Title - Silver Dreams – Complete Albums 1975-1980 [6CD]
Artist - The Babys
In truth, The Babys are probably better known for what their various members achieved later in their careers; singer John Waite’s massive solo success with the single ‘Missing You’ in 1984, and keyboard player Jonathan Cain, who would go on to be a principal member and song writer with Journey.
In fact you’d be forgiven for thinking that The Babys were an American band, such was their impact on the US during the latter half of the 1970s and into the early 1980s, but their origins go back to London in 1974.
For that's when keyboard player Mike Corby met Adrian Millar, who were joined by Wally Stocker on lead guitar, Tony Brock on drums, and singer/ bass guitarist John Waite.
Although an album was recorded and shelved in 1975, it is now included here on this incredible 6-CD Box-Set Silver Dreams – Complete Albums 1975-1980 (out November 29th, 2019 via Cherry Red Records UK) as “The Official Unofficial Babys Album”.
For the debut album proper they signed to Chrysalis Records in 1976 to release their eponymous debut, The Babys. Co-produced by Bob Ezrin, The Babys set their stall out from the beginning as melodic rockers, propelled by John Waite’s bluesy, soulful vocals.
Disc: 1 - The Babys (1976)
1. 'Looking for Love'
2. 'If You've Got the Time'
3. 'I Believe in Love'
4. 'Wild Man'
6. 'I Love How You Love Me'
8. 'Over and Over'
9. 'Read My Stars'
10. 'Dying Man'
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)
In truth, The Babys shipped their corporate rock, self-titled debut LP as the snot nosed punk scene was taking hold.
The recording rides high out of the block behind the album's two strongest tracks. The pulsating 'Looking For Love' provides a hot introduction to the Chrysalis-signed group, as big drums and a throbbing bass line drive the muscle flexing rocker, which also features a tasty guitar solo.
The quartet chase the ass kickin' opener with two-minutes of pure power pop magic via the infectious, lay-it-on-the-line 'If You've Got the Time'.
Chock full of slick production, thanks to the tandem of studio veteran Bob Ezrin and Brian Christian, sure this debut is hit 'n' miss throughout the ten original tracks, but it's also a great flag-bearing standard set for what was about to come.
Released within a year, 1977’s Broken Heart featured the hit singles ‘Isn’t It Time’ (US #13 & UK #45) and ‘Silver Dreams’.
This time the album was produced by Ron Nevison, famed for his work for The Who, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Bad Company, as well as Chrysalis label mates UFO.
Disc: 2 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'
11. 'Money (That's What I Want)'
12. 'Silver Dreams' (Mono)
13. 'Isn't It Time' (Single Edit)
14. 'Isn't It Time' (Mono)
After debuting with the Bob Ezrin and Brian Christian-produced The Babys LP, John Waite and company turned to Ron Nevison to man the board for the Broken Heart recording sessions in 1977.
Nevison's touch is all over the ten song sophomore effort from The Babys, as evident by the strings that accompany album opener 'Wrong or Right' and grandiose closer 'A Piece of the Action'.
The sound is also cleaner, and Waite's vocals are given more attention on Broken Heart then their debut.
Buried between the A-side accessible duo of 'Isn't It Time' and the mellow five-minute arrangement of 'The Golden Mile', Broken Heart breaks loose with the all-about-swagger 'And If You Could See Me Fly'.
Written by Waite, 'And If You Could See Me Fly' may be the shortest cut from Broken Heart, but it packs muscle with a cool stop/start riff, cowbell fills and a hot guitar solo.
Sticking with Ron Nevison for 1978’s Head First, The Babys had trimmed down to a three-piece of John Waite, Wally Stocker and Tony Brock.
Peaking at #22, Head First was their highest charting US album, and features the singles ‘Every Time I Think Of You’ (US #13) plus the title track, ‘Head First’.
Disc: 3 - 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'
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)
For my money, Head First is arguably The Babys' best album as it combines the early classic rock sound of this British band with the power-poppier, new-wavy elements of their later albums.
