Rebellious Jukebox: Baby Bird
I’d love to say I got into Baby Bird before the big hit propelled him into the national consciousness but I couldn’t find his music for love nor money – by the time Ugly Beautiful came out those early records were exchanging money for ridiculous amounts of cash. Thankfully those albums were later packaged into a very worthwhile box set which I picked up. You’re Gorgeous is the one that everyone knows, but if they stop there they are missing so much. Stephen Jones is firmly rooted in that tradition that buries considerable sized barbs and social commentary under great harmonies; occasionally getting a double-take out of you as you realise just what was slipped under the radar in the form of a pop song. One of my favourite songs of his comes off the album There’s Something Going On – the first track Bad Old Man and it perfectly embodies the philosophy already mentioned of ‘putting razor blades in the ice cream’. The album as a whole is darker than its predecessor and I’m sure it disappointed a lot of the people who came on board because of the chart success. Like a lot of artists Baby Bird’s music briefly aligned with the general public’s tastes but instead of letting that brush with success drag him into the whole game of playing the mainstream he went his own way and remained an idiosyncratic and therefore worthwhile artist. I don’t suggest being mainstream is damaging in and of itself, merely that the willingness to change yourself on the premise that you might replicate a success which stemmed from your originality is a pointless path to follow. Anyone that believes that intelligent pop music doesn’t exist is not looking in the right place – start here with this band.