Baker Gurvitz Army – Live At University Of Reading, UK (1975)

FrontCover1This is the first of a few shows recorded by the Baker Gurvitz Army for live broadcast on the BBC, and, later, the King Biscuit Flower Hour. Spearheaded by Cream skin-basher Ginger Baker, the BG Army had enormous promise when they formed, but, in the end, never lived up to the hype. But they should have; they had a great musical line up and a shit-hot Brit vocalist who was simply known as Snips.

This show, recorded at the University of Reading, features some strong performances, especially a version of the Jimi Hendrix classic “Freedom.” “Remember,” a bluesy ballad, which segues into “Memory Lane,” and features an always entertaining Ginger Baker drum solo. They close with a stunning rocker, “People,” the opening track from their second LP, Elysian Encounter.

After Cream disbanded in 1968 and Blind Faith embarked on one brilliant LP and tour in 1969, Ginger Baker suddenly found himself as a superstar without a band. He formed the rag-tag outfit known as Ginger Baker’s Airforce (which made two sloppy live albums and included such celebs as Traffic and Blind Faith’s Steve Winwood and Ric Grech; and ex-Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine), before going off to Africa to focus on rhythmic music.

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By the mid 1970s, however, Baker was back in England and needed to work. He had spent his fortune from Cream, and the various solo projects were so large in size that there was no way they could make money on the road. Baker realized he had to get back to basics and join a touring rock ‘n’ roll band.

Guitarist Paul Gurvitz and his brother, Paul, had long been mainstays on the UK club scene, first with Gun (in the late 60s), and later with a power trio named Three Man Army with ex-Rod Stewart drummer Tony Newman. Three Man Army (1971-1973) recorded three albums between Buddah and Warner Brothers Records, but disbanded when Newman left to accept a gig with David Bowie.

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When Three Man Army went looking for a new drummer, they connected with Baker, and hence, the Baker Gurvitz Army was born. They soon expanded their trio format into a five piece with the additions of keyboardist Peter Lemer and vocalist Snips (who had been in Sharks with guitarist Chris Spedding). The band recorded three studio albums and cut a live album that was released after they disbanded. Baker Gurvitz Army was signed to Atlantic Records in the US (the home of Cream and Baker’s solo work), and enjoyed marginal success between 1976 and 1977.

Like many hard rock acts from that period, as disco and pop music took over the music scene in the late 1970s, it made it hard for bands like the Baker Gurvitz Army to continue. By 1978, they had disbanded and Baker returned to making more eclectic music. (wolfgangs.com)

Recorded live at University Of Reading,Reading, UK 15th February 1975.

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Personnel:
Ginger Baker (drums)
Adrian Gurvitz (guitar, vocals)
Paul Gurvitz (bass, vocals)
Peter Lemer (keyboards)
Snips (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Introduction / Wotever It Is (A.Gurvitz) 6.49
02. The Gambler (A.Gurvitz) 4.17
03. Freedom (Hendrix) 6.10
04. For Phil (A.Gurvitz) 09:18
05. Remember (A.Gurvitz) / Memory Lane (A.Gurvitz/Baker) 14.47
06. Drum Solo (Baker) 6.01
07. Instrumental (A.Gurvitz) 2.16
08. People (A.Gurvitz) 7.57

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