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The Babys: Silver Dreams - Complete Albums 1975-1980 (6CD Boxset)

Between 1977 and 1981 The Babys nearly had it all. With John Waite behind the mic and super producers like Bob Ezrin, Ron Nevison and Keith Olsen crafting their attack, the UK formed by US based band possessed the sound and undoubtedly produced the songs that could captivate a nation’s airwaves. And yet, if there’s one main legacy to come from the six years and five albums this band put together it’s that Waite would go on to mega-solo success, that latter day keyboard player Jonathan Cain would become a lynchpin in classic era Journey and that the pair would reunite with The Babys bassist Ricky Phillips in Bad English to gain further chart success before splitting up again after only two albums, with Phillips going on to join Styx.

The band would form as far back as 1975 with Waite, who also handled bass at this point, joined by lead guitarist Wally Stocker, drummer Tony Brock and keyboard player/guitarist Michael Corby, with the quartet almost immediately recording an album which would be shelved almost as quickly as it was recorded. Hence the journey began proper in 1977 with the arrival of The Babys, which would be followed the same year by album number two, Broken Heart. With a sound perfect to help launch the AOR, radio friendly rock phenomena that the likes of Foreigner and the aforementioned Journey were about to hit pay dirt with, the band’s debut is a smooth but hard rock delight, Waite’s perfect voice already operating at full force as it both knocked down walls and tore apart hearts. And with lighter wavers like “Laura” snuggling keenly next to energetic riff wagons such as “If You’ve Got The Time”, the balance between Corby’s keyboard majesty and Stockers howling six string was nigh on perfect. The album, however, stalled at number 133 in the US charts, although it’s quick-fire follow-up would fare much better with “Wrong Or Right” adding a mellow Led Zeppelin vibe into proceedings and “Isn’t It Time” a much more sophisticated and soulful side, which helped propel the Broken Heart album to #34 in the album charts - “Isn’t It Time” itself climbing to #13 in the hot 100 singles countdown.

By 1978’s Head First it was all change for The Babys, with Corby credited on the album as ‘additional musician’; the core trio of Waite, Stocker and Brock pushing onwards together with the aid of additional helpers on the album such as pianist Kevin Kelly and bassist Jack Conrad. However, right from the proud strut of album opener “Love Don’t Prove I’m Right” it was obvious that while all clearly hadn’t been well within the band’s ranks, it certainly was in the songwriting department. The second song on the album, “Every Time I Think Of You” (composed by Conrad and Ray Kennedy) was another beautiful, soulful, almost Motown piece of brass infused rock that once more would fire The Babys into the singles charts. However, from the forceful “Run To Mexico” and “Please Don’t Leave Me Here” to the gloriously melodic hard rock of “I Was One” and the decidedly Zeppelin meets Foreigner of “Head First”, arguably this was The Babys strongest outing to date and it also captured the band’s highest ever album chart position of #22.

For 1980’s Union Jacks Cain and Phillips were now onboard a new five man strong line-up, with Waite manning the mic full time and while the album would struggle its way to only number 42 in the charts, there is, with hindsight, simply no denying the class of the song-craft behind the likes of “Back On My Feet Again” - a song which would take The Babys back into the top 40s singles chart. Although you could argue that the urgency behind “True Love, True Confession” and “Anytime” is even more potent - and that much of this album would set the blueprint that Waite and Bad English would ride to success once The Babys had split.

That event, however, came after album number five, On The Edge, which was also released in 1980. Considering this was the band’s fifth album in just over three years, the consistency and class is quite remarkable. “Turn And Walk Away” deserving to fare much better than its meagre 42 singles chart placing suggested, whereas “Rock n Roll Is Alive And Well” adds a welcome theatricality to proceedings as “Too Far Gone” illustrated that these soft rockers could hit as hard as anybody you care to mention in 1980.

And with that The Babys were done, a rather unceremonious gig in Cincinnati where a fan pulled John Waite from the stage in their eagerness to get near their hero resulting in a serious knee injury for the singer. One final hurrah came in Akron, Ohio once Waite had recovered but the rest of the tour was cancelled and whether through the frustration of having released five excellent, but largely ignored albums, or the simple desire to head for pastures new, The Babys went their separate ways.

Across the discs contained in this beautifully presented box set numerous bonus tracks appear, with most being in the guise of alternate mixes and versions of album tracks, with a few singles and compilation only cuts added for completeness. However, the real excitement arrives in the shape of three separate inclusions - the first being six superb live cuts recorded in Cleveland during 1979, which really do capture the band in full flight. A second live set opens disc six in this box, the 1977 performance presenting half a dozen songs from the debut album, alongside “Give Me Your Love” from Broken Heart, that was released as a promo-disc at the time and which again illustrates just how good this band were on stage. On the same disc you can also find the previously shelved ten track ‘debut’ album from The Babys, which, it has to be said, makes for an intriguing journey as a bluesier hard rock sound that possibly reminds of Free and, again, Led Zeppelin gives an interesting peek into what might had been had these songs not been put to one side so the band could unearth a sound that is still much revered to this day.

