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BABE RUTH

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Babe Ruth biography
Founded in Hatfield, UK in 1971 - Disbanded in 1976 - Reformed intermittently between 2002-2014

BABE RUTH was a band that formed in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, in 1971. Guitarist Alan Shacklock founded this progressive rock band. They had a rhythmic, bluesy, guitar orientated sound capped off by the blistering vocals of Jenny Hahn. Rounded out by Chris Holmes (keyboards and organ), Dave Punshon (piano), Dave Hewitt, (bass) and Dick Powell, (drums) this British band always put on a great live show.

Jennie Hahn's raw powerful vocals, and Alan Shacklock's magnificent guitar work made for a true signature sound. With very varied eclectic tastes they covererd song like FRANK ZAPPA's "King Kong", and Curtis Mayfield's "We People Darker Than Blue".

They enjoyed moderate commercial success in Britain, Canada, and the States, but were plagued by personnel problems, and lack of radio airplay. When vocalist Jennie Hahn left the band for parts unknown, the band lost direction and never regained its initial success. I became aware of them through Boston progressive radio where their great song "The Mexican" became a minor hit.

Their 1972 album "First Base", with its cover art by famed YES artist, Roger Dean, remains one of my most favorite albums to this day. I suggest you give this album a listen, because it is simply one of the best rock albums of all time.


Although long gone, BABE RUTH should never be forgotten.

In 2010 the band made a reunion tour and are still touring in 2015.

Updated by rdtprog

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BABE RUTH discography


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BABE RUTH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.71 | 140 ratings
First Base
1972
2.61 | 41 ratings
Amar Caballero
1973
2.92 | 39 ratings
Babe Ruth
1975
2.50 | 30 ratings
Stealin' Home
1975
1.66 | 21 ratings
Kid's Stuff
1976
1.99 | 17 ratings
Que Pasa
2007

BABE RUTH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BABE RUTH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BABE RUTH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 4 ratings
The Best Of Babe Ruth
1977
2.15 | 4 ratings
Greatest Hits
1981
2.91 | 8 ratings
Grand Slam: The Best of Babe Ruth
1995
3.58 | 10 ratings
First Base / Amar Caballero
1998
3.27 | 7 ratings
Babe Ruth / Stealin' Home
2000

BABE RUTH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

BABE RUTH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 First Base by BABE RUTH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 140 ratings

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First Base
Babe Ruth Heavy Prog

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars BABE RUTH were a Jazzy Blues-Rock band who hailed from England, despite naming themselves after an American baseball legend. Although the band managed to reach first base in their native England, it was in North America where the band hit a home run and achieved commercial success when their first album achieved gold. They first emerged in the leafy town of Hatfield, Hertfordshire in 1971 and released their aptly-titled "First Base" album in 1972. They followed it up with four more album releases throughout the 1970's:- "Amar Caballero" (1973); "Babe Ruth" (1975); "Stealin' Home" (1975); and "Kid's Stuff" (1976). The band decided to call it quits after their fifth album in 1976, but they got together again thirty years later to record the long-awaited comeback album "Que Pasa" (2007). It's time now to strike out for a home run with Babe Ruth's "First Base" album. The baseball-themed fantasy artwork for the album cover was designed by Roger Dean, who also designed many YES album covers.

The album gets off to a rip-roaring start with "Wells Fargo", a song you can bank on to deliver some hard-drivin' Blues-Rock with vocalist Janita "Jennie" Haan having the same raw and earthy edge to her voice as blues legend Janis Joplin. The song gallops along at a tremendous pace with the lively horn section sounding like they're having a real blast here. The saxophonist probably needed to lie down in a darkened room just to catch his breath after his energetic non-stop performance in this 6-minute opener. There's a far more sedate pace to "The Runaways" with Jennie Haan sounding far more restrained here. It's a sensual piano piece featuring an oboe and cello in symphonic accompaniment. This rousing classically-inspired music gradually builds up in intensity, emerging into a sonorous crescendo of sound for the spectacular finale, in a bass-heavy song that's very reminiscent of some of Renaissance's epic masterpieces. This is quite possibly the best song that Renaissance *never* recorded. It's time now to go ape-crazy for "King Kong", a cover version of the old Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention song. This is one heck of a crazy jam session, with the band given free rein to improvise away to their heart's content. This is the kind of fast and furious, Jazzy improvisational free-for-all that couldn't possibly be written down formally as musical notation, regardless of whether or not you know your crotchets from your quavers.

