Baby Grand

Baby Grand was an American rock band from Philadelphia that released the 1977–78 Arista albums Baby Grand and Ancient Medicine. Guitarist–singer Eric Bazilian and keyboardist–songwriter Rob Hyman formed subsequent hitmakers The Hooters.

Members: Eric Bazilian (guitar, vocals), Rob Hyman (keyboards, vocals), David Kagan (vocals), David Prater (drums, 1978-79), Carmine Rojas (bass, 1978-79)


Background

Baby Grand had its roots in Wax, a psychedelic rock band formed in Philadelphia by keyboardist Rob Hyman, percussionist Rick Chertoff, and singer David Kagan.

Hyman (b. April 24, 1950) grew up in Meriden, Connecticut, where he studied piano from age four. After a sequence of local teen garage bands (The Trolls, The Pro-Teens), he moved to Philadelphia and enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a BS in Biology and befriended Chertoff and fellow attendee Eric Brazilian (b. July 21, 1953), a physics major and aspiring guitarist whose mother, Barbara, was a concert pianist.

After college, Baby Grand coalesced as a trio composed of Hyman, Brazilian, and Kagan. Chertoff retained ties with the band as he entered into production, starting with the 1974 Brut Records release Child of the Fifties by comedian Robert Klein. Rick’s subsequent credits include 197476 albums on Bell–Arista by Melissa Manchester and Chairmen of the Board singer General Johnson. Under Arista head Clive Davis, Chertoff became an A&R rep and helped secure contracts for The Kinks, The Alan Parsons Project, Happy the Man, and Baby Grand.


Baby Grand

Baby Grand released their self-titled debut album in October 1977 on Arista.

Baby Grand features six songs co-written by David Kagan and Rob Hyman, including “Can’t Keep It Inside,” the epic “Down Down,” and the single sides “Never Enough” and “Lady of My Dreams.” Rick Chertoff had input on two further songs, “Shinin’ In the Spotlight” and the lead single “Bring Me Your Broken Heart.”

Baby Grand recorded the album as a trio (Kagan, Hyman, Eric Bazilian) augmented by session drummer Rick Marotta and two original Utopia members: bassist John Siegler and keyboardist Ralph Schuckett (clavinet). “Boy In the Band” features a guest solo by saxophonist Michael Brecker. Drummer David Prater, who joined Baby Grand after the album’s completion, plays on “Shinin’ In the Spotlight.”

A1. “Never Enough” (4:20)
A2. “Can’t Keep It Inside” (4:36)
A3. “Bring Me Your Broken Heart” (3:49)
A4. “Lady of My Dreams” (4:46)
B1. “Down, Down” (7:00)
B2. “Alligator Drive” (5:19) Schuckett plays the synthesizer solo.
B3. “Shinin’ In the Spotlight” (3:55)
B4. “Boy In the Band” (5:01)

Sessions occurred in Manhattan at Mediasound (a long-running studio on West 57th St) and the newly opened Sigma Sound, where Baby Grand booked time between the Fatback Band and Phyllis Hyman. Hyman co-produced the album with Chertoff, who worked concurrently with film composer John Williams on the theme song to Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Sigma’s Prof. Gerald Block engineered Baby Grand in sequence with albums by Fatback, Brass Construction, Galdston & Thom, Village People, and the Ritchie Family. His assistant, Michael Hutchinson, also worked on 1977 titles by the O’Jays, Spinners, Lifestyle, Three Degrees, First Choice, and Roy Ayers Ubiquity.

Baby Grand features a cover painting by Fernando Botero (1932–2023), a Colombian artist famous for his exaggerated, rotund subjects (typically grouped in family settings). Arista graphic designer Bob Heimall placed the band’s logo (by Andy Engel) on Botero’s 1969 work Family Scene, which depicts a husband–wife pair (lookalikes) with their two children (big legs, adult faces) in a tight living space surrounded with greenery and a cat with the size and physical characteristics of a large bulldog.

On the back cover, the core band (Kagan, Hyman, Bazilian) mimic Botero’s art, seated lotus style on a leafy lawn with a choo choo train behind their backs. The photographer, Bill Stettner, also took the back-cover pics on the 1977 CBS release Overnight Angels, the third solo album by ex-Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter. The Baby Grand inner-sleeve features lyrics and a monochrome studio pic of the trio with Chertoff at the soundboard.

Arista lifted “Bring Me Your Broken Heart” in December 1977 as the first single, followed in February 1978 by “Never Enough,” both backed by “Lady of My Dreams.” Baby Grand toured with Prater and bassist Carmine Rojas, who completed their post-debut five-man lineup. In December, they opened two straight nights at New York’s Bottom Line for Treasure, an Epic Records one-off led by ex-Rascals singer Felix Cavaliere.


Ancient Medicine

Baby Grand released their second album, Ancient Medicine, in November 1978 on Arista.

Rob Hyman and David Kagan co-wrote four Ancient Medicine four songs: the power ballad “Flame In the Wind” and the explosive rockers “Much Too Much,” “Runner In the Rain,” and “Right Here, Right Now” — all lavish productions with flamboyant vocals. Hyman co-wrote “Weekend In New Jersey” with Eric Bazilian.

Ancient Medicine opens and closes with full-group compositions, “All Night Long” and “It’s Not a Figure Salon,” an instrumental. Side B contains a sweeping arrangement of “Walk Away Renée,” a Sixties classic by The Left Banke.

Baby Grand are a five-piece here composed of Hyman, Kagan, Bazilian, and the recently added rhythm players David Prater and Carmine Rojas. Rick Chertoff served as co-arranger and auxiliary percussionist (castanets, vibraphone).

A1. “All Night Long” (4:11)
A2. “Much Too Much” (4:19) features guest saxophonist Gregg Scott.
A3. “Weekend In New Jersey” (3:25)
A4. “Runner In the Rain” (5:57)
B1. “Walk Away Renée” (5:09) Written by B. Calilli, M. Brown, T. Sansone
B2. “Right Here, Right Now” (5:00)
B3. “Flame In the Wind” (4:26)
B4. “It’s Not a Figure Salon” (4:26)

Sessions took place primarily at Soundmixers, a recently opened studio in the old Brill Building, where Chertoff co-produced Ancient Medicine (with Hyman) in sequence with albums by funksters Breakwater and Japanese singer Tan Tan. William Wittman engineered Ancient Medicine and Breakwater amid work on 1978 albums by Phyllis Hyman and ZZ Hill.

Baby Grand recorded one track, “Flame In the Wind,” at Sigma Sound with a team of engineers.

Ancient Medicine features a vegetable face cover sculpture by Matthew Klein. The back cover shows their five heads in the dark near a table pile of vegetables, photographed by Jim Houghton, whose recent credits include the monochrome imagery on Billy Joel‘s breakthrough album The Stranger. Bazilian took the studio head shots on the inner-sleeve.

Arista lifted “Walk Away Renée” as a single (b/w “Much Too Much”), followed by a promo release of “All Night Long” (mono b/w stereo).


Discography:


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