Songs like 'Every Time I Think of You', 'I Was One' and 'Head First' are simply irresistible, even today, and together, once more with the production values of Ron Nevison, no wonder it was their best-received album to date.
Produced by Keith Olsen, famed for his platinum work with the Rick Springfield, Pat Benatar, Heart, Whitesnake, Foreigner and REO Speedwagon, by 1980’s Union Jacks The Babys had been joined by Jonathan Cain on keyboards and Ricky Phillips on bass.
It features the singles ‘Midnight Rendezvous’ and ‘Back On My Feet Again’, mono versions of these tracks are also included as bonus tracks.
Disc: 4 - Union Jacks (1980)
1. 'Back on My Feet Again'
2. 'True Love True Confession'
3. 'Midnight Rendezvous'
4. 'Union Jack'
5. 'In Your Eyes'
7. 'Jesus, Are You There?'
8. 'Turn Around in Tokyo'
9. 'Love Is Just a Mystery'
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)
Into the '80s with The Babys, and the group wasted no time getting down to melodic rock business with 'Back on My Feet Again', the made-for-radio opener from Union Jacks.
While not as popular as the group's seventies hit singles (namely 'Isn't It Time' and 'Every Time I Think of You'), 'Back on My Feet Again' managed to sneak into the Billboard Top 40 for a few weeks, peaking at number 33.
Interestingly enough, 'Back on My Feet Again' was the final single issued by The Babys to chart. The Babys' high gloss Union Jacks effort adds 'True Love, True Confession', the late night cruisin' 'Midnight Rendevous', and the building A-side closing title track and 'Anytime'.
The live tracks are a joy to behold, given that I personally had never heard them before. At times rough, perhaps raw, but always chock full of '80s ambiance and rockin' guitars and vocals, they are the true gold to be found on this disc, that's for sure.
Sticking with producer Keith Olsen, and maintaining the same line-up as Union Jacks, their fifth and final album in as many years was 1980’s On The Edge.
Now featuring mono versions of ‘Turn And Walk Away’ and ‘Postcard’, The Babys split shortly after the album’s release.
Disc: 5 - 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)'
8. 'Too Far Gone'
9. 'Gonna Be Somebody'
10. 'Love Won't Wait'
11. 'Turn and Walk Away' (Mono)
12. 'Postcard' (Mono)
In truth, a pretty good effort for The Baby's, but better if you consider the fact that it was the bands swan song. The first half (Side One, as it were), is so much better than what follows, but perhaps showcases the fact that the band seemed to have moved apart and lost enthusiasm in the studio by then.
And whilst not as angry and deeply written as the previous masterpiece, Union Jacks, it is still full of good rock three minute sing-alongs! A worthy ending to a small, but eventful career of The Babys, for sure.
As a bonus this collection’s 6th disc kicks off with the live, promo only Live At The Tower Theatre, Philadelphia from a 1977 concert whilst promoting their debut record.
To complete the picture we go back to their very first recordings, with the aforementioned The Official Unofficial BABYS Album.
Disc: 6 - The Official Unofficial BABYS Album (1978)
1. 'Lookin' for Love'
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'
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'
This collection is interesting if not for the songs themselves, then for the insight into the early Babys that this collection provides.
Stand out tracks include the Corby-penned gem, 'Jack the Lad,' as well as 'You'll Get Yours,' 'Do It Nice,' and the early version of the Corby/Waite classic, 'I'm Falling.'
Many of these demos were recorded before lead guitarist, Walt Stocker, joined the band and feature Corby handling the guitar - and in impressive form, I might add.
This collection is evidence that Corby is an excellent guitarist as well as keyboardist, which he is more known for. It also reveals his proficiency as a songwriter and leaves no doubt that he was a very important part of their sound.
The Babys - Silver Dreams: The Complete Albums 1975-1980 is a fitting and thorough testament to a band that truly deserved to crossover into mainstream success.