BobbyShred's Babe Ruth Band Que Pasa Album Review

Babe Ruth's Que Pasa album review

Babe Ruth - Que Pasa
Album Review

I have to admit, when I heard that Babe Ruth was recording a new album I was a bit concerned. 

Babe Ruth hadn't made a new album in over 30 years. I thought what was it going to sound like?

Too many groups reunite, slap together some songs, and just make a mediocre record that will end up in the trash bin in a month.

But as I talked to different members of the band I became optimistic as they were all very enthusiastic about the project. 

With a band that had so many diverse influences and had performed cover songs by Frank Zappa, Curtis Mayfield, and interpolate Enrico Morricone's haunting music into their music, I thought anything could be possible.

As the cover of the album shows this was going to be a combination of the old
Babe Ruth, and something very new.

The preamble to this album happened in the 80's when record producer Jellybean Benitez and a group the Bombers utilized Janita "Jenny" Haan to remake 
"The Mexican", Babe Ruth's most popular song, which became a huge underground dance hit.  It proved that the band could progress into even more modern musical influences.

Still, as I was downloading the album I really didn't know what to expect. 
Would the band still have it's hard rock edge we all loved?

As I figuratively dropped the needle on the first track, "4 Dear Life", I turned up the volume and immediately recognized Alan Shacklock's soft Mexican influenced acoustic guitar sound. Then BOOM!, the hard rock sound of Babe Ruth kicked in scarring the hell out of me! 

As Jenny sang her first lyric "My Healer, my lover, my savior, my cover, I ran from you for dear life", I knew this was going to be a serious record.

"Shacks" guitar was melodic and blazingly biting as usual, David Hewitt's signature bass sound drove the song, while Dave Punshon filled the in the gaps with a wall of keyboard sound rounding out the track. Ed Spevock's punching drum beat pushed the song as hard as it could go.  I was very impressed.

But it's Jenny, who is simply FIERCE as she delivers her raw, powerful vocals on this song. Her double tracked vocals are killer and spot on. 
Her delivery is impeccable, and the lyrics are excellent.
If anything, she's become a better, more controlled singer.

"4 Dear Life" kicks ass! 

There was so much going on in the song I was almost overwhelmed by how powerful it was. 

As the song faded away it seamlessly moved right into the title track "Que Pasa".

Again Alan Shacklock's south of the border guitar sound set the mood. 
Dave Hewitt takes over with a driving bass line. The band sets the mood as Janita sang "My heart is on fire, sun burning with desire" with a much more understated vocal than the fierceness of the first track. 
Placed deep in the mix there was a constant but controlled rapping vocal. 

As the song progresses Janita seduces you with her hauntingly beautiful pleading; "Que pasa, my lover?"

Towards the end of the song the B Boy rap was brought up into the mix exposing it's influence in the song. It fit right into the mood, displaying the complexity of the song and the bands new influences.

"Que Pasa" is one bad ass song that will haunt you for a long time.

As the next song began I realized that this album's track selection had been thought out very well.  "Sun, Moon, and Stars" propels the album into another rocker. 
Still mysteriously haunting, this was a harder sounding track than "Que Pasa" had been. 

This was another true Babe Ruth track with the bands "sound" fully intact. 
I found the bass line particularly driving, and again deep in the mix there was the sound of some very fine record scratching.

"Mother Tongue" leaves no doubt as to the rap/scratch influence as it begins with the suggestion to dance and scratches it's way into the beat driven by David Hewitt's excellent bass thumping.
Hewitt is just fantastic on this album, constantly driving the beat, not just following it.  But once again it's Jenny's vocals that suck you into the track with a venom.

Alan Shacklock's guitar vaguely reminded me of an older Ventures/Shadows sound. 
Just I realized that, he broke into a cover of The Shadows "Apache" and it couldn't have fit into the song better. The song went right back into the ending of "Mother Tongue" with Jenny delivering more powerful and excellent vocals.

"Mother Tongue" is another great Babe Ruth song with the added element of the rap/scratch sound the band has come to love. 

At this point I questioned would older Babe Ruth rock & roll purist fans be put off by this new turn of the bands sound?

I don't think so, as this is still first and foremost a Babe Ruth rock album.

The rapping/scratching sounds on this album fits right in and it shows how else their music was interpreted by different set of cultural ears. 

The band brilliantly took the feedback from their newer fans, and channeled it into this record. 

In fact with repeated listening I think this newer sound is essential and keeps the album from possibly being just another boring repeat record in the sense of a band just doing the exact same thing over and over again.

If anything Babe Ruth is going to gain more fans with it's new sound, which I feel is groundbreaking.

Babe Ruth's new sound has a definite place in Rock & Roll.
 

As anyone who watched 2007's American Idol show knows, it was Blake Lewis who really shook things up by covering Bon Jovi's hit "You Give Love A Bad Name" and turned it into a completely new human beat box scratch song. His interpretation of a true heavy metal song showed how rock and B Boy scratching can seriously compliment each other.

