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Ginger Baker is quite the interviewee
May 15, 2014 8:53 AM   Subscribe


 
Ginger Baker is a troll. A troll with a penchant for polyrhythms and self-aggrandizement. One gets the impression that the only musician he's ever heard and thought was good is himself.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:56 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]


I do enjoy his drumming, mind you.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:58 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Do you agree [the Stones] are great songwriters, though?
No, not really.


Yeah, if only they'd put together unimpeachable gems like "Anyone for Tennis" or "Tales of Brave Ulysses."

All of the members of Cream seem like real turds. The rhythm section, for sure.
posted by COBRA! at 9:01 AM on May 15 [20 favorites]


My, he's a grumpy bastard.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:03 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


Never change, Ginger.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:04 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Yeah, he really sounds horrible. He and the interviewer seem to overestimate Cream's long-term relevance as well. Fuck Cream.
posted by Evstar at 9:05 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I love this interview: no pretence and you know he isn't 't cribbing from other interviews.

At least you know he isn't talking just to hear the sound of his voice!
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:07 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Eh. The Stones were someone you defined yourself as not being. They were the black hats, the badguys - villains of the British Invasion. They gave rock and roll its bad name and its hard edge. With this comes an incredible amount of envy and resentment, because, goddamn, that's cool.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:08 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Jesus. Why even do an interview if you're that transparent about hating to answer questions?
posted by 23skidoo at 9:14 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Because they are zombies.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:14 AM on May 15


He's obviously ill, and life seems to hold no more capacity for pleasure or joy for him. And he was always kind of an asshole, right?
posted by anazgnos at 9:15 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


All of the members of Cream seem like real turds. The rhythm section, for sure.

And Eric Clapton.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:16 AM on May 15 [10 favorites]


I thought this was a terrible interview because it read like a transcript of a conversation you have at a party with an angry person who does not want to be at the party, has no interest in conversation with anyone, and can't be bothered to treat the person trying to make conversation with an equivalent amount of respect. Not sure there was anything else the interviewer could have done (it's not actually an easy thing--interviewing people who would rather pull out their own teeth than actually talk to you, even on the most superficial level about insignificant things), so why bother publishing it? It does little to make your publication appealing if your interviews are such crap.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:16 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


Tales of Brave Ulysses is a good song.
posted by atoxyl at 9:16 AM on May 15 [18 favorites]


I love how much this sounds like a grinning dad blogpost all "I Asked My Six-Year-Old What It Was Like To Be A Musician"
posted by Greg Nog at 9:18 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


just because something is said grumpily with a british accent, doesn't mean it's true
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 9:20 AM on May 15 [11 favorites]


It's amazing that you still have the stamina to do this.
Well, I don't! (laughs)


It's amazing he had the stamina to survive working with Fela Kuti's non-stop drug fueled orgies in the early 70s!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:22 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


The recent documentary, Beware of Mr Baker is more of the same. It's still an entertaining flick, though a bit of a train-wreck. I think it's on Netflix.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:23 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I love that interview. Most of the questions were tepid and/or leading and Ginger responded accordingly.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:25 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Haters gonna hate. Now they have a choice with this article, The Rolling Stones, Ginger Baker, and/or none/some/all of the above.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:25 AM on May 15


I love that interview. Most of the questions were tepid and/or leading and Ginger responded accordingly.

Yeah, probably should have started with "Is it true you are real asshole?" and then followed up with "How did you fuck up and lose your ranch in South Africa?".
posted by josher71 at 9:27 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Irascible and deliberately obtuse -- two such endearing qualities in an interview subject.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:28 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


What a drag it is getting old.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:28 AM on May 15 [24 favorites]


Wow, he makes Charlie Watts seem like a cruise ship activities director. But I guess if I had degenerative osteoarthritis and thought music jumped the shark after jazz fell out of fashion I'd be grumpy too.

The main thing I remember about him is that the Cream albums sound all boomy because he refused to put pillows in his bass drums or dampen them in any way.

Though I once saw a Beatles tribute concert with Jack Bruce and he seemed fairly positive. I guess you'd have to be to sing Beatles songs with Christopher Cross and the guy from Grand Funk.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:28 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


"Tales" IS a good song, and Cream were great. Baker was a phenomenal performer, but
an extremely thorny personality. The Stones, particularly Jagger and Richards, grabbed
a unique and valuable piece of pop culture high ground and pretty much never ceded it
to anyone else. In a sense, they are beyond any kind of purely musical criticism. Baker
would criticize the tip of his own nose if no one appeared in front of it.
posted by Chitownfats at 9:28 AM on May 15 [8 favorites]


What a waste of a good opportunity to ask the really important questions, like Vitalis or Brylcreem? Can he handle a Manwich with one hand? Or what's he like to do after he slaps a little iron? You know, the questions that might illuminate this man's art.

Rookie move, RS, rookie move.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:29 AM on May 15


I'd give him a break. He's not just 74 and cranky, he's 74 with painful diseases in his lungs and bones, he's apparently fallen on relatively hard times (or at least been through some shit), and he's doing yet another silly interview to help sell tickets.
posted by pracowity at 9:29 AM on May 15 [9 favorites]


Similar Guardian piece from last year. In the video at the top of the article, you can see for yourself how GB responds to questions he perceives as stupid. He's actually a bit nicer with the questions from the audience than from the journalist.
posted by cincinnatus c at 9:29 AM on May 15


He is totally wrong about Keith Moon and for that deserves to be called to account.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:29 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


What a drag it is getting old.

Especially since his baseline was already "grumpy old fuck".
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:30 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]



I'd give him a break. He's not just 74 and cranky, he's 74 with painful diseases in his lungs and bones, he's apparently fallen on relatively hard times (or at least been through some shit), and he's doing yet another silly interview to help sell tickets.


I give a break to wal mart greeters who are 74 and cranky. Not Ginger Baker.
posted by josher71 at 9:31 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Ginger is a great drummer but a very nasty and bitter human being. Some of that bitterness is justified by the music publishing rules that give songwriting credit to the melody and lyric creators and totally ignore the contributions of the rest of the band. In a collaborative semi-improvisational trio like Cream that's quite unfair.
posted by rocket88 at 9:32 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I did a phone interview once with Barry Levinson that was that sort of monosyllabic unhelpfulness; I cut it short after a few minutes and then called the publicist and told her I wouldn't be running the interview. She wasn't happy about it but didn't blame me; apparently Levinson had been cranky to interviewers all day. To be fair, he was doing interviews for Jimmy Hollywood, which was terrible, so I guess he had reason to be cranky.
posted by jscalzi at 9:32 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


I don't want to comment. Fuck off.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:33 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]


"He is totally wrong about Keith Moon and for that deserves to be called to account."

