RingSide Report

World News, Social Issues, Politics, Entertainment and Sports

Gonzo’s Gems: “On The Edge With The Babys”

By Sam “Gonzo” Gonzales

By accident, I stumbled across the The Babys in 1982, one year after the band had broken up. It was a bright sunny day and I was at a yard sale rummaging through cassette tapes in a big box marked “$2 each”. I picked up a cassette by “The Babys“ entitled “On The Edge” and though I wasn’t familiar with the group, I added it to my stack of cassettes. I paid $10 dollars for my handful of cassette tapes and headed home. “Not bad“, I thought, after listening to half the tracks. The Babys had a very distinctive sound. It wasn’t until I got to the cut, “Too Far Gone” that I was floored! It had my immediate attention. There was no denying the hard rocking attitude of the track. I decided to find out what else these “Babys” were about.

The Babys, formed in 1976 with John Waite on lead vocals/bassist, Wally Stocker on lead guitar, Michael Corby on guitar/keyboards and Tony Brock on drums, went on to record five albums in a five year time span. In those five years, The Babys proved themselves to be a very melodic rock band, scoring two Top 20 singles with “Every Time I Think Of You” and “Isn’t It Time”. The Babys opened up for everyone from Ted Nugent to Styx to Alice Cooper and they rocked harder than their name implied, yet the band‘s image as a teen-friendly pop band remained with them until the very end.

Their debut album, “The Babys”, released in 1977, showed a lot of promise and it contained the standout cuts, “If You’ve Got The Time” and “I Love How You Love Me“. “I Love How You Love Me” was an older song originally written by Larry Kolber and Barry Mann and covered by Bobby Vinton, Jerry Vale, Ray Coniff and Eddie Arnold to name a few. Here the band gives “I Love How You Love Me” it’s charm by playing it in a slow, bluesy manner. And with “If You’ve Got The Time”, John Waite sings, “Oh, I’ve got love that grows… Oh, I’ve got love that shows… I’ve got the love if you’ve got the time…”.

Their sophomore release, “Broken Heart” also appeared later in 1977. Some critics feel the teen-oriented packaging of this album may have stifled the group’s appeal to wider audiences. Nonetheless, they were still a hard rocking unit. Starting off the album were the Zeppelin-tinged tracks, “Wrong Or Right”, “Give Me Your Love” and “And If You Could See Me Fly”. Listen close and you can hear the Led Zeppelin influences throughout these exceptional tracks. “Broken Heart“, the albums title track, is a song written about L.A and has a very catchy pop hook. It settles in as a very good pop song.

1978 saw the release of The Babys’ third album, “Head First”. It also saw the departure of founding member and lead guitarist/keyboardist Michael Corby. Corby was let go in the midst of recording the album due to the strong animosity that had been growing between him and Waite over a long period of time. With Corby out of the picture, the album sounded simpler and sleeker. The highlights were “Every Time I Think Of You” and the title track, “Head First”. “Head First” is a superb rocker, endowed with a very cool driving beat and “Every Time I Think Of You“ is a beautiful power ballad served up with flair and flourish and gave the band it‘s second big hit. With the album completed, the band headed out on tour with their new members, keyboardist Jonathan Cain and bassist Ricky Phillips.

In 1980, John Waite abandoned the bass and concentrated solely on vocals for the recording of “Union Jacks“. The album, recorded in a little over a month, capitalized on the great songwriting and outstanding musicianship of their new band members Jonathan Cain and Ricky Phillips. The end result was an energetic album. John Waite cited it as their finest hour. The Gems here were: “Back On My Feet Again“ which reached #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the band’s last song to hit the charts; “True Love True Confession”, a Motown tribute with an English rock ‘n’ roll back beat; “Midnight Rendezvous”, a song that instantly draws you in with it’s opening riff and pumping beat; “Anytime”, the first song written as a five-piece band while rehearsing for the Head First Tour; and “Turn Around In Tokyo”, which is sung by Jonathan Cain in a Bowie-esque fashion.

The Babys‘ last album, “On The Edge”, was released in October 1980, just 10 months on the heels of “Union Jacks”. At this point of the game, the band were fighting for their professional lives. “On The Edge” was an apt description of the band’s state. Though the album sounded much more polished, it still had the energetic appeal and swagger of previous albums. “Sweet 17” and “She’s My Girl“ rocked with sweet abandon. “Rock ‘N Roll Is (Alive And Well)” and “Postcard“ showed the band’s growth and ease at creating impressive and heartfelt rock ‘n’ roll. And then there’s the Gem that started it all for me… “Too Far Gone”! It has all the key ingredients of a classic hard rock song. It has a cocky attitude, a hard driving beat, a catchy guitar riff and lyrics that go, “Staring down a bottle… feelin’ kinda mean… itchin’ for some trouble… tryin’ to keep it clean… wound up so tight… poundin’ like a drum… I put up the good fight… I’ve been never known to run…”.

After the band had called it quits in 1981, Jonathan Cain joined the legendary rock group Journey, Tony Brock went on to drum for Rod Stewart for many years, Wally Stocker played guitar for Rod Stewart and Air Supply and John Waite went on to a successful solo career, scoring a smash hit with the number one, “Missing You”. In 1989, he took a breather from his solo career and helped with the formation of the AOR super group Bad English which included lead guitarist Neil Schon, keyboardist Jonathan Cain, bassist Ricky Phillips and drummer Deen Castronovo. Bad English scored three hits, “When I See You Smile“, “Price Of Love“ and “Possession“. John has maintained a solo career up to present time, releasing “In Real Time” this year through Frontiers Records.

The Babys never achieved mass commercial success. The punk movement had entered into the picture. The Babys’ timing had been wrong. John Waite said it best… “We were out of sync, we were out of time. If we came out now, with a different name, we’d be huge. Because it’s so long ago, sometimes you forget the things you achieved, but we had teeth. We were a good band.” Gonzo says, “Wrong or right, if you’ve got the time, jump in head first and check out The Babys!”

(CDs) “Union Jacks“ and “On The Edge”
(Songs) If You’ve Got The Time, I Love How You Love Me, Wrong Or Right, Give Me Your Love, And If You Could See Me Fly, Broken Heart, Every Time I Think Of You, Head First, Back On My Feet Again, True Love True Confession,
Midnight Rendezvous, Anytime, Turn Around In Tokyo, Sweet 17, She’s My Girl,
Rock ‘N Roll Is (Alive And Well), Postcard, and Too Far Gone

To Send “Gonzo” A Suggestion For An Article On Your Favorite Musician or Group

Advertise Now On RSR

Purchase Boxing Interviews Of A Lifetime

Leave a Reply