The scene: A flat in Sheffield in 1985. An unemployed overweight middle-aged man
fights off boredom by writing songs. With no musical training, he does his
best to record them using a four track tape deck, a guitar, and a cheap synth
and drum machine.
A few years later, he has around 400 songs on cassette, mostly untitled,
kept in a plastic bag. Major record labels are completely uninterested.
Friends persuade him to release some of the songs on a CD, as is. A music
publishing deal pays for a run of 1000 discs, and "I Was Born A Man" is
The album sells out by word of mouth. Reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
Three more albums are put out, with postcards for listeners to vote on
their favorite tracks. The limited releases sell out and become highly
valuable collectors' items. Suddenly every record company is calling.
So Baby Bird the solo artist went on to become Babybird the band and have some
UK hit singles. Sure, they were pretty good, but somehow something important
had been lost in the chaos of suddenly selling half a million singles and
playing packed gigs in London.
These are the original four track recordings. They might be musically crude in
places, but they have an honesty and soul that the slick commercial Babybird
albums lack. The songwriting is eccentric, poetic, down-to-earth, witty,
wistful, brilliant. One man pouring his soul into his music.
"Wouldn't let me see you, like an angel swimming in hell, now I know the reason
why, wish I'd pushed the doorbell."
If I could make just one album as good as Baby Bird's, I could die happy.
This boxed set has six of them. They're all good. It's a crying shame this
man hasn't achieved recognition in the USA.
The original quintet of albums has been remastered by Stephen Jones (Baby
Bird), with high end studio equipment used to extract as much as possible from
the master cassettes. The songs are noticably clearer than on the original
releases, while keeping their lo-fi charm. So yes, the box set is worth buying
even if you have all the original CDs.
The mysterious sixth "black album" contains 18 previously unreleased tracks
from the bag of tapes. Though not quite up to the standard of the previous
five, there are some great songs here. In style, it's perhaps closest to