"Black Dog" opens Side Two, although it's nothing to do with the classic Led Zep song of the same name. No, this is more of a laid-back Blues-Rock piano number, at least to begin with. The song might sound moody and mellow in the opening, but it's really a wolf in sheep's clothing, because there's a rompin' stompin' Hard Rock song just waiting to get out. Beware, this is a mean "Black Dog" with sharp teeth that might just leap up and bite, so watch out! If the next song "The Mexican" sounds familiar, that's because it's a Jazzed-up version of the spaghetti western music of Ennio Morricone. Hola amigo! It's perfect music for listening to whilst watching "gringo" Clint Eastwood despatching some more Mexican banditos with his trusty six- gun after they've insulted his mule. It's a return to some heavy Blues-Rock for the final song on the album "The Joker", where vocalist Jennie Haan is in mean and moody, bad mama mode again. It's the kind of good old American Pie Southern Rock song you could listen to whilst driving your chevy down to the levee, even if the levee was dry. Sometimes, it's hard to believe Babe Ruth are really as English as a chip buttie, or a vindaloo curry.

"First Base" is a good old-fashioned American Southern Rock album - from the leafy suburbs of Hatfield in England! Babe Ruth may not have hit a home run with this album in their native England, but it's easy to see why they were much more popular with our American cousins. Obvious comparisons can be drawn with the Blues-Rock of Janis Joplin and Big Brother & the Holding Company. Babe Ruth sound as American as Billy Bob Thornton or Randy California eating blueberry pie and wearing a Stetson hat and cowboy boots.

 First Base by BABE RUTH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 140 ratings

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First Base
Babe Ruth Heavy Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Hatfield, England based guitarist / songwriter Alan Shacklock got his career started all the way back in 1963 with his first band The Juniors at the tender age of 12 but along the way until he would form his self-penned band Shacklock in 1970, he seemed to hook up with all the right players. He not only played with John Glascock of Jethro Tull and his brother Brian who would eventually join The Motels but also played with Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones, Carl Palmer of ELP and the late great John Bonham of Led Zeppelin fame. It seemed like destiny was on his side right from the very start as he attracted one interesting character after another into his life. The band Shacklock was created to be that half way point between the possibilities of hard bluesy rock and progressive oriented rock.

While in the band called Shacklock, a young Alan Shacklock would attract the talents of Dave Hewitt (bass), Dick Powell (drums) and Dave Punshon (keyboards) but it wasn't until they found the vocal charm of Janita "Jennie" Haan that the band would really hit their stride. Her inclusion into the mix of things literally changed the entire dynamic flow and it was at this point that the band Shacklock would become the band BABE RUTH, named after the US baseball extraordinaire. While Alan Shacklock had been writing songs for the BABE RUTH debut album FIRST BASE during the two years prior, it was the addition of Haan that sent the creativity into overdrive and then it seems like the doors opened and the red carpets were rolled out as the band found immediate interest from record labels like EMI / Capitol.

BABE RUTH would be treated like royalty as they recorded FIRST BASE at Abbey Road Studios with the assistance of such greats as Tony Clark, Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard and Cockney Rebel. They even commissioned the great album cover art wizard Roger Dean of Yes album fame to conjure up the cover artwork for FIRST BASE although i have to admit that it's one of Dean's less compelling works. While all the venture capitalists seemed to have faith in the ability of BABE RUTH's unique mix of hard rock and prog, it was a surprise that the album did well in Canada by actually going gold, sold respectively in the US but failed to make a dent in the band's native UK where prog rock was in comparison much more popular than North America. While the band may have made it to FIRST BASE, they failed to make a home run.

