Baby's self-titled debut album is definitely steeped in the mid-'70s, Southern-fried rock scene that spawned it, but Lynyrd Skynyrd this is not. These four Texas boys were a little dirtier, possessed more of a swagger, and rocked a little harder than most of their chart-topping Southern contemporaries (think Kiss with a little more twang, or a Texas-based Bachman-Turner Overdrive). Classic rock riffs and classic rock subject matter help to kick the album off with "(It's Another) Saturday Night," a rousing ode to the sacred weekend night. Johnny Lee Schell's vocals are strangely buried on this track, but his guitar playing is right where it should be, upfront and white-hot. In fact, it's Schell's solos and riffs that are largely responsible for the astonishing cohesiveness of the record, as well as the reason guitar workouts like "Hard Road" are so damn satisfying. Not surprisingly, after his stint with Baby, Schell went on to enjoy great success as a studio musician and sideman, performing on albums by Joe Cocker, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, and John Lee Hooker (just to name a few). Considering all their talent, attitude, and success as an opening act for the likes of Aerosmith and ZZ Top, it's a shame the album is as little-known as it is. For those who like their rock (be it hard, Southern, or whatever) Baby delivers the goods in spades, and that is precisely what makes this relatively obscure morsel worth seeking out and playing loud.
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