Thursday, June 18, 2015
In a category with John Bonham and Keith Moon, he was one of most famous drummery-drummers to come out of rock in the 60s, but his star has faded in comparison. Moon had more likable energy, both musically and personally, and Bonham— where do we start?— was the future of rock drumming. You could argue that Baker has more ability: he has played a wider variety of music than Bonham or Moon, and is an actual jazz musician. He's just not a very good one. I think that whatever narcissistic personality disorder helped him attract a lot of attention to himself and advance his career is also messing with his musicianship.
I did once own an album he made in the 90s, which had Bill Frisell and Charlie Haden playing covers of some great tunes from earlier in their careers— things I was playing myself, or wanted to play— it's basically the same type of fanboy record I would have made at the time if somebody gave me $50,000 to make the record of my dreams. I can't fault his taste in listening.
All the ingredients are there for a rocking, Paul Motian-like concept, but it is just not happening. I'm not going to expend a lot of effort analyzing it, the frequent, Bam-Bam style, mono-dynamic, mono-rhythmic tom tom tom fills are a large clue— a gross indication that we're missing something fundamental.
Here's the movie: