The ex-Blake Baby, now solo, gnaws energetically on the terrific tension she’s built up between her growing babe-ification and her heroic (heroine-ic?) dedication to undercutting it lyrically–“ugly with a capital U” indeed. Her first solo album, Hey Babe, and a handful of non-LP B-sides show her working it all out, both explicitly (“Everybody Loves Me but You,” “Ugly”) and rather less so (“Get Off Your Knees”). The brutality of her romantic toles on the two and a half or three Blake Babies albums gives her a pungent authority that carries over into Hey Babe on even the simpler love songs (“Forever Baby”) and gives the record as a whole enormous punch. You want more tension? How about the difference between her sweet ‘n’ breathy studio voice and the rather more crackling instrument we hear live? Or between the off-pitch, plaintive solo number that is “Ugly” and the bashy, smashy guitars and drums on “Quit”? It’s not perfect (there’s a long lull on what in earlier times would have been called the record’s second side). But it is a showcase for a potentially major artist attempting to blur the lines between a formidable set of pop instincts and the anger and the peace that is rock ‘n’ roll. “Here comes that song I love so much,” warbles Hatfield winningly. “Makes me want to go fuck shit up.” The show Sunday at Lounge Ax is a night off after dates with the B-52’s Friday at Star Plaza in Merrillville and Saturday at the Aragon. Note the early starting time; the Masons open. Sunday, 2:30 PM (in-store electric performance), Rose Records, 3259 N. Ashland; 880-0280. Sunday, 9 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Lavine.