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Hey Babe. Juliana Hatfield.
1992, Mammoth Data. Producer: Gary Smith.
IN A NUTSHELL: Hey Babe, by Juliana Hatfield, is an easy 90s guitar-pop gem. Hatfield writes infectious melodies and the band behind her makes them sound alive and pressing. Her voice can pressure at occasions, nevertheless it all the time fits the music, so I don’t thoughts. The lyrics are sharp, and supply a brand new perspective on relationships and tradition. Get out your cardigan sweater and retro-Bobby Brady shirt, and re-live the early 90s with Juliana!
NOTE: The setup – under the road ↓ – could be the perfect half … Or skip proper to the album dialogue.
As I start to debate album quantity 19 in my listing of 100 favourite albums, and contemplating the tempo with which I’m finishing every submit, I’ve realized I must be at No 1 someday round 2022. Since this course of is dragging out so lengthy, I assumed it could be a superb time to assessment the method and talk about how I obtained right here.
It has additionally dawned on me that as we attain the Prime Twenty, there could possibly be some fairly upset readers who start to note that A) their favourite document gained’t be on my record; and B) their second-favorite report is ranked far decrease than some awful report by some dumb artist they by no means even heard of. This might trigger the sensation amongst readers that “I just wasted 15 years reading this blog to find out this dude has shitty taste in music!!” (I’ll refund all of the charges I’ve collected from any reader who makes this declare.)
Typically I attain an album and even I feel to myself: “Really?? This record is this good???” However invariably, after I start listening once more, I understand: “Yes! This album IS THIS GOOD!!” Solely as soon as have I had a second of doubt.
So as soon as once more, let’s evaluation the method:
1) I listened to all* my CDs. This in all probability sounds extra spectacular than it truly is. I do know people who’ve hundreds, even tens-of-thousands, of all varieties of data. I solely personal a couple of hundred. I listened to them primarily within the automotive as I commuted to work. I solely listened to CDs, so albums I’ve as pc information, or previous cassettes, aren’t a part of the pool. Sadly, I haven’t owned a turntable in a very long time, particularly I don’t have one in my automotive, so all my vinyl data are ineligible, too.
* – I made a decision that Compilation Albums and Beatles Albums have been ineligible. Compilation albums as a result of these sometimes cherry-pick an artist’s greatest songs, which might be unfair; Beatles Albums as a result of it’s me cherry-picking the 10 Greatest Albums in historical past ever, and so wouldn’t be truthful.
2) I took notes and rated the albums 1 to five stars. This score was based mostly on my emotions after listening to the album. It wasn’t based mostly on a thought-about, in-depth, song-by-song critique that analysed each the artist’s place in historical past and the significance of the discharge within the ever-expanding community of up to date inventive expression; nor was it based mostly on a fastened record of traits that wonderful data should possess. It was merely based mostly on how a lot I felt the previous “I-fucking-love-this-record!!!” feeling whereas I listened.
three) I sorted by variety of stars. 5 stars on prime, one-to-less-than-one-stars on the underside. This offered what one would assume was an objective-as-possible record of data ranked by “I-fucking-love-this-record!!!“-ness. Nevertheless …
four) I accounted for my very own self-knowledge. You see, the purpose of this endeavor was NOT to have an goal listing of “best” albums, however to have a subjective record of “favorite” albums. So I needed to stability out the “I-fucking-love-this-record!!!“-ness with some “I-have-a-soft-spot-for-this-record”-ness and a few “Yeah-it’s-great-but-it-doesn’t-really-speak-to-me”-ness. This meant that some really superb data that I’d not often listened to, like Sticky Fingers, ranked decrease than some, properly, less-excellent data to which I had robust historic attachments. Like Sure’s 90125.
It’s because I needed to put in writing about why I really like the data I really like. I couldn’t say a lot about Sticky Fingers past, “Wow, I should’ve listened to this record more often!” However I might talk about 90125 for hours. (Sadly). (There was one report, although, that I hadn’t listened to a lot that catapulted into the Prime 20 due to simply how superb it’s, and that document is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, by XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX1.)
5) The listing was set and couldn’t change. This submit explains why.
