BABYLON A.D. – Live Lightning (2023) *HQ*

BABYLON A.D. - Live Lightning (2023) *HQ* lossless - full

Cult late ’80s hard rockers BABYLON A.D. have signed a deal with American specialized label Perris Records and the first release scheduled for March 17th is “Live Lightning“, a live set showcasing the group firing on all cylinders.
The new album includes their top-ten rock-radio classic hits “Hammer Swings Down”, “Kid Goes Wild”, “Bang Go The Bells” from their debut release, their hit “Bad Blood” from the “Nothing Sacred” album, and songs from their studio albums “American Blitzkrieg”, “The Lost Sessions” and their last release “Revelation Highway” are all featured.
The fourteen hard-rocking tracks on “Live Lightning” showcase the high-energy, powerful live performances that Babylon A.D. is renowned for, and the band plans on hitting the road in support of the new album.
Every studio album Babylon A.D. have released is represented so it’s a good mix of songs. It’s really cool hearing the songs fresh with a few the surprises and the few mistakes here and there kept it interesting and real. A blood-pumping ‘real live’ recording.

Some people may see it as a bold move to open your latest Live album with a track off the latest studio record when your most iconic album harks back to 1989, but Babylon A.D. is just one of those bands that has never put out a less than stellar record and ‘Saturday Night’ one of my favorites from 2017’s ‘Revelation Highway’ and the song I noted was sure to become a live favorite, more than holds its own.

Babylon A.D. roared back to live back in 2014 just a year before their 25th anniversary and hitting the live stage they proved to be a revelation and anyone who was lucky enough to catch them before their pre-covid guitarist shuffles.
Over the last few pandemic-streaked years things have been quiet but the great news for fans is that Babylon A.D. is back and not just with a new live album but with plans to tour and writing underway. All of the original guys are back onboard too with the exception of Danny De La Rosa, who makes way for original guitarist John Mathews.

This recording came from two dates in California back in 2015 and the choice of tracks came down largely to the quality of the recordings. Of course, the wonderful debut makes up the majority and whilst as a fan of the album it’s a little disappointing to see so few tracks from the underrated follow up ‘Nothing’s Sacred’ we did hear plenty of those songs on 1999’s ‘Live in Your Face’ though two of my favorites from that record ‘Psychedelic Sex Reaction’ (which could have been a single – it got played every week at the club I went to back in the day) and ‘Slave Your Body’.
Of course, you can’t rate an album by its omissions so all I can say is that this sounds wonderful.

There’s always been an immediacy to ‘Hammer Swings Down’ and another of Revelation Highway’s best ‘One Million Miles’ follows. It’s a song awash with subtle guitar and full of melody (possibly even the most commercial song here) and sees a wonderful uplifting vocal from Derek Davis. It’s the kind of song that would have been huge back in the day and it fits seamlessly between ‘Hammer’ and ‘Bang Go the Bells’ – two big guns that see Derek proving he’s one of the choice few vocalists of his era whose voice has increased in stature over the years.
It’s surprisingly to hear ‘Sinking in the Sand’ from the criminally underrated ‘American Blitzkrieg’ but not because it’s not a great song, rather that is sounds completely comfortable here amongst what you might consider the big hitters.

Back in the day there were two songs on that classic debut album that elevated Babylon A.D. way above other bands of the era, both appear here and the first ‘Desperate’ is a ballad that takes some topping. To me it was one of the defining ballads of the era – it should have been a huge hit and on ‘Live Lightning’ it sounds huge. Then ‘Maryanne’ from the same record has rarely sounded better.

‘She Likes to Give It’ from ‘Revelation Highway’ is one of my favourite from that record. It’s an unashamedly 80s type of rocker that gives you a shiver as you hear the drums and the bass drop in above the well-fashioned lick. Derek broods and coaxes out the lyric with relish and restraint nailing the notes he did 30 years ago with ease. It’s another of those mid-tempo slow burners full of dynamics that the band made their own back in the day and they don’t miss a beat here with a wonderful breakdown and cool guitar break: this one has it all. Live it sounds sensational.

Our only taste of the classic ‘Nothing Sacred’ album comes with ‘Bad Blood’ – a song that I always thought had a real Aerosmith flavour as well as a killer chorus. Here it sounds glorious and completely addictive. Revelation Highway opener ‘Crash and Burn’ sounds great too, and to be honest it’s a wonderfully balanced setlist that proves that the newer material is equally good as Babylon’s first albums.

‘Shot Of Love’ is absolutely undisputedly one of my favourite songs of the 80s. From the first time I heard it I knew that this was a band that would stay with me forever and 34 years later I’m still here. It’s the near perfect Hard Rock song, full of emotion, dynamic, hard edged and with a chorus that just grabs you and doesn’t let go. Back in the day this was the song on all of my mixtapes and all these years later it is still one of my very favourites. It’s Babylon’s ‘Lightning on a bottle’ and my perfect song.
After that high it takes a helluva song to keep things going and ‘Love Blind’ the opener from the ‘Lost Sessions / Fresno, CA 93’ EP’ does the trick, it’s a great ‘lost’ gem that works beautifully in the live setting.

Getting near the end of the show we of course have to end with some debut album gems: first comes the wonderful dirty bluesy groove of ‘Sally Danced’ and the show just has to close with Babylon’s most well-known song ‘Kid Goes Wild’ which here sounds even more wonderful than you might remember it.

If you never saw Babylon A.D. live this is the reason to get out next Summer and buy a ticket. If you missed the band entirely then this is the absolute proof that it’s never too late to discover some of the very best hard rock music of the past and find out it’s still being made by the very same guys today.
As live albums go this is one of the very best I’ve heard in years.
Highly Recommended


01 – Saturday Night (Live)
02 – Hammer Swings Down (Live)
03 – One Million Miles (Live)
04 – Bang Go The Bells (Live)
05 – Sinking In The Sand (Live)
06 – Desperate (Live)
07 – Maryanne (Live)
08 – She Likes to Give It (Live)
09 – Bad Blood (Live)
10 – Crash And Burn (Live)
11 – Shot Of Love (Live)
12 – Love Blind (Live)
13 – Sally Danced (Live)
14 – Kid Goes Wild (Live)

Derek Davis – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Ron Freschi – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Danny De La Rosa – Guitar
John Matthews – Guitar
Robb Reid – Bass, Backing Vocals
James Pacheco – Drums


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1 Response

  1. Jay says:

    Thnx 0 Day, always loved this band

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