Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sweet Baby- "It's A Girl!" Eccentric Pop Records Reissue by Danny "Panic" Sullivan

When I first heard about this reissue happening, I was both very excited and wanted to celebrate it in some way! Being that Ramona Confidential has never taken a standard news approach and reviewing a reissue is something I don't generally do, I racked my little Dee Dee brain for inspiration and then it happened, a light turned on! In thinking of this obscure gem being reintroduced to the scene 25 years after it's initial appearance, what better way to mark the occasion than by bringing a well loved member of pop punk's rich lineage out of obscurity to talk about it? That turned my attention directly to Danny "Panic" Sullivan. There's at least a thousand reasons to admire this man in just viewing the monumental contribution he's made as a musician to our community but with the great fortune of  becoming a friend of his over the last year, I've discovered that his well spoken ability to talk about music is also something I enjoy about this architect of the 90's very much! This along with the great love he's expressed for Sweet Baby's "It's A Girl!" made him the perfect and only candidate I desired for the job, so one evening with my "more guts than brains" approach, I asked him if he'd care to write a piece about this record that I could share with you all. Luckily he agreed! Make sure to stop by the Eccentric Pop Records webstore or Interpunk(that's the only place now to get the bonus 7" bundle from!) if you've not preordered the record yet because it is selling FAST. Official release date happens on April 7th for this beautifully put together reissue and this is where my chatter ends. Here he is, the wonderful Danny "Panic" Sullivan giving his personal take on Sweet Baby's "It's A Girl!"     

Sweet Baby "It's A Girl!"
A Wordy Scribe About A Deceptively Smart Album For Romantic Dummies.                   

Sweet Baby - an East Bay pop-punk band that was criminally ignored/underrated during their brief existence & their sole album "It's A Girl!" deserves to be emblazoned in the pantheon of classic albums in our beloved & misanthropic genre of  punk rock.

I was introduced to this prodigious album through a friend/bandmate in a (also) short-lived punk band we were both in. He was one of the lucky few who actually had the vinyl copy of this melodic gem while I had to resign myself to the cassette format (which I had purchased thricely over time due to excessive playing).

The albums' hold on me was immediate for a few good reasons:

1.  Musically - it was an amalgamation of early era Beatles (especially the chord structures & harmonies) & the Ramones (concise & rambunctious).
2.  Lyrically - it tackled all the profundities regarding romance (yearning, having & losing) & the words were sometimes sincere, sometimes humorous & sometimes both.
3.  Thirteen songs in  just over twenty five minutes.  Melodic AND economical!

Recorded in 1988 by engineer/producer extraordinaire Kevin Army, "It's A Girl!" has not aged sonically or lyrically (um...correction on my behalf. The song "Telephone Booth" bellies it's lyrical age due to telephone booths being rather scarce as of 2015 compared to the halcyon days of the eighties).

The opening salvo of "It's A Girl!", "Baby, Baby, Baby Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby (I Love You)" (all one minute & eleven seconds of it) signals the intent & nature of the  the album & will not likely be misconstrued as a convoluted civics lesson, an explanation of binary arithmetic or a passionate dissertation of religious or political didacticism. This song would make both the Beatles & the Ramones proud....& there's still twelve to go!

Being that "It's A Girl!" is about a girl, or a myriad of them, the genius prevails throughout the album from the three profundities I mentioned above:

Yearning for the girl- the songs "Two Tons of Dynamite", "There's This Girl" & "Gotta Get A Girl" all exemplify this feeling & the song "This Talk About The Girl" adds an insouciant cognizance towards current events compared to the more topical, more important girl.

Having the girl- from the joyous ("Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby (I Love You)",  "She's From Salinas" & "Resuscitation"), to the demented ("The Way She Gets Around"), these songs exemplify the punch drunk feeling of being in love.


Losing the girl- "Year After Year", "Telephone Booth" & "Pathetic" embody the despair of romantic love lost. "Pathetic" has to be quite possibly the most mirthful sounding song in modern recorded music to report on a break-up.

Additional props go to "She's From Salinas" for the Venus de Milo reference (absolutely clever) & their cover of "Daddy Cool" that respects both the Rays & Darts versions, but gives it a British Invasion/punk kick in the proverbial pants.

The album naturally wouldn't exist without the band of course. My appreciations to Dallas-for his sundry, sincere vocals & his engaging charisma throughout the album; Matt-for his knack for brilliant guitar/chord structures & his Lennon-esque backing vocals; Richard - for his bass playing adaptability, switching from Dee Dee Ramone root notes on one song to Paul McCartney walking bass runs on another with such ease & Sergie-for his melodic drumming , encapsulating a saunter & shuffle with punk rock energy.

Thank you Sweet Baby for making, to these eyes, ears, nose & throat, the best East Bay pop-punk album of all time! May this reissue garner the attention "It's A Girl!" & the four of you so richly deserve!

A special thanks to Sara for letting me pontificate, Eccentric Pop Records lovingly reissuing this masterpiece & Scott "Gub" Conway for turning me on to Sweet Baby in the first place.

Danny "Panic" Sullivan
Somewhere on earth...

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