Jeez, that whole kerfuffle started when Elvin Jones said something in, I think, Life magazine,
about how terrible Baker was as a rock drummer. and how superlative Moon was in contrast.
You're a rock drummer, Elvin Jones, I mean ELVIN JONES!, dis's you and favors another guy, that guy is your target, even if you purportedly like him.
posted by Chitownfats at 9:38 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I seem to recall Richards being similarly critical of the Stones' musicianship in his biography. Except about Charlie Watts. Even all these years later he comes across as all being a little in awe of playing in a band with Watts. Despite this, Richards also asserts that they're the best rock and roll band in the world, presumably because the whole is better than the sum of its parts.

My point being that the Stones can handle criticism because they're the best rock and roll band in the world. Being critical of Watts' playing, however, is simply objectively wrong. (Or Moon's)
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:40 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Fuck Cream.


Come on now, it's easily one of the top two Eric Clapton/Ginger Baker collaborations.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:43 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


One can be a great musician and still be a bad person. Mr. Baker is certainly a fine example of that.

Apropos his love of jazz: I recall a Downbeat review of a Cream concert (really) wherein the reviewer was probably the only one in the audience that noticed Baker include the drum solo from "Sing, Sing, Sing" in the middle of one of his own drum solos.
posted by tommasz at 9:45 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I read this interview last year when it was posted on a music forum I spend way too much time on. Then came post after post from forum members with stories on what a horrible human being Ginger was. He makes Buddy Rich, Lou Reed, Van Morrison seem cuddly.
posted by Ber at 9:47 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


As a general rule, this is why I really don't give a fuck what kind of person you are if you have skills I admire. As long as you're not actively hurting people, be an grumpy old prick to your heart's content. If you're an amazing drummer/singer/guitarist/baseball player I'll happily pay money to watch you do what you do best.

Obviously there comes a point where your actions could drown out my ability to enjoy your craft, but getting pissy with a Rolling Stone reporter certainly doesn't qualify.
posted by dry white toast at 9:47 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


*offers spoonful*
posted by jonmc at 9:50 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


"Bad musicians" isn't really an insult for a rock band anyway, where feeling is about a million times more important than proficiency. A Stones song can hit you in the gut; Cream was interesting but never really grabbed me like that.
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:54 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


"I'm not a big anybody fan."

Do tell.

"You guy always get everything wrong."

Why do you bother talking to them?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:57 AM on May 15


Former Cream drummer Ginger Baker's life has changed since he starred in the 2012 documentary Beware of Mr. Baker.
...
Has your life changed at all since Beware of Mr. Baker in any way? 



No.


OK then!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:58 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I didn't know who Ginger Baker was, but I never really liked the Stones, and I was hoping that finally, here was someone who could give voice to the ephemeral "meh-ness" I have regarding their music.

Nope, grumpy old dude who really didn't want to be in the interview anyway.
posted by Imperfect at 9:59 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I remember in Beware of Mr Baker he was talking shit about John Bonham and Keith Moon, saying they were no good, which is objectively untrue to say the least.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:00 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


And the rainbow has a beard.
posted by stevil at 10:01 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Because they are zombies.

No, these are Zombies.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:06 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Never saw (and really don't much care about) Cream, but a friend of mine met Baker after a gig in the late 70s/early80s.

Comparing her report to the interview, I feel quite confident in saying that this interview is entirely genuine, and he has miraculously retained his old personality unchanged despite the illnesses and the pony-knobbling happening shit Mind you, I don't think he could have become any more unpleasant than she described him and not implode into a black hole of misanthropic fury.
posted by Devonian at 10:09 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Cream were great, and I am the biggest fan of pre-Strat Clapton, but up till and including 1969/Gimme Shelter/Altamont period, the Rolling Stones had a cultural voltage that Baker wouldn't even recognise if it bit him on his grumpy old arsehole.
posted by colie at 10:12 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


You have to wonder: if he gave just another 60's musician interview about how he discovered music via Elvis and the blues and what an influence Robert Johnson was, would it have been worth an FPP?
posted by TedW at 10:16 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I never really warmed up to Cream's whole "everybody plays solos at the same time all the time" thing. (Or the "Clapton is God" thing, for that matter. Jimi Hendrix was God, and even Clapton knew that. But anyway...) I couldn't really tell what Baker was doing, it just sounded like a bunch of blappitty-blappity-blap stuff throughout because the bass and guitar solos were all going on concurrently.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:16 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


if he gave just another 60's musician interview about how he discovered music via Elvis and the blues and what an influence Robert Johnson was, would it have been worth an FPP?

Maybe. Not a lot of drummers cite Robert Johnson.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:19 AM on May 15 [8 favorites]


ginger baker hasn't been relevant since cream broke up, except to drummers who want to go all over the kit and be stars instead of supporting the damn song - (keith moon was a genius who could do both)

on preview, cookiebastard, blappitty, blappitty, blap is a good description of his style

give me charlie watts over that any day
posted by pyramid termite at 10:21 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I've always had a special dislike of Cream. This interview did nothing to change that.

Apparently being a "good musician" means noodling like a halfwit on over-long, ponderous, mildly psychedelic blech.

And it's all so boring! So many notes, adding up to absolutely nothing!
posted by lattiboy at 10:25 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Although now I sound like Ginger, so sorry.
posted by lattiboy at 10:26 AM on May 15


I love Cream, but the only thing worse than an interview where the interviewee has no desire to even throw a bone to the interviewer, is anyone reading Rolling Stone at all.

...seriously. Let it die.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:29 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]




Yes, he has always been an irascible curmudgeon, but his drumming elevated this album from "pretty good classic style rock" to "transcendent masterpiece." One of the best albums of the 1990s that nobody's ever heard.
posted by usonian at 10:32 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


Yeah, if only they'd put together unimpeachable gems like "Anyone for Tennis" or "Tales of Brave Ulysses."

