I Was Born a Man

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For his first Baby Bird collection, I Was Born a Man, Stephen Jones assembled over 20 songs from his home recordings, thereby establishing his sound, style, and modus operandi. From the outset, Jones' records are devoted to mid-'80s British alternative rock -- echoes of Echo & the Bunnymen, Robyn Hitchcock, and U2 can be heard throughout the album -- yet they are delivered in an endearingly primitive fashion, due to the lo-fi constraints of his home portastudio. This works in his favor, as the poor songs sound like they were recorded for a lark, and the best songs shine through the hiss. Still, Jones' apparent lack of quality control can make the lengthy mess of I Was Born a Man a trying experience, even for listeners accustomed to sifting through Sebadoh records.

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