Native Son

The JudyBats

Sire/Reprise, 1990

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


Tennessee’s The Judybats were one of the most underrated bands snatched up in the big alternative/modern rock major label signing frenzy. They put out some of the most interesting records and best singles of the early ‘90s. Their 1991 debut album was one of the best records of the year and one that deserves to be heard by as many people as possible in the 21st century.

Boasting a keyboardist and an acoustic guitarist on top of the standard band, the Judybats definitely stood out and their amazing musicianship comes through in spades throughout this record. The singles that people remember, the title track and “Don’t Drop the Baby,” are instantly recognizable as being offbeat and eclectic, part of that good ol’ Southern charm the band carried with them.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Vocalist Jeff Heiskell had one of those type of voices perfectly suited to the music the band was creating. Full of twang and melody, his voice would carry the band above the rest of the alt rock clique. Keyboardist/backing vocalist Peggy Hambright and acoustic guitarist Johnny Sughrue complete the harmonic trio of melodic vocals that help bring to life songs like “Daylight” and “Counting Sheep.”

The rest of the band, bassist Tim Stutz, electric guitarist Ed Winters and drummer Terry Casper were dynamic as hell and really helped songs like “Convalescing In Spain,” one of the oddest and best songs on the disc, really come to life. But the two best tracks really are “Incognito” and “Perfumed Lies.” The former is a very sparse song with some vocals, light keyboards and guitar that tells of a love who one doesn’t really know. It’s so hauntingly beautiful that one can’t help but get absorbed in. The latter, written and sung by Sughrue, is one of the band’s best ever songs. Well written and incredibly sung, Sughrue gets to the spirit of the song and brings it to its ultimate fruition.

In the end, the band was overlooked as a result of the glut of modern rock bands clogging up the airwaves. The title track managed to gain some traction, but it wasn’t enough to make the band stand out for radio programmers. Fortunately, all these years later, people remember the Judybats more than say, Carter USM, the Katydids, Fury In The Slaughterhouse or any those other bands that don’t mean anything in this day and age.

Rating: A

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