"Beware of Mr. Baker" (Ginger Baker film)
I love music documentaries and have been a fan of Cream in their first album, Fresh Cream, hit the record stores. So how it is it took me 6 years to catch up with the superb Beware Mr. Baker is beyond me. In any case, oh man, what a great film.
At one point in the film, Ginger Baker is described as a "fully formed musician". This is an apt phrase. Baker was born with a natural sense of rhythm and time that opened the doors to him becoming one of the best drummers in modern times. And not just a rock drummer. He started out as a jazz drummer and has played with some of the best contemporary jazz artists around as well as with superb African musicians and (of course) Cream and Blind Faith (among others).
The movie does an amazingly fine job of tracking Bakers career as a musician as well as documenting the struggles he has had throughout his life maintaining consistency with people and places- except Eric Clapton, who he describes Clapton as as his "only friend in the world". I loved Clapton in this film. Now don't roast me for saying this- it's just a personal opinion and not meant to be a slam on the man- but for my tastes, I've long thought Clapton to be a somewhat over-rated guitarist. He's great, of course, but I never thought he was that great. Jimi Hendrix, who loved and appreciated Eric Clapton but criticized Eric's weakness in plying rhythm guitar (the importance of rhythm in being a full formed guitarist is is frequently not well understood). But Eric shines in this film with great heart and boundless generosity. And listening to some of the tracks in the film, I find once again that in my estimation, Clapton's best playing has been while working with Ginger Baker. And Ginger was the true leader of Cream. It really was, in many respects, his band.
So anyway (yes, I could go on and on!), to me this is one of the finest music documentaries I've seen and the story is quite amazing. Baker, with all his faults and shortcomings, is a musician who well deserved to be regarded as on of the worlds finest drummers, ever!
"Love and only love will break it down"
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