The Babys – Live at the Bottom Line, 1979 (review)

The Babys – Live at the Bottom Line, 1979 (Omnivore Recordings)

Proof that they could rock!

The Babys are largely remembered as the band that helped start John Waite’s long musical career.  But, as a brand new, archival live album reveals,  The Babys should be taken more seriously on their own.

Live at the Bottom Line, 1979, finds the British/American band on a rare headlining gig during a US tour mostly supporting other acts, like Alice Cooper and Styx.  The group had just issued their third (and finest) album, Head First, and not surprisingly, it’s the main focus of this set.

The show kicks off with the appropriate, pounding title track from that new LP.  Waite sounds great, maybe a little raspy from the extended road trip?  The band featured both lead guitar and keyboards, and it’s an interesting dynamic, especially on songs like “Give Me All Your Love” and “Run to Mexico,” which are augmented by a clavinet.  A real highlight is the very melodic “California,” which should’ve been a single.

The band’s latest single was the ballad, “Everytime I Think of You,” and it’s interesting to hear Waite’s breathy vocal here.  Plus, not sure who the girl who provides the additional vocal on the chorus is, but it’s fantastic.  This version really rocks.

The brooding “Stick to Your Guns” features someone else singing, and is a totally unreleased Babys’ track – it never appeared anywhere in studio form, that I can find.  Another treat is “Crystal Ball” which would be retitled “Anytime” for their next record.  After an interesting keyboard flourish from new member, Jonathan Cain (who later joined Journey), they launch into their other big ballad, “Isn’t It Time” – here, a little rough and ragged, which gives it more heat. There’s also a nice, extended guitar solo at the end too.

As the concert nears the end, they dig all the way back to their debut for the excellent “Lookin’ For Love.”  And, it wouldn’t be the 70’s without an extended drum solo!  The set ends with a rousing cover of “Money,” which gives Waite a chance to introduce everyone in the band, before the guys encore with another unreleased track, “Loaded.”

Often lumped in with other glam bands, Live at the Bottom Line, 1979, proved that the Babys could definitely rock.  —Tony Peters