Babe Ruth

First Base

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First Base was British hard rock group Babe Ruth's biggest success, both in terms of popular and critical acclaim. This LP defined an interesting junction between hard rock and progressive rock. The two driving forces behind this album were guitarist Alan Shackloc, who wrote most of the material, and vocalist Janita Haan, who came out as the perfect balance between Janis Joplin and Robert Plant. The album contained "The Mexican," the band's classic song which also includes a theme by western soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone ("Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu"). Other highlights include the powerful rock number "Wells Fargo," the sweet-and-sour "Black Dog" (with nice piano work by Dave Punshon), and a surprising rendition of Frank Zappa's "King Kong." The strings and oboe arrangements in "The Runaways" don't work as well, but at least they don't get pompous. With its long songs (six to eight minutes) and lush arrangements, First Base seduced both the hard rock and the progressive rock crowds. The album cover was painted by Roger Dean, who illustrated many Yes albums.

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