THE RUTS – “Babylon’s Burning” / “Society” (Virgin VS 271) June 1979
The Ruts “Babylon’s Burning” – It was clear from the heavily rotated John Peel sessions in early ’79 that The Ruts were a band whose musical prowess set them apart from all other second generation punks.
Politically fuelled and equally adept at blistering rock and elegant reggae, second single ‘Babylon’s Burning’ – which was inspired by the political and racial tension of the times – was based on a chugging, explosive guitar riff supporting Malcolm Owen’s snarling vocals; punk had never sounded so dangerous, or so organised.
When it hit the charts, The Ruts looked like being a major band of their time, though Owen’s chronic heroin addiction contributed to their erratic development – and his overdose in July ’80 to their eventual demise. (Mojo)
Good one! The Sound Of The suburbs (SW London Division) comes up with another winner, a zestful mid-to-fast temp rocker in the mould not entirely dissimilar to ‘In A Rut’.
“Babylon’s burning with anxiety”: the lyric, if not sentiment veers at times towards the clumsily hackneyed but any doubts are rendered well-nigh voided by the relish of the playing and the slightly camp force of Mal Owen’s vocal sneer (you remember sneers, dontcha?)
Mike Glossop’s mainstream ‘rock’ production – something akin to Pearlman’s job on the second Clash album – and Virgin’s track record with this sort of thing (viz Members, Skids) should see it safely into at least the lower reaches of the Top 30.
The Ruts on Top Of The Pops? Don’t argue! (NME)
OK then, I’ll kick off my walk down teenage memory lane with this single by The Ruts from 1979
It’s a powerful punk rock effort from yet another London band. Seems that the best punk rock bands emerged from the Capital.’Babylon’s Burning’ was The Ruts second 45 and was a big hit in England reaching No7. The flip ’Society’ is far too fast for it’s own good.
Less than a year after this record singer Malcolm Owen would be dead as a result of an accidental heroin overdose. (EXPO67)