I don’t take a look at the record, besides throughout a really particular time interval: after I publish a publish. When Quantity 20 went up some time back2, I pulled out my record, crossed Ghost within the Machine off, and appeared to see what was Quantity 19: Hey Babe, by Juliana Hatfield.
I can’t say I used to be shocked, as I’ve raved about this report ever because it got here out, and I knew it was on my listing. However once I thought-about a few of the massively in style data, essential artists and extremely critically-praised albums that I’ve already had on my listing, I wasn’t positive this little indie launch by this rather-unknown, never-hugely-popular singer/songwriter would actually maintain up as a Prime Twenty Decide. However the factor is: I really like all of the data on this record a lot that at any given second in time, the 98th document may be quantity four and the 20th document may be too low to make the listing. In my thoughts, there isn’t actually an entire lot to separate any of the data on my record. As an alternative of calling them numbers 100 to 1, I ought to actually matter them down as numbers 1.099 to number one. That may be a extra correct appraisal of my relative consideration for all these data. So for those who’re really aghast that, say, Axis: Daring as Love and OK Pc are ranked a lot decrease than Hey, Babe, consider them as document numbers 1.049, 1.057 and 1.018, respectively, as an alternative of 50, 58 and 193.
However numbers-schmumbers … I’m NOT aghast by the state of my record! Hey, Babe is a wonderful document! I first heard about Juliana Hatfield when her band The Blake Infants had a music or two enjoying on the previous MTV present 120 Minutes. I assumed they have been ‘eh.’ I used to be dwelling alone in just a little cabin within the woods when 120 Minutes performed the primary single from Hey Babe, and I used to be hooked instantly. Kurt Loder did a bit MTV Information phase on her, and I went out and received the document. I’ve beloved it ever since. It was by no means an enormous hit, nevertheless it’s gotten some essential love upon its current re-release.
The only that acquired me hooked is the primary music on the album, “Everybody Loves Me But You.”
I’ve a historical past of liking acts with uncommon vocalists. The Maintain Regular, Sleater-Kinney, Rush … all these bands have considerably divisive singers. Juliana Hatfield has a girlish, mushy voice that strains to hit some notes, however I recognize the punk spirit of singing the songs regardless. Her voice doesn’t in any respect hinder the terrific melodies she writes. This track begins with a cool guitar riff, and a descending bass line at about 5 seconds, then the primary riff begins. She spits out the lyrics shortly. I’ve heard individuals criticize her lyrics as having an excessive amount of “poor-little-girl-won’t-a-boy-save-me” emphasis. However I feel this criticism unfair (and maybe a bit sexist) – I’m a person, and I very-much relate to the first-person narrator that tells most of her tales. For me, a lot of the lyrics aren’t gendered. Anybody who’s ever felt the heartache of understanding one’s focused “right person” by no means feels the identical method for you’ll be able to perceive “Everybody Loves Me But You.” And her voice does some actually cool issues, like at 1:48 when she places a flourish on the phrase “tired.” It’s a cool, catchy pop music with a cowbell breakdown at 2:30.
The album has a particular 90s, various sound, with distortion and livid strumming carrying the majority of the guitar sounds. There’s little or no “soloing.” And the Pixies-ish loud-quiet-loud sound pervades. It’s all put to good use on “No Outlet.”
I just like the guitar doodles behind the tender half, round zero:30, and the way the music deftly transitions between loud and quiet. Round 1:40 there’s a solo of types, just a few lengthy, held notes, till the music drags to a close to cease at 2:40, then strikes to a very nice bridge. It’s a very cool music with totally different elements and lyrics describing (I feel) the frustration and remorse (which males really feel too) of bodily connections made with out the feelings that make them worthwhile. The riff heavy “Quit” is one other dip into 90s motifs, together with suicidal lyrics, that doesn’t work as properly for me.
The acoustic track “Ugly” was forward of its time, an introspective, woman-centered music a couple of years earlier than Lilith Truthful. It obtained numerous publicity again within the day for its direct strategy to the subject of girls’s self-image. Then it received a bit backlash for being too meek. To me, its simply an expression by an artist of 1 factor she’s felt. And these expressions of self are a part of what I really like concerning the document.
