A 2 CD collection of hightlights from the five Baby Bird recordings released in the US in August 1997. Includes two unreleased bonus track
1. Goddamn It, You’re A Kid (3.07)
2. Man’s Tight Vest (4.14)
3. KW Jesus TV Roof Appeal (3.58)
4. Bad Blood (3.54)
5. Kiss Your Country (4.04)
6. Hong Kong Blues (3.34)
7. Razorblade Shower (3.55)
8. Sha Na Na (2.42)
9. Aluminium Beach (4.33)
10. Alison (3.38)
11. Why (Bonus Track) (2.36)
12. I Didn’t Want To Wake You Up (Bonus Track) (3.25)
1. Grandma Begs To Be 18 Again (2.35)
2. I Was Never Here (3.52)
3. Petrol Cigarette (2.34)
4. Losing My Hair (3.42)
5. Saturday (2.28)
6. Invisible Tune (4.02)
7. Failed Old Singer (3.33)
8. Swinging From Tree To Tree (2.36)
9. Not About A Girl (2.31)
10. In The Morning (2.12)
11. Past Lasts Longer (Bonus Track) (3.13)
12. Goodnight (Bonus Track) (3.23)
US CD: BABY BIRD CD6 US
- This was a cd-only limited release aimed at US and Canadian markets and of course all those who didn’t get the five original Baby Bird Recordings
- The tracks Why and Past lasts Longer was originally only found on this release – they are now available on the box set edition of Bad Shave.
One night two men,
tired of record company disinterest, got drunk,
and decided to release 80 tracks from
well over 400 recordings.
Independently and without compromise, four albums were released in nine months.
A book was written about it, with enough press
left over for five more.
Welcome to the future -
The ever-changing history of Baby bird
Independent 13 October 1995
Baby Bird is half man and half songwriter. He is wholly a force of nature. But he is not the Beatles. On a busy Thursday night, the Splash Club at the Water Rats pub in King’s Cross is one of those places where over-priced leather jackets go to die. Expense account envelopes are pushed out while hordes of A&R men swarm like leaf-cutter ants putative next-big-things.
The A&R bit formally stands for Artist and Repertoire. Onstage, the man who has lured enough of them here to purify the entire British music industry in the event of a gas explosion is suggesting that it really stands for “Arse and Rectum”.This may not be the most mature joke that the Sheffield-based songwriter prodigy Steven Jones (aka Babybird) has ever cracked, but in the circumstances, it s quite funny.
Indecently handsome, in a way Kiefer Sutherland sort of way, he stalks the stage in a horrible white suit, and the matching shoes, pulling Max Wall faces and assuring the laughing-too-heartily assembly that they are going to have to grant him sexual favours if they want his signature on a contract. Not so much a frontman as a force of nature, Jones twirls an enormous comb, spits all over his bass player and mockingly challenges the big names of contemporary Britpop to “write a song that’s not the Beatles”.
Offstage, Jones is far from the paragon of arrogance this performance might suggest. In fact, he is polite to the point of being demure, He’s just getting a bit fed up with jumping through hoops for record companies. A couple of months back, a deal with EMI was more or less finalised, and he was flown to Dublin to perform for an international conference. Sandwiched somewhat incongruously between Cliff Richard and Louise out of Eternal, Baby Bird sang a blockbusting ballad of sexual unease called Mans Tight Vest.
It wasn’t the song that caused problems so much as the dedication: “My dad died yesterday, and this was the last song he ever wrote for me.” Now the subject of renewed inter-corporate competition after EMI mysteriously sacked the man who wanted to sign him, Steven Jones has already released two of the albums of the year – one on the last day of July and one last Monday on his own label in 1OOO-copy limited editions. On first hearing Baby Bird’s debut, I Was Born A Man, or its successor, Bad Shave, the most popular response seems to be “What the hell was that?” The Flying Lizards play Frank Sinatra, maybe, or U2 sing Astrude Gilberto’)
Initially, at least, it was for friends and family only. “I know it sounds a bit naive, but I had no intention of releasing it. I secretly thought it would be nice: I just never thought it would be possible.” Convinced other-wise by a canny and enthusiastic manager, he opted to release them “more or less as elaborate demos”.
But now this ruse has been overtaken by its own success, as the five-album Bird cycle built up a momentum that is all its own. Jones, not just a master of the snappy title (one being Too Handsome To Be Homeless); he writes complete songs that, given half a chance, will claim squatter’s rights in your brain. With the hilarious Valerie and the bewitching CFC (“I look up at sky and a plane’s flying by, smoking around the loops of your nickname”), he achieves a perfect balance of cynicism and romance. Baby Bird will grow up to find the sky is not the limit. “People see it as pop music,” Jones insists. “Even my brother, and he likes Sting and George Benson
It takes only a few listens, however to realise that standout numbers such as Dead Bird Sings are anthems of a new suburban dreamland. In an era when most new bands are only too eager to wear their record collections on their sleeves, the impossibility of pinning down where this music comes from only adds to Baby Bird’s allure.
The number of styles on display makes it hard to believe these albums are the work of one person, let alone that they were al1 recorded at home on primitive four-track equipment, and that there are several hundred more completed songs where these came from. Who knew there were this many classic pop songs left to be written, never mind that one man was going to write them all” Perhaps mindful of the danger of assassination attempts by Menswear and others even less talented, Baby Bird has been somewhat inscrutable up to this point.
The sleeve of the first album tells how he got his name – he trod on a bird, and its spirit entered his soul, much as those of the indians on the highway entered Jim Morrison’s. Bad Shave has pictures of its author after what looks like a horrific bathroom mishap, sporting Union Jack underpants beside the legend “English ostrich…back from Spain”.
Three more Baby Bird albums will be released within the next six months, with a Greatest Hits selection to follow, compiled on the basis of the polling cards that accompany each CD – “Your choices will shape Baby Bird’s future’” Once the big record deal is finalised, Jones and his band who only got together in April to start playing the songs live – wil1 re-record their best material for mass consumption.
This career plan is so bizarre that it’s small wonder misconceptions about Baby Bird already abound. The commonest of these is that he’s spent his whole life locked in his bedroom, writing songs and “eating nothing but fish fingers”. In fact, Jones had been around the world by the time he was seven (his parent were teachers who took him from Telford to New Zealand via the Panama Canal, and via Suez on the way back).
Baby Bird is not his first showbiz venture, either. As a partner in a “multi-media performance group” called Dogs In Honey, he spent more years than he cares to remember travelling the country, performing to very smal1 numbers of people and eking out a living from subsidy and sponsorship. His songs were written on whatever instruments came to hand. “As I moved from place to place,” Jones says, “I’d get a new drum machine or have to sell a guitar.”