Juliana's first band the Blake Babies was a college alternative band in the mold of Dinosaur Jr, only much more melodic and pop. Hatfield played bass guitar and held lead songwriting duties for the band. Touring the college indie alternative circuit, Blake Babies may have been the last important jangle pop band of the pre-Nirvana Nevermind era. They had no breakthrough songs, but Blake Babies did record a number of minor hits: 'Cesspool' and 'Rain' from 1989's Earwig, 'Out There' and 'Train' from 1990's Sunburn. The band broke up after this, their finest effort.
Hatfield had a personal romance with the Lemonhead's Evan Dando, and they played on each other's records. Hatfield played bass on the Lemonhead's 1992 breakthrough It's a Shame about Ray. Check out Hatfield's bass work on their cover of Simon & Garfunkel's Mrs Robinson. Dando played bass and provided backing vocals on Blake Babies Earwig and guitar and vocal support on Hatfield's debut record.
Hey Babe debuted in 1992. It contained themes that would continue through Hatfield's career. There is the muscular guitar pop 'Everybody Loves Me but You' and also the sing-songy 'Ugly.' The latter is reminiscent of a fellow Bostonian, Jonathon Richman in his post Modern Lovers era.
1993's Become What You Are spawned a number of minor hits. The Winona Ryder/Ethan Hawkes movie Reality Bites featured the song 'Spin the Bottle'. 'My Sister' was a minor non-rrriot girls classic in the same vein as the alt-pop Belly's 'Feed the Tree' and Throwing Muses's ethereal 'Red Shoes'. For local pride, check-out Hatfield's 'Feeling Massachusetts.'
After some disappointing releases and record label problems, on 16 May 2000, Hatfield released Beautiful Creature and as the band Juliana's Pony Total System Failure. The former featured the angular 'Don't Rush Me' and the wistful 'Might Be in the Love.'
2000 also marked the reunion of Blake Babies. Actually, they had started touring a year earlier. God Bless the Blake Babies may be their best record ever. According to guitarist John Strohm, it certainly was the best the band sounded. 'Disappear' and 'Nothing Ever Happens' announce the band's return with power chords and strong melodies. Hatfield's normal tales of breakup and romance get a welcome brush of pop polish on 'Until I Almost Died' and 'What Did I Do.' If you missed the alternative indie scene of the 80's, rush to get this record. The Blake Babies lived through that era, learned from it, and made a great reunion record.