Mickey Baker

The Wildest Guitar

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Despite Baker's well-deserved reputation as one of the most influential guitar players of early rock & roll, The Wildest Guitar was one of the few chances he really got to strut his stuff as a solo artist. This entirely instrumental set features keening, sharp, bluesy riffs in much the same distinctive style that gained him fame on "Love Is Strange" and other tunes with Mickey & Sylvia. The choice of material, though, is a bit surprising, favoring some surprisingly cornball standards: "Third Man Theme," "Autumn Leaves," "Lullaby of the Leaves," and Cole Porter's "Night and Day." Baker (who also arranged the album) manages to invest all of these with a snazzy R&B feel and biting solos. And he does actually write four of the 12 tunes himself, on which he fashions the kind of straightforward R&B that one would more likely to expect. This is a pretty good showcase to hear Baker's unadorned virtuosity. But he's really better-appreciated within the context of stronger material, either as half of Mickey & Sylvia or on the innumerable '50s R&B cuts (many on Atlantic) that feature his session work.

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