Unlike the Stones, though, Baker took a *long* time to stop growing as a musician, and was exploring widely early on.

He's a bastard, but a genuinely talented one.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:44 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


This interview really reminds me of the infamous Mickey Rooney commentary on the DVD release of a Twilight Zone episode he was in.
posted by Flunkie at 10:46 AM on May 15


ginger baker hasn't been relevant since cream broke up

Shows how much you know. Of the three of Bruce, Clapton and Baker, Baker has been the one with the most interesting musical career post-Cream.

The Stones meanwhile spent the last five decades playing the same sort of shite over and over again.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:49 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


ginger baker hasn't been relevant since cream broke up

Relevant to what? Polo?
posted by thelonius at 10:53 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Supposedly, after Boom Carter left the E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen put an ad in the trades for a drummer with the stIpulation "No junior Ginger Bakers."

FWIW.

/loves Stones, Cream and Springsteen
posted by jonmc at 10:55 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: "It's amazing that you still have the stamina to do this.
Well, I don't! (laughs)


It's amazing he had the stamina to survive working with Fela Kuti's non-stop drug fueled orgies in the early 70s!
"

That's what I was gonna say. He may be an asshole, but he's the guy that helped expose Fela to the UK, didn't he?

And yeah, fuck Clapton. Baker might be annoyed, an angry prick. But I always thought his drumming was pretty solid, and one of the better drummers in Rock. Am I wrong? But Clapton, between being overrated as a guitarist (sorry, he really just sucks, he's mechanical and has no fucking soul), and his right-wing fascist tendencies, he can suck a fat one.
posted by symbioid at 10:58 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Though I'd love to see Baker have an altercation with Buddy Rich. Now *THAT* would be something. Rich would slap the fuck out of him, methinks.
posted by symbioid at 10:59 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Rich would fuck him up, no question.
posted by thelonius at 11:03 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Gads, what a prick. I dunno why people are blaming the interviewer. A good interview is a conversation and a conversation takes at least two people. Here there was only one and a half people. In any case, Ginger Baker is a genius drummer, but virtuosity doesn't make for great music, not by a long shot. The Stones aren't massively talented players, but they made great music all the same.
posted by dis_integration at 11:04 AM on May 15


/reminded to add "The Clapton Apologists" to list of fictional band names
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:11 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


virtuosity doesn't make for great music

That's true, but let's remember that being barely able to play doesn't automatically mean you have "soul".
posted by thelonius at 11:12 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Cream. Meh.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:12 AM on May 15


The MC5 would wait for Cream to show up at the Grande and beat them up!
posted by AJaffe at 11:19 AM on May 15


Clapton was great. His tone, phrasing and sense of rhythm are superb and the way he constructs a sense of narrative and drama in his best solos (pre 70s) show an intelligence way beyond the other members of Cream. 'While my guitar gently weeps' is a prime example. The motifs, structure, sense of movement - superb.

As a fully paid-up Clapton Apologist, I think it is also worth remembering that he taught himself to play blues guitar in the very early 60s in the bleak suburban UK and was gigging at age 16 and joined the Yardbirds at 18. You could not buy a blues record anywhere in the UK at the time and certainly couldn't go and hear people play it in many places outside London, and you couldn't even buy a decent USA electric guitar (post WW2 protectionist tariffs to build up European industries meant we all had shitty German ones.) Clapton really, really loved the blues and busted his ass to be able to play them.
posted by colie at 11:22 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


he's mechanical and has no fucking soul

He did have some, at one point - you can hear it in his playing on Aretha Franklin's "Lady Soul". Not stupendous, but solid and recognizably human. Sometime in the late 70s, though, I think Clapton just died inside.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:24 AM on May 15


Sometime in the late 70s, though, I think Clapton just died inside.

Might have come slightly before that, but yeah.

At the gym they play Sirius XM's "Classic Rewind," and if I have to hear "Pretending" one more time... I'm gonna have to find a new gym
posted by kgasmart at 11:27 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


A lot of Clapton's soul can be heard in the demented, relentless 15-minute guitar solo version of 'Steppin' Out' that plays in the background during the climactic scenes of 'Mean Streets'. Can be found on 'Live Cream Vol 2'.
posted by colie at 11:28 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


John Bonham forever! I'll take him over pretty much anyone. Bonham knew where the fucking beat was.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:28 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


(the beat was wherever Bonzo said it was)
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:31 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I saw a Clapton show in about 1988. I was expecting an adequately entertaining classic rock human jukebox, but came away really impressed with his band and his straight blues playing.
posted by thelonius at 11:36 AM on May 15


Knowing full well how full of shit Ginger Baker has always been, I still found his specific criticism of Bonham intriguing. In the documentary he says Bonham had technique but "couldn't swing a bag of shit." I don't have nearly as good an ear for drumming as for guitar-playing so I sort of wonder if someone more knowledgeable might say whether that has a kernel of truth. I would certainly say Bonham favoured booming thunder over swing. And I've read that he HATED playing shuffles. He sounds like he's got some swing to me.
posted by wabbittwax at 11:36 AM on May 15


I'm pushing 65 and figure if I live a bit longer EVERY musician, band or group will be insulted by idiots who seem to HATE - Beatles [ the band or as singles], Stones, Yes, Doors, Cream, Hendrix, Clapton, Winwood, Dylan [ boy do they hate Dylan], Neil Young and in short anyone they can't find for free on some iTunes giveaway website.

I'll take a random playlist from Billboard's top 20 for any year 1963-1975 and NEVER fail to find moments worth remembering for decades.

Quick - name 5 Justin Bieber tracks, Hell just name 5 tracks from anyone [winner or not] from the Idol "Geniuses" America thinks are sooooooo talented.

/ End of rant, had to vent, off for a stool softener I guess \
posted by Freedomboy at 11:39 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


In 1988 Clapton had Mark Knopfler as a member of his touring band. If there's one thing Clapton has always done well it's hiring his band.
posted by wabbittwax at 11:39 AM on May 15


As a guitar player, Clapton was the shit. As a songwriter, he is shit. His two best known solo songs (before that heaven one) were both written by JJ Cale.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:40 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Don't forget Bob Marley.
posted by wabbittwax at 11:41 AM on May 15


Well, he hasn't become any less of an insufferable dick with age, has he?

