In The Beautiful South, Heaton remained lead singer but was joined by Hemingway and female singer Briana Corrigan to create a trio of lead vocalists. This set-up helped to characterize the bittersweet kitchen-sink dramas played out in Heaton's often barbed songs.
The band's music might sound like bubbly, catchy, lightweight pop but Heaton's sour, savage and amusing worldview on everything and anything (alcoholism, religion, sex, politics and, mostly, the down side of relationships) is always lurking beneath the surface of the quirky melodies. The tastes and smells of the local pub are never far away either, with the band gaining a reputation for boozing.
The band's first album was Welcome To The Beautiful South (1989) and spawned the hits "Song For Whoever" and "You Keep It All In." The release of 1990's Choke album saw the band claim its only Number 1 hit to date, "A Little Time". 0898 followed in 1992, with hits including "Old Red Eyes Is Back".
In 1994, after Corrigan quit the band over differences relating to some of Heaton's lyrics, St Helens supermarket shelf-stacker, Jacqui Abbot, was brought on board to fill in. Heaton had heard her sing at an after show party in St Helens and remembered her vocal talents.
Jacqui's first album with the band was Miaow in 1994. Hits included "Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud)" and a cover of Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talking". The end of that year saw the release of Carry On Up The Charts, a "best of" compilation consisting of the singles to date plus new track "One Last Love Song". The album was massively successful and it is said that 1 in 7 homes in the UK owns a copy.
Blue is the Colour (1996), Quench (1998) and Painting It Red (2000) followed with varying success. Jacqui also quit the band in 2000 and the band are currently recording new material with yet another female vocalist.