential DJ) became an early supporter, and the Housemartins' first album, 1986's London 0 Hull 4 became a surprise hit, reaching #3 on the U.K. album charts and going platinum. Our pick for the blog, "Happy Hour" was the big hit off this album, and reached #3 on the U.K. singles chart.
While 1987's The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death (yes, that's really what they called their sophomore effort) did not do quite as well, it still reached #9 on the charts, and their non album single "Caravan of Love" (a cover of the Isley-Jasper-Isley song) became a #1 smash in the U.K. However, inside the band, things were not going well at all. Singer Paul Heaton was interested in sophistipop, while bassist Norman Cook was more interested in club and dance music. As a result, the band amicably called it a day in 1988.
For most of the acts on ERV, that would be the end of the story (except for the reunions). However ... Paul Heaton along with drummer Dave Hemingway and roadie/bassist Sean Welch formed The Beautiful South, who would go on to have massive success in the U.K. through 2007. Not to be outdone, Norman Cook also became a big success; you may know him by his pseudonym, Fatboy Slim.