Babe the blue OX - Guilty
Babe the blue OX were among the first of a new breed of early 90's Brooklyn bands; proud of their adopted borough, living and playing in neighborhoods long before the word "hipster" was reclaimed from the bebop age. Grunge was on the horizon, new wave had met Madonna, the Knitting Factory defined the new "downtown" music. A mutual love of the Minutemen, Prince and Captain Beefheart brought three recent grads together in a Williamsburg attic in 1990 to carve out a musical territory all their own. The Babe sound is not a unified idea, but rather the competing visions of dozens of influences played by three truly unconventional partisans on their instruments. New York quickly warmed to them, and hook by crook and gig by gig they developed a following the old fashioned way - wheat paste on telephone poles, postcards to announce gigs, phone calls to Louise at CBGBs. By early '92, you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a BOX show (Babe's early name), and their first 45rpm called There's Always Room for One More, Honey graced many a whiskey-splattered jukebox on the Lower East Side.
This record is officially Babe's sixth. The songs seem of a piece and place. Each song seems to reflect on a different aspect of older-getting. In the leadoff track, "Dragging the Joneses (Down To My Level)", the grass is always greener but no one's ever satisfied. In "I-35", disillusionment overwhelms idealism. "Mal Madre" is a joyful questioning of a mother's role. "N.O.W." wonders whether anyone really knows how to be an adult. "Innumeracy" wonders whether anyone really understands the enormous sums of money that get thrown around in the media. "Estate Planning" is about, well,estate planning. No one will ever know what Thomas has in mind within the demented vocal of "God's Hands". And "Self-Evident" is the obvious album closer, with Thomson, Gormley and Thomas each writing and singing their own verse. A chorus of voices (including Elizabeth Mitchell) builds to a final climax. Four bonus tracks come from various dates during Babe's "Hiatus" three instrumentals and an ode to dearly departed punk poet D. Boon.