20 years of The Beautiful South’s ‘Carry on up the Charts’
A look back at one of the greatest 'best of' albums of all timeRead more on Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott Listen to Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott on Spotify
The Beautiful South had a mildly successful career up until 1994. They'd had two platinum albums, two gold, and all four of their LPs had hit the UK top 10. Then they released their first greatest hits compilation in November 1994 and everything changed. Carry On Up the Charts turned them into a pop phenomenon.
Christmas is always a big time for greatest hits albums, especially nowadays where everyone bum-rushes out a compilation to catch the eyes of Christmas shoppers. But this collection broke everyone's expectations and made them relevant again. They'd suffered a big loss earlier in the year when Briana Corrigan left to start writing her own material. And though her replacement, Jacqui Abbott, brought a distinctive new sound to The Beautiful South, sales of their Miaow album had been softer. They needed a hit and this was a monster.
It was held off the number one spot by Bon Jovi in its first week of release, but it stormed to number one a week later. People rediscovered classics like 'A Little Time', 'Bell-Bottomed Tear' and the darkly comical 'You Keep It All In' and 'A Little Time' – songs defined by Briana, Paul and Dave's unique voices. People were also hearing the magic of Jacqui and Paul together, and many of them for the first time. It seemed like their voices were made for each other on 'Good As Gold (Stupid as Mud)' and 'Everybody's Talkin'' gave Jacqui a chance to shine as the new female vocalist.
Carry On Up the Charts went on to achieve multi-platinum status and became the second best-selling album of 1994 despite only being out for five weeks. It became so successful because it bridged the gap between The Beautiful South people loved earlier in their career and the new iteration with Jacqui. It set the stage for their most successful (and probably their best) period ever and though I run the risk of sounding like Alan Partridge when I write this, it stands as one of my favourite albums of all time.
Listen to the album below on Spotify: