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Take a Look Inside

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Album Review

Take a Look Inside was recorded in 1971 in London — while the semi-obscure guitarist and songwriter Mickey Baker was living in Paris — and wasn't released until 1975. The session players include Chris Spedding, Conrad (Reg) Isidore (later of Robin Trower fame), Fuzzy Samuels, and a host of others on percussion and backing vocals. One of the he most startling tracks here is the medley of Spirit's "Fresh Garbage" and "Water Woman." The segue is seamless, the music is raw and immediate, and the loose feel of the musicians in the studio is utterly warm and inviting. Baker then slips into the R&B classic "I'll Be Doggone," and then his own "Checking Out My Garden." Everything here is utterly present and loose — its closest comparison is a feeling like that inspired by Delaney & Bonnie's Motel Shot album. Other standouts here included "How Come My Dog Don't Bark," "Watch Out Baby," and Leadbelly's "Whoa! Back Buck." The CD issue in the Barclay classics series includes three bonus cuts from the same session which was left off the original: "Potato Blues," "Walkin' and Talkin' the Blues," and "New York, New York (The People's Paradise)," all of them fine originals Baker was obscure but influential and Take a Look Inside reveals not only his diversity but his willingness to let musicians be themselves on his record. More important than the London Sessions series that Chess released because it truly bridges the gaps between rock, soul, blues, R&B, and folk forms. The sheer spontaneity of these sessions is a guidebook for how roots records should be made. The only problem for most would be finding a lightning-rod figure like Baker to keep it all together. Brilliant.


Born: 15 October 1925 in Louisville, KY

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '90s

Of all the guitarists who helped transform rhythm & blues into rock & roll, Mickey Baker was one of the very most important, ranking almost on the level of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. The reason he wasn't nearly as well known as those legends is that a great deal of his work wasn't issued under his own name, but as a backing guitarist for many R&B and rock & roll musicians. Baker originally aspired to be a jazz musician, but turned to calypso, mambo, and then R&B, where the most work could be found....
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Take a Look Inside, Mickey Baker
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