He's kinda my hero.
posted by Decani at 11:44 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Ginger claims he's friends with Max Roach, in the present tense.
posted by peterkins at 11:45 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Bonzo swings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8cSe7RvqSM

Yeah, not much of a pocket there, right Mr. Baker?
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:50 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I always saw Bonham as delivering his super-heavy, hard-hitting thing with a time feel that is much more fluid and jazz-like than most rock drummers have. I'm sure Baker would think I am an idiot, though.
posted by thelonius at 11:59 AM on May 15


"I would certainly say Bonham favoured booming thunder over swing. And I've read that he HATED playing shuffles. He sounds like he's got some swing to me."

Yet he's most famously known for his "Fool In The Rain" variant of the Purdie Shuffle.
As a former drummer, I have no doubt that a person of Bonham's prodigious talent
*could* swing if he wanted to, but damned if I can recall any part of the Zep oeuvre
wherein he did other than here. But, then, why would he want to?
posted by Chitownfats at 11:59 AM on May 15


Yet he's most famously known for his "Fool In The Rain" variant of the Purdie Shuffle.


I loves me some Bernard Purdie a lot more than the next guy, but I don't think that's even *close* to what Bonham is most famously known for.
posted by stenseng at 12:07 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I would say Bonham is revered by drummers for the Good Times Bad Times bass drum triplets and the Fool shuffle, in that order.
posted by colie at 12:11 PM on May 15


Yes.. and the almighty Dazed and Confused triplets.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:16 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


when the levee breaks, period

proof of this is just how many hip hop djs have sampled it
posted by pyramid termite at 12:18 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Best interview answers ever.
posted by telstar at 12:22 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Wait, what's Jack Bruce's turdishness?
posted by kenko at 12:26 PM on May 15


A drummer friend of mine said Bonham was a Motown drummer carried to the tenth power. He played just a half a second behind the beat, just enough to give it that slink/slide R&B swagger. It's harder than hell to do this which is why most drummers imitating Bonzo just play right on the beat and you wonder why the music just doesn't have as much sex to it.

As far as his legendary moments, don't forget those slow-train-wreck rolls that took Kashmir and When the Levee Breaks to a higher place. All while keeping the beat. You know nothing Ginger Baker.
posted by Ber at 12:26 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


I don't know!

posted by mmrtnt at 12:32 PM on May 15


colie: I kinda feel in regards Clapton the way "The Sopranos " Uncle June proclaimed
about Italian cooking: "We taught the world to eat!"

He taught the world legato!
posted by Chitownfats at 12:33 PM on May 15


Damn, mefiites, does no one else see the humor here? Mr. Baker might be insufferable, this interview might be a lost opportunity to delve deeper with a member of an influential band, but come on! The way he just shuts down every question! Groundskeeper Willie is annoying too, but he's funny, dammit! Baker's his own get-off-my-lawn self caricature.
posted by morganw at 12:34 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I'll take a random playlist from Billboard's top 20 for any year 1963-1975 and NEVER fail to find moments worth remembering for decades.

Quick - name 5 Justin Bieber tracks, Hell just name 5 tracks from anyone [winner or not] from the Idol "Geniuses" America thinks are sooooooo talented.


To be fair, 1963-1975 produced a god awful amount of dreck as well. Heck, dreck is the constant of all decades, if anything.

And if you are sick of 'idiots' trash talking your rock gods, consider that maybe those idiots did not have a chance to discover these musicians, but rather they were forcefed to them because baby boomers refuse to give up the airwaves or the mantle of relevance.
posted by ian1977 at 12:34 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I just watched the Ginger Baker Documentary two nights ago. He is one crabby old man. He was a crabby young man too, but now his crabbiness has been increased about three times. Ex-wives, kids, former bandmates, no one remains unscathed.
He is a good drummer. He's also an excellent misanthrope.
posted by readery at 12:40 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


"baby boomers refuse to give up the airwaves or the mantle of relevance."

We taught the world to sing in perfect harmony!
posted by Chitownfats at 12:41 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Minor derail: I think I remember reading that Animal (the muppet) was based on Keith Moon. But I've always thought he seemed more like Ginger.
posted by wabbittwax at 12:42 PM on May 15


we built this city on rock and roll!
posted by pyramid termite at 12:42 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Please, that whole interview was like a high school journalist interviewing a local cover band drummer for the school paper. Inane questions.
posted by Kokopuff at 12:43 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


"I did a phone interview once with Barry Levinson that was that sort of monosyllabic unhelpfulness; I cut it short after a few minutes and then called the publicist and told her I wouldn't be running the interview. She wasn't happy about it but didn't blame me; apparently Levinson had been cranky to interviewers all day. To be fair, he was doing interviews for Jimmy Hollywood, which was terrible, so I guess he had reason to be cranky."

For me, it was Lyrics Born who was my worst interview (weirdly, Jordan Knight was my best).

But now, no longer having to rely on it for income, I think it'd be fun to interview folks like Baker because I'd be pretty unashamed about fucking with him right back. "Everyone knows Eric's a twat, but at least he's polysyllabic. You think there's any truth to the stereotype of drummers as the dolts of a combo?" "Hey, you ever think about how the only thing you're better at than Elvin Jones is 'currently being alive?'"
posted by klangklangston at 12:44 PM on May 15 [14 favorites]


"What was it like to write, 'Layla?'"
"I didn't write that."
"I know. What do you think it'd be like to have people still listening to something you did after Cream, though?"
posted by klangklangston at 12:46 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


"what do you think of jack bruce as a harmonica player?"
posted by pyramid termite at 12:46 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


we built this city on rock and roll!
posted by pyramid termite


Shame on you. Have you no family?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:47 PM on May 15


i'm a bad person
posted by pyramid termite at 12:48 PM on May 15


klangklangston : "What do you call a musician who can't read music? The drummer!"
posted by Chitownfats at 12:59 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


"have you ever used a click track? do you think you should?"
posted by pyramid termite at 1:04 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


He's also an excellent misanthrope.

Well yeah. I was going to do a thing about how "Ginger Baker gives interview, tosses off a bunch of insults about rock musicians he actually knows, as part of his job; 100 metafilter members rush to write insulting comments about Ginger Baker for no conceivable personal advantage, thus proving that they're superior in some way."

