pain makes you beautiful

The JudyBats

Sire Records, 1993

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judybats

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/15/2016

So this is going to be one of the most brutally honest reviews I’ve ever done. The JudyBats has been one of my favorite ‘90s alt rock bands for as long as I’ve heard of them. But when I listened to this disc for the first time, I felt like I had been punched in the throat. This disc took all the quirkiness and interesting aspects of the ‘Bats and sapped the everloving shit out of them.

There are some really good songs, but even they have problems. “Scarlett” is one of their coolest tracks, but the drumming of the lousy Dave Jenkins and the condensed production of Kevin Moloney really bring the whole thing down.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Trip Me Up” has all the necessary ingredients to be one of the band’s all time bests, but the outro fades out way too early. Don’t know whom to blame there, but it shouldn’t have happened. One of the album’s three singles, “Ugly On The Outside” could’ve been huge but it suffered from bad drumming, once again, by Dave Jenkins. I have talked to frontman Jeff Heiskell a couple of times but I’ve never asked him where the hell Jenkins and bassist Paul Noe came from, knowing what type of damage they would end up doing to the band.

Acoustic guitarist Johnny Sughrue takes more of a prominent role in the band. Not only is there more call for acoustics but his background vocals really help Heiskell, especially after keyboardist and backing singer Peggy Hambright left the band after the sophomore record. It really is clear on this disc that this is not the same band that made Native Son three years earlier.

“Being Simple,” the album’s main single, was a modest enough success, but “All Day Afternoon” should’ve been the big one. Great hooks, great everything, it really should’ve been bigger than it was. Other tracks like “My Dead Friend” are more autobiographical than others, while something like “La Dulcinea” doesn’t work at all.

Ultimately, this feels like the work of a band that was trying their damnedest to hang on to their fanbase while at the same time appeasing the record company. In the end, this was the beginning of the end. One more disastrous record and the band went away. However, this is a souvenir of the ‘90s that deserves to be picked up and examined every once in a while.

Rating: C+

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