Perhaps unfairly deemed a cult act despite two Top 40 hits and a stable of talented members, British pop/rockers The Babys will get their due in a new box set from Cherry Red's HNE imprint, collecting all their albums plus a host of bonus material.
Silver Dreams: Complete Albums 1975-1980 contains expansions of the group's five original albums - The Babys, Broken Heart, Head First, Union Jacks and On The Edge - plus a bonus disc featuring a promo-only live record recorded at The Tower Theatre outside Philadelphia in 1977 and a sanctioned released of The Unofficial Official Babys Album, taken from an early session in 1975 and released once the group had begun to climb the charts. The five studio albums all feature bonus tracks, from single edits to non-album material (like a cover of Motown standard "Money (That's What I Want)" included on 1981's Anthology and part of a 1979 live set from Cleveland used for single B-side material.
Founded in London in the mid-'70s, The Babys featured equal parts rock chops and teen-friendly crossover appeal, thanks both to their unusual name and the charm of lead singer/bassist John Waite. Filled out by guitarist Wally Stocker, founder/pianist Michael Corby and drummer Tony Brock, The Babys gigged relentlessly, eventually hitting pay dirt in America with a rare single they didn't write: "Isn't It Time," penned by songwriters Jack Conrad and Ray Kennedy, reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977. Two years later, another Conrad-Kennedy composition, "Every Time I Think Of You," reached the same spot on the chart. By that point, Corby had left the band he'd founded, leaving Waite, Stocker and Brock to complete the album as a trio. 1980's Union Jacks and On The Edge featured a quintet line-up, augmented by bassist Ricky Phillips and keyboard virtuoso Jonathan Cain. Another minor U.S. Top 40, "Back On My Feet Again," came and went, and the group split in 1981 following a disastrous tour that ended with an overexcited fan pulling Waite offstage and injuring his knee.
The Babys was just the start of good things for two of the group's members: Waite embarked on a solo career, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984 with "Missing You." Cain, meanwhile, was picked as Gregg Rolie's replacement in Journey, and proved a key component in the group's runaway success through the decade with hits like "Don't Stop Believin'," "Open Arms," "Faithfully" and "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)," all of which were co-written by and featured signature keyboard work by Cain. After Journey's hiatus in the late '80s, Waite, Cain and Phillips reconvened with Journey guitarist Neal Schon and drummer Deen Castronovo to form Bad English; their "When I See You Smile" was another U.S. chart-topper. Brock and Stocker played for Rod Stewart after The Babys' breakup, reforming the group with two new members for a new album in 2014.
Silver Dreams is out December 6; Amazon links and a full track breakdown are below.
Silver Dreams: Complete Albums 1975-1980 (HNE Recordings HNEBOX129 (U.K.), 2019) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
Disc 1: The Babys (1-10, released as Chrysalis CHR-1129, 1976) and bonus tracks (11-13)
- Looking For Love
- If You've Got The Time
- I Believe In Love
- Wild Man
- I Love How You Love Me
- Over and Over
- Read My Stars
- Dying Man
- If You've Got The Time (Alternate Mix/Version)
- Head Above The Waves (Chrysalis U.S. single B-side CHS-2132, 1977)
- If You've Got The Time (Mono) (Chrysalis U.S. promo single CHS-2132, 1976)
Disc 2: Broken Heart (1-10, released as Chrysalis CHR-1150, 1977) and bonus tracks (11-14)
- Wrong Or Right
- Give Me Your Love
- Isn't It Time
- And If You Could See Me Fly
- The Golden Mile
- Broken Heart
- I'm Falling
- Rescue Me
- Silver Dreams
- A Piece Of The Action
- Money (That's What I Want) (from Anthology - Chrysalis CHR-1351, 1981)
- Silver Dreams (Mono) (Chrysalis U.S. promo single CHS-2201, 1977)
- Isn't It Time (Single Edit) (Chrysalis single CHS-2173, 1977)
- Isn't It Time (Mono) (Chrysalis U.S. promo single CHS-2173, 1977)
Disc 3: Head First (1-9, released as Chrysalis CHR-1195, 1979) and bonus tracks (10-13)
- Love Don't Prove I'm Right
- Every Time I Think Of You
- I Was One
- White Lightning
- Run To Mexico
- Head First
- You (Got It)
- Please Don't Leave Me Here
- Head First (Single Edit) (Chrysalis single CHS-2323, 1979)
- Every Time I Think Of You (Single Edit) (Chrysalis single CHS-2279, 1979)
- Head First (Mono) (Chrysalis U.S. promo single CHS-2323, 1979)
- Every Time I Think Of You (Mono) (Chrysalis U.S. promo single CHS-2279, 1979)
Disc 4: Union Jacks (1-9, released as Chrysalis CHR-1267, 1980) and bonus tracks (10-18)
- Back On My Feet Again
- True Love True Confession
- Midnight Rendezvous
- Union Jack
- In Your Eyes
- Jesus, Are You There?
