If you were musically conscious in the UK in the ’90s, the artist name Babybird might ring some bells. Babybird’s smash hit You’re Gorgeous dominated the airwaves, and probably stills come to mind when those two words are spoken. [Editor’s note: check out the lyrics; the song has a very different tone than you might remember from the ear worm chorus!]
2 million sales, six more Top 40 hits and two Brit award nominations followed…then Babybird fell out of the spotlight. Not for everyone, of course. Jones was still so prolific that he caught the ears of Johnny Depp. This led to Depp paying for and playing guitar on Babybird’s 2010 album, as well as directing the video for Unloveable. Keep reading if you’d like to see the dramatically controversial video.
The work ethic learned in the ’80s while producing demo tapes in his Sheffield bedsit meant that Jones thrived on returning to DIY recording and releasing. Just earlier this year, the Happy Stupid Nothing compilation brought together the best of Babybird’s recent output, to critical acclaim. The dalliance in the pop chart in the 1990s, seeing him lumped in with the morass of Brit Pop chancers, obscured the fact that Jones’ music is much more diverse and challenging than a catchy hook (though there are still plenty of those!)
If you’re intrigued about how a maverick artist has evolved over the decades, you’re in luck. There’s a free sampler on Bandcamp right now, exploring expansive lo-fi soundscapes.
Babybird is also set to release a vinyl album for the first time in 21 years. Photosynthesis will combine lo-fi blues, beats, loops, funk and soul while soaring from introspection to euphoria and exploring themes of love, death and religion. The limited edition gatefold vinyl LP is available for pre-order now, coming with two instant downloads.
Friday, November 15: Exchange, Bristol
Saturday, November 16: Shine On Weekender
Thursday, November 21: The 100 Club, London
Friday, November 22: Brudenell, Leeds
Thursday, November 28: Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
Friday, November 29: Deaf Institute, Manchester
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Here’s the uncut (director’s cut) video for Unloveable, which was considered too graphic for general consumption at the time but is now available online, to be viewed only with caution (TW: dramatisation of Wild West era hanging/execution).