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Babe Ruth - First Base CD (album) cover

FIRST BASE

Babe Ruth

 

Heavy Prog

3.71 | 139 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Babe Ruth seem to have made a big impact on those who got into some of their minor hit singles back in the seventies. It is common to read reviews, blogs and forum entries from middle-aged dudes (seems to be almost all guys for some reason) who were really blown away by the band’s energy as well as by their relatively simple but well-textured arrangements. The gutsy intensity and ripped abs of lead singer Juanita Haan didn’t hurt either, I suppose.

I actually never heard of these guys back then, and didn’t really discover their music until long after they had disbanded. In retrospect, their first three albums were all quite good, with this one being the most well-known and probably the best overall in terms of musicality and progginess. From the spacious “The Runaways” to a highly rhythmic and intense version of Zappa’s “King Kong”, the band displayed both power and finesse while above all emphasizing an enthusiasm that is still quite infectious.

The band’s biggest hit ‘”The Mexican” also came from their debut, an intense variation on the Ennio Morricone spaghetti-western theme that took the sound of bands like Home and Cactus one step further by incorporating heavy organ and percussion to give the tune a rather timeless feel.

Their other cover came with a lengthy and impassioned version of “Black Dog”, a song penned by American war-protestor Jesse Winchester who fled the U.S. for Canada after being selected by the Vietnam War draft board. Those were different times, but the message sadly resonates still today.

The album closes with “Joker”, a hard-rocking tune that calls to mind the rhythm of Bad Company and the hard-driving blues of Led Zeppelin. This one is really a period piece that doesn’t stand the test of time quite as well as the rest of the album, but is still a pretty powerful song even today.

Unfortunately Babe Ruth would go steadily downhill in the years following this release, and by the time ‘Kid's Stuff’ released four years later all the original members were gone and what remained was in name only and bore little resemblance to the original sound. No matter, this album’s place in prog history was well-secured by then, and even the disco damage done to their reputation and music by the end of the decade would not taint that. This is a solid heavy prog offering from a band that should have been bigger than they were. A four star effort for sure, and one that is highly recommended for prog fans who enjoy gutsy female singers and bands who take the “rock” part of progressive rock seriously.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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