I mean, he's at least claiming something material- that most or all of the rock drummers he's ever heard of are barely competent at their jobs - whereas y'all are pointing out that Baker's a dick, which is probably about as close to a proven fact as a thing can even be- hell, there was an entire documentary about it- but which doesn't have anything to do with whether he's a good drummer.

But really, I'd rather this thread turned into suggestions for klangklangstons proposed interview (which will of course be over the phone because I'm pretty sure Baker still knows how to thrash a man with his cane).

I'd go with something like "There are persistent rumors that Ringo Starr had to be brought in to dub your solo on "Toad," what say you?"
posted by hap_hazard at 1:09 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


he's the guy that helped expose Fela to the UK, didn't he

Largely (along with the massive influx of British commonwealth immigrants who were already very aware) but he had to go and do it in such assholish classical Ginger Baker style, for example: narrating this film like its a nature film about "primitives" rather than a performance by an amazing musician that inspired people like Bob Marley to take up music.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:10 PM on May 15


"Is it true that Zildjian once planned a special "Crystal Meth" line of cymbals in tribute
to you?"
posted by Chitownfats at 1:13 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


klangklangston : "What do you call a musician who can't read music? The drummer!"

Q. How do you know when there's a drummer knocking at the door?

A(1): He doesn't know when to come in.

A(2): The knocking speeds up.

Ginger Baker: I don't know! (laughs)
posted by Fuzzypumper at 1:16 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Tales of Brave Ulysses is a good song.

I concur.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:17 PM on May 15


I'll take a random playlist from Billboard's top 20 for any year 1963-1975 and NEVER fail to find moments worth remembering for decades.

Quick - name 5 Justin Bieber tracks, Hell just name 5 tracks from anyone [winner or not] from the Idol "Geniuses" America thinks are sooooooo talented.


Hooooly shit is this a specious comparison. I can't help but wonder how you would have felt in, say, 1974, while listening to a 65 year old dude assert that nothing worth listening to had been recorded since 19-fucking-35.

And since this is mostly a discussion of one '60s/'70s era blues-based-rock musician talking shit about another '60s/'70s era blues-based-rock musician (both drummers, no less), I'm not sure why you thought a generational rooted get-off-my-damn-lawn rant was a good rebuttal to anything said in this thread.

Anyway: Cream were certainly not anywhere near as good as the Beatles. Or Dylan. Or the Stones, more to the point of the article under discussion. Neither were they as good as the Clash, the Talking Heads, REM, the Wu-Tang Clan, or A Tribe Called Quest, to name five bands past your 1975 line in the sand.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:17 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


In the 1000 or so interviews I've done for a book I'm writing, I've had 2-3 Ginger Baker types. You can see it coming a mile off. I give 'em five minutes or so, and if it's clear the answers are snarky/bs/passive-aggressive/useless, I just cut it short. If it's a crucial source, I tell 'em maybe we'll try again later. If it's not a crucial source, I bid them good day and end it before they have a chance to deliver one more line of snark.
posted by brianstorms at 1:18 PM on May 15


But now, no longer having to rely on it for income, I think it'd be fun to interview folks like Baker because I'd be pretty unashamed about fucking with him right back. "Everyone knows Eric's a twat, but at least he's polysyllabic. You think there's any truth to the stereotype of drummers as the dolts of a combo?" "Hey, you ever think about how the only thing you're better at than Elvin Jones is 'currently being alive?'"

These are the right kinds of questions for his personality.

The RS interviewer asked the same banal pablum Baker's been confronted with for decades. Someone pointed out upthread that it was just an interview to sell tickets (I'd been wondering why even bother to accept the interview, but this makes sense), which they each seemed to have approached with a sort of disdain. The interviewer brought nothing original to the table, as if he expected Baker to be the sort that revels in past triumphs; Ginger's just happens to take the form of crotchety old contrarian.
posted by GrapeApiary at 1:24 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I think I remember reading that Animal (the muppet) was based on Keith Moon. But I've always thought he seemed more like Ginger.

No, Animal was Moon because all Muppets were essentially kind natured in their hearts, and they were wide-eyed children playing at putting on a crazy show... rather than angry damaged adults struggling with the real world and hard stuff like drug addiction and jazz.
posted by colie at 1:25 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Ipsifendus: Too many levels of "good" or "better" are being conflated in your comment, I think. Cream introduced (for good or ill) a jazz-like sense of propulsion and drama, sustained
soloing, etc. into popular music of the day. To my ears, your protest sounds like, "Who's better, Michael Jordan or Jack Dempsey?"
posted by Chitownfats at 1:30 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Also, it'd be fun to go with taunting him about how the White Stripes have outsold everything he's ever done, post-Cream, by about a skrillion to one, but you'd have to explain the whole concept of Meg White to him and by then he probably would have hung up.
posted by hap_hazard at 1:33 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Cream introduced (for good or ill) a jazz-like sense of propulsion and drama, sustained
soloing, etc. into popular music of the day.


Which had already happened well before, when actual jazz was the popular music of the day, so perhaps "introduced" is not the term we ought to be using here.

You may be correct that I'm dragging too many disparate implicit measures of quality into my listing, but that does nothing to diminish its utility in dismissing a ridiculous-ass argument such as "everything since 1975 is worse than everything from 1963-1975."

On the specific band in quesiton: I don't doubt or disupte that the guys in Cream could bring the technical chops when they had to. And honestly, comparing them to unfavorably to anyone in my list is to praise with faint damnation.

I just don't think they put those skills to particularly interesting use. I don't get anything from their music that I don't receive much more clearly from alternate sources.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:44 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


"So, your health… how many more tickets do you think you could sell if people thought you might die at your next gig?"
posted by klangklangston at 1:53 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


I liked this interview because he does basically what Metroid Baby says she's going to do when she gets old and drops all consideration of politeness: Answer every single question with "No shut up"
posted by ignignokt at 1:56 PM on May 15



"Which had already happened well before, when actual jazz was the popular music of the day, so perhaps "introduced" is not the term we ought to be using here."

Popular music of the day is what I said and meant. Psychedelic, acid, rock-blues, whatever.
And, since nits need picking, when was jazz ever actually popular? Swing-era jazz, yes,
but jazz-jazz? I don't have figures at finger tip, but I'd be willing to bet that when it came
out "Fresh Cream" outsold "Kind of Blue" by, what, 10 to 1, 100 to 1, 1,000 to 1?
posted by Chitownfats at 2:03 PM on May 15


Apparently being a "good musician" means noodling like a halfwit on over-long, ponderous, mildly psychedelic blech.

