Babe Ruth – First Base (1972)

FrontCover1.jpgBabe Ruth are a rock band from Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England. They were initially active in the 1970s and reformed in 2005.

A predecessor of the group, called Shacklock after guitarist Alan Shacklock, was formed in 1970. Members included Janita Haan and Dave Hewitt, with Dave Punshon and Dick Powell later joining. The first release was their single “Wells Fargo”; their first album, First Base, went gold in Canada. In 1973, Ed Spevock replaced Powell and Chris Holmes replaced Punshon on the second album. In 1975, Steve Gurl, keyboardist from Glenn Cornick’s Wild Turkey replaced Holmes for the third album. The same year, Shacklock left the band to become a record producer and Bernie Marsden (Wild Turkey) joined the team for the fourth album. After this, Haan and Hewitt left.

Though no original member remained, the group incorporated Ellie Hope and Ray Knott for the fifth album in 1976. Shortly before Babe Ruth disbanded, they were joined by the young 17-year-old Birmingham born Simon Lambeth who made a few appearances on their last tour. Marsden moved on to join Whitesnake (after the short lived Paice Ashton Lord broke up) and Lambeth left the band.

Their 1975 single ‘Elusive’ (Capitol CL 15869) became a popular on the Northern Soul scene. In the US, “Elusive” also was a hit in the discos, peaking at #12 on the National Disco Action chart.

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A disco cover of Babe Ruth’s “The Mexican” appeared in the late 1970s, performed by the Bombers. This version inspired an electro/freestyle cover produced by Jellybean Benitez in 1984, for which he managed to recruit Haan on vocals – the cover subsequently becoming noted for its popularity as an underground dance hit.

Between late 2005 and early 2006, Haan (now Janita Haan Morris), Hewitt, Shacklock, and Punshon reunited to record new material together in Nashville,[2] with Spevock recording his drums in London. The album, titled Que Pasa, was completed September 2006, and after being made available in digital form via the band’s official web site, was released on Revolver Records in 2009.

The band embarked on a successful reunion tour of Canada in July 2010, playing three concerts at Ottawa Bluesfest, Metropolis Montreal, and Festival International du Blues de Tremblant.

On 28 June 2014, Babe Ruth played their only show in the world for 2014 at Milwaukee’s Summerfest; over 7000 attended. (by wikipedia)

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First Base is the debut album by the rock music group Babe Ruth. Produced by Alan Shacklock and Nick Mobbs, and engineered by Tony Clark at the EMI’s Abbey Road Studios between June and September 1972, it was released that year.

The album went gold in Canada, sold well in the US, but had disappointing sales by comparison in the UK. The song “The Mexican” has been covered and remixed many times. Among them, it was covered in 1984 by John “Jellybean” Benitez with vocals by Janita Haan. “The Mexican” was also mixed into the third track of The Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One by Liam Howlett of The Prodigy in 1999 and covered by GZA in Poster.jpg2015.

The sleeve design, painting and photography were by Roger Dean. (by wikipedia)

First Base was British hard rock group Babe Ruth’s biggest success, both in terms of popular and critical acclaim. This LP defined an interesting junction between hard rock and progressive rock. The two driving forces behind this album were guitarist Alan Shackloc, who wrote most of the material, and vocalist Janita Haan, who came out as the perfect balance between Janis Joplin and Robert Plant. The album contained “The Mexican,” the band’s classic song which also includes a theme by western soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone (“Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu”). Other highlights include the powerful rock number “Wells Fargo,” the sweet-and-sour “Black Dog” (with nice piano work by Dave Punshon), and a surprising rendition of Frank Zappa’s “King Kong.” The strings and oboe arrangements in “The Runaways” don’t work as well, but at least they don’t get pompous. With its long songs (six to eight minutes) and lush arrangements, First Base seduced both the hard rock and the progressive rock crowds. The album cover was painted by Roger Dean, who illustrated many Yes albums. (by François Couture)

And “King Kong” was recorded in one take, no overdubs ! And listen to “Wells Fargo” with a fantastic saxophone solo by Brent Carter !

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Rare singles from Spain and France

Personnel:
Janita “Jennie” Haan (vocals)
Dave Hewitt (bass)
Dick Powell (drums, percussion)
Dave Punshon (keyboards)
Alan Shacklock (guitar, organ, percussion, vocals)
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Jeff Allen (drums on 02.)
Clive Anstee (cello)
Brent Carter (saxophone)
Manny Fox (cello)
Peter Halling (cello)
Gasper Lawal (percussion)
Harry Mier (oboe)
Boris Rickleman (cello)

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Tracklist:
01. Wells Fargo (Shacklock) 6.17
02. The Runaways (Shacklock/Whiting) 7.28
03. King Kong (Zappa) 6.44
04. The Mexican (Alan Shacklock) / Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (For a Few Dollars More,) (Morricone) 5.49
05. Joker (Shacklock) 7.41

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