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In the '50s: Hit, Git & Spit

Mickey Baker

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Album Review

Few rock & roll or R&B guitarists of the '50s and '60s have a more consistently frantic body of work than the great Mickey Baker, though his name isn't nearly as well-known as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, or Ike Turner. Baker did most of his work as a sideman, and his best-known recordings as a headliner found him playing second fiddle to Sylvia Robinson as half of Mickey & Sylvia (whose "Love Is Strange" remains a puzzling delight 50 years after it was recorded), but folks who know and love first-era rock & roll are aware of Baker's greatness, and this collection is a superb overview of his work, both as a bandleader and as a hired gun. Containing a hefty 31 tracks recorded between 1952 and 1956, In the '50s: Hit, Git & Split runs the gamut from the low-key acoustic blues of Baker's "Love Me Baby" to the wailing electric dread of Larry Dale's "Midnight Hours," the uptempo rockabilly of Joe Clay's "Did You Mean Jelly-Bean," the easy-swinging jump blues of Sam Price's "Rib Joint," a double-time rewrite of Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" on Brownie McGhee's "Anna Mae," and a rockin' re-recording by Louis Jordan of "Caldonia" with Baker's guitar answering the hearty peals of the horn section and Jordan's vocals. The word "Wild" tended to pop up in the titles of Mickey Baker's solo albums, and one spin of this disc will show you why — the man's rough-and-tumble style screamed and hollered the blues whenever he hit the strings, and Baker's solos are death-defying hoodoo magic no matter what cut you cue up. Hit, Git & Split is a thoroughly enjoyable set of vintage R&B that's good and greasy throughout, and a peerless introduction to one of the great unsung heroes of rock & roll.

Biography

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...
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In the '50s: Hit, Git & Spit, Mickey Baker
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