If you believed the 00s-era websites, Rachel Sweet would only be remembered for the fact that she was signed to Stiff Records and that she was 16 at the time. Which is a great shame because her two albums are full of tremendous girly pop with all the power of a Ronnie Spector or the quiver of a Joss Stone. B.A.B.Y. appeared in 1978 as her debut single and is also one for fans of Stiff mainstays The Rumour, who provided many of her early backing tracks. I Go To Pieces and two further singles followed but none managed to dent the UK charts any better than this, which made number 34 and an appearance on Top Of The Pops.
Rachel had been discovered on a Stiff trade mission to the thriving alternative music scene of Akron, Ohio. That lead to her first release for the label – a contribution to an Akron compilation that also featured Jane Aire, The Waitresses and The Bizarros – that was packaged in a scratch ’n’ sniff sleeve! With her own releases the media ranted about - or created, depending on who you ask - her Lolita-like image, which seems bizarre thirty years later considering that – unlike in the age of Britney/Christina – she didn’t remove a shred of clothing. Like Stiff’s other classic female pop singer, Tracey Ullman, Rachel later moved from music into US TV working on - amongst others - Dharma & Greg and Seinfeld.
The full force of B.A.B.Y. burned through for many years influencing musicians, as opposed to selling units. Maria McKee, for one, calls her “a true original who nobody talks about any more” and says “she provided a template for Lone Justice.”
“I was blown away because (in 1978) she was so young, only a couple of years older than me, and she seemed so profound that she took me out of my Saturday Night Fever fog,” she told Mojo magazine in March 07. “It’s a classic girl group sound but modern and fresh and I’d never heard anybody do so many different styles before. She was a Mid-western girl from Ohio and she was 16 and hanging around with all of cool London, being on Stiff with Ian Dury and the Blockheads, touring with them, and she must have known Elvis Costello... It’s country, it’s punk and it’s soul… she’s got that baby voice, but there’s real muscle there too…”