Header
Babe Ruth - Amar Caballero CD (album) cover

AMAR CABALLERO

Babe Ruth

 

Heavy Prog

2.60 | 30 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars Babe Ruth were a band that certainly had every opportunity to be a huge commercial success, which makes the fact they never rose above b-list status and disappeared after four albums of descending quality and importance all the more egregious. The band's first album hit the scene graced with one of the more unusual Roger Dean covers (certainly a prerequisite for progressive music success in the early seventies). Their first two albums were recorded by the inimitable Tony Clark of Beatles and Cliff Richard fame. Their inexplicable recording business connections earned them a multi-album contract on the Harvest label and strong rotation airplay for their 'Wells Fargo' and 'The Mexican' singles.

And to top this all off their first two studio releases were recorded at the commercial- success mecca of the day, Abbey Road Studios. For this, their second album, that meant access to some pretty heavy-hitters to act as backing musicians and who managed to flesh out what was otherwise a lean sound into something that approached a major act production. The plethora of horns, percussion and strings on this album belie the fact the group was nothing more than a quartet featuring the standard fare of a rock band for instrumentation: one guitar, bass, drums and occasional keyboards. The mostly uncredited backing musicians had on their resumes appearances on such luminary rock classics as 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band', 'Jesus Christ Superstar', 'Magical Mystery Tour', Nektar's 'Down to Earth', Fleetwood Mac's 'Mr. Wonderful' and a host of albums for Ginger Baker's Air Force, Stealer's Wheel, Be Bop Deluxe, Mark Almond, Roy Orbison, Stephen Stills, Bell & Arc, Camel, Wishbone Ash and Rod Stewart, among many others. The army of support and promotion helped the band achieve their only Top-100 Billboard record, but it also helped hide the fact that Babe Ruth wasn't much more than a one-trick pony whose attraction would quickly dissipate as soon as the A&R money dried up and the band was forced to try and achieve a worthwhile sound on their own merits.

But that time wouldn't come until after this album was recorded, and the solid support here did result in the band laying down a few tracks that stand up to some scrutiny even if they don't represent the true level of talent in the group's legitimate lineup.

The opening 'Lady' is a slightly bluesy rock number with lush horns, woodwinds, layers of percussion and multi-tracked vocals all designed to give weight to lead singer Janita Haan's appreciable vocal talent. The result is s solid AOR track that lacks soul but has a respectable studio sheen and radio-friendly mood.

'Broken Cloud' is much slower and also fat with strings, horns, and woodwinds that reinforce the spaghetti-western tone the band was by then trying to perfect in their music. Clark must have recognized the band's true strength when he decided to overdub Haan's voice with herself to decent effect, but otherwise this is a rather forgettable tune and one the band would not likely have been able to pull off by themselves in a live setting.

The band's heavy blues background is most evident on 'Gimme Some Leg', an odd tempo number dominated by rich organ bleats and wicked guitar soloing I'd like to believe was delivered by band guitarist Alan Shacklock but can't be sure considering the wealth of more talented musicians hanging around who contributed to this recording.

The record continues its see-saw mood swings with the cool-jazz keyboard-driven 'Baby Pride', a sexy and charming number but one that fails to capitalize on Haan's Janis Joplin- like vocal chops.

And why the band (or Clark) felt the need to insert a cover of the Capitol's hit 'Cool Jerk' is beyond me, but of the half-dozen or so versions I've heard of this song over the years this is easily the most overworked yet uninspired. This is a dance tune meant to drive listeners into a jiggy frenzy. Haan and her doo-wop backing singers sound more like a Sha-Na-Na wramup act. Very weird.

'We Are Holding On', along with 'Doctor Love' (no, not the one you're thinking of) were inexplicably b-side singles with their flip sides being songs that were never released on any Babe Ruth album that I'm aware of. The first is a very decent soft instrumental that chiefly features violin, keyboards and acoustic guitar that I'm quite sure weren't played by anyone in the band (I could be wrong, but I doubt it). The second is a spastic dance tune with erratic percussion that is saved only by the horn solos.

The album does have at least one redeeming song, the nine-minute title track that closes the record, although the thing runs to about the 2:30 mark before it manages to get going with a heavily Latin-influenced bevy of acoustic guitar picking, sassy percussion and occasional distant background singing. This climaxes into what sounds like a brief recording of crowd noises before slipping back into an acoustic coma which slowly and deliberately fades away. Nice guitar work and a decent soundtrack for a desert sunset, but that's about it.

Babe Ruth had a couple decent tunes in the early years, most significantly the cult hit 'The Mexican' on which the band rode for the rest of the career (and for their reunion formation in 2005). Otherwise this seems to have been an attempt by their label to manufacture a persona that the band themselves don't seem to have been capable of projecting on their own. This isn't their worst album; the 1976 disaster 'Kid's Stuff' with an almost completely different lineup and sans Haan owns that distinction. But its also not even close to being their best, and given the massive effort to spice it up with studio musicians and engineering massaging, I have to say that it doesn't deserve more than two out of five stars and a lukewarm recommendation only for hardcore fans (who probably already own it). Otherwise, don't waste your time or money.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Share this BABE RUTH review

>

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | GeoIP Services by MaxMind | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — the ultimate jazz music virtual community | MetalMusicArchives.com — the ultimate metal music virtual community


Server processing time: 0.03 seconds