Ruby Vroom

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Ruby Vroom
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 27, 1994
RecordedApril – June 1994
GenreAlternative rock, alternative hip hop, experimental
LabelSlash/Warner Bros. Records
ProducerTchad Blake
Soul Coughing chronology
Ruby Vroom
Irresistible Bliss
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Consumer GuideA[2]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[3]
Entertainment WeeklyA[4]
The Guardian3/4 stars[5]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[7]

Ruby Vroom is the debut studio album by American rock band Soul Coughing, released in 1994. The album's sound is a mixture of sample-based tunes (loops of Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" on "Bus to Beelzebub", Toots and the Maytals, Howlin' Wolf, The Andrews Sisters, and The Roches on "Down to This", and a loop of sampler player Mark De Gli Antoni's orchestral horns on "Screenwriter's Blues", among others). It also features guitar-based tunes like "Janine", "Moon Sammy", and "Supra Genius" and jazzy, upright-bass-fueled songs that often slyly quoted other material—the theme from Courageous Cat on "Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago", Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso" on "Casiotone Nation", and Bobby McFerrin's cover of Joan Armatrading's "Opportunity" on "Uh, Zoom Zip".

The album sold approximately 70,000 copies, as of April 1996, according to Billboard.[8]


Ruby was named after a mispronunciation of the name of Ruby Froom, daughter of record producer Mitchell Froom—a frequent collaborator of Ruby Vroom producer Tchad Blake—and singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega.[9]


The album was recorded at Sunset Sound Factory in Hollywood, Blake and Froom's usual haunt—a storage room near the studio's lounge was filled with vintage keyboards and road cases filled with toys—whistles, baby rattles, children's toy xylophones. Many of these ended up in the songs, such as a train whistle played by Doughty on "Uh, Zoom Zip". This was in keeping with Tchad Blake's spirit of maverick experimentation, which included sticking a binaural head-shaped microphone in front of Yuval Gabay's drumkit, sticking a mic in a car muffler, called "the Bone" and sticking that in the drum booth as well, and having Doughty improvise wild, yelling ad-libs on "Casiotone Nation", singing into a cheap amplification system called an Ahuja that Blake bought in India. The speaker was essentially a huge bullhorn atop a stick.

The album's lone guest is Rachel Benbow Murdy, band founder Mike Doughty's ex-girlfriend, who supplies a vocal on "Janine". Doughty had Murdy go out to a payphone in Sheridan Square in New York and improvise a long, meandering song into their answering machine. Recorded a year before the Ruby sessions, Doughty and bass player Sebastian Steinberg recorded the tune at the avant-garde jazz club The Knitting Factory during the daytime, when the club was closed, with club soundperson James McLean. McLean put a mic on the answering machine, which Doughty had brought to the session.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago" – 3:48
  2. "Sugar Free Jazz" – 3:55
  3. "Casiotone Nation" – 3:50
  4. "Blue Eyed Devil" – 4:12
  5. "Bus to Beelzebub" – 4:33
  6. "True Dreams of Wichita" – 5:00
  7. "Screenwriter's Blues" – 5:08
  8. "Moon Sammy" – 4:09
  9. "Supra Genius" – 3:59
  10. "City of Motors" – 4:38
  11. "Uh, Zoom Zip" – 3:56
  12. "Down to This" – 3:49
  13. "Mr. Bitterness" – 5:32
  14. "Janine" – 4:58

B-sides and outtakes[edit]

  1. "Buddha Rhubarb Butter"
  2. "A Murder of Lawyers"
  3. "The Brooklynites"
  4. "I'm Living On Baby Food"
  5. "Theme from Rachel's Sitcom"



  1. ^ Westergaard, Sean. "Ruby Vroom – Soul Coughing". AllMusic. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "Soul Coughing: Ruby Vroom". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 0-312-24560-2. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2009). "Soul Coughing". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-972636-1. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  4. ^ Mirkin, Steven (September 16, 1994). "Ruby Vroom". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  5. ^ Romney, Jonathan (October 14, 1994). "Soul Coughing: Ruby Vroom (Slash/London)". The Guardian.
  6. ^ Azerrad, Michael (December 15, 1994). "Soul Coughing: Ruby Vroom". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 1, 2007. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  7. ^ Sarig, Roni (2004). "Soul Coughing". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 760. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  8. ^ Olson, Catherine Applefeld (April 6, 1996). "Soul Coughing Set Promises 'Irrresistable Bliss'". Billboard. 18 (14).
  9. ^ Brown, Mark (1996-11-19). "Babies Become Newest Rock 'N' Roll Fad". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-19.