Released November 18th 2002
This six CD box set collects the five Baby Bird Recordings albums in original art work and introduces 16 unreleased tracks on The Black Album. Bad Shave now also includes the tracks Why and past Lasts Longer – previously only available on The Greatest Hits.
UK CD: Castle Music/Sanctuary: CMYBX560
Promo: 6 CD-R acetates in plastic sleeves (Includes titles for The Black Album)
This is how it started. One black
no-name guitar and two tape
recorders. Recording on one then
playing over it and recording the
two parts on the other. Simple
idiot-guide recording. Then Stephen
Jones got a 4-track recorder and
Innocence as yet untarnished.
At the beginning Babybird was one
man, with the beginnings of mild arthritis in his
fingers, a buggered piano, a fucked guitar and a kids
boombox. Having little equipment to work with and a
dole cheque, sound was squeezed to the limit, till it
was as close to orchestral soundtrack and
the wall of sound as possible.
Mixed in with stillness, this the result
Liner notes by Stephen Jones
I can’t actually remember when most of these songs were recorded, because I was working too fast to label the tapes. Lazy and Braindead from unemployment, recording songs was the only real way to kill time in an enjoyable manner. In the plastic bag of master cassettes, very few of the songs were even named.
I am too critical listening back to stuff, so for a fresh perspective, the compiling of these five albums something I needed help with. This came from David Taylor who got 400 instrumentals and songs down to around 80.After two years of record company disinterest, David along with my oldest friend, Graham Wrench (who I am eternally grateful to) decided one drunk evening to release these lo-fi recordings. Never did it cross anyone’s mind to rework these demos. The feedback from friends was to release it as it was.
Celebrated with half a bitter and a bag of peanuts, Dave Wibberlt at Chrysalis advanced a little money to pay for a 1000 CD-run of I Was Born A Man, the first album (in the boxset it has the original intended sleeve). It took me off the dole, after two years of life in a housing benefit-paid Nottingham boxroom, with a four-track tape machine for a pillow.
The name Babybird was originally intended as the moniker for these 80 or so simple naïve recordings. For me, ‘Babybird’ was never intended to be a band name, but with all the good signs that were coming in for I Was Born a Man, the name was swept along and it stuck.
Soon the labels, who had earlier no time for the demos, were doing a full 2-faced 180 degree turn. E.M.I. Sony etc were drawn-in by the press reaction. Thanx to John Pedder (Babybird Bass player-to-be). Graham and Dave, we soon found some friends for a band, and after some big small gigs, Babybird had a deal with an independent label.
The only downside was that the fifth album Dying Happy had to wait. But like preparing for a good funeral, there was more time to prepare the fifth and final album, to give the original lo-fi the right send-off. (Though there is an afterlife album, a CD zombie, The Back Album, contained with this box).
The early gigs, a residency at The Water Rats Splash Club in London, or at Ratners and the Grapers in Sheffield for example, were truly great experiences. I’d been in bands before and played toilets, worked with idiots, and vowed to work alone forever. But this band proved to the right one; and the audiences were immediately friendly to its looseness. So friendly in fact, the conversations kicked-up, inbetween and mid-song, making the whole thing more than just a nice-gazing, thank-you-and-good-night gig.
But with success and bigger stages, crash barriers and security began to get in the way. It was now getting impossible to to ever see beyond the front row, let alone hear what they were saying. That’s where it got out of hand. The heckling got nasty, and I didn’t help matters.
Most of the gigs were very pleasurable, and when it worked it was better than anything, but when it didn’t, well all I can do is apologise to the people who were there, particularly to those on stage.
Everything mowed too fast, and when ‘You’re Gorgeous’ went in at number three I felt dead for no real reason, couldn’t explain it at all. It was a very weird pinnacle so early on. Only 2000/3000 copies of The Happiest Man Alive had just been released, and suddenly the single was selling 500,000.
But for most of the time, it was very nice ride. Due to the people on the inside. Insiders, like all the people who filled in voting cards, came to the gigs, Paul Kinder (who was there at the beginning and still continues to allow me to release my soundtrack work), and Sanctuary who with Almost Cured of Sadness (released early 2003), have allowed me to release unspoilt brand new home recordings.
Babybird survived untill 2000ish. Ugly Beautiful was a weird kind of overlong compilation formed around totally unforeseen success. There’s Something Going On was the real band album, recorded in a bright light Spanish studio, unlike all the sodden English places we’d been in before, ‘Bad Old Man’, ‘Back Together’, ‘Take Me Back’ etc, all fantastic and extremely pleasurable to come up with, and perform.
Though things ended strangely with the band, I enjoyed so much working with Luke, John, Rob, Huw (and Dave) recording and touring places I would have thought to go. They were the only real plus-point of the whole money-making record company experience.
Without them I wouldn’t have had the freedom I have now, to still be able to record, and produce music in unorthodox ways. They kept the essense of the lo-fi taking it out of the ‘bedroom’ (which incidently I have never recorded in) and exploding it like a bomb.
Thank you to them and a huge thanks to Chris Stone and Scott Piering