[Review] The Baker Gurvitz Army (1975)

Ginger Baker and two-thirds of Three Man Army forge a tentative alliance to make a pretty heavy, vaguely proggish rock album.

Kronomyth 1.0: Tales from toadagraphic oceans.

Baker the Mad Beserker and a pair of hired Guns (the Brothers Gurvitz) storm through seven songs of hard/progressive rock and one unfortunate ballad, for which the world is mostly a better place, if only for forty minutes. Not so much different from what the original Three Man Army set out to do, I suppose, except that Ginger Baker’s neverending battle against boredom produces its share of strange odysseys, both in drum solo (Memory Lane) and story form (Mad Jack). The leader of this Army, Adrian Gurvitz, never got the credit he deserved. He is a smart and succinct rock guitarist, a more-than-serviceable vocalist and a songwriter of no small merit. Help Me, Inside of Me and Since Beginning (itself a worthy citizen of YesTopographic Oceans) are as good as anything that the mid-Seventies progressive movement produced, with the caveat that many progressive bands were moving toward melodic, short-form rock at that point in time. Baker’s bands rarely got the attention they deserved, and while time has forgotten The Baker Gurvitz Army, you don’t need to slavishly follow time and its preening ways as it courts the fickle present. Instead, go behind time’s back and dig this one out of the past; it’s worth the effort, particularly if you’ve ever found yourself raising the fallen standard of Uriah Heep or Rainbow in conversation. Of interest: 4 Phil is dedicated to Phil Seamen, Baker’s mentor, who passed away in 1972.

Original LP Version

A1. Help Me (Adrian Gurvitz) 4:36
A2. Love Is (Adrian Gurvitz) 2:47
A3. Memory Lane (Ginger Baker/Adrian Gurvitz) 4:46
A4. Inside of Me (Adrian Gurvitz) 5:33
A5. I Wanna Live Again (Ginger Baker/Adrian Gurvitz) 4:22
B1. Mad Jack (Ginger Baker/Adrian Gurvitz) 7:54
B2. 4 Phil (Ginger Baker/Adrian Gurvitz) 4:25
B3. Since Beginning (Adrian Gurvitz) 8:05

Original 8-track version
A1. Help Me
A2. I Wanna Live Again
A3. Mad Jack (cont.)
B1. Mad Jack (concl.)
B2. 4 Phil
C1. Love Is
C2. Since Beginning
D1. Memory Lane
D2. Inside of Me

The Players

Ginger Baker (drums, percussion, vibes, vocals), Adrian Gurvitz (guitar, vocals), Paul Gurvitz (bass, vocals), John “Norman B. Normal” Mitchell (keyboards, synthesizer, vibes) with Madeline Bell (backing vocals on track 5), Martyn Ford (orchestration), Rosetta Hightower (backing vocals on track 5), Barry St. John (backing vocals on track 5), Liza Strike (backing vocals on track 5). Produced by Ginger Baker, Adrian Gurvitz and Paul Gurvitz; engineered by Cyrano; mixed by Anton Matthews.

The Pictures

Cover painting by Joe Petagno, who also designed the album covers for The Graeme Edge Band and countless Motörhead covers.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track on January 10, 1975 in the US (Janus, JXS-7015/8098 7015 H), the UK (Vertigo, 9103 201) and Japan (Vertigo, RJ-6029) with lyrics innersleeve. Reached #22 on the UK charts and #140 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in 1994 in the UK (Repertoire, REP 4163).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc on February 28, 2011 in the UK (Esoteric, ECLEC-2247).

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