Look! On Burt Sugarman's The Midnight Special! Is it Ziggy Stardust's younger sibling? A lost member of the New York Dolls? No! It's.....JOHN WAITE?!?!
I've been obsessed with two singles by the Babys for about a year now, but five years from now, ten years from now, I don't think I'll ever get over the initial shock of realizing that the front man with the henna'd hair, earring, and swank seventies' glam clothes is the same guy that sings "I Ain't Missin' You At All". I mean, yes, the voice is the same but....but....it's hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that this (left) is the same as that (right). Not that he doesn't look cute as a button in either one-- but how do you go from emulating David Bowie to looking like a drug dealer on Miami Vice? HOW!
The Babys were a English rock band signed by Chrysalis records late seventies' and had pretty decent success with two songs I am nuts about, "Isn't It Time" and "Everytime I Think of You" (I'm just now noticing the use of "time" in both those titles...nice work, boys). There USED to be an exhaustive, comprehensive website on their history called The Babys Archives, but it has apparently gone the way of Geocities and vanished into cyberspace (thought it's still referenced on several other sites as to how much information there was at one point on that site...CURSES). I went to my trusty Google Books, which contains Billboard archives back to the forties (no joke!), and came up with the following clippings with regard to John Waite's glam days:
I get such a kick out of reading old trade magazines from the seventies' because you can just hear the desperation in some of the new band pitches, or the jubilation when a label has major success with an act and wants e-v-e-ry-b-o-d-y to know about it, and the insider-ness of copy (names of engineers, producers, label exec's only the industry people reading the magazine would be super familiar with). There was an issue from around this same period where Steve Martin had no less than four color advertisements touting his major comedy album domination of the charts...four! And don't get me started on Donna Summer coverage in the issues covering 1977-1980. Above, a profile of the president of Chrysalis Records, Terry Ellis, includes a group picture of the Babys hanging out in his office. Another observation: seventies' casual band pictures bear no resemblance to modern casual band pictures-- do any one of these gentleman look like they know they're having their picture taken or that they care? I feel like 99% of bands you will even see a photo of are hypersensitive to whether or not their sartorial choices would land them in Spin. Also, check out the weird fuzzy chair Waite is sitting in and the earth mother seventies' wall hanging in the background.
So. Much. Hair. In this photo. I get so nostalgic about what "radio" and "DJs" and "on air personalities" used to mean that I could spit.
Look at the Joan Jett looking guy on the far right! Can we get his number, please? Thanks.
Sorry about the scan cutting that one guy's face off. Read this little snippet and see what I mean about industry trade papers writing for industry trade people. Isn't it funny how John Waite on the left looks like a high school newspaper editor who wandered into this Mod rockers photo? He has such clean cut good looks! Which would serve him well in his eighties' super solo career.
Here are some reviews from their live shows in California and New York. Can I change my name to "Legs Diamond"?
And some adorable clip art accompanying a review of their record:
Last but not least, you know you want to hear what I'm talking about! I'm always a sucker for epic-without-being-silly production (think of what Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell would be like if it was clocked back about three notches so I could love it unshamefacedly), so you can see where these tunes would appeal to me. And good God, the singing! John Waite, sing on, you future mainstream success, you!
Do you remember this band or Tom Waite from his later incarnation as a AM Lite superstar? Where do you stand on late seventies', non-Pitchfork approved corporate rock? How do you like the two Babys songs posted? Do tell.
That's all for today...see you guys tomorrow for Photo Friday!
POSTSCRIPT ((Five minutes after hitting "publish")): I SOMEHOW FORGOT ABOUT WHEN JOHN WAITE WAS IN BAD ENGLISH. HOW DID I FORGET ABOUT WHEN JOHN WAITE WAS IN BAD ENGLISH?
((this picture really deserves its own post, but instead, why don't you listen to "When I See You Smile", and compare it to "Isn't It Time" and "I Ain't Missin' You At All" and think about how many crazy different turns the career of a professional musician can take...I don't even know what to think now....))