The Baby's Head

JAR Music (Germany) JAR017 (1997)
01. the things around the picture
02. like billy ocean said...
03. quality street
04. 1000 tiny pieces
05. founding my religion
06. no bicycles on my farm
07. the test tone five
08. not that much
09. rainy sunday saints
10. getting off a one-way train
11. gone
12. we've gone too far
13. an accident waiting to happen
14. never knowingly understood
sculpted by yung & zajkowiecz

Andy Ward played drums
Nick Kacal played double bass on 02
Jim Barber and Todd Dillingham played additional guitars on 14

Yung wrote all of the songs except 04, 06 & 10, which were written by Yung & Zajkowiecz


Chrys&themums, THE BABY'S HEAD

Somewhere in the course of several albums I don't own and will probably never get a chance to, the Chysanthemums made a clever visual pun of their name to mark two major changes. Alan Jenkins, the co-songwriter who wrote FLECKS' liner notes, left and formed a band called Ruth's Refrigerator, who you should please mention to me if you ever see anything by. Then Terry Burrows, the other songwriter (who also releases albums under the name Yukio Yung), started mixing the albums at home using only keyboard, sampler, and sequencer. Jenkins escaped with most of the silliness, the song title "Founding My Religion" notwithstanding. "Like Billy Ocean Said" takes on the subject of human memory: "We hang on every thought so nothing goes to waste/ creating recollections edited to out own taste/ We studied everything inside until we thought it black and white". "Founding..." is at least partly about what its title says, observing a boy who "Took a bag of nails and a box of wood/ he put the hammer down and saw that it was good/ then he got inside, and he wouldn't leave til he'd moved his head  to the other side". The song's cynicism (the kid seems to have gotten himself in plenty of trouble on this side, and "as the smiling stops from inside the box, it occurs to me/ that he might as well be a devil child from the cemetary") also extends to the romantic analyses ("She'll give you anything, but Not That Much"), and the twaeking of the upper class ("Quality Street" is how XTC's "Respectable Street" might have turned out written in their voluntarily toothless latter days, though it still musters a good beer-commercial guitar riff). The exceptionally pretty "We've Gone Too Far" sees things as curable, though: maybe the problem is that "some of us don't know who we are". It's much more affecting when sung, of course, although I can't help wishing he still knew he was the guy who sang about hygrometers. However, the result of an all-keyboard album are much more surprising: Burrows was using enough prime samples of his bandmates a continent away that THE BABY'S HEAD is one of the finest guitar records in the Britpop genre. Each of the first three songs includes some of the firiest 6-string soloing you're ever likely to run across, a fair variety of guitar and drum-smashing propulsion goes on throughout the record, "The Test Tone Five" is a decent surf instrumental, and that darn "Quality Street" riff is showing no signs of leaving my head anytime soon. The melodies remain vibrant, the harmonies still look to the Beatles for guidance, and the arrangements still leave room for colour. "The Things Around The Picture", a song so entirely catchy that I refuse to stop and decode what it's about (other than "Doot doot doot doot doot-doot doot, the things around the picture!"), plays its verses like a mildly Prozacked outtake from Nine Inch Nails' PRETTY HATE MACHINE before going euphoric. "Billy Ocean..." has a string section. "Quality Street" feautures bells and something that is probably too lush to be a harp, but same concept. "1000 Tiny Pieces" has a Cars-like bassline and harmonies with the perverse flair of uncoordinated narcoleptics. A psychedelic effect, but not nearly as much so as the space-out closer, "Never Knowingly Understood". Still, it's clearly a pop album, voice and guitar and bass and drums (or samples thereof), essentially non-deranged. Some people, of course, think "non-deranged" is a compliment. And since you can actually buy this one for $12 from Flamingo Records--- contact Stewart Mason, --- wouldn't it be cool if you're of those?