“How awesome is that? They wanted to not need me so bad they murdered three innocent heroes of color, and they still had to bring me back.” – Rick Sanchez.
Ginger Baker is one of the greatest rock drummers of the 20th century. Unfortunately, he’s also one of that century’s more prickly personalities. And so every Ginger Baker project seems to be a promising venture that crashes on the rocks of conflict sooner or later.
Baker and future collaborator Jack Bruce played together in the Graham Bond Organisation, an up-and-coming blues/rock band. Despite the bad blood between the pair (Baker once threatened Bruce with a knife), they reunited for Baker’s collaboration with Eric Clapton, Cream. Over the next few years, Cream would redefine the rock landcsape with a powerful mix of blues and psychedelic/progressive rock. Clapton and Baker influenced countless musicians in coming generations, and it could be said that Baker double-handedly (and double-footedly) elevated the drums to new heights during his time at the center of Cream.
After Cream broke up, Baker and Clapton recruited Steve Winwood (from the highly popular Traffic) and bassist Rick Grech for a new “supergroup” called Blind Faith. Eagerly anticipated, the band’s first album proved to be its last when Clapton left the Faith to follow Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. Baker assembled a new and bigger band with the remaining faithful, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, and released two albums that represent some of the earliest (and most effective) attempts to fuse Western jazz and rock with African music.
After the Air Force, Baker entered a sort of self-imposed exile in Africa where he explored his interest in African rhythms more deeply and discovered a(n expensive) passion for polo horses. Since then, the career of Ginger Baker has been a series of one-off alliances (the briefly stable Baker Gurvitz Army notwithstanding) interspersed with the occasional Cream reunion, or rumor of the same.
GINGER BAKER’S AIR FORCE (1970)
Da Da Man / Early In The Morning / Don’t Care / Toad // Aiko Biaye / Man of Constant Sorrow / Do What You Like / Doin’ It. Released on 2LP and reel-to-reel in 1970 in the UK (Polydor, 2662 001), the US (Atco, SD2/J-703) and Japan (Polydor, MP-9341/2). Re-issued on 2LP in Japan (RSO, MWU-9717/8). Re-issued on CD in the US (Polydor, 837 349-2) and on February 16, 2004 (Lemon).
Man of Constant Sorrow (1970)
b/w Doin’ It. Credited to Ginger Baker’s Airforce and released on 7-inch in 1970 in the UK (Polydor, 56380) and the US (Atco, 45-6750).
GINGER BAKER’S AIR FORCE 2 (1970)
Let Me Ride / Sweet Wine / Do U No Ho Yor Phrenz R? / We Free Kings // I Don’t Want To Go On Without You / Toady / 12 Gates of The City. Released on elpee in 1970 in the UK and France (Polydor, 2383 029), the US (Atco, SD33-343) and in 1971 in Japan (Polydor, MP-2149) with a different cover. Re-issued on elpee in 1980 in Japan (Polydor, MWX 4043).
b/w ?. Credited to Ginger Baker Drum Choir and released on 7-inch in 1971 in the UK (Polydor, 2058 107).
FREE KINGS (1971)
Do U No Hu Yur Phrenz R? / We Free Kings / Sunshine of Your Love / Let Me Ride // Toad / Man of Constant Sorrow / Doin’ It. Compilation released on elpee in 1971 in Germany (Karussell, 2499 018).
POP HISTORY VOL. 10 (1971)
Sweet Wine / Passing The Time / Sunshine of Your Love / 12 Gates of The City / Doin’ It / Man of Constant Sorrow / Blue Condition / We Free Kings // Today / Toad / What A Bringdown / Let Me Ride / Do What You Like / I’m So Glad. Compilation released on 2LP in 1971 in France (Polydor, 2662 003) and in Germany (Polydor, 2668 002) with different cover.
AT HIS BEST (1972)
Let Me Ride / Had To Cry Today / I Don’t Want To Go On Without You / Do What You Like // Da Da Man / Sweet Wine / Well All Right / Can’t Find My Way Home / Aiko Biaye. Compilation released on 2LP in 1972 in the US (Polydor, PD 3504) and in 1973 in the UK (RSO, 2659 023).
Ariwo / Tiwa (It’s Our Own) // Something Nice / Ju Ju / Blood Brothers 69 / Coda. Released on elpee in 1972 in the US (Atco, SD 7013).
POP HISTORY VOL. 18 (1972?)
Compilation credited to Ginger Baker’s Air Force and released on 2LP in the early 1972/3 in Germany (Polydor, 2668 005).
ELEVEN SIDES OF BAKER (1977)
Ginger Man / Candlestick Taker / High Life / Don Dorango / Little Bird / N’kon Kini N’kon N’kon // Howlin’ Wolf / Ice Cream Dragon / The Winner / Pampero / Don’t Stop The Carnival. Credited to Ginger Baker & Friends and released on elpee in 1977 in the UK (Mountain, TOPC-5005) and Canada (Sire, 9147-7532).
Don Dorango (1977)
b/w Candlestick Taker. Credited to Ginger Baker & Friends and released as promotional 7-inch in 1977 in the UK (Mountain, TOP 23).
ROCK LEGENDS (1980)
Sweet Wine / Passing The Time / Sunshine of Your Love / 12 Gates of The City / Doin’ It / Man of Constant Sorrow / Blue Condition / We Free Kings / Today. Compilation released on elpee in 1980 in Australia (RSO, 2475 220).
