Archive for the ‘Babe Ruth’ Category

The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975

The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975
reading75flyerThe Reading Festival hit its peak of success in the mid ’70s, and the 1975 festival sold out in advance. Although the previous years’ festivals that I had attended all seemed pretty full, you were still able to roll up and pay at the entrance. In 1975 the success of the festival and the draw of bands like Yes and Wishbone Ash ensured the site was completely packed, with hardly any room to be found in the campsites and car parks.
Friday line-up: Stella, Judas Priest, Wally, Kokomo, UFO, Dr Feelgood, Hawkwind. Judas Priest were an up and coming heavy rock band and were gigging constantly, as were UFO. Kokomo were a jazz/rock/funk outfit who were very successful during the ’70s. But the big success of Friday (and arguably the entire weekend) was Dr Feelgood, who were a massive hit with the festival crowd; Wilko and Lee being on red hot form. I was with a couple of guys who had recently become big Feelgood fans; “Back In The Night” had just been released and they were constantly singing it in my ear. “All around visible signs of the Doctor’s now-massive popularity – such as the many home-made banners (“Feelgood”, “Wilko” et al), the rapturous reception, the sea-of-weaving arms” (NME, 1975). “When Dr Feelgood stamped off they had within an hour, transformed this alfresco association into a tiny, sweaty, steaming R&B club. Charisma is too weak a word to describe what the Feelgoods had going for them that night.” (Brian Harrigan, Melody Maker, August 30, 1975). Hawkwind were ok, but it was cold, and they found it difficult to follow the Feelgood’s storming set.
readingprog75Saturday line-up: Zzebra, SNAFU, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, Kursaal Flyers, Thin Lizzy, Alan Stivell, Heavy Metal Kids (billed simply as “Kids” in the programme), Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Yes.
My memories are of Thin Lizzy delivering an excellent set as always; they were gradually building up their own following and would soon break through to become massive; The Heavy Metal Kids being as OTT as ever; and Yes, who were amazing. I must also mention the Kursaal Flyers, who are sadly often forgotten in the history of pub rock; they would hit the charts in the following year with the great pop single: “Little Does She Know” (“I know that she knows that I know she’s two timing me”). Supertramp were on the verge of mega-success; they had hit the charts with “Dreamer” and had a considerable following. I was, and remain, a big Yes fan and their performance at Reading came at a point where the band were at the peak of their success. I recall it being very cold, with epic versions of “Close to the Edge” and “And You and I”, and a great version of “Roundabout” as an encore (very late and off to our tents). A bootleg exists of Yes’ set that night: Sound Chaser; Close To The Edge; And You And I; Awaken; The Gates Of Delirium; I’ve Seen All Good People; Ancient; Long Distance Run Around; Ritual; Roundabout.
reading75Sunday line-up: Joan Armatrading, Babe Ruth, String Driven Thing, Climax Blues Band, Caravan, Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robin Trower, Wishbone Ash. My memory of Sunday is of Wishbone Ash. Like Yes they were enjoying massive success at the time, and also like Yes they played a set of pure class, with the twin guitars of Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield soaring through the cool, late Sunday evening.
Our DJs for the weekend were once again John Peel and Jerry Floyd. The weather was cold, with some rain, and the beer can fights were constant throughout the weekend. The festival had always been an organised, carefully planned event, but was becoming even more commercial. The nature of the festival, and its line-up, would transform further in the years which followed; with the emergence of punk and the re-emergence of heavy metal through the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal). Any elements of the jazz festivals of the 60s had also disappeared.
Thanks to BaldBoris for allowing his image of the festival to be used through the WikiMedia Commons licence agreement.

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Babe Ruth 1973

Babe Ruth 1973
Babe Ruth are often forgotten, memories of them lost over time. I’m getting towards the end of posting on bands beginning with the letter B, and wanted to make sure that I covered every band of note that I have ever seen, and Babe Ruth came to mind. Babe Ruth only existed for a short period between 1972 and 1976, but made a big impression at the time, although their biggest success came in Canada rather than the UK. The original band consisted of Jenny (Janita) Haan on vocals, Alan Shacklock on guitars, and Dave Hewitt on bass. They were a classic rock band; Jenny Haan was a raucous singer in the Janis Joplin mould, and totally wild on stage. Alan Shacklock was a tremendous guitarist and wrote a lot of the material. I recall seeing them performing Wells Fargo from their first album First Base on TV on the Old Grey Whistle Test and then saw them live a few times in local ballrooms. I remember in particular seeing them at Sunderland Top Rank on the Harvestmobile tour (see flyer) which was a package tour featuring bands from the Harvest stable, including Spontaneous Combustion, ELO, Roy Wood’s Wizzard, Kevin Ayres, Roy Harper & The Edgar Broughton Band. The Sunderland gig featured Babe Ruth, ELO, and Spontaneous Combustion. Spontaneous Combustion were a largely instrumental power rock trio, with a great guitarist. ELO were just great in those days (will post about them separately one day), but for me the best band that night was Babe Ruth. Their first album (see left) is excellent. Go to Youtube and listen to Wells Fargo, Black Dog” (not the Zepellin track), The Mexican, and Joker. They also did a great version of Zappa’s King Kong which was a favourite of mine at the time. By 1976 Jenny Haan had left the band to form her own band Jenny Haan’s Lion. She was replaced by Ellie Hope, and by this point the band contained no original members. I remember setting off with Marie to see Jenny Haan’s Lion at a college gig somewhere near Darlington one night, driving around and never finding the gig (no satnavs in those days) and giving up in the end. I think I did get to see them in the end, possibly at Bede College in Durham. I also have vague memories of seeing the new line up of Babe Ruth with new vocalist Ellie Hope, and being disappointed as the magic had gone. That final lineup changed their name to Liquid Gold, found Disco and hit the charts in 1980 with Dance Yourself Dizzy. Enough said. I’ve done some searching for Babe Ruth material on the internet, and discovered that they reformed a couple of years ago and played a reunion tour in Canada. More recently, in May 2012, Janita Jenny Haan and Dave Punshon from the original band played “a relaxed evening of musical storytelling and piano jazz like you’ve never heard before’ in Swindon. I’m going to keep an eye on their site (http://www.baberuthband.net/news.html) and watch for further opportunities to see them.