Speedball Baby Biography

Led by singer Ron Ward, New York, USA’s Speedball Baby offer a throwback to the loosely hinged gutter rock ‘n’ roll of the Stooges and the MC5. A more contemporaneous comparison might be the Birthday Party, as evidenced by the twisted rockabilly of tracks such as ‘Toss My Salad’ on their 1996 debut album, Cinema!. The seeds of the band’s future were sown when Matt Verta-Ray (bass) left his previous employers, Madder Rose. It was his concept to start a less sedate unit meshing the blues with primal rockabilly, but he had to wait until meeting Ward (also from Boston, and formerly the drummer in Blood Oranges) at a mutual friend’s wedding. The band’s line-up was completed with the addition of bass player Ali Smith and drummer Dave Roy. They concentrated on cultivating a reputation for their frenzied New York shows, while two independently released EPs (Speedball Baby and Get Straight For The Last Supper) won over critics in the alternative music press. Martin Owens replaced Roy prior to the recording of the band’s debut for MCA Records, which was delayed amid ill-informed rumours that one song, ‘The Al Green Shuffle’, had racist overtones. It was eventually excluded from the final track-listing, much to the disgust of the band. At the end of 1996 Speedball Baby sought to confirm their growing domestic reputation with a support tour to the like-minded Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The quartet returned to their independent roots for the mini-album I’m Gonna Stomp Mr. Harry Lee, released on the Sympathy For The Record Industry label. New drummer Andy Action appeared on the band’s debut for the In The Red label, Uptight!, while a change of direction was afoot for the late 60s blues rock styledThe Black-Out in 2002. The album featured new bass player, Jenny Decker.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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