Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Anyone remember The Babymen?

About the time I was wrapping my head around Uncarved Block, the final release by Flux (formerly Flux of Pink Indians) on the fledgling One Little Indian label, I also had the chance to sample the work of some of their label mates. One of those bands was called The Babymen. Of course I have no idea what happened to my old recordings. However, I did find a Myspace page devoted to them and had a chance to re-hear their one EP, For King Willy. As the page's bio says:
These are four tracks by the legendary Babymen, originally concieved in 1982, but not committed to record until the summer of 1986. This gap would almost certainly have been longer, perhaps even indefinate, had it not been for the sterling efforts of 'Flux' and the 'One little indian' record label, in encouraging The Babymen to record, and for the assistance of The D.C.L. during the recording.

The tracks were recorded during the week 6th-13th July 1986, on an eight track machine at Workshop Studios and were engineered by David Morris, whose patient effort was another important factor in the completion of this work.

As for the tracks themselves, the title track 'For King Willy' is a rousing gothic chant and although medieval in spirit, features some moody, reverberating electric guitar, thudding drums and spirited harpsichord. It's companion track 'The Legend Of The Baby Men' opens quietly, but develops into a disturbing baroque rumble, a meshing together of harpsichord, trumpet fanfares and a heady crescendo of distorted 'whiplash' electric guitar, which was originally recorded on a telephone answering machine and then transferred to this recording. Together with a spoken account of the history of The Babymen, it produces an awesome effect. These two pieces account for side one of the disc.

Side two opens in a lighter vein and finds The Babymen romping through 'March Of The Baby Men', a piece dominated by pounding harpsichord and bass guitar, which also features the clarinet of the legendary Svoor Naan. The mood becomes sombre for 'Think Of Honour And Of Wealth' - a haunting piece, conjouring images of moorland battlefields after the fray, with the wind howling and with ghostly voices cutting through the air.

This then is the best of The Babymen so far, four excellent and exciting pieces of music.

Will they ever record again? I hope so.

Robert Winterman.

Taken from the original slevenotes for 'For King Willy' 
The anarchopunk scene was rather noteworthy for its openness to experimentation, especially during its waning days in the mid-to-late 1980s. Bands like The Babymen were part of its colorful history. The Medieval and experimental vibe that one gets from their few recorded tracks would have easily led listeners at the time to ask, "is this really punk?" I'd probably have responded: "Does it really matter? This shit is interesting." Anyway, check out the site, listen to some music, and enjoy a blast from an interesting time in music history.

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