HORSES & TREES (1986)
Interlock / Dust To Dust / Satou / Uncut / Mountain Time / Makuta. Released on elpee and CD on January 6, 1986 in the US (Celluloid, CEL NY 6126 D).
NO MATERIAL (1989)
Dishy Bill / Skin The Pizzle / Oil of Tongue / One In The Bush Is Worth Two In The Hand. Co-credited to Sonny Sharrock, Peter Brotzmann, Nicky Scopelitis, Jan Kazda and released on CD in 1989 in the US (ITM, 1435 CD).
MIDDLE PASSAGE (1990)
Mektoub / Under Black Skies / Time Be Time / Alamout / Basil / South To The Dust. Released on elpee in 1990 in the US (Axiom, 539864-1).
AROUND THE NEXT DREAM (1994)
Waiting In The Wings / City of Gold / Where In The World / Can’t Fool The Blues / High Cost of Loving / Glory Days / Why Does Love (Have To Go Wrong) / Naked Flame / I Wonder Why (Are You Mean To Me) / Wrong Side of Town. Credited to BBM and released on elpee in 1994 in the UK (Virgin, V2745). Re-released on expanded, remastered CD with four bonus tracks in 2003 in the UK (EMI, MOORECD12).
Where In The World (1994)
b/w Danger Zone. Released as 7-inch in 1994 in the UK (Virgin, 92510) with picture sleeve.
UNSEEN RAIN (1994)
Rain And The Rhinoceros / Worlds Within Worlds / Open Secret / The Great Festival of Destruction / The Time of No Room / The Sign / Mirror of Steel / To Each His Darkness. Released on CD on August 4, 2004 in the US (Day Eight).
GOING BACK HOME (1994)
Rambler / I Lu Kron / No Chaser Straight / Ramblin’ / Ginger Blues / Ain Temouchant / When We Go / In The Moment / Spiritual / East Timor. Credited to Ginger Baker Trio and released on CD on September 20, 1994 in the US (Atlantic, 82652).
FALLING OFF THE ROOF (1996)
Falling Off The Roof / Amarillo Barbados / Bemsha Swing / Sunday At The Hillcrest / Au Privave / Our Spanish Love Song / C.B.C. Mimps / Skeleton / Vino Vecchio / They Day The Sun Came Out / Taney County. Credited to Ginger Baker Trio and released on CD on October 29, 1996 in the US (Atlantic, 82900).
COWARD OF THE COUNTY (1999)
Cyril Davies / Ginger Spice / Dangle The Carrot / Megan Showers / Jesus Loves Me / Coward of The County / Daylight / I Just Want To Go To Sleep Jesus. Credited to Ginger Baker and the DJQ20 and released on CD on March 23, 1999 in the US (Atlantic).
AFRICAN FORCE (2002)
African Force / Ansoumania / Brain Damage / Sokoto / Adoa / Go Do / The Palanquin’s Pole / Abyssinia / Ginger’s Solo / Want Come? Go! Credited to Ginger Baker’s African Force and released on CD on April 29, 2002 in the US (Neon).
DUST TO DUST (2006)
Dust To Dust / Interlock / Makuta / Satou / Mountain Time / Uncut. Released on CD in 2006 in the US (Atom, BROOK1039).
LIVE IN OFFENBACH GERMANY 1970 (2010)
Live tracks: 12 Gates of The City / I Got The Answer / What A Day / We Free Kings / Aiko Biaye / Don’t Care / Early In The Morning / Sunshine of Your Love / Toady / Let Me Ride // 12 Gates of the City / What A Day It’s Been / Aiko Biaye / Do What You Like. Credited to Ginger Baker’s Airforce, recorded on December 18, 1970 and released on 2CD in 2010 in the UK (Voiceprint, VPTMQ055CD).
LIVE IN MUNICH, GERMANY 1972 (2010)
Live tracks: Improvisation No. 1 // Improvisation No. 2. Credited to Ginger Baker and Salt, recorded in 1972 and released on 2CD in 2010 in the UK (Voiceprint, VPTMQ056CD).
LIVE IN MILAN ITALY, 1981 (2011)
Live tracks: Love Is A Killer Love Is A Disease / Perfect Nation / In The Darkness / Chemical Babies / Where Are You / Just One For Me / I’m So Bad / What You Gonna Do About It / Lost In Space // Everything I Say / Jams Drum Solo / Waistin Time / Sunshine of Your Love / Milano Blues A Blues For Milano / Wheelchair Dance Festival. Credited to Ginger Baker’s Nutters, recorded live in 1981 and released on 2CD in 2001 in the UK (Voiceprint, VPTMQ059CD).
LIVE IN MUNICH, GERMANY 1987 (2011)
Live tracks: Piece 1 / Interview – Sonny Sharrock / Piece 2 / Interview – Nicky Skopelitis / Piece 3 / Piece 4 / Piece 5 // untitled / untitled / untitled. Recorded live in 1987 and released on 2CD on May 31, 2011 in the UK (Voiceprint).
LIVE IN LONDON 2009 (2011)
Live tracks: Alamout / Ants In The Kitchen / Bemsha Swing / Rabbit Run / Footprints / Sweet Wine / Iko Beiya. Recorded live in 2009 and released on CD in 2011 in the US (Floating World, FLOATD6091).