Great Rock Albums of 1986: The Housemartins- London 0 Hull 4


First week at the halls of residence at Queen Mary College in London and I’m standing in the bar when this song called “Happy Hour” starts playing. An English student nearby says out loud to no one that it’s The Housemartins. So I have a listen and while it’s not metal, I find myself kind of liking the song, at least the first thirty seconds of it. Because to my surprise, a bunch of guys get out on the floor and a mosh pit, though it wasn’t called that back then, forms in the middle. Therefore, I must conclude that there must be something to this band if they can generate such activity.

Fortunately for me, my roommate, who was American and also from New Jersey, (I loosely base the Henry character in “Rock and Roll Children” on him), has already picked up a copy of their album “London 0 Hull 4” and puts it on and the rest is near history. It didn’t make me a Housemartins convert right there and then but I did like the album. It was, however, my introduction into the genre which would be called ‘indie rock,’ a genre which would always garner my interest from a distance.

“London 0 Hull 4” has a diversity of songs on it, then, I’ve always found the caption ’16 songs 17 hits’ rather amusing. There are songs on it which if the speed was slightly increased and the guitar turned up, would pass for The Ramones. The Housemartins have a more civilized 1-2-3 go style made famous by The Ramones. “Anxious,” “Sitting on a Fence,” (my vote for hidden gem) and the instrumental “Reverend’s Revenge” are the best examples. On the other hand, while the single mentioned at the top of the post and “Sheep,” while not in the 1-2-3 go style do have catchy rock hooks. Especially the guitar in the latter song, while it’s not Van Halen or even Mars, it’s still a good hook.  “Over There” is also along those lines.

Just when you think you might have pigeonholed the band, the album takes another turn. “Think For a Minute” passes for a hippy 1960s pop song as it does sound a bit out there and I love the intro. “Flag Day” is the second closest song to a ballad with the piano and though the repetition of the title at the end can start to get annoying, it’s still an all right song. “Lean On Me” is a more of a proper ballad and it’s here I’m most impressed with P.d. Heaton’s lead vocals and on the vinyl and cassette version of the album, would have been the best to close the album. Saying that, with the four bonus songs on the CD version, the cover of the Hollies’ classic “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” is definitely the best to close the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Happy Hour
  2. Get Up Off Your Knees
  3. Flag Day
  4. Anxious
  5. Reverend’s Revenge
  6. Sitting On a Fence
  7. Sheep
  8. Over There
  9. Think For a Minute
  10. We’re Not Deep
  11. Lean On Me
  12. Freedom

Four Extra Tracks on the CD

13. I’ll Be Your Shelter

14. People Get Ready

15. The Mighty Ship

16. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother


The Housemartins

P.d. Heaton- lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, melodica

Norman Cook- bass, backing vocals

Stan Cullimore- guitar, backing vocals

Hugh Whitaker- drums, backing vocals

Exposure to The Housemartins put to rest my idea that British music was the extremes of NWOBHM and synth pop. The band was neither and their album “London 0 Hull 4” gave me a nice introduction to indie rock.

Next post: Bruce Springsteen- “Live 1975-85







































































4 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1986: The Housemartins- London 0 Hull 4”

  1. I should have included them in the spinoff bands post I did a few weeks back – Beautiful South and Fatboy Slim largely eclipsed the parent band, at least commercially.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great album – I just loved their energy and I have smashed my way around many a dancefloor to the sound of Happy Hour.

    Liked by 1 person

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