Babylon - Babylon

Year of Release: 1995
Label: Syn-Phonic
Catalog Number: SYNCD 18
Format: CD
Total Time: 34:54:00

This CD represents a time warp of a sort. Just getting the facts down is a bit tough. Babylon recorded this album in 1977. It was released on Mehum Records in 1978 (cat. No. 4641), and reissued on the same label later that same year. I assume that it was really an additional pressing, but I do not own, nor does anyone I know own, a copy of this very rare piece of vinyl. I will also assume that this "label" was the band itself. In August of 1995 the tapes were re-mixed and re-mastered by Kevin Gilbert, and the CD was released. Again, I haven't heard the vinyl version of this gem, but I am very impressed with the quality of the CD version released by Syn-Phonic, and I will go out on a limb here and give some of the credit for this overall production to the late Mr. Gilbert. Everything I have come across with his name attached to it has been of the highest quality, and he is sorely missed by many.

Back to Babylon then. This is one of those American progressive rock bands that appeared very briefly, released some very promising music, then slid off the face of the earth. Formed in 1976, the group consisted of members of other bands that performed in the central Florida area who found they had similar musical interests.

This CD release has very well produced packaging and graphics, with full lyrics, and the band's history and discography. A number of photos of the band, including shots from their live appearances are included and, from the pictures and band history, seem to indicate that Babylon put on quite a show, with Peter Gabriel-like costumes worn by vocalist Doroccas. Yes, Doroccas. Liner notes state that the shows were "multimedia extravaganzas encompassing film, large screen multi-image projection, theatrics and audience participation" Hmmm. I would've paid to see that.

The notes also say that the members claim Gentle Giant, VDGG, Happy The Man, Genesis, and others as their main influences. While I do hear similarities to all these bands, it is Genesis that Babylon most appear to have been seduced by. One does not have to go any farther than the CD booklet to know what this music is going to sound like. Just look at the photos of the vocalist in cape and make-up, audience members dressed in Gabriel's "watcher" costume, and skim over the song lyrics. The odd references, the playful twists on the Lewis Carroll type images, and the strange storybook style verse is clearly copied from Genesis.

Babylon has learned their lessons well, and they have it down, from genesis, through to revelation. But the only revelation this band will provide is how far some will go in order to sound EXACTLY like their idols.

It probably sounds like I am going to say this is a bad CD. Nope. I like it. I like it a lot.

No track by track analysis is needed. If you've heard Foxtrot, Selling England By The Pound, or The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, then you know what this CD sounds like. Every one of the four long tracks is full of references to the songs on these and other Genesis classics.

What I like best about Babylon's music here is that they chose my favorite Genesis songs as their model. Everything sounds like "Cinema Show," "Dance On A Volcano," "Watcher Of The Skies," "The Lamb?," you know. Keyboardist Gary Chambers has his Peter Banks style down cold.

Everything he plays is beautifully created and very tasty. Likewise, all the band members are absolutely top notch, and they all do a quite credible job of it. The oddly named vocalist is very good, and has all the appropriate vocal mannerisms you would expect, given their target.

The songs, all between seven to eleven minutes in length are very good, and I am fascinated, and endlessly amused while listening to them.

My way of looking at bands like Babylon and their music is simple. I would be happy to have had Genesis, or Yes, or whoever, produce more albums sounding like their great works of the 1970s. But they didn't, and they wouldn't and probably could not produce work like that today. Why would they even want to? Musicians grow and move on, rarely revisiting the past. So if someone, I don't care who, can provide a credible, well produced, quality work that can fill the void, I'll listen to it.

And if it is as impressive as this one, I'll pay to hear it. This is a real quality product in every way, from the presentation of the product, to the music contained on it. In my quest for that one last great, forgotten jewel from the golden age of symphonic progressive rock, I sometimes shell out the dough for some real stinkers. That is definitely not the case here.

There is also another release available by this band on Syn-Phonic, that being a CD release of a bootlegged live performance featuring the material from this album and more of the bands otherwise unrecorded work.

My curiosity is stirred again.

The Mote In Gods Eye (7:00) / Before The Fall (10:54) / Dreamfish (9:12) / Cathedral Of The Mary Ruin (7:38)

Rick Leonard - bass, bass pedals, voice
Dorocass - lead voice, keyboards
Rodney Best - drums, percussion
J.David Boyko - guitars
Gary Chambers - keyboards, voice

Babylon (1978/1995)
Live In Concert 1977: Better Conditions For The Dead (1998/2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: March 7th 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 3271
Language: english


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