archiv: babybird

back in the day – we were quite fond of this…..

from another life and another time…

BABYBIRD
BEST OF….
(Echo)
BY MARK BARTON

Band Web Site
Label Web Site

Believe it or not there was a time when Mr Stephen Jones AKA Babybird was the scourge of the pop charts, crafting hits on a shoe string budget dutifully begotten from the change out of an old crinkled five pound note while buying 20 cigarettes. Sneaking from behind the shadows of Brit Pop the workaholic tunesmith already had a couple of hundred or so tracks laid down before Echo records came calling so starting his foray into the major league enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, which arguably lasted some 3 years due in the main to somebody forgetting to put batteries in the Warhollian stop watch.

These days Mr Jones likes nothing better than to crowd the post boxes of film studio executives with his soundtracks while keeping himself of the streets collating material for a new album to be released later this year. Barbed lyrics, double entendres, black humour all lovingly sheltered in pristine prickly pop edifices where the order of the day for Babybird and for a short brief period while Oasis and Blur slugged it out handbags at five paces style, one of the sharpest and most idiosyncratic artists of the last 15 years charged over the back wall a held pop’s crown jewels ransom. Arguably this ‘Best of’ is still going to get fans muttering in fume collecting together as it does nine of the singles released by Echo, safely positioning itself on Jones’ more populist canon while by and large ignoring his first four self released full lengths with the exception of ‘The happiest man alive’ which is represented by ‘In the country’ from early 1996.

‘You’re gorgeous’ opens the collection with a fair amount of predictability, bringing back fond memories of the halcyon days of evening radio when Mark ‘n’ Lard ruled the graveyard airwaves with their unforgiving take no prisoners piss taking and top of the drawer pop nouse and on which Babybird was a regular visitor and target of the pre-Shire Horses tongue in cheek re-appraisal ‘You’re Gormless’ which incidentally, as though to add cheek to hilarity, they even had the balls to persuade him to accompany them on during their farewell week before going on to ransack both breakfast and daytime radio schedules.

‘You’re Gorgeous’ apparently about gender re-alignment, was one of the years great gems, a record so overplayed it drove you to distraction with its overwhelming happy demeanour and kick arse melodic frame, preceded by the equally infectious ‘Goodnight’ and the tongue firmly in the cheek candour of the sprightly ‘Candy Girl’ all were blessed with a simplistically woven touch but lasting taste making it easy to see why Babybird scored such a resounding success. Like fellow Yorkshireman Jarvis Cocker, Jones impishly worked words, partly autobiographical, partly formed from wayward perspectives on life, sometimes haunting (’Bad old man’) sometimes hurting (‘Back together’) all said and done a particular favourite and as sad a song as your ever likely to hear outside a Leonard Cohen delivery.

But then if you think this is all about purist indie complicity then check out the dance floor snarl of the baggy-esque ‘The F-Word’ or the sleekly grooving ‘Eyes in the back of your head’ both paying dues to Happy Mondays / Black Grape, the curling sweetness of the child-like goof pop ‘In the Country’, the snoozing rustic psychedelia of ‘Out of Sight’ or the kookily drifting shuffle of ‘Fireflies’ which sounds like the Cure’s ‘Lullaby’ taken to the country, fed on copious amounts of cider and drowned in the nearest stream, all quite marvellous if you ask me.

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