Baker Gurvitz Army

Greatest Hits Live

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The Baker Gurvitz Army's Greatest Hits Live, unleashed by the New York-based GB Music, is almost an hour's worth of progressive rock from the brothers Paul and Adrian Gurvitz along with Sharks vocalist Snips, keyboardist Peter Lemer, and the star power of legendary Cream drummer Ginger Baker. The intricate Adrian Gurvitz composition "Wotever It Is" starts things off, a solid performance on a tape that is a cut above the usual soundboard. The shortest track, "The Gambler," clocks in at four minutes and 35 seconds, and is reminiscent of the R&B feel of the Bob Tench/Max Middleton version of the Jeff Beck Group. The third cut will definitely open eyes as the mainstream/underground unit takes Jimi Hendrix to another time and place with his song "Freedom." Though the lead vocals are at about the same volume as the backing vocals and guitar -- the keys and bass are the dominant instruments here -- the performance is tight as a drum and quite a find for fans of this genre. On this live disc, the group comes off as more of a progressive blues act with none of the bombast of Triumvirat, actually finding some of the soul of early Santana on parts of the Hendrix tune. This was a jam band before the term was in, as some of the tracks range from eight to 12 minutes in length. Though "For Phil" won't excite like an uncovered Ginger Baker/Jack Bruce collaboration and BGA may not have the mystery and aura of Ginger Baker's Air Force, this is still a lost concert by one of rock & roll's true characters -- a monster talent whose presence and performance can't help but be one of the major reasons to focus on this interesting seven-song live disc. Sure, the guitar could be louder, but it is a smooth listen and a strong argument for historic underground tapes finding legitimate release. As the Grateful Dead have proven, there's a large audience for artists whose energies and creativity are not confined to studio recordings. The Baker Gurvitz Army groove throughout this set, with the songs "People" and "Remember" both worthy of airtime at three a.m. on classic rock stations anywhere in the U.S. of A.