The Babys

Union Jacks

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By 1980, the Babys had transformed from a journeyman British rock outfit to an Anglo-American band. These lineup changes were reflected in the sound of their 1980 release, Union Jacks, which represented another stylistic turnabout for the chameleon-like Babys. On this album, the group teamed up with Keith Olsen, the producer behind hit albums for Fleetwood Mac and Pat Benatar, to create a new sound that downplayed the cinematic orchestrations of their past for a punchy, radio-ready sound flavored with new wave-styled synthesizer accents. The resulting album is the top favorite of the Babys catalog for many of the group's fans but isn't quite as a strong a release as its cult reputation might suggest. The carefully arranged "Back on My Feet Again" and the minor hit "Midnight Rendezvous" effectively mix rock riffs with a new wave style, but the new sound doesn't work quite as well on other songs. The most notable example of this problem is "Jesus, Are You There?," where the kitschy, shrill tone of the synthesizers provides an awkward musical contrast for the deadly serious lyrics. Other songs feel like they were rushed out a bit too quickly: The title track, sort of a new wave rock opera, is too disjointed to pack a punch, and "Turn Around in Tokyo" comes off as nondescript filler. In the end, Union Jacks is too inconsistent to win the Babys any new fans but is likely to please those who enjoy slick '80s AOR records.

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