Otherwise known as The Fish City Five when recording acapella (something they had always enjoyed doing), The Housemartins were the toast of the pop world for two glorious years in the mid 80s. They recorded three Peel sessions, and one track that featured in the very first from July 1985 was Flag Day (FF 1985 #10). It remains one of my favourite songs not only by them but of all time. Despite the fact that it is a damning criticism of tin-rattling charity organisations, it is a triumphant and exuberant anthem heightened by the use of a plaintive trumpet.
After this, the band had the world at their feet. A triumphant appearance at Glastonbury, singles coruscating in the charts (Happy Hour, Think For A Minute), healthy album sales, almost a Christmas Number One…then by 1988 it was all over. It was an amicable split: Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway went on to the Beautiful South, and Norman Cook piloted Beats International to another number one. They remain friends, but resolutely refuse to reform.
Move on ten years, and Norman decided to change his name to Fatboy Slim and embrace the world of the club. He flirted with rock early on in his career, but never felt comfortable with it, so the album You’ve Come A Long Way Baby and its lead track Rockafeller Skank (FF 1998 #28), with its compelling repeated loop and stunning production, launched his career in a new direction.
He had already had success as a remixer, with Cornershop’s Brimful Of Asha (the original version was FF 1997 #1, and will be posted at another time) bringing requests for production from Madonna and U2.