Indie ~ 1998 ~ ~. Tracks: 1: Bad Old Man, 2 Fukluv, 3 Hospital 4: All I Know, 5 Comeback Scumbag
Released 27 April 1998
PRESS INDIVIDUAL LINKS TO LISTEN TO THE SONGS LISTED BELOW:
Catalogue Numbers: ECS60/ECSMC60/ECSCD60/ECSCX60
(#31 UK singles chart)
“A RESURRECTION WORTHY OF EASTER SUNDAY” (MELODY MAKER)
“A LESSON IN PASSIONATELY DISPASSIONATE COOL WHICH IS WHAT MAKES THE BIRD MASTERS OF THE OUTSIDE EDGE” (TIME OUT)
“YOU WOULDN’T BUY IT FOR YOUR MUM, WOULD YOU?” (MATTHEW MARSDEN IN SMASH HITS)
Possibly the only Top 40 single to ever contain the word “paedophile”, ‘Bad Old Man’ moves slowly and darkly, with its gloomy piano hook joining a funeral march rhythm, providing the perfect musical backdrop for Jones’s deeply unsettling central character. Like some sort of a cross between Trump, Saville, Morgan, Cowell and Springer, the ‘Bad Old Man’ in question “drowned his stepson in the duck pond, let the wife beater out to make a pop song”, bringing to mind stories of corrupt perverts who lurk in the world of entertainment. It was EXACTLY the sort of song that should’ve been the immediate follow-up to the big hit. However, ‘Bad Old Man’ and the rest of the fascinating ‘There’s Something Going On’ wouldn’t have sounded like they did if Babybird hadn’t already had that big hit. British guitar music may have been going out of fashion at the time, but it was the perfect time for Stephen Jones to release his masterpiece, while his band still had enough of an audience for people to hear these songs.
Despite standing as one of the most hard-hitting singles of the era, ‘Bad Old Man’ only went to number 31 in the UK charts. Needless to say, its frightening lyrical content meant that daytime radio wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole. Plus, a lot of the audience who would’ve appreciated it were missing out due to their refusal to listen to anything by Babybird. Their loss. To me and other listener, Jones and his band had just stepped up to another level…”
Review from The Bad Pages:
“There’s Something Going On’ probably spawned some of the best singles, and this one is the first in a series of three after an eleven months break after the release of ‘Cornershop’.
’Bad Old Man’ was not really a comeback as much as an attempt to slip out of the wake of the You’re Gorgeous chart success. As a pop tune it is extremely edgy both in musical delivery and lyrical content
‘Bad Old Man’ might have disappointed a few by its release (including myself at the time), but hopefully it also opened the ears of those who had not yet experienced the many layers of Jones’ talent (including myself!). Eventually, however, it turned into a grower and today ranks as one of my personal favorites.
The other songs on the single are also distinguishable true to the nature of ‘Bad Old Man’ with a constant emphasis on drum loops, minimal melodies and sometimes pretty vicious grooves. Fukluv, Hospital and Comeback Scumbag’, which borrows its title from a line in ‘Not about a Girl’, are no less than half-forgotten Babybird epics.
In conclusion, this is a perfect companion to ‘There’s Something Going On’ and, don’t forget, the first in a series of three very great singles.”
Baby Bird began as the alias of Stephen Jones, a prolific British singer/songwriter who initiated his performing career as a member of the Dogs in Honey “anti-theater” troupe. After buying a four-track machine, he began making his first lo-fi home recordings; over the next several years, he wrote some 400 eclectic pop songs, ranging in content from surreal, comic narratives to intensely personal meditations.
At the urging of friends, Jones sent out Baby Bird tapes to record companies, but his music was roundly rejected; however, Chrysalis Music did offer a publishing deal which Jones accepted, applying his earnings towards financing a series of independently-released, limited-edition collections. The first disc of material culled from the vast Baby Bird archives, I Was Born a Man, appeared in 1995; within the course of a year, three other acclaimed albums — Bad Shave, Fatherhood, and The Happiest Man Alive — followed, and won Jones a contract with Echo Records.
Upon making the leap to a major label, Baby Bird mutated from a one-man project into a full band, as Jones assembled a backing group comprised of guitarist Luke Scott, bassist John Pedder, keyboardist Hugh Chadbourne, and drummer Rob Gregory. In its new incarnation, Baby Bird debuted in late 1996 with Ugly Beautiful, a lush, sparkling collection of re-recordings of favorite songs from Jones’ back catalogue, all selected by fans by means of postcard ballots included in the first four albums.
In 1997, Dying Happy was assembled; issued in a limited pressing of 1000 copies, the disc compiled a number of previously unreleased songs that Jones had kicking around. Theres Something Going On followed in 1998, and two years passed until the release of Bugged, Baby Birds ninth full-length.