Wednesday, July 28, 2010

McHouston "Mickey" 'Guitar' Baker

My old lady is house sitting for my buddy Rodrigo and I have had a great old time sitting here in his loungeroom in my underwear, warming by the electric fireplace and digging through his spectacular library of compact discs. Rodrigo is hilariously ignorant of white music, but he has a wall of blues, jazz, ska and whatnot so jam-packed and extensive it is almost obscene at points. He has, for instance, not one but FIVE different 4 disc Fats Waller box sets. “Fifteen discs of Fats Waller enough? Are you mad? Get out of my house!”

My favourite find so far has been this disc of Mickey Baker’s records from the early 50’s. I knew his rep as basically the number one r’n’b session guitarist in New York, playing all those tasty licks on records by Little Willie John and Big Maybelle and The Coasters and everybody else, and his records with Sylvia Robinson as Mickey and Sylvia (most of which I never liked much, save for No Good Lover), but I had no idea he’d cut all these cool sides under his own name. Of course, looking at the notes, a lot of the coolest ones never even got released and sat in the can for 50 years until this CD came out, so thank God it did. Real nice succinct but flavorful telling of his story too, check it out…

I love his guitar tone, real clean but so valvey and rich. Here he is cutting up on a thing called “Guitar Mambo” (though even he gets cut by Ram Ramirez on the funky organ), here’s one of the boss unreleased numbers on the CD called “Down To The Bottom” and here he is ripping on Big Maybelle’s “Ocean of Tears”, which also criminally sat in the can for 40 years (you can find it on The Complete Okeh Sessions). And here he is today!

Dig this article about the photographer Jim Herrington meeting up with Mickey in France (it also has some more detailed background on him), and cop the aforementioned anthology here. There’s also another CD done by Rev-O-La last year that combines a bunch of the solo stuff with other hot records he played on as a session man called "Mickey Baker In the '50s: Hit, Git & Split”. Looks tasty…

PS I find it amusing that he was at first McHouston "Mickey" Baker and then Mickey moved up to official status and he was then Mickey "Guitar" Baker...

No comments:

Post a Comment