The title of Baby Bird’s fourth album – The Happiest Man Alive sums up the work of Stephen Jones in the simplest and best way. His ego-free music has never been a chore: 99% of the time, it has been an extreme pleasure to make.
A hundred terms have been used to describe the music of Baby Bird; lo-fi, sex obsessed, wacky, bitter, mad, and non-britpop. Flattering as there descriptions may seems, the music above all, has to be as accessible and international as possible. Baby Bird have no lo-fi ambitions.
Restricted by dole queues, stubbornness and youthful laziness, the first five Baby Bird albums mark a six year period in time (1988-1994). Every song on the albums was written without a mass public in mind. Like the name Baby Bird suggests, these albums are about innocence – a cuckoo chick innocence. Plans to release them came two years after the last song was written, after two years of records company knock-backs. Bitterness? No, not now. It has worked. One man Chrysalis music gave Stephen just enough money to start Baby Bird Recordings, and enable the label to release these limited edition albums. Limited because Baby Bird stupidly thought they would never sell more than a couple of hundred records. Jesus, they were wrong – people now pay £60 for the first album (not all plans are perfect).
‘The shift a few more units’, Baby Bird became a band, clicked at gig one, and gave the songs a totally different feel – simpler and stripped down further. Recognizable, but reassembled, this is no ‘one man in a bedroom with a DAT machine’. This is not ‘a shy and retiring male quivering behind a mic and repeating himself.’
this is a show
BYE, BUY LO-FI!
This 60 page volume was released in early 1996 probably to stimulate extra press interest before the release of the first ‘proper’ album for Echo. It does not, however, appear anywhere on the pages who was actually responsible for its release – only that it is a promotion item not to be sold anywhere. Perhaps someone reading this could shed some light on the matter of its origin, number of books printed etc.
Subsequently, it is a nicely compiled collection of reviews of albums and live shows, articles from British national papers, and the usual short mentioning that you would never have cared about cutting out the Midlands ‘What’s On’ and other local publications. Most texts are from the more defining British papers such as Melody Maker and NME who acted fast in spreading the hype about this strange bloke from Sheffield who was attempting to release a great chunk of a back catalogue of 400 demos. All texts are listed chronologically, and who else than yesterdays papers do a better job of telling all aspects (well, sort of) of this narrative (and also reveal quite a few things about themselves).
By comparison, I cannot think of a more eccentric and extraordinary tale of the rising up through the British music underground on the fast-paced (as it turned out) route to TOTP and stardom. And expectations were obviously that high way back in 1995. Just think about how much has happened since then.
I have no idea about the availability of this book but I got mine for $5 on Ebay and I have also seen for sale at Opal Music for about £15.
“Baby Bird are a revelation in crushed velvet so you’d better start wishing you were here”
“Only record I’ve heard this year with lyrics worth remembering and music that’s impossible to forget.”
“Power to make you want to rewind the tape to check you really heard what you thought you did.”
“A triumph of drama and strangeness; a hilarious lost soul revue by a group who could prove to be one of the darkest stars of 1996.”
“Beautifully sinister and disarmingly simply songs…self-aware, self-obsessed and self-assured, Baby Bird is DIY genius.”
Dedicated to God for the sensitivity of his Invisibility