Babyface were a Wisconsin based quartet who would later evolve into the more well known southern rock/AOR act, Axe. Consisting of Bobby Barth (guitar/vox), Michael Turpin (bass), Edgar Riley (keyboards) and Bob Miles (drums), Babyface gigged around Wisconsin and later Colorado before finally landing a contract with ASI Records. With relatively no studio experience, the band huddled into the studio and over the next few months, recorded an album's worth of material. Producer, Dan Holmes, would later substitute much of the guitar and keyboard tracks with string passages unbeknownst to the band. The album hit store shelves before they were made aware and quickly, "Never In My Life" became a Billboard Top 20 hit.
Though this success was welcomed, the band were quickly labeled 'adult contemporary', though the band's live performances were quite the opposite. As a result, the band's fortunes began to wane by early 1978. Frustrated, the members all went their separate ways, with Barth relocating to Boulder to hook up with Canary guitarist Michael Osbourne. Within months, Barth, Osbourne & the Babyface players all moved to Gainesville, FL to form Axe. Osbourne was killed in a automobile accident in 1984, Barth has since worked with Blackfoot, Angry Anderson and CITA.
"Babyface" is a truly puzzling piece of work. Knowing the work Barth would do in Axe, this effort is such a distinctly different beast that it's honestly difficult to listen without prejudice. The majority of the tracks are fairly well written but come across lifeless and bland. There are a few highlights such as "How Long Can a Rock and Roll Band Keep Carryin' On?", which echoes the Doobie Brothers in places. "Try" and "Songwriter" are also fairly strong and come the closest to actually sounding like Axe. The rest, well...let's just call it an acquired taste. Even Barth looks back in disgust about this album. Download away and satisfy your curiosity. You know you want to! Thanks to Mattias J for the contribution.