BABE RUTH carved out a unique slice of prog rock. While often deemed a hard rock album, FIRST BASE can't quite be called a true heavy rocker despite having many tracks that do indeed rock hard and unleash the heavy guitar riffing with the accompanying bluesy soloing. For the most part, FIRST BASE is an intricately designed mix of sophisticated progressive chamber rock that happens to incorporate lots of the elements that were putting prog on the map during the early 70s. In addition, ethnic elements such as a stealthy supply of Latin percussion in the form of congas, bongos and the cabasa found their way into much of the album's tracks. While heavy hitters such as the excellent opener "Well's Fargo" are more aggressively guitar rock oriented, even here there is Latin percussion, a sizzling saxophone solo and interesting time signature chops that deviate from the standard hard rock bands of the era. This track has a funky soul flair that sort of reminds me of the Jackson Five actually.

The heavy heft of the title track however quickly gives way to the more sensual piano driven second track "The Runaways" which offers an ample supply of cello, oboe and symphonic arrangements. While "Wells Fargo" found Haan belting out her best Janis Joplin styled vocals, on "The Runaways" she croons tenderly sounding more like Annie Haslam of Renaissance than the blues rock diva of the previous track. An excellent rendition of the Mothers of Invention's classic "King Kong" provides an interesting instrumental proggy jam for the band to take extra liberties that don't quite work on vocal tracks. The band do wonders with another cover, the exquisite "Black Dog" that didn't come from Led Zeppelin but rather country rocker Jesse Winchester. This beautiful piano based melodic track finds some fancy ivory tinkling, tasty soulful organ runs with the extra heft of syncopated hard rock guitar. Haan belts out some delicious vocal performances on this one.

The band's most successful prog hit came in the form of "The Mexican" which found some air time on prog oriented formats. The track was primarily crafted by Shacklock but inserts various elements of an Ennio Morricone track ("Per Qualche Dollaro In Piu"). The track dishes out the expected Latin rhythms but also contains a vivacious series of guitar riffs that coalesce into the Morricone inspired soundtrack themes. As the album closes with the funky Hammond organ stabs in "The Joker," Shacklock also reprises the heavy rock guitar riffs and Haan reverts back to her Janis Joplin shtick with her bad mama bluesy grit, however her vocal range is impressive as she can suddenly hit high notes and unexpected squeals.

For anyone looking exclusively for a hard rock album, they will surely be disappointed since hard rock is but one important element that is strewn about judiciously yet irregularly throughout the album. While the general gist is that the harder rocking tracks are less proggy and the proggy tracks are less heavy, the truth is that all the tracks have both elements to a certain degree. Really, the only heavy blues based rock tracks are "Wells Fargo," "The Mexican" and "Joker" while the others are more steeped in the progressive rock compositional fortitude that only incorporates the heavier rock elements for a little contrast. Despite the odd mix of elements that BABE RUTH dished out on FIRST BASE, things flow together fairly smoothly and in the end and this is a rather unique sounding album as it takes many of the trends of the era including blues rock, hard rock, prog, jazz and chamber rock and stitch it all together very nicely. The highlight is surely the phenomenal vocal performances of Janita Haan which bring the album to a whole other level.

 First Base by BABE RUTH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 140 ratings

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First Base
Babe Ruth Heavy Prog

Review by jmeadow

4 stars Babe Ruth's debut album First Base is quite something. An English band from Hatfield in Hertfordshire with a lead singer who was only 19 when the album was released, yet they sound like they've spent their formative years drinking whiskey in ramshackle bars along the US-Mexican border. And somehow the album feels completely authentic. This is an album of pace, energy, emotion - excellent musicianship and an incredible vocal performance. Includes the absolute classics 'Black Dog' and 'The Mexican'. It amazes me that this album is not more well-known.

For me this is a more of a proggy album, then a bone fide progressive rock record - but most tracks are relatively long (5-8 mins), contain experimental sections and show the influence of blues and jazz. There's even a cover of Frank Zappa's 'King Kong'. I give this 4 stars only because I think it's more of a rock classic than a prog rock classic, but if you like classic rock then you really should have this album in your collection.

