Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Babys -- "Isn't It Time" (1977)

Sitting here all alone
Just tryin' to decide
Whether to go on alone
Or stay by your side
Then I stop myself because
I know I could cry 
I just can't find the answers
To the questions 
That keep going through my mind
Hey babe!  Isn't it time?

Gag me with a spoon.  This is a pathetic song, and I've just listened to it about ten times in a row.  And I LOVE IT -- isn't that pathetic?  Not to mention embarrassing?  Please . . . put me out of my misery.

2 or 3 lines is all about coming clean with my readers -- I bullshit thee not, boys and girls.  The doctor in Tommy told the deaf, dumb and blind Tommy, "Go to the mirror, boy," as his mother asked herself, "What is happening in his head?"

Well, I went to the mirror and took a good, hard look at what I saw.  Now I'm telling you exactly what is happening in my head.  And I hope you can handle the truth, because that's all I've got for you today.

I can handle the truth.  But just barely.  And the truth is this song gives me douche chills, even on the eleventh consecutive hearing.

The Babys (interesting spelling, isn't it?) were a British pop group that had a moderately successful run in the late 1970's.  "Isn't It Time" is from their second album, Broken Heart.

Their lead singer was John Waite, who had a #1 hit ("Missing You") as a solo artist and another #1 hit ("When I See You Smile') as a member of Bad English, which should have been named "Bad English Band" or perhaps even "Unspeakable English Band."

"Isn't It Time," which was one of the Babys' two top-20 hits, was co-written by Ray Kennedy, who started out as a jazz saxophonist but is better known as a songwriter.  (He co-wrote the Beach Boys' hit, "Sail On, Sailor.")

The lyrics were inspired [sic] by Kennedy's love for a French woman, and you know what that means, don't you?  It means trouble ahead and trouble behind and 2 or 3 lines better watch its speed!  

Oops!  TOO LATE!  I may have two good eyes, but I still don't see!  

(Apologies to the Grateful Dead.)

"Isn't It Time" begins with a catchy little piano introduction (repeated before each verse) and then moves into a dialogue between lead singer Waite and the band's female backup singers, the "Babettes," who are presumably speaking for the French woman.

We're going to do something a little different and insert the song here rather than at the end of the post:

Holy crap, check out lead singer John Waite!  Is he the most feminine-looking man in the history of the universe?

Bruce Jenner
Do you think when he got all ten spaces on his plastic surgeon's "Frequent Patient Card" punched, he went ahead and got the free facelift?  He looks like a middle-aged woman who went way overboard with the nips and tucks -- in other words, just like Bruce Jenner.

The first two verses (the first one is quoted above) reveal the singer's uncertainty -- he's "just tryin' to decide/Whether to go on alone/Or stay by your side."  In the choruses that follow, the Babettes sound a warning: "Falling in love could be your mistake."  

But in the third and final verse, it's the mother of all happy endings: 

I feel a warmth in my heart 
And my soul that I never knew
This love affair gives me strength 
That I need just to get me through . . .
I've finally found the answers 
To the questions 
That keep going through my mind
Hey babe!  Isn't it time?

The Babettes have done a one-eighty as well:  "Losing this love could be your mistake."

Denise Sullivan of Allmusic has this to say about "Isn't It Time":

It starts out innocently enough but quickly explodes into a showcase for John Waite's underrated talents as a powerhouse vocalist . . . . Beginning with a gentle vocal accompanied by a tinkling piano and strings, the song shifts abruptly into a big stage strutter, complete with female background vocals by the Babettes.  The girls provide the "female" voice in the story of a guy who resists the temptation to fall in love, but, by the song's end, he's surrendered, with a little urging from her, of course. . . . Sure it's retro, but as a timepiece it wears well. The fashionably androgynous Babys and their love song-lite went over big with teenage girls, but throughout 1977, people of all stripes were no doubt falling in love to the tune of "Isn't It Time" as the Babys were a ubiquitous presence on the concert circuit.

Let's amend that -- the song went over big not only with teenage girls, but also with 2 or 3 lines!

Click here to buy "Isn't It Time" from Amazon:


  1. Actually John Waite was very young then and had no wrinkles. He was wearing stage makeup and with his delicate features it made him look feminine. But if you do a google search for images of him you will see he is just a naturally small fine boned human being. And looked great as he aged.

  2. Forgot to mention, John has a fabulous voice too!

  3. i found this b/c i had "missing you" all day in my head (for obvious reasons. everytime you think you're over them. you're nooooot!), so i youtubed, naturally when i got home. researching john waites got me here....ahah so much fun digging through eras of music! he is so young here, but "it betta be time!!" tell 'em, john, ladies! thanks for the entertaining read/share.

  4. I have read your blog it is very helpful for me. I want to say thanks to you. I have bookmark your site for future updates.
    זר פרחים מבגדי תינוקות