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Ginger Baker In 20 Songs

Musical highlights from the multi-faceted and always eventful career of a seminal drummer.

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Ginger Baker, who helped invent the rock trio and reluctantly became the genre’s first star drummer, during a multi-faceted and always eventful career, was born on 19 August 1936. Here we present a uDiscover playlist featuring Ginger In 20 Songs.

Our playlists are always a conversation-starter and a sampler of a musical lifetime that stretches far beyond, so do use the comments box to tell us which tracks are your favourites and why. Also let us know what you remember about Ginger’s stellar work, in early days with the Graham Bond Organisation, on into the groundbreaking Cream and another shining but short-lived project, Blind Faith, and in his many other group and solo settings since.

Graham Bond Organisation

Baker in a horizontal moment with the Graham Bond Organisation

Seminal, undervalued R&B tastemaker Bond and his group, with Baker on drums and Jack Bruce on bass, regularly played the famous Klooks Kleek club at the Railway Hotel in Hampstead, London. Our first two tracks are from the recording of their show there in October 1964, when Ginger was 25 years old and was already becoming a featured artist with his incredibly potent drumming style.

After some studio recordings with Bond and co, Baker joined Bruce and Eric Clapton in what would become known as rock’s first supergroup. Cream’s recordings, both in the studio and on the road, obviously play a huge part in our playlist, and we’ve chosen largely the album tracks on which he had starring roles, as drummer, singer, writer or narrator.

Then it’s on to Blind Faith and the extended ‘Do What You Like,’ his composition for their memorable, solitary album of 1969. Sadly, the bulk of his work at the helm of Ginger Baker’s Air Force is not currently available on Spotify, but we reflect his widespread work schedule of the early 1970s with his appearance on Fela Kuti’s Fela’s London Scene album, reflecting his undying love of African rhythms.

Ginger Baker

Back in a more conventional rock settting, there’s an example of his recordings with Adrian Gurvitz in Baker Gurvitz Army, from the self-titled debut album that made the UK top 30 in early 1975. From Baker’s solo LP catalogue, there’s a visit to 1986’s Horses & Trees and then two reunions with his old Cream sparring partner Jack Bruce, on Jack’s 1992 album Cities of the Heart and in their 1994 power trio configuration BBM, with Gary Moore.

From the historic Cream reunion shows at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005, there’s Ginger’s spoken-word revival of the ‘Wheels of Fire’ oddity ‘Pressed Rat and Warthog.’ The playlist concludes with the splendidly-titled ‘Ginger Spice,’ the opening track from Why?, Baker’s 2014 return to studio work in his own name.

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Follow uDiscover’s Ginger Baker Best Of playlist.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. paul kemp

    August 19, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    No Masters of Reality? Boooo!

    • Roger R

      August 19, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      Totally agree. Monumentally overlooked. Great tracks, especially Tilt-a-Whirl and She Got Me (When She Got Her Dress On). Ginger the Giant!

  2. Marina

    August 19, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    The 15-minute jam session with Blind Faith is my favorite from this playlist. There are so many great songs listed, but I guess that I really love Do What You Like because of the freedom Baker had to play at his best. The song’s sentiments also resonate with the spirit of the era…

  3. Ron

    August 20, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Spoonful live from ‘Wheels of Fire’. The interaction between the band during the improvisation is mesmeric with Ginger’s drumming centre stage.

  4. Gary

    August 20, 2015 at 11:55 am

    No tracks from his tremendous work with Public Image Limited?

  5. Bjornense

    August 20, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Miss an example of his totally unique melodic drumming. It’s apparent on We’re Going Wrong from Disraeli Gears.

  6. larry

    August 20, 2016 at 1:19 am

    I can’t believe White Room is not listed.

    • Roger

      November 20, 2016 at 12:13 am

      Agree Larry. For me “White Room” is such a rhythmic tour-de-force it marks Ginger forever as a drum machine before drum machines were invented.

  7. tim

    August 26, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Yes, sadly there is no Airforce’s “Da Da Man”.

  8. Mat

    November 20, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Ginger Baker’s Airforce ‘Sweet Wine’, Superior to Cream version. ‘Deserted Cities From the Heart’ from ‘Live Cream Vol 2′, Wow! So much better than the studio version, Ginger’s drumming is incredible, one of my fav’ live songs of all time !!!

  9. steve-o

    March 26, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Masters of Reality
    Ginger Baker Trio with Bill Frisell
    African Force
    Falling off the Roof
    Horses and Trees or Middle Passage with Bill Laswell

  10. Ruud

    January 27, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    It is impossible to catch Ginger’s drumming abilities in just 20 songs.

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