BABE RUTH was one of those unique British progressive bands, originally lead by guitarist / writer Alan Shacklock, and featuring the vocals of Jenny Haan. Alan was a member of The Juniors in the ’60s, along with Mick Taylor and the Glasscock brothers. After The Juniors, the band evolved in to The Hi Numbers and The Favourite Sons. Shacklock went on to work with Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds before eventually forming Babe Ruth. Following the 3rd album Shacklock left (tho he contributed to Stealin’ Home). The band carried on with Bernie Marsden on guitar for 2 more albums, with the 5th and final album not including any original members! Bassist Dave Hewitt would go on to work with Whitford/St Holmes and Georgia Satellites, Haan recorded a solo single in ’79, while Shacklock went on to a lengthy career as a producer. The original band reformed decades later, even releasing a new album in 2009 (Que Pasa).
This 3 CD set features the band’s first 3 albums, on Harvest Records. The debut First Base is perhaps the band’s most easily recognizable, with the Roger Dean artwork, and classic like heavy rockin’ “Wells Fargo”, as well as their best known cut “The Mexican”, and favorites “Black Dog”, the ballad “The Runaways”, and a cover of Frank Zappa’s “King Kong”. *A few bonus tracks on this one, notably the pop-rock single “Ain’t That Livin'”.
The band followed that up with the album Amar Caballero, and it is quite different than the debut, as the band takes on more influences of soul, r & b, and Spanish music. There’s plenty of strings, flutes, congas, trumpets, sax…. Not overly rockin’, but a pretty interesting album. The cover (created by Hypnosis) features a photo of horses out in the desert (Poco anyone?). This disc features favorites “Gimme Some Leg” (which features a couple of heavy solos from Shacklock), and the funky “Doctor Love”. *Includes the bonus track “If Heaven’s On Beauty’s Side”, which was released as a single in ’74, and it’s the only real hard rock’ track here.
The band’s 3rd album was self-titled, featuring a slightly more interesting cover of bandmembers dressed as characters from another era. And this one is back on track, and the band’s hardest rockin’ with heavy hitters like “Dancer” and “Somebody’s Nobody” – which kicked off this album, as well as “Jack O’ Lantern”, and ‘ “Sad But Rich”. A couple of excellent covers included on this album – Curtis Mayfield’s “We People Darker Than Blue” the theme to “A Fistful Of Dollars” (by Italian composer Ennio Morricone), and Booker T Jones’ “Private Number” (which featured Shacklock sharing lead vocals) was issued as a single (single edit here as ‘bonus’ track). The heavy ballad “The Duchess Of Orleans” was the other single from this album. This last of the trio is the best of the era IMO, and it’s hard to believe it wasn’t a huge charting success for the band. Oh well….but you can check ’em out in this package!
*For more info, check out the press & bio info below…
• NEW 3CD CLAMSHELL BOXED SET OF THE ALBUMS AND SINGLES BY THE BAND BABE RUTH RECORDED FOR THE HARVEST LABEL
BETWEEN 1972 AND 1975
• FEATURING THE ALBUMS ‘FIRST BASE’, ‘AMAR CABALLERO’ AND ‘BABE RUTH’.
• NEWLY REMASTERED FROM THE ORIGINAL HARVEST MASTER TAPES WITH AN ILLUSTRATED BOOKLET FEATURING AN ESSAY
Babe Ruth was formed Iin Hatfield in 1970 by guitarist Alan Shacklock and featured vocalist Janita “Jenny” Haan, bassist Dave Hewitt and drummer Jeff Allen. Their unique brand of soulful Progressive Rock soon gained many admirers and in 1972 they signed a contract with EMI Records’ Progressive imprint, Harvest. By this time Jeff Allen had departed and Dick Powell joined on drums. The band’s line-up was also expanded by the arrival of keyboard player Dave Punshon. Babe Ruth stood out from many of their labelmates, partly due to Haan’s vocals and through the band’s ability to generate a soulful edge to their music. Their debut album, ‘First Base’ was issued in 1972 and featured the classic tracks ‘Wells Fargo’ and ‘The Mexican’ (later
covered by Jellybean Benitez in 1984), which gained considerable air play in Canada (where the album gained Gold Disc status) and the USA, but the record inexplicably failed to match this success in the UK. The arrival of Chris Holmes on keyboards and new drummer Ed Spevock in 1974 saw them follow their debut with ‘Amar Caballero’, before the band’s final album for Harvest in 1975, the eponymous ‘Babe Ruth’ which was a hit in the USA and Canada and featured the band’s memorable cover of the theme from the film A Fistful Of Dollars and the Curtis Mayfield composition ‘We People Darker Than Blue’. Soon after the album’s release Alan Shacklock departed the band (to be replaced by Bernie Marsden) and Babe Ruth moved labels to Capitol
The Mexican (Interpolating Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu)
Wells Fargo (single version)
Theme from A Few Dollars More (B-side of single)
Ain’t That Livin’ (A-side of single)
We Are Holding On (B-side of single)
Gimmie Some Leg
We Are Holding On
a) El Caballero de la Reina Isabella
b) Hombre de la Guitarra
c) El Testament De ‘Amelia
If Heaven’s On Beauty’s Side (A-side of single)
A Fistful Of Dollars
We People Darker Than Blue
Sad But Rich
The Duchess of Orleans
Private Number (single version
2 thoughts on “BABE RUTH – Darker Than Blue: The Harvest Years (1972-1975) out now!”
I played their debut album to death in college. I finally bought it on CD, along with Stealing Home. A great, under rated band with almost no radio play, here in the USA.
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Hi Mark. Yes, an underrated band. Great vocals and guitar sound. A shame they didnt catch on more so and stixk it out with priginal players beyond a few albums.