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Babe Ruth - First Base / Amar Caballero CD (album) cover

FIRST BASE / AMAR CABALLERO

Babe Ruth

 

Heavy Prog

3.58 | 10 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars This is a good compilation of the first two albums by the peripherally progressive British band Babe Ruth. Perhaps the most progressive aspect to Babe Ruth was how they tackled an eclectic variety of styles with both sensitivity and panache. But they are basically a pretty good hard rock group with jazz, blues, and Latin overtones.

The entirety of both albums is here, with "First Base" being somewhat better, especially the excellent quasi-symphonic "Runaways" and the standard "The Mexican". Jenny Hahn's voice is nothing if not versatile, but on some songs, such as "Wells Fargo", both she and the band drag on a bit, detracting from some pretty good writing and playing. I don't have a problem with lengthy material as long as it is not a simple rock piece that overstays its welcome. But the same cannot be said for the superb cover of Jesse Winchester's "Black Dog", where Dave Punshon's keyboards really shine early on, and Alan Shacklock's guitars later. No simple riffing here, but an evolved work that rocks far more than most prog bands could ever do, and surely more than Mr Winchester could have fathomed.

The second album, "Amar Caballero", brings the Spanish motif right into the title. As with the first album, an impressive variety of styles is presented, from the mellow "Broken Cloud" and "We are Holding On" to the closing title suite, which is itself a microcosm for the band's versatility, particularly the virtuous Spanish guitar and percussion. Carlos Santana's influence can be discerned at times. Ultimately, while it is worth picking up this 2-fer rather than just the debut, Amar Caballero does let down the rating a bit, with the result that it does not quite get Babe Ruth to second base.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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