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Babe Ruth: First Base

Album Notes

Babe Ruth: Janita Haan (vocals); Alan Shacklock (guitar, vocals, organ, percussion); Dave Punshon (electric piano, piano); Dave Hewitt (bass, guitar); Dick Powell (drums, percussion).

Additional personnel: Peter Halling, Clive Anstee, Manny Fox, Boris Rickleman (cello); Harry Mier (oboe); Brent Carter (saxophone); Jeff Allen (drums); Caspar Lawal (congas, bongos, kabasa).

Recorded at EMI Studios, London, England.

All songs written or co-written by Alan Shacklock except "King Kong" (Frank Zappa), "Black Dog" (Jesse Winchester) and "The Mexican" (Morricone).

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. ~ François Couture


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