Published on August 29th, 2020 | by Justin G.
Babylon A.D: Babylon A.D. (Bad Reputation, 1989/2020)
There are a lot of bands that were “overlooked” back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. When you really think about it, some of those bands deserved to be overlooked. There were a lot of hard rock bands from that era that, while good, didn’t exactly stand out from the rest of the pack. Then there are bands like Babylon A.D., who despite having plenty of talent, never seemed to get the attention they deserved.
Released in 1989, the band’s self-titled debut was more or less the perfect example of the hard rock/hair metal sound at that time. Less glam, more swagger, and still extremely commercially accessible, Babylon A.D. had almost a Warrant meets Tesla kind of sound. The album had tons of great melodic hooks, with just a trace of blues and massive vocals from Derek Davis. The backing vocals are huge too, and are a major part of why the choruses on hard hitting songs like “Bang Go the Bells,” “Hammer Swings Down” and “The Kid Goes Wild” are so memorable. Jack Ponti (formerly from Surgin’) wrote several songs for the album, including “Desperate,” whch is one of the best power ballads of the era; though inexplicably neither Babylon A.D. nor Baton Rouge could make a hit out of it.
On paper this band had everything: a great look, great sound, an album full of “ready for MTV” potential hits and a major label backing them. They should have been right up there with bands like Warrant, Firehouse and Slaughter in terms of popularity. Even still, Babylon A.D. remains a great hard rock album and one of the strongest debuts from that whole scene. Anyone into the late ‘80s and early ‘90s hard rock sound, especially bands like Wildside, Tora Tora, Tangier and Baton Rouge needs to have this one in their collection.
Reissue Notes: Babylon A.D. finally got a reissue this year thanks to the French reissue label Bad Reputation. I know there’s been some lively discussion about the label and how legitimate their reissues are, but they’re claiming these are fully-licensed reissues and frankly they do a great job on them. The Babylon A.D. reissue features digitally remastered audio and six bonus tracks (three live songs and three alternate mixes), as well as a nice booklet with tons of vintage photos. I’m not an audiophile, so my only observation on the remastering is that it sounds nice and loud, so I no longer have to crank up the volume to hear it at the same level as newer releases. You’ll still want to crank up the volume because it’s just that kind of album, but you won’t have to. It’s a really nice reissue overall, and given how hard it is to find an original pressing, it’s a much-needed one at that.
Summary: How to make a great album even better