I always got the impression that the people who loved The Housemartins, really really loved The Housemartins, but for all of the buzz & critical acclaim that surrounded their two records, they never really did much for me.
The exception, of course, being the title track from their second album,
The Queen is D, sorry, I mean The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death.
OK, that was a cheap shot, and a reference to how The Housemartins were positioned as a Smiths for people who couldn’t stand Morrissey’s antics.
That said, I always the punky speed and snarky chorus of their title track dig at the royal family’s effect on Great Britain.
The people who grinned themselves to death
Smiled so much they failed to take a breath
And even when their kids were starving
They all thought the queen was charming
What makes it for me is the double-time drums on that chorus, as well as the quick horn flourish and the “ahhhhhs.” It was instantly memorable, and I loved the imagery of Paul Heaton’s lyrics, to boot.
Before the chorus is a build-up featuring some stop-time guitar riffs from Stan Cullimore, and nice bass runs from future slim fatboy, Norman Cook.
It all adds up to a pretty essential mid-80s slice of proto-Britpop.
“The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death”
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