I’m going Old School with this one. In 1987 MCA Records released this self-titled debut album of a girl group called Sugar Babes. I still have several vivid memories of this group. I remember the very first time I ever heard of them, I was listening to a live concert on a local AM radio station called KDAY, which was one of the first radio stations in the country to extensively play rap music, along with R&B. I recall the host announced this group called Sugar Babes and how there was almost no applause for them. Then they performed one song, which I thought was catchy, and there was a huge round of applause and cheering when they finished. So I recall listening and thinking that they must have impressed that live audience.
Not long after I read an interview with them in one of the Black teen magazines of the time (Right On! or Black Beat, I think), and they were three teenage girls, I think 16-17 at the time, while I was in Junior High. Patrice Lydia, Kimiko Whittaker, and Stacie Irvin. And I was immediately smitten by Stacie (she’s the one in the middle in the above pic). So when their album came out, I not only bought it, I also bought the 12 inch records of the singles that were released, even though I already had the songs on the album, just because of her picture on the covers.
I had to do that at the time because there wasn’t much publicity for them after their debut. I never saw any other magazine interviews with them, or saw them on any TV shows. After their first single came out and didn’t make much of an impact, they just quickly faded away, which is shame. Well, the album is long out of print, and was never released on CD or made available on iTunes, but my brother has a record player that can convert from Vinyl to CD. And I found a used copy of their album on Amazon and bought it, and my brother just converted it for me. So I got to listen to it again, 27 years later.
The album is produced by Vincent Brantley and Rick Timas, who wrote most of the songs, and had worked on Sugar Babes’ label-mates New Edition, for their self-title album and the follow-up All For Love. And the songs are all in that same vein of R&B/Pop, with the three girls sharing co-lead vocals.
1/I’LL EDUCATE YOU (ON MY LOVE)
A very uptempo dance track, with the theme being the girls are singing to some shy guys who don’t know how to approach them, and giving them tips on how to win their hearts (“flowers on the table, show me that you’re able”). This was the 2nd single released from this album.
2/WE ROCK THE BEAT
This was their first single, and was the song I heard them perform on that radio concert. It’s a simplistic song just about the girls being friends and singing (“we’re birds of a feather, we rock the beat together”), but their harmonizing voices make it work, and it’s got a catchy upbeat sound. It’s still my favorite song of theirs.
Another uptempo track about being in love and having fun. I really like this one.
This slows it down a little bit about whether what they’re feeling right now is true love or just puppy love, because of how young they are. It’s nice.
5/THE PERFECT KIND OF LOVE
The first ballad of the album. This was the 3rd and final single released from this album. It’s decent enough.
6/HERE I GO (FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN)
Another ballad, this one written by Steve Theard and Kevin Spencer. This is a great song, sounds a bit more mature. It’s about falling in love with someone despite not wanting to after being heartbroken before. This is my 2nd favorite song of theirs.
7/YOU BRING OUT THE BEST IN ME
Brantley and Timas wrote this uptempo track about being in love.
8/HE’S THE ONE
Theard and Spencer write this mid-tempo track singing about the boy of their dreams.
9/THE FIRST PLAY
And Theard and Spencer wrote this mid-temp track. I can’t really be sure if they’re singing about going to perform a show, or going to a party, or what.
And that’s it (9 songs is rather typical for albums back then). Overall it’s not bad, but it’s not particularly great. Several of the songs are interchangeable, with the similar drum-machine beat that makes it all sound very “80’s”. Switch the gender-specific words and all of these songs could have been sung by New Edition or New Kids On The Block, or any other teen singing group from that time. But the few standouts do show that these girls had talent. Their vocals were fine, they were attractive, and could dance. With better music they could have made a bigger impact. Unfortunately this was the first and last album for them as a group.
And information about them is very scarce, with most web searches instead leading you to the British girl group SUGABABES
And like I said, the album is only available on out of print vinyl, so it’s not easy to get, even if you do have a record player for it. That’s why I included links to Youtube where each song has been uploaded, so you can hear it for yourself. Thanks to Youtube user MizBabyGirl for uploading them.
And here is the one and only video that the group filmed. It’s not the best quality, but so be it.
But, while this was the beginning and end of the Sugar Babes, it wasn’t quite the end for all the members, just yet…tune in tomorrow for more…