 First Base by BABE RUTH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 140 ratings

BUY
First Base
Babe Ruth Heavy Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Babe Ruth would shift from being a hard-edged progressive rock band to being a hard rock band with a few progressive touches on subsequent albums, but this debut finds them at their proggiest, with a capable cover version of Frank Zappa's King Kong - one of the most intricate and technically challenging compositions from the original Mothers of Invention era - demonstrating their strong capabilities as a group. The album's sound is unique in the band's back catalogue due to the aforementioned hard rock emphasis of their subsequent releases, which is a shame because had they persisted in this direction I think they could have been major names on the prog scene.
 Stealin' Home by BABE RUTH album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.50 | 30 ratings

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Stealin' Home
Babe Ruth Heavy Prog

Review by maryes

2 stars BABE RUTH "Stealin' Home" is (in my humble opinion) an album which only figures in P A pages, because make part of band discography, due the music in "Stealin' Home" is far from something in terms of progressive-rock... in fact is only a reasonable hard-rock album. In attempt do not be so rigid, I can mention very brief moments in whole album, which seems close of progressive music, in the track 4 "Two Thousand Sunsets" a ballad where the progressive impression is more made by the strings arrangements and not by the band execution, the track 8 "Caught At The Plate" a type of dialogue between the electric-piano and the synthesizer. I don't consider this 2 moments enough to recommend this disk for none prog fan. My Rate is only 2 stars !!!
 First Base by BABE RUTH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 140 ratings

BUY
First Base
Babe Ruth Heavy Prog

Review by maryes

3 stars In their first studio album "First Base",the British band BABE RUTH presents a hard-bluesy prog sonority, but in my point of view in spite the album bring to the audience some great musical moments like in the track 3 "King Kong" , track 4 "Black Dog" and the track 5 "The Mexican" , where the band shows their great skill in terms of execution and composition... the other tracks that compound the album suffer a very common problem which affect other bands of same period, the tendency to use repetitive rhythms and almost none variations, a good example of this tendency is the last track "Joker" where the rhythmic section arrangement are very boring. Therefore, although I recognise the great capacity of the musicians ( like I said before), my rate is only 3 stars !!! However, I want stand out that this album figures in my collection !
 Amar Caballero by BABE RUTH album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.61 | 41 ratings

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Amar Caballero
Babe Ruth Heavy Prog

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The name Babe Ruth has a different meaning depending on whom you ask, and some music aficionados will direct you to this English hard rock group, likely to their debut album FIRST BASE. I happened to get the clean-up album AMAR CABALLERO first, a decision that hasn't been that rewarding.

Let's start with the standout great track of the album that is the one that gives AMAR CABALLERO its title. I've heard their song ''The Mexican'' and this sounds sort of like a sequel to that song (the peppy middle section anyway). The nine-minute mini-epic flows rather smoothly and the acoustic guitar ballad at the beginning puts the listener in the right mood. Fantastic finish.

But where to go with the rest of the album?..it sounds like Babe Ruth couldn't decide if they wanted to be Parliament crossed with Motown or Renaissance without a rhythm section. The quiet ballads (''Broken Cloud'', ''We Are Holding On'' and ''Baby Pride'') are below average to put it nicely. The others are mediocre at best including a couple of forays into some of the most unbearable vocals on the heavy prog circuit. Maybe there was humour intended, but it makes no difference with me if I've already curled into a cringing position.

If you really want to hear the prog rock in this, just get the title track unless you have a penchant for subpar Motown funk-rock. The band sounds absolutely confused on which musical direction to take, and the listener absorbs this confusion almost by default.

 First Base by BABE RUTH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 140 ratings

BUY
First Base
Babe Ruth Heavy Prog

Review by Sagichim
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars I have known this album years before i got into progressive rock and never consider it to be more than a good rock album. there are some prog elements here but i wouldn't call it a prog rock album. what presented here are great rock songs with every song has the addition of an element making it more interesting than your usual rock album , like the addition of brass like trumpet , saxophone , oboe , violins or some piano and keys. the band likes to include some latin tinged lines and some intricate jazzy riffs with their rocking guitar on top. they fuses their rock songs with some ballads which gives the whole album a more varied atmosphere. but what's holding this album , for me , being more complete is the fact that some of the songs are streched too much just of the sake of being long , which kind of making the album loose its punch.