See, that was my read on his Rolling Stones comment too, but then there he is at the end, joining in with our eye-rolling and wanking gestures after being asked if he practices and stuff:
"What's the point of trying to play things that are difficult just for the fact of doing it?
"
So, like, what the hell. He's basically saying nothing, angrily.

(More like Whinger Bellyacher, amirite?)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:08 PM on May 15


For me, it was Lyrics Born who was my worst interview

Aww man, don't tell me he's a dick, too. Was it a bad interview for the same reason as Ginger Baker here?
posted by Hoopo at 2:10 PM on May 15


Also yeah we can acknowledge Ginger Baker is unpleasant and kind of an asshole, but I really don't know why we have to knock his musicianship because he's actually very good at what he does and Cream's best moments were as good as anybody's.
posted by Hoopo at 2:32 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Fuck Cream

fifteen bucks, same as in town
posted by Sebmojo at 2:54 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


"Aww man, don't tell me he's a dick, too. Was it a bad interview for the same reason as Ginger Baker here?"

His publicist hadn't gotten me the record to listen to, he took the call while driving around LA, gave one syllable answers and was annoyed that I didn't know who his girlfriend was because she was on the album, something not mentioned in the press pack or his website. I had thought I could still wing it because I loved that Latyrx album, but no. It was awful for both of us. He wasn't an epic dick, but it was still pretty obnoxious.
posted by klangklangston at 3:20 PM on May 15


when was jazz ever actually popular? Swing-era jazz, yes,
but jazz-jazz?


So lets just say you mean, not early jazz and not big bands by jazz-jazz. I don't think it ever sold as well as vocal, pop music, because that's what most people relate to - a singer. But there was an audience, and there was a cliff that it fell off by about 1968, when the young black audience started to go hard for R&B over what seemed to them like their Dad's music, Dad drunk at Christmas again, and rambling on about Bird and Clifford Brown. Blue Note, for example, had been doing OK with hard bop and soul jazz records, and the bottom fell right out of it, for example, by the early 70's.

I wonder how jazz vocalists in the 50's sold, compared to pop singers? Sometimes the line is blurry, too.
posted by thelonius at 4:36 PM on May 15


Dylan is still on the road.
Is he?

Yes. Were you a big Dylan fan? 


I'm not a big anybody fan.

What was the last record that excited you?
God knows. I don't know. I don't listen to music.

Why? 


Because I don't!



Criticize as you will, that's one hell of a sophisticated chatbot.

Do you still have your horses? 

No, I don't. I lost them all.


But without them, he wouldn't have spent that year in college.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:30 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


thelonius: I mean the jazz that existed from when, say, Miles recorded Walkin' to,
I guess, when the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan. Fairly humongous chunk of time, no?
Did *any* jazz chart on popular music lists during that time?

(Folkses, I'm not usually this argumentative. Boomer male menopause or something.)
posted by Chitownfats at 6:08 PM on May 15


OK, that's about what I was trying to say. I mean, let's not worry about Fats Waller sales in the '30s etc, but just what I guess you can just call Mainstream Jazz, until it fragments into fusion and free jazz and 1965-is-over-when-I-say-so traditionalism in the 70's.
posted by thelonius at 6:28 PM on May 15


oh and let's not forget Latin jazz
posted by thelonius at 6:30 PM on May 15


Did *any* jazz chart on popular music lists during that time?

yes - although this list wanders outside the time frame and some of the songs are debatable
posted by pyramid termite at 6:47 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I don't have figures at finger tip, but I'd be willing to bet that when it came
out "Fresh Cream" outsold "Kind of Blue" by, what, 10 to 1, 100 to 1, 1,000 to 1?


would you believe kind of blue was certified quadruple platinum?

fresh cream's only gone gold

i can't find definitive sales figures for the time of release of these albums, but it's obvious to me that miles was selling pretty well back then
posted by pyramid termite at 7:11 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Kind of Blue or even Time Out are kind of anomalies as far as jazz sales go. Those were the jazz equivalent of Thriller or Led Zeppelin IV.
posted by Ber at 7:45 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


cookiebastard: I never really warmed up to Cream's whole "everybody plays solos at the same time all the time" thing. (Or the "Clapton is God" thing, for that matter. Jimi Hendrix was God, and even Clapton knew that. But anyway...) I couldn't really tell what Baker was doing, it just sounded like a bunch of blappitty-blappity-blap stuff throughout because the bass and guitar solos were all going on concurrently.

I quoted that just so I could read it again. I've never agreed so intensely with a non-obvious comment, and have said everything in the first two sentences out loud several times. It's almost creepy. But cookiebastard is right. Very, very right.
posted by msalt at 8:44 PM on May 15


Cream introduced (for good or ill) a jazz-like sense of propulsion and drama, sustained soloing, etc. into popular music of the day.

No, the Chicago blues bands did that in the late 50 and 60s. If you want to be specific, rock with the soloing (not rock 'n roll) was created on the cut "Do the Do" by Howlin Wolf (1962).
posted by msalt at 8:48 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


msalt: Mmmm, no. Heck "I Fought the Law" had a solo. I'm more inclined toward
crediting Cream with improvisational, sustained, almost infinitely extensible single and
ensemble parts to their performances. Specifically, the horn-like or clarinet-like sound
of Clapton's guitar parts, like a wind player who never had to breath in. Once again, I have to point out that, yes, there really is nothing new under the sun, but Wolf was not ever charted
on pop charts, heard on top 40 radio, binned in the pimply teen sections of record stores, etc.
Cream was. Cream brought Wolf to the masses. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop music, right?

In re: Kind of Blue. A wonderful record that has had acclaim from the start, and an exceedingly long and well-earned long tail, as it were. I really, really doubt that it went gold or platinum in any kind of measurable comparison to Fresh Cream or Cream's later albums.

tl;dr I never saw Do the Do or Freddie Freeloader on the WLS Silver Dollar Surveys.