Housed in a classy clam-shell box and continuing with Cherry Red’s rather unwelcome (for me anyway) penchant for mini-posters instead of proper booklets (and unusually this time no liner notes) the excellently remastered Silver Dreams leaves - even taking into account Stocker and Brock reforming the band for the I’ll Have Some Of That album in 2014 - pretty much nothing left to say on The Babys; a band who arguably helped set the musical tone that would dominate the next decade after they’d split, without they themselves receiving much benefit from that work. At least not until all concerned had moved on to the next phase in their musical journey.


Track Listing
DISC ONE THE BABYS (1976)
1. LOOKING FOR LOVE
2. IF YOU’VE GOT THE TIME
3. I BELIEVE IN LOVE
4. WILD MAN
5. LAURA
6. I LOVE HOW YOU LOVE ME
7. RODEO
8. OVER AND OVER
9. READ MY STARS
10. DYING MAN
BONUS TRACKS
11. IF YOU’VE GOT THE TIME (ALTERNATIVE MIX/VERSION)
12. HEAD ABOVE THE WAVES (SINGLE B-SIDE)
13. IF YOU’VE GOT THE TIME (MONO)


DISC TWO BROKEN HEART (1977)
1. WRONG OR RIGHT
2. GIVE ME YOUR LOVE
3. ISN’T IT TIME
4. AND IF YOU COULD SEE ME FLY
5. THE GOLDEN MILE
6. BROKEN HEART
7. I’M FALLING
8. RESCUE ME
9. SILVER DREAMS
10. A PIECE OF THE ACTION
BONUS TRACKS
11. MONEY (THAT’S WHAT I WANT)
12. SILVER DREAMS (MONO)
13. ISN’T IT TIME (SINGLE EDIT)
14. ISN’T IT TIME (MONO)


DISC THREE HEAD FIRST (1978)
1. LOVE DON’T PROVE I’M RIGHT
2. EVERY TIME I THINK OF YOU
3. I WAS ONE
4. WHITE LIGHTNING
5. RUN TO MEXICO
6. HEAD FIRST
7. YOU (GOT IT)
8. PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME HERE
9. CALIFORNIA
BONUS TRACKS
10. HEAD FIRST (SINGLE EDIT)
11. EVERY TIME I THINK OF YOU (SINGLE EDIT)
12. HEAD FIRST (MONO)
13. EVERY TIME I THINK OF YOU (MONO)


DISC FOUR UNION JACKS (1980)
1. BACK ON MY FEET AGAIN
2. TRUE LOVE TRUE CONFESSION
3. MIDNIGHT RENDEZVOUS
4. UNION JACK
5. IN YOUR EYES
6. ANYTIME
7. JESUS, ARE YOU THERE?
8. TURN AROUND IN TOKYO
9. LOVE IS JUST A MYSTERY
BONUS TRACKS
10. MIDNIGHT RENDEZVOUS (SINGLE EDIT)
11. INTRO (LIVE IN CLEVELAND)
12. BROKEN HEART (B-SIDE �" LIVE IN CLEVELAND)
13. MONEY (THAT’S WHAT I WANT) (B-SIDE �" LIVE IN CLEVELAND)
14. EVERYTIME I THINK OF YOU (LIVE IN CLEVELAND)
15. ISN’T IT TIME (LIVE IN CLEVELAND)
16. HEAD FIRST (LIVE IN CLEVELAND)
17. BACK ON MY FEET AGAIN (MONO)
18. MIDNIGHT RENDEZVOUS (MONO)


DISC FIVE ON THE EDGE (1980)
1. TURN AND WALK AWAY
2. SWEET 17
3. SHE’S MY GIRL
4. DARKER SIDE OF TOWN
5. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IS (ALIVE AND WELL)
6. DOWNTOWN
7. POSTCARD
8. TOO FAR GONE
9. GONNA BE SOMEBODY
10. LOVE WON’T WAIT
BONUS TRACKS
11. TURN AND WALK AWAY (MONO)
12. POSTCARD (MONO)


DISC SIX LIVE AT THE TOWER THEATRE, PHILADELPHIA (1977)
1. LOOKIN’ FOR LOVE
2. RODEO
3. WILD MAN
4. IF YOU’VE GOT THE TIME
5. I BELIEVE IN LOVE
6. GIVE ME YOUR LOVE
7. IF YOU COULD SEE ME FLY
THE OFFICIAL UNOFFICIAL BABYS ALBUM (1975)
8. BITCH OR ANGEL
9. I WEAR YOUR RING
10. I’M FALLING
11. TIME ON MY HANDS
12. YOU’LL GET YOURS
13. DO IT NICE
14. STEP IN LINE
15. RAINY DAY
16. JACK THE LAD
17. IF YOU COULD SEE ME FLY

Added: December 8th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Silver Dreams @ Cherry Red
Hits: 1615
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

The Babys: Silver Dreams - Complete Albums 1975-1980 (6CD Boxset)
Posted by James Agates on 2019-12-26 07:09:49
My Score:

An essential set for anyone with a passing interest in this great overlooked band. Fans of John Waite and blues based hard rock bands in general should also love this set. The only released songs sadly left off this set were Love Is A Rose To Me and World In A Bottle which were Head First outtakes which did appear on John Waites' 1992 compilation Essential John Waite 1976-1986. Highly recommended regardless.




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