'wells fargo' openes the album with a terrific start , this one sounds much more complete from the rest , and is a good example of the band showing their style adding the trumpet in the mix and turning the track to a full blown party!! great stuff and i wish they kept doing it like this. another good example for making it right is 'king kong' showing their intricate jazzy lines executed with guitar , keys and piano all together , very good . this song being instrumental contains solos of keys and guitar , all good. but tracks like 'the runaways' , 'black dog' , 'joker' all suffer from over extensivness ( which is a common disease ) when actually nothing is happening , and the song looses it's effectiveness , bringing the album down. although they are good songs with good ideas they could have been so much better. especially the runaways with its beautiful melody carried out with piano and some orchestra instruments . gentle and beautiful but would be better and to the point if it were shorter. another thing is vocals , sung by janita haan are not that great , she's not a bad singer but i don't like her when she strain her self , comparing her to janis joplin is an insult.

This is a nice addition to anyone's collection. 3 stars.

 First Base by BABE RUTH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 140 ratings

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First Base
Babe Ruth Heavy Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars Can't say that I like the likes of Wells Fargo, but I suppose it's a good energic Jazz song. I like next one more, The Runaways is a ballad of some kind and even if it's not, it is for me. Long, with second half graduating in a same way as "Starship Trooper by Yes is. King Kong is a long jamming piece which doesn't forget to Rock. Just don't think of fellow UK'rs Led Zeppelin, when listening to Black Dog - this song is completely different and the song, Janita's vocals even more, reminds me of Sandrose, while The Mexican simply is. Nothing more needs to be about the song. And Joker? Fine ending piece I say. Good album,
 Kid's Stuff by BABE RUTH album cover Studio Album, 1976
1.66 | 21 ratings

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Kid's Stuff
Babe Ruth Heavy Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Well, I finally found a copy of this album after waiting for years to give it a chance. A friend got a remastereed CD version and I must say that Kid┬┤s Stuff was not nearly as bad as I initially thought it would be based on the ratings this record got here at PA. By this time the band had lost the two last original members, singer Janita Haan and bassist Dave Hewitt. With Bernie Mardsen as their leader now they moved on recruiting Ellie Hope and Ray Knot their replacements. The results? Well, not really their best LP ever. But not really bad either. There are some good stuff, but generally the feelingof losing Haan was too much.

Hope has a good blues voice, but replacing an iconic and powerhouse singer like Haan was really beyond most mortal beings. Besides, the band seemed unsure on which way to go musically too (a problem that plagued Babe Ruth for far too long, and together with the constat line up changes, pratically destroyed their chances to made it big after their stunning debut a few years before). So while most of the tracks are good hard rockers, there is some funky and soul stuff creeping in too but NOT disco as some reviewer here claimed. You know, there is a difference between funky and soul to disco, specially the bass and drums patterns and definitly, Babe Ruth did nothing disco in their career. But the black danceable rhythms were indeed featured both on Kid┤s Stuff and, to a lesser extent, to their previous one. Songs like Sweet Sweet Surrender, Oh Doctor and Since You Went Away are very much influenced by those musical forms. If you┬┤re open minded person and/or like funky stuff, you┬┤ll see they are quite good. However, overall I feel Kid┬┤s Stuff lacking a strong musical direction. Their previous album, Stealin┬┤Home, was varied, but was much more focused and the repertoire was way stronger (not ot mention Haan┬┤s presence!).

Still there is at least one great number here, the closing Living A Lie, not only an excelent blues rock sample but surely one of their best songs ever (and oddly enough, sung by Marsden, who takes over lead vocal duties on several tunes). The only prog connection here might be the instrumental Nickelodeon, a short, nice, keyboard only track. While the tracklist overall isn┬┤t great, there is not hacks either (as long as you like the funk and soul stuff, which I do). Marsden would eventually join David Coverdale┬┤s Whitesnake, where this mix of styles would be far more succesful).

Conclusion: nice blues/rock/funk record, but nothing more. Not on par with Babe Ruth┬┤s debut (whcih, by the way, none from their discography is) and sorely missing Janita Haan┬┤s distinctive voice. Not much prog here either. Final rating: something between 2 and 2.5 stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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