I like blappitty-blappity-blap stuff, btw. I like it when Cream does it, I like it when Ornette
Coleman does it, I like it when Miles does it, I like it when Hendrix does it.
posted by Chitownfats at 9:29 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Yes, he has always been an irascible curmudgeon, but his drumming elevated this album yt from "pretty good classic style rock" to "transcendent masterpiece." One of the best albums of the 1990s that nobody's ever heard.

You beat me to the punch with that. I've only recently come into that album, but it's a damn fine one. You can see him at work, albeit briefly, in this clip. The man is a natural -- just born to hit things with sticks.

As a songwriter, he [Clapton] is shit.

Layla.

Baker has always been a crotchety bastard, but the history re-write going on in this thread about the quality and relevance of Cream & its members, collectively or separately, is a waste of everybody's time. Disraeli Gears was a watershed moment in rock history. Jack Bruce is a masterful songwriter, and a pretty damn good bassist. Clapton? Come on -- maybe he's an asshole too, but the man is just a cornerstone of rock history, and for a good reason. Yardbirds. John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Blind Faith. Derek and the motherfucking Dominos. Come on. You can't revise all that away.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:31 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I'm more inclined toward
crediting Cream with improvisational, sustained, almost infinitely extensible single and
ensemble parts to their performances.


the grateful dead were doing the same thing at that time - see "viola lee blues" on their first album
posted by pyramid termite at 4:18 AM on May 16


I think the whole 'extended solos' thing is actually a minor part of what Cream were about in terms of musical influence, and that loads of bands were stretching out when playing live in the same way around then. Bear in mind that a significant percentage of the audience in 1969 were out of their minds on acid and basically demanded an appropriate time and space to fully 'freak out.'

Clapton was a contemporary of Hendrix, not an understudy, and made an almost equal contribution to the development of overdriven heavy blues riffing with stuff like Strange Brew, which still sounds pretty fresh today. And not an extended solo in sight.

Although I prefer Baker and Clapton in Blind Faith anyway - check this for 60s festival vibes.
posted by colie at 5:10 AM on May 16


Cream was the archetype rock power trio, and they strongly influenced every trio that followed. You can hear Ginger's rhythm influence especially in trios like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Rush, and The Police.

To say a band like Cream is objectively crap just tells me that you haven't opened yourself to actually listening to music properly and are probably still blocked by hating all things that came out of the boomer generation.
posted by rocket88 at 5:19 AM on May 16


>> "I Fought the Law" had a solo.

And "Tequila" had a better one. But "Do the Do" had traded off solos and a full-ahead guitar-driven riff propulsion that sounds, ironically, completely unbluesy. I wish I could have heard it live but I'm pretty sure they vamped on those solo breaks.

>>Cream brought Wolf to the masses.

The question was, who created the sound, not who popularized it. Wolf and Muddy Waters were what all those 60s pop-blues bands listened to and worshipped. pyramid termites point about the Grateful Dead doing the jam thing is a great point (and Jefferson Airplane too) -- that was 1965, pre-Cream. And popular.

Strange Brew? Doesn't sound contemporary to me all all, very period actually. (I liked the movie better.) Hard not to hear Clapton's guitar tone on the White Stripes' "7 Nation Army" though.
posted by msalt at 7:21 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


that is the best and most honest musician interview ever. He is fucking awesome and refuses to be sucked into a the bullshit charade of most musicians.
posted by mary8nne at 7:37 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I have to say I find this a bit refreshing:

The question I find the most annoying is, "What was it like?"

Why?

"What was it like?" I played the drums, man!


posted by malocchio at 8:29 AM on May 16


"Baker has always been a crotchety bastard, but the history re-write going on in this thread about the quality and relevance of Cream & its members, collectively or separately, is a waste of everybody's time. Disraeli Gears was a watershed moment in rock history. Jack Bruce is a masterful songwriter, and a pretty damn good bassist. Clapton? Come on -- maybe he's an asshole too, but the man is just a cornerstone of rock history, and for a good reason. Yardbirds. John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Blind Faith. Derek and the motherfucking Dominos. Come on. You can't revise all that away."

Disraeli Gears is Cream's one good album, hardly enough for the amount of reverence they get.

As for Clapton, he's more a fixture in history than the guitar god he gets credit for. I mean, sure, Yardbirds, but he left in a huff over "For Your Love" and the Yardbirds got markedly better with Beck (then Page) — their best album (s/t) and best single (Happenings…) don't have Clapton on them at all. Blind Faith was one good album, and Clapton only wrote one song on there (not the best, either). Derek and the Dominos have one classic tune, and a bunch of the blueshammer schmaltz that ultimately killed the blues as a living genre (see: Have you Ever Loved a Woman).

So, not revising away, but Clapton's arguably the most overrated rock musician ever.
posted by klangklangston at 9:23 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


*notes that klangklangston passes over john mayall's "beano" album*

i don't think he was over rated in the 60s, but once he got going with 461 ocean boulevard, he's been increasingly uninspired and uninteresting
posted by pyramid termite at 9:38 AM on May 16


and cream was inconsistent - the old best of cream lp from the early 70s pretty much covers the good stuff

oh, and it was the rolling stones that introduced howlin' wolf to the national audience
posted by pyramid termite at 9:43 AM on May 16


Clapton was a 60s guy. It doesn't matter what he did after Cream and Blind Faith.

Clapton emerged from a peculiar British phenomenon called 'art school', which in the late 50s become a place where they stuck all the kids who were neither working class nor properly middle class, and who basically could not be depended upon to slot into the workforce anywhere neatly. Art school was where we got Pete Townshend, John Lennon, Ray Davies, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Clapton and others.

So he did crappy blueshammer stuff in the 70s... he's still one of the 60's most interesting musicians and deserves to be respected alongside those other art school layabouts.
posted by colie at 10:10 AM on May 16


once he got going with 461 ocean boulevard, he's been increasingly uninspired and uninteresting

I'm with you, there. I have to play "Wonderful Tonight" most weekends, and I have to do a little acting to appear as though I'm not trying to vomit.


klang, you're a 1/2 generation younger than me, & probably didn't spend the entire 7th grade in your bedroom, learning every note on Wheels of Fire, so we come from different places, and I'm probably not hugely objective, because they were such a huge early influence that I'm emotionally attached.