- Turn Around In Tokyo
- Love Is Just a Mystery
- Midnight Rendezvous (Single Edit) (Chrysalis single CHS-2425, 1980)
- Intro (Live @ The Agora Ballroom, Cleveland - 7/9/1979)
- Broken Heart (Live @ The Agora Ballroom, Cleveland - 7/9/1979) (B-side to "True Love True Confessions" - Chrysalis CHS-2398, 1979)
- Money (That's What I Want) (Live @ The Agora Ballroom, Cleveland - 7/9/1979) (B-side to "True Love True Confessions" - Chrysalis CHS-2398, 1979)
- Every Time I Think Of You (Live @ The Agora Ballroom, Cleveland - 7/9/1979)
- Isn't It Time (Live @ The Agora Ballroom, Cleveland - 7/9/1979)
- Head First (Live @ The Agora Ballroom, Cleveland - 7/9/1979)
- Back On My Feet Again (Mono) (Chrysalis U.S. promo single CHS-2398, 1979)
- Midnight Rendezvous (Mono) (Chrysalis U.S. promo single CHS-2425, 1980)
Disc 5: On The Edge (1-10, released as Chrysalis CHR-1305, 1980) and bonus tracks (11-12)
- Turn and Walk Away
- Sweet 17
- She's My Girl
- Darker Side Of Town
- Rock 'N' Roll Is (Alive and Well)
- Post Card
- Too Far Gone
- Gonna Be Somebody
- Love Won't Wait
- Turn and Walk Away (Mono) (Chrysalis U.S. promo single CHS-2467, 1980)
- Post Card (Mono) (Chrysalis U.S. promo single CHS-2495, 1980)
Disc 6: Live At The Tower Theatre, Philadelphia, April 23, 1977 (1-7, released as Chrysalis promo LP CHS-4-PDJ, 1977) and The Unofficial Official Babys Album (8-17, recorded 1975; released as NEMS NEL 6016, 1978)
- Lookin' For Love (Live)
- Rodeo (Live)
- Wild Man (Live)
- If You've Got The Time (Live)
- I Believe In Love (Live)
- Give Me Your Love (Live)
- If You Could See Me Fly (Live)
- Bitch Or Angel
- I Wear Your Ring
- I'm Falling
- Time On My Hands
- You'll Get Yours
- Do It Nice
- Step In Line
- Rainy Day
- Jack The Lad
- If You Could See Me Fly
I love mono sound, but does anyone know why these Babys songs are being released in mono since they're from the late 70s? I can't imagine they were released that way then.
Ok now I see it was promo versions. So I guess my question is was this a common practice and why would the promo ones be mono?
Joe Marchese says
Hi Murray, it wasn't uncommon at all for labels to service radio stations with mono promos throughout the 1970s (and the 1980s, as in the case of Chrysalis and The Babys), although the likelihood of finding a dedicated mono mix by this point was slim. Most of these late-period mono promo singles were fold-downs, but are still of interest to some completists and collectors.
Wow I never knew that! Thanks so much for the reply.
Greg L says
The mono versions were on promo 45 rpm singles for the benefit of AM Music formatted radio stations that broadcast in mono. Usually a promo single would have the same song on both sides (mono on one side, and stereo on the other side). I wonder why these new CD reissues have the mono songs as bonus tracks, but not the stereo version as well that was on the opposite side of the 45? Should have both IMO. Often the 45 rpm single is a shorter, chopped version of a song compared to the LP, and sometimes a different mix.
I can still remember buying Marquee Moon on 12” and being surprised that it was in Stereo/Mono - standard Chrysalis?
Bill Sperger says
This box was way overdue as I had the first two albums on cassette but when I went to upgrade to cd Amazon was asking huge prices. Out of print maybe? Hey, what’s the deal with Michael Corby? Was he fired or did he quit? From what I’ve read, a lot of bad blood there between hm and Waite.
I have the live Agora recording from Disc 4 on cassette. I true gem of live material and happy to see it listed on the package. Worth it just for the Agora material.