STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
The Babys accomplished quite a lot considering they were only together from 1976 to 1981.
That includes five albums; the pop hits “Isn’t It Time,” “Every Time I Think of You” and “Back on My Feet Again;” and ace rocking album tracks like “Head First” and “Midnight Rendezvous.”
Drummer Tony Brock, who together with lead guitarist Wally Stocker recently reformed the group, said the rock band broke up at perhaps the worst possible moment — when their star was rising. “The Babys didn’t finish what we started out to do. We needed that one push over the hill, and I’ve always been sort of bugged by that,” he said in a phone interview.
By the early ‘80s, singer John Waite “knew he wanted to be his own boss,” Brock explained. Keyboardist Jonathan Cain, who joined The Babys in 1978, “was unhappy,” according to Brock, and jumped at an opportunity to join Journey just as Journey’s popularity was about to explode (Journey and The Babys played many concert dates together). Babys bassist Ricky Phillips eventually joined Styx. As the years rolled on, Brock worked with Eddie Money, Rod Stewart for a stint that lasted 12 years, Elton John and Jeff Beck. Stocker also worked with Stewart and played in Air Supply and Humble Pie, among others.
Going solo, Waite landed three songs in the U.S. top 40, including the enduring No. 1 smash “Missing You.” Then when Journey took a hiatus in the late ‘80s, Cain (who brought Journey guitar master Neal Schon with him) and Phillips reunited with Waite to form the group Bad English, who also scored three hit songs in a short period of time — including the No. 1 “When I See You Smile.”
When new Babys singer and bass player John Bisaha was approached about auditioning, he initially thought it was for a Bad English reunion. “Facebook’s a wonderful thing. You can connect with everyone (I worked with) from the ‘80s and ‘90s,” he said of how networking led to the audition three years ago.
“I was a Babys fan. The only thing I didn’t have (by them) was a Christmas album,” he said, recalling that “Isn’t It Time” came out when he was 16 or 17.
Of a June 27 show at the Sellersville Theater, with a lineup of himself, Brock, Stocker, guitarist Joey Sykes, keyboardist Francesco Saglietti and backup singers The Babettes, he said: “My wife is from the Philly area, South Jersey just outside the Walt Whitman Bridge, so (the atmosphere will be) like old home week.”
Unlike some reunited musical groups with personnel replacing founding members, Brock says the ex-Babys have each given their blessings. “I text him almost every other day. We’re closer now than we were when we were in the band,” Brock said of Waite. “He thinks of (the new lineup) as a fantastic idea and he loves the new album.”
The new release, “I’ll Have Some of That,” was made in two months with analog recording equipment in Brock’s Silver Dreams Studios, and features ‘70s classic rock flash that brings to mind The Faces, Free, The Raspberries and Badfinger. Bisaha said one of the new songs, “I See You There,” is an Aerosmith-ballad-meets-The-Babys.
Sykes and Bisaha brought their songwriting skills for the new music, and about half of the songs on “I’ll Have Some of That” incorporate ideas from unfinished Stocker/Brock Babys demos from the ‘80s.
“We had stuff that was 30 years old and two weeks old,” said Bisaha, who described his voice as “John Waite meets Daryl Hall meets Lou Gramm (Foreigner)” with a dash of Robert Plant.
Brock realizes some will be disappointed that Waite isn’t involved in The Babys reunion. “John Bisaha is wonderful singer. He’s smart and looks great, and has a soulful voice — which is something I need,” he said.
“It’s a joy to be back. It feels like we’re doing it right this time.”
IF YOU GO
What: The Babys in concert with opener 28 North.
When: 8 p.m. June 27.
Where: Sellersville Theater 1894, 24 W. Temple Ave. at Main Street, Sellersville.
Tickets: $25 and $40.
Info.: Call (215) 257-5808 or visit www.st94.com.