Saturday, December 22, 2007

Babyface - Babyface (1977)

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.

15 comments:

The Listener said...

I remember this album, just for the cover I purchased it. I can't say much for the music, but it definitely brought back memories. Awesome post. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Excellent, I've been looking for this for years! Many thanks.

nyet said...

Despite having songs like "Angeline" or "Make way Miami" (dreadful, I could stand them for a few seconds only) there are some good songs here. There are some brilliant moments of guitar work like in "Stone cold" and the backing vocals sometimes sound similar to Boston's. I was curious about this one. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Most people only know the R&B producer/singer Babyface (born Kenneth Edmonds), who sings "Whip Appeal" and "Everytime I Close My Eyes". It could cause some confusion if this LP ever got reissued commercially. I think there was another rare band called Babyface if this one didn't do a second LP.

jfhappysharks41 said...

Grteat post again. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Only a few good tracks. An average album,
Miguel

Anonymous said...

Years after this mega-rare album and now DELETED!!! Help, please!

John Sposato said...

Anonymous on 12/23/07 is actually me. I only recently set up my own blog.

Anonymous said...

I was beginning to think I was crazy. Every record store I went into for the last 10 years and asked for Babyface from the mid 70's, they looked at me like I had one too many. But this is proof that it does exist. I grew up in Wis and heard these guys on the radio and have been searching for them for years. Is there any way you can repost the rar?

Anonymous said...

"Never in My Life" actually made it to #3 in Eau Claire on the AM charts and was played a lot! Beautiful and simple 1:56 song leaves a lifetime of memories. A co-worker of mine used to party with them back in the day and it's cool to hear her stories. This LP deserves to be reissued on CD.

Bohond said...

Hi there,

Could you PLEASE re-up this rare album.
Been looking for it for years!

Bo

Gregg said...

I had never heard of Babyface until I picked up the reissues of "Axe" and "Living On The Edge". Each CD has five bonus tracks, which appears to be from the Babyface album. The discs were issued in new Zealand in 1997 by Axpertise Entertainment Ltd.

Bobby Barth said...

This is just a perfect became of never leaving your work in the hands of s producer and nit standing behind them the entire time. That was not the style of record we recorded. It had cheesy string arrangements replace guitar oarts, and was sped up 3 percent to save on time. The real problem came when never in.my life,which was recorded like a guitar song ala blackbird, went to number17 on the charts. At that point we knew the band was over .so if you have to listen to it, know what the story is. Anyone who knows who is claiming the money for thus album contact me, as I have.never received a penny, think if some one is going to embarrass you that much, you should st ll east get psudt.
Cheers
Bobby Barth

Jeff McMullen said...

Thanks for the heads up, Bobby. Always a fan...

Jeff McMullen

Unknown said...

Sorry for the spellcheck, it sucks, as I use only my phone. But I HATE this record. We would have never let this record be released, if we would have had any power, but sadly we didnt. No one to blame but me.
B