CLICK HERE to see the video.

Blake Lewis and his scratch version of You Give Love A Bad Name


But Babe Ruth isn't an American idol cover band. Their a band that forged their own path in the 70's and came out on the other side of the millennium with a whole new sound never forgetting their past.  I think this is because of Alan Shacklock's ability to interpolate so many different influences of music into the bands sound.

By the time "Doncha Wanna Dance" started it finally dawned upon me that this is a concept album as much as any other record has been called a concept album.

While Sgt. Pepper became the blueprint for the concept album John and Paul always said it was merely a collection of songs that fit well together and in the end it formed a bit of a loose concept album.  Paul said that he had a loose idea to act as a "cover band" with the Sgt. Pepper moniker.
Not to take anything away from that masterpiece, but The Beatles themselves said the "concept" was more of an afterthought.

But Que Pasa seems to be much more designed to be an actual concept album as a whole identity, deliberately thought out to incorporate the bands old sound with it's new B Boy influences.

"Doncha Wanna Dance" is a full fledged dance track that still has a heavy dose of rock & roll in it as Jenny tells you to get off your butt and shake it. 

It ends with a blazing, no holds barred, Steve Vai sounding guitar solo by "Shack" that rips into the song just as Eddie Van Halen's guitar sliced through Michael Jackson's "Beat It".

After all, it was Alan Shacklock's ballsy guitar playing that first got me into this band in the early 70's, and he's still got it!

By this point I was totally hooked and impressed by this album.

As the album progresses their signature "Mexican" sound permeates the rest of the songs.

Taking you straight to the border with it's Latin influences, blazing guitar, and (synthesized?) horns, I was just knocked out that there was so much going on in every track, yet it wasn't too much as to make it a jumbled mess.

Just to make sure we didn't forget who made this album, it closes with a remake of their signature song "The Mexican"

It's often dangerous territory when a band remakes a song, especially one that's their best known hit, but even after 35 years the band pulls it off without a hitch. 
These guys wanted to make sure to leave us no doubt as to who they are.

"The Mexican Millennium" as recorded by Babe Ruth, is also featured on Sony's Playstation 2's break dancing game "B-Boy".

The entire band is in excellent form here, everybody is at the top of their game. 
Like fine wine, they got better with the passage of time.

You can tell the band really wanted to make this album, and were chomping at the bit to be heard again.

It's really rare when a band can reinvent itself and still stay true to their original sound and root influences. 

With "Que Pasa" Babe Ruth has broken new ground and opened themselves up to a whole new flock of fans.

A special mention must go out to Alan Shacklock's superb guitar playing, songwritting, and production of this album. 

It's a very well produced album, everything fits where it's supposed to be. 
The man's got a great ear, and utilizes everybody's talents to the fullest.

Hewitt's bass, Spevock's drums, Punshon's keys and, of course, Jenny Haan's great vocals rip this album up.

As a former recording engineer myself I know how hard it can be to mix an album and get everything heard without having it sound like a cacophony of three bands playing at the same time!

It's not easy creating a cohesive wall of sound, and yet still managing to have the "space" for everything to be heard.

As the great guitarist Steve Morse told us "Too many notes sounds like . . . Tumeni Notes"!


While "First Base" is still my, and many fans favorite Babe Ruth album, this album ranks right up there with their best material.

Little did I dream of some seven years ago when I first started my Babe Ruth tribute page, mainly because there was hardly a mention of them anywhere on the Web, that one day they'd be back together, recording again, and forging a new musical sound.

There's simply been no band quite like Babe Ruth, past or present. 

They are unique in a sea of sameness and banality that permeates today's music.

This is totally new music, from an older band that's worthy to be heard. 

Without giving up their own signature sound, they've blazed a new adventurous trail, incorporating even more musical influences than they did before.

This music deserves to be heard by a wider audience, it should be out there in the mainstream. 

I've played this music to the older people of my 70's rock generation and they like it, and also to members of the younger college age crowd who dig it as well.

I've listened to this record over and over again and it stands up to repeated listenings.  The truth is that right now I can't stop listening to it!

I'm convinced it will become a classic.

Do yourself, and the band a favor, and go to their web site and buy the instant download of this music.  This is exactly the type of music we need to be supporting in 2007 and beyond.

All I can say is that Babe Ruth's "Que Pasa" is one great album!

Shred, August 2007


By the way some of you have already asked me to mail you this album.
Sorry , but this is an official recording not for trade. 

Click Here to hear the sampler of the album.

I suggest you go to the bands official web site, pay the 12 bucks, and download the high quality 256 KB version of the record.  It's well worth it.

We all need to support the band and they deserve to be compensated for their
hard work in making this fine record.

I know from writing to them that this was not an easy project to undertake.

http://www.baberuthband.com
Click Here to buy Que Pasa!
Click Here to buy Que Pasa!
 
 



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