Ginger Baker's Air Force


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-70)

- Ginger Baker -- drums, percussion

- Graham Bond (RIP 1974) -- sax

- Ric Grech (RIP) -- bass, violin

- Jeanette Jacobs -- vocals

- Remi Kabaka -- percussion 

- Denny Laine -- vocals, guitar

- Harold MacNair -- sax, flute

- Phil Seaman -- drums, percussion

- Alan White -- drums, percussion

- Stevie Winwood -- vocals, keyboards

- Chris Wood -- sax, flute

 

  line  up 2: (1970)

NEW - Neemoi Acquaye -- African drums

NEW - Alika Ashman -- backing vocals

NEW - Burt Beadle -- sax

- Graham Bond -- vocals, sax, keyboards

- Ginger Baker -- drums, percussion

NEW - Ken Cradock -- keyboards, vocals

NEW - Colin Gibson -- bass (replaced Ric Grech)

NEW - Steve Gregory -- sax, flute

NEW - Diane Stewart -- vocals (replaced Jeannete Jacobs)

 

 

 

 

- Aliki Ashman (solo efforts)

- Ginger Baker (solo efforts)

- The Baker Gurvitz Army

- Blind Faith (Ginger Baker, Ric Grech, and  Steve Winwood)

- The Graham Bond Organization (Graham Bond)

- Cream  (Ginger Baker and Steve Winwood)

- The Cake (Jeanette Jacobs)

- Family (Ric Grech)

- Ric Grech (solo efforts)

- Traffic (Steve Winwood and Chris Wood)

- Steve Winwood (solo efforts)

 

 

 


 

Genre: jazz-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  2

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD 33-343
Year:
 1970

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 1186

Price: $20.00

 

Given Ginger Baker's first post-Cream endeavor was intended to be a short-term project, the fact Ginger Baker's Air Force managed to release a live album was a surprise.  The fact the band survived long enough to record a studio album is almost a miracle.   

 

Unlike the first Ginger Baker's Air Force album. "Ginger Baker's Air Force 2" was a studio album.   The big names that studded the debut album (Eric Clapton, Ric Grech, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, etc.), were all gone by the time the band went into the record studio.  In fact, Baker and singer/keyboardist Graham Bond were the only holdovers from the first line-up.. Unlike the double album debut which suffered from a bad case of jam-itis,  song-for-song the sophomore album was more focused and actually more enjoyable than the debut.  What you got was an off amalgamation of different genres including blues, jazz, pop, rock, and some of Baker's growing interest in  world music - the results frequently mashed up in one title.   For hardcore Baker fans, other than one extended drums solo on 'Toady', Baker seemed content to serve as band manager and director, steering things from behind the scenes.  Yeah, with 'Toady' clocked in at over nine minutes there were a couple of tracks that were way too long, but for the most part this was surprisingly enjoyable.   

 

"2" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Let Me Ride   (Roebuck Pops Staples) - 4:22       rating: **** stars

Taking a Staples Singers gospel number and giving it an early-'70s rock spin resulted in a surprisingly impressive opener.   Graham Bond handled lead vocals,, but actually sounded a bit like a hoarse Steve Winwood trying to do a Delaney and Bonnie cover.

2.) Sweet Wine   (James Godfrey - Ginger Baker) - 3:34     rating: *** stars

Featuring Bond's then-wife Diane Stewart  on lead vocals (replacing Jeanette Jacobs), 'Sweet Wine' was a percussion heavy jam session.  Catchy in a background kind of way.   

3.) Do U No Hu You Phrenz R?   (P.E. Baker) - 5:40     rating: *** stars

Again featuring Stewart on lead vocals, 'Do U No Hu You Phrenz R?' sported a breezy melody with tribal rhythms, and punchy horns.  The track sounded a bit like a stoned beer garden ditty.  

4.) We Free Kings    (Ginger Baker) -     rating: *** stars

Based on the traditional Christmas carol, 'We Free Kings' was side one's oddest offering, with Alika Ashman spouting some goofy, Cockney spoken word lyrics, coupled with a surprisingly spunky arrangement.  The end results sounded like a mash-up of rock and free form jazz elements.     

 

(side 2)
1.) I Don't Want To Go On without You   (Bert Berns - Jerry Wexler) - 3:56
   rating: *** stars

Based on the somewhat fragile, vocals, I 'm guessing Denny Laine was featured on the 'I Don't' Want To Go On without You'.   Nice enough cover of the old Drifters tune and one of the album's most commercial offerings.

2.) Toady   (P.E. Baker) - 9:45    rating: ** stars

'Toady' quickly got into a nifty groove and then spent almost ten minutes mining every last gasp out of it.  The thing was the groove was strong enough to survive most of the abuse, but ultimately collapsed under Baker's extensive and bombastic drum solo (which seemed to go on and on and on ....).  YouTube has a live performance of the song taken from a 1970 appearance on the German Beat Club television show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP5BQ5Kvsv8  

3.) Gates of the City  (Graham Bond) - 4:05      rating: **** stars

With Bond back on lead vocals (wife Stewart and Alika Ashman handling backing vocals), 'Gates of the City' started out with a distinctive middle eastern vibe and some of Bond's weird, but entertaining lyrics.   Not sure why, but you'll also see the song referred to under the title 'Twelve Gates To the City' on the German release.  For Bond fans, the tune reappeared on his "Holy Magick" album.  Taken from a 1970 German television performance, YouTube has a nice live clip of the tune:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9OvJKvfYl0    

 

In spite of good reviews, the album did little commercially and when coupled with the cost of keeping the large Air Force enterprise together, the group collapsed within a matter of months.    Baker subsequently reappeared as a solo act.

 

I'm not sure why, but the German release featured  different mixes for 'We Free Kings' and 'Gates of the City' (for some reason titled '12 Gates of the City').  

 

 

I've never heard it, but several of these tunes showed up in live renditions on a 2010 double CD release culled from an audience recording on a 1970 German performance  - "Live in Offenbach, Germany 1970": (Voiceprint  catalog number VPTMQ055CD).  Sanctioned by Baker, reportedly the sound quality wasn't all that great.

 

"Live in Offenbach, Germany 1970" track listing:

(disc 1)

1.) I Got the Answer

2.) Free Kings   (Ginger Baker) - 

3.) Don't Care

4.) Early In the Morning

5.) Sunshine of Your Love

6.) Toady   (P.E. Baker) - 

7.) Let Me Ride

 

(disc 2)

1.) 12 Gates In the City  (Graham Bond) - 

2.) What a Day

3.) Alko Baie

4.) Do What You Like

 

 

 

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