Also, Jack Bruce's vocals across the Cream catalog are pretty amazing. Wheels of Fire might be uneven, but listen to As you Said again & tell me Bruce isn't fucking amazing as a writer & singer there. Whether they popularized the blues or killed the blues is up for debate, but that was all the rage with most of the british bands at that point -- Zeppelin in particular stole all their good licks, and got sued over it. Still the british blues rock bands as a whole changed the rock landscape & Cream was a pretty big part of that, at the time. At least, that's how I remember it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:15 AM on May 16


"klang, you're a 1/2 generation younger than me, & probably didn't spend the entire 7th grade in your bedroom, learning every note on Wheels of Fire, so we come from different places, and I'm probably not hugely objective, because they were such a huge early influence that I'm emotionally attached. "

Yeah, I thought Wheels on Fire was pretty bunk compared to Disraeli Gears, which I did listen to obsessively. But I agree with Bruce being a great singer and songwriter — one of my favorite Golden Palominos tracks (one of those secret mixtape weapons for a long time) is Something Else Is Working Harder. From the organ through the shuffling beat and defeatist lyrics… Just perfect, and I can't tell how many times I paired it with Blow at High Dough.
posted by klangklangston at 10:27 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I thought Wheels on Fire was pretty bunk compared to Disraeli Gears

Heh, if you listen to any of my recent stuff on Mefi Music, you can hear that bunk shining through to this day. I've always been waaay too busy as a bass player because of essentially learning to play to the live stuff on that album. I will never shake it, as that's where I find my happy place. Family Man Barrett & Colin Moulding partially saved me from myself when I grew up, but Chris Squire, John Entwistle and Jack Bruce probably fucked me up forever when I was a tot.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:35 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I was a Jack Casady, John Wetton, and Entwistle man myself, in youth.
posted by thelonius at 8:13 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


So, not revising away, but Clapton's arguably the most overrated rock musician ever.

In the old Amnesty International benefit film, The Secret Policeman's Ball, Jeff Beck cuts him up pretty badly on the blues jam feature. Clapton even kind of shaking his head once Beck gets going.....but I think he was still drinking real bad at that time.
posted by thelonius at 8:16 PM on May 16


About the Secret Policeman's Ball...

Yes Clapton would have had about as much alcohol in him as his body would allow at that time. Possibly more. Also, I believe that was the first time he and Beck had ever played onstage together. When he's shaking his head, it's likely an amused disbelief at the coolness that Jeff Beck spews out with every note he plays. Clapton is not a particularly competitive player, according to his own admission, if he sees somebody looking to cut heads, he prefers to step back and let the fella have his moment. I don't think that's what was happening there though. I think he just enjoys Beck's style.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:30 PM on May 16


Also, I don't think Jeff Beck is much for headcutting either. He plays the way he plays and couldn't give a crap what anybody thinks either way. It just so happens that everything he plays is sublime.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:32 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I've never been able to connect personally with Cream, though it's obvious to me it's great music, it's just not for me for some reason. Everyone in the band is obviously very talented. There are a ton of very talented musicians, now and in the past. None of us can love all of them.

I personally couldn't care less that Ginger is an asshole. It has nothing to do with his musicianship really and affects me personally absolutely zero (I suppose if he was an ass at a gig that would be shitty to everyone at the gig). When I was a very young lad I remember being very disappointed when I saw just about anyone from a band I quite liked interviewed. It seemed impossible to me that this pretentious moron could create such great music. Made me realize personality is very different then what you do creatively or professionally. I'm sure there are a ton of assholes in software, but we use it every day. Of course years later some of the same musicians seem to be not at all pretentious and quite intelligent. I now realize they were very young before and were posturing, as youth tend to.

I think it might be highly amusing to hear Ginger's current opinion on Tony Allen, whom of course he's played with. Or if he feels Avery Molek is a complete wanker.
posted by juiceCake at 9:37 PM on May 16


could it be as simple as "Clapton + Gibson = good-to-great" but "Clapton + Fender = crap-to-middling"?

also, of all those guitar players from the 60s, Jeff Beck is the only one who hasn't stopped growing. he sounds better today than he did back then. imho.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:52 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


Oh, I don't think there was anything hostile. My impression of Clapton's expression was, damn, what are you supposed to play after that? Beck really sounded great at that show.
posted by thelonius at 2:28 PM on May 17


could it be as simple as "Clapton + Gibson = good-to-great" but "Clapton + Fender = crap-to-middling"?

Clapton also really did a great job on his 'signature' Strat - I think it was in the late 80s, when he was just about the first guy to do a signature guitar.

It seems that he really worked with Fender to get something that was how the Strat should have evolved - the early spec Clapton Strats are amazing, and still the ones in production now have that extra tone/gain boost, special pickups, low-lacquer V-shape neck.

Pete Townshend always uses Clapton signature Strats on stage and has done for years now.

Fender was way down in the dumps in the 80s and I actually think Clapton's Strat helped them rebuild their reputation for making quality, inspiring instruments.
posted by colie at 11:45 AM on May 18


The one time I saw Ginger Baker live, he was playing drums for Hawkwind, which is the most remarkable mismatch. I mentioned this on here before and someone said that he had some kind of takeover plan for the band, which doesn't seem much less ill-advised than just playing for them. I mean, what would a polyrhythmic jazz drummer do with Hawkwind? On the other hand he made Dave Brock look healthy and drug-free by comparison.
posted by Grangousier at 1:51 PM on May 18


Clapton also really did a great job on his 'signature' Strat - I think it was in the late 80s, when he was just about the first guy to do a signature guitar.

I always wonder about signature guitars. Johnny Marr seems to have done a lot of work for his signature Jaguar. I suppose it depends on how seriously the musician takes it.
posted by juiceCake at 7:35 AM on May 19


Some signature instruments, like Clapton's and David Gilmour's, really do something interesting with the base model. Others, like John Mayer's and Kenny Wayne Shepherd's are almost identical to a vintage reissue but with their gaudy signature on it.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:15 AM on May 19


The Stevie Ray Vaughan signature strat is a nice guitar but I can't really understand why anyone would want to appear on a stage playing a guitar bearing some other dude's initials in giant script letters.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:18 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Johnny Marr seems to have done a lot of work for his signature Jaguar.

I first read that as "... for his signature Jaeger" and then spent a minute imagining what Johnny Marr's giant ass-kicking robot would look like, and how much time it would spend fighting Mecha-Morrissey.
posted by COBRA! at 10:29 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


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