WITH A NEW CD CALLED ‘I’LL HAVE SOME OF THAT!’, THE BABYS ARE BACK, AND THE BRITISH BAND IS BETTER THAN EVER
By Gerry Gittelson
Metal Sludge Editor at Large
HOLLYWOOD — One of the biggest comeback stories in rock is the return of The Babys, and the iconic band celebrated the release of its new CD “I’ll Have Some of That!” with a special private performance on Wednesday, June 25 at Joe’s American Bar in North Hollywood, Calif., a few miles north of Los Angeles.
The Babys enjoyed a lot of the success in the late 1970s with a string of hit singles, including “Everytime I Think of You,” “Back on My Feet Again,” “Head First,” “Midnight Rendez-Vous” and “Isn’t It time,” and the British band performed all of them in a mesmerizing 40-minute set that saw the packed-in crowd going absolutely wild.
Originals Wally Stocker (guitarist) and Tony Brock (drums) have spearheaded the Babys’ return, and the group has a fantastic new singer/bassist in unknown John Bisaha, plus a gifted new co-guitarist in Joey Sykes.
John Bisaha and Tony Brock
The group opened with “Back on My Feet Again,” and it was clear from the very beginning that Bisaha can more than hold his own as a replacement for legendary John Waite – and that is certainly no easy task. The brand-new songs are excellent, too, particularly “I See You There,” which went over very well.
“There is still a ways to go, but I’m feeling great about the whole thing,” Brock said. “On the new record, I think we’ve done a good job of retaining our sound from the 1970s, kind of like Bad Company, and there are a lot of good songs. I think it works.”
Wally Stocker, Tony Brock & Joey Sykes
Brock enjoyed a long career post-Babys, including more than a decade as Rod Stewart’s drummer, in addition to playing with Jeff Beck and others before succeeding as a producer for Jimmy Barnes and Keith Urban. Stocker did one extended tour with Rod Stewart plus a short stint in Humble Pie, yet he has been otherwise mostly quiet for the past two decades. However, the return of The Babys has breathed new life into the 61-year-old with an affinity for ultra-catchy riffs, and both and he and Brock were absolutely killing it on Wednesday.
The Babys have played a few warm-up concerts beginning last summer, but this was essentially the band’s mighty return, and they haven’t sounded this good since a legendary performance in 1980 before 80,000 at the L.A. Coliseum in support of Cheap Trick and Journey.
“I’m definitely very excited about the new Babys. It’s been three decades, and that’s a long time,” Stocker said. “I think the whole band is excited, too, because we’re getting really tight, so like I said, I’m very happy.”
Both Brock and Stocker knew that any renewed success rested firmly on the stocky shoulders of Bisaha, because if the new singer could not step into Waite’s shoes, nobody was going to be interested. Well, not only does Bisaha look a bit like Mr. Waite, but he sounds like him, too, while still putting his own stamp on the old classics.
Bisaha is a pure star, and how it has taken this long for the Californian to be discovered is among rock’s great mysteries. As things are, this was Bisaha’s first foray into the studio for a serious project, and Stocker is overwhelmingly impressed.
“I’d give John a 10 out of 10,” Stocker said. “He came in very ready to do this.”
The Babys are still putting plans together for a full tour, and there is one festival date scheduled next month in Montana. Otherwise, the group is wide open, and it should prove intriguing to see if The Babys can catch on again.
Here’s hoping so.
Gerry Gittelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org