Album: Mickey Baker

In the '50s: Hit, Git & Split (Rev-ola Bandstand)
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The Independent Culture

Mickey Baker was probably the most versatile guitarist of the last century, straddling the jazz, blues, R&B and soul scenes of the Fifties, both as a top-session gun-for-hire and as a bandleader in his own right. He's perhaps best remembered as one half of Mickey & Sylvia (Sylvia Robinson, who later founded pioneering hip-hop label Sugarhill Records), whose "Love Is Strange" remains an early rock classic; it's included here alongside a wealth of bravura performances in his trademark astringent, stinging tone that effectively defined rock'n'roll guitar at its inception.

Baker was equally adept at the springy jump-blues style devised by T-Bone Walker check out "Runaway" by the Charles Calhoun Orchestra, virtually one long, serpentine guitar solo as at the rollicking R&B of his own "Shake Walkin'" and "Riverboat", and the all-out rock'*'roll mayhem of Young Jessie's "Hit, Git & Split"; but when required to get deep and soulful, he effortlessly essays the subtle soul licks that bring out the full poignancy of Little Willie John's seminal "Need Your Love So Bad". A six-string masterclass on one CD.

Download this: 'Love Is Strange', 'Hit, Git & Split', 'Shake Walkin'', 'Need Your Love So Bad', 'Runaway'