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Babe Ruth - Grand Slam: The Best of Babe Ruth CD (album) cover

GRAND SLAM: THE BEST OF BABE RUTH

Babe Ruth

 

Heavy Prog

2.89 | 7 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Trotsky
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars At the best of times, compilations are unlikely to focus on a group's most progressive moments, and Babe Ruth are one of the least overtly progressive rock bands in here. This collection therefore can easily lead a newcomer to believe that all Babe Ruth ever were was a second drawer hard rock band ... one among hundreds of Led Zeppelin wannabes. That might be cruel but the fact is that too few of the 16 tracks on this set are worth the attention of yer average prog fan.

Now that doesn't mean that the music on here is really bad. The power-packed vocals of lead singer Janita Haan (who's from the Janis Joplin school of blues shouters), stinging guitars of Alan Shacklock and occasional dexterous keyboard leads from Dave Punshon do indeed make Babe Ruth a band worth listening to. But the track selection leaves a lot to be desired, even if they did make the sensible choice of picking from only the first three Babe Ruth albums (the fourth Stealin' Home was made by a line-up containing only two of the band's original line-up, and by the time of 1977's fifth and final album Kid's Stuff, none of them were left!) . The omission of the two most progressive tracks off the first album (First Base) alone ensures that this record probably isn't the place to start from.

The tunes which best show off the afore-mentioned strengths of the group are heavy blues rock offerings Wells Fargo, Joker and Black Dog (all also off that first album) and the three part Latin epic Amar Caballero on which Shacklock's considerable Spanish guitar skills get a real airing as they lead a jam that would make Carlos Santana proud.

Many of the tracks though are like Jack O'Lantern which sees the group making a move for the commercial hard rock ground ploughed by the likes of UFO and even latter-day Sweet, although some have enjoyable moments ... Dancer has a fine synth solo from Punshon's replacement Steve Girl. The emphatically-prog tracks are The Duchess Of Orleans, a misfiring musical-type track with off-pitch vocals, the lounge-jazz of Lady, the zany funk-soul (saz solo and all) of Doctor Love, the lush Eastern-themed ballad Broken Cloud and If Heaven's On Beauty's Side (which, considering it was recorded in 1975 does a damn fine job of presaging disco!). When you add in the two covers of Morricone's For A Few Dollars More and Fistful Of Dollars, the "cheesiness factor" of this record is pretty high.

If you're looking for innovative, experimental rock, I'm really very sure that this album is not worth investigating. In fact, even considering the solidity of the first album, there really are hundreds of groups you should head to before turning to Babe Ruth. ... 27% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 2/5 |

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