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Articles Home » 1979 Articles » Axe - 1979 Axe
Axe - 1979 Axe

YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 1997, Axepertise (NZ bootleg)


LINEUP: Bobby Barth - guitars, lead vocals * Edgar Riley - keyboards, backing vocals * Michael Osbourne - guitar * Mike Turpin - bass * Teddy Mueller - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Life's Just An Illusion * 02 Hang On * 03 Sympathize * 04 How Come I Love You * 05 Forever * 06 Back On The Streets * 07 Doin' The Best That I Can * 08 You're Out Of Line * 09 Battles


Prior to the formation of melodic rock legends Axe, we had the band Babyface. Based in the heartland of Wisconsin (in fact from the same region as 80's AORsters Airkraft), Babyface were signed to Minnesota label ASI Records, who are featured well enough here on GD to be familiar to most. It's pretty much acknowledged by most that the 1977 'Babyface' album was a load of crap manifested into vinyl. After having annoyed the mid-west press everywhere between Minneapolis and Milwaukee, the band skulked into hiding, and popped their heads up in Florida the following year in search of inspiration, insight, and a record deal. First a name change was in order. Axe became their moniker, MCA became their label, and a harder form of rock became their calling. Having heard Babyface, it's staggering the change in quality over the two year period.

The Songs
Three members of Babyface made the journey to Axe. Bobby Barth, Edgar Riley and Mike Turpin were joined by second guitarist Michael Osborne and drummer Teddy Mueller, and a damn impressive lineup of songs resulted. An old Creem review of the album suggested Axe swam in the same sea as Foreigner, and as an overall assessment that's not a bad one. I would throw in there a dose of Legs Diamond as well. How this lot churned out a 1979 classic with 'Hang On' defies belief. A tremendous track with pompous pretensions, and a massive wall of vocal harmonies. 'Sympathize' is a gritty rocker with a leaning towards some of the British hard rock bands from the 70's, 'How Come I Love You' is also played in a similar vein but a slightly slower tempo. We get plenty of piano from Riley in the plaintive ballad 'Forever', which comes to life halfway through. 'Back On The Streets' has the attitude of a solid rocker combining the best bits of black leather, hot oil and searing tar-seal. 'Doin' The Best That I Can' takes the best bits of Foreigner and Bad Company and wraps it up in a melodic package. 'You're Out Of Line' is a big sounding pomp rocker which could be Morningstar or Shooting Star with its tinkly keyboards and what sounds like violin parts throughout. The finale 'Battles' is the coup de grace for the album. Long recognised as an Axe classic, this Styx like pomposity is simple magical from start to finish. The band re-recorded it for their 1997 album 'Axe V'.

In Summary
The CD re-release of 'Axe' included five bonus tracks ('Never In My Life', 'How Long Can A Rock 'N' Roll Band Keep Carryin' On', 'Angeline', 'Songwriter' and 'Stone Cold'. The band followed this up with the equally good 'Living On The Edge', but these two MCA albums are considered lightweight, when compared to their Atco and MTM Music eras. Still, both 'Axe' and 'Living On The Edge' make for good listening. You just have to chuckle at the band's origins.. still hard to believe actually. lol!

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#1 | gdazegod on July 29 2008 11:08:55
A well overdue review.
#2 | rkbluez on July 29 2008 11:29:23
One Of The Best Pomp/Hard Rock albums of all time...Battles is simply an amazing tune...a true classic IMO. Still love this album to this day.
#3 | Eric on July 29 2008 16:55:14
I'll second that. A fantastic record!Thumbs Up
#4 | rostoned on July 29 2008 18:37:49
If I am not mistaken this was officially reissued on CD only in Japan in the early 90s by Alfa Brunette along with Axe 'Living...'; now both are way out of print and mega expensive on the usual places.

Rock Candy announced the CD rerelease of both MCA albums a while ago but lately they have disappeared from the 'coming soon' list on their site. I wonder if they have been cancelled or simply pushed back.... hmm!
#5 | rostoned on July 29 2008 19:15:09
Bingo! It appears matching the tracklists and it's stated on another forum that the 5 bonus tracks listed above are lifted from none other than the horrendous (judging from the review here at GDaze!) BABYFACE album from 1977 on ASI, which of course was a pre Axe combo. I wonder now if these bonus tracks were on the japanese official CD (seems strange) or the highly suspiciously named 'Axpertise' label from New Zealand which rhymes with bootleg all the way!

#6 | Jez on July 29 2008 20:28:35
The bonus tracks were on the Excellent Axepertise issues. 'Living On The Edge' had the other five tracks to complete the Babyface album, although I must admit they aren't very good at all. Anyway, this is one of the all time classics for me and one that really got me into this genre of music. I first heard my fave Axe track 'You're Out Of Line' back on the brilliant 'Precious Metal' compilation album along with the likes of New England, Storm and all the bigger MCA acts of the time. Still love this album to this day and it remains my favourite Axe album.
#7 | rkbluez on July 29 2008 21:14:41
Filippo I have the Alfa Brunette versions and there are no bonus tracks which is fine by me if there not any good...hope Rock Candy re releases these classic so many more people can enjoy them in excellent sound.
#8 | dangerzone on July 29 2008 23:10:13
Bloody great band.
#9 | gdazegod on July 30 2008 01:17:06
Don't know anything about Axepertise. I have heard numerous stories over the years about bootlegging operations emanating out of New Zealand, though I haven't been able to confirm anything personally. helpless
#10 | rostoned on July 30 2008 18:17:57
George I dont get it: do you actually own a copy on Axpertise or not (or another label)? I thought so, judging from the review above (but maybe you just got the tracklist from the weCool...if so I am sure you can tell us if this looks like and smells like a bootleg.
#11 | Jez on July 30 2008 19:25:38
I have the Axepertise and have always heard that they are boots.but don't quote me on that. They did all the first 4 Axe discs. They are EXCELLENT quality soundwise and Booklet wise, and looking at them you would never know at all.
#12 | gdazegod on August 03 2008 23:33:24
Rostoned, where there are bonus tracks known from reissued releases, I will add them onto the track listings with our reviews. We have done it in numerous other reviews too.
#13 | rostoned on August 04 2008 00:05:09
Never noticed this G. IMHO the tracklist should be only of the original album with bonus tracks eventually reported in the summary section, this to avoid any confusion between different cd reissues which may or may not have those bonus tracks. In this case it's funny since these bonus tracks listed were not from Axe but from the Babyface album (reviewed elsewhere on the site) and coming from a clearly unofficial cd release as well! there are just my 2 dirty cents anyway....
#14 | gdazegod on August 04 2008 02:58:12
Fair enough, and a good point made. I will edit the review shortly.
#15 | Nick C on August 23 2008 11:22:35
I have the Japanese version on Brunette of this, but my Living on the Edge is on Axepertise....again with the dodgy Babyface bonus tracks.

Battles is one of the best album closers ever.
#16 | sabace on August 13 2012 18:49:54
according to Barth - they were f**ked over by their producer and label for the babyface lp . apparently all the guitars were replaced at the mixing stage and they only found out when they heard the first test pressing! It would seem their whole career was one disaster to another .Still they still managed to come up with great tunes .
#17 | tompa on December 27 2012 13:19:04
I have this CD on a label called 'Reborn Classics'. Sounds OK, sounds like the vinyl, that's all I ask. Great music.
#18 | gdazegod on January 14 2013 14:35:58
New AXE DVD released in early 2013. Only Bobby Barth remains from the original lineup.
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