For instance, “Lost and Saved,” one among my favourite tracks for its music and for its lyrics that seize the craziness of falling for somebody you shouldn’t.
It’s obtained cool dueling rhythm guitar coming from every speaker, and the drums, by Todd Phillips, actually transfer the track forward. Hatfield’s skinny voice strains, however matches completely. What’s greatest concerning the track, although, is the refrain that swoops in (1:19), options nice “ooo’s” after which falls right into a artistic guitar solo at 1:38 from guitarist Mike Leahy. It’s a catchy, 90s guitar pop track that I sing together with each time. In my thoughts the music is all the time paired with its follow-up on the document, “I See You.” It’s a music about obsession, and – like “Lost and Saved” – additionally options 90s folk-rocker John Wesley Harding on backing vocals.
It has one other catchy melody that I discover myself singing all through the day once I hear it. I just like the lyrics of this track: “I’m not a loser, I’m just lonely” is a phrase that many individuals knocked round by their coronary heart’s standing can relate to. A lot of the songs on the document talk about non-existent, or actually dangerous, relationships. The track “Forever Baby” tells the story of a lady who has settled for a way-less-than-ideal man. The lyrics are Elvis Costello-esque, with strains like “I hold him like a loaded gun/I know he might go off with anyone,” and “I see a long lost home in his eyes/He sees a nice hotel in mine.”
The connection songs are good, however my favorites on the album are much less direct, or, within the case of “Nirvana,” immediately a few totally different type of relationship.
It’s about Hatfield’s love of the band Nirvana, and it brilliantly expresses the impact that music can have on a listener. The music begins, appropriately sufficient, with suggestions, and continues with crunchy chords from guitarist Clay Tarver. It’s an aggressive music that has a sweetly melodic refrain (1:13) a lot within the vein of many Nirvana songs. The harmonies are terrific, and I’ve all the time beloved the lyrics “Here comes the song I love so much/makes me wanna go fuck shit up.” It’s the sensation I had once I heard Nirvana. And the bridge lyrics (2:20), concerning the impact of music, are additionally good: “When the sound goes around/and goes in your ear/You can do anything/you have no fear!” It’s a favourite track of mine, and apparently Kurt Cobain favored it, too.
It’s a 90s album filled with 90s sounds, 90s themes and 90s visitor artists. Head Lemonhead, and fellow New Englander, Evan Dando seems on many songs, together with The Lights, a sluggish meditation on misplaced love. However the most effective visitor look is by Minutemen bassist, fIREHOSE chief, and throughout terrific man, Mike Watt on the music “Get Off Your Knees.”
Hatfield performs bass on all of the songs besides this one, which she turned over to Watt. And the bass actually makes the music. It’s one other of my favorites on the report, virtually totally due to the bass. It’s a fantastic, fast music, about one thing, clearly, nevertheless it’s all concerning the bass. Plus it serves as a pleasant introduction to the closing track on the album, the formidable “No Answer.”
It begins off a bit looking, and not sure, however by zero:45 the candy guitar by Mike Leahy brings all of it again to a pleasant “doo-doo-doo” refrain. There’s a lingering guitar interlude which is allowed to construct slowly to the second verse. At 2:25 Hatfield once more salutes the impact a superb track can have, singing “I jump in the car/turn the music on/I’m gonna be gone/Don’t know how long.” It’s one other lost-love music, that after one other candy refrain breaks into an prolonged outro that cries out for an extended automotive journey. It’s a terrific album nearer.
Hey Babe is a completely early-90s document. Within the early 90s I used to be not sure, altering … a younger grownup figuring issues out and by no means considering I’d at some point be consumed with counting down favourite data and sharing my connections to them. I didn’t know what I used to be doing again then, and I don’t actually know rather more these days. I do know I’ve an inventory of data I’m counting down, and this one’s on the listing. And now that I’m executed writing about it I’m wondering: Shouldn’t it actually have been greater on my record??
“Everybody Loves Me But You”
“Lost and Saved”
“I See You”
“Get Off Your Knees”