It’s a pissy-drizzly Monday morning but, thankfully, I have absolutely nothing to accomplish today workout-wise and I can stick indoors with a hot beverage and some warmhearted vinyl in order to get through the chills of this normal ho-hum work day.
Kicking off this Monday morning vinyl listening cavalcade then is the ‘Ginger Baker’s Air Force‘ album.
Basically, is a jazz-rock fusion supergroup led by former Cream/Blind Faith drummer Ginger Baker. The band formed in late 1969 upon the disbandment of Blind Faith. The original lineup consisted of Baker on drums, Steve Winwood (Spencer Davis Group/Traffic) on organ and vocals, Ric Grech on violin and bass, Jeanette Jacobs on vocals, Denny Laine (Moody Blues) on guitar and vocals, Phil Seamen on drums, Alan White (Yes) on drums, Chris Wood (Traffic) on tenor sax and flute, Graham Bond on alto sax, Harold McNair on tenor sax and flute, and Remi Kabaka on percussion.
This album itself is a recording of a sold-out live show at the Royal Albert Hall, on 15 January 1970.
In keeping with Ginger Baker’s fabled eccentricities, the first thing you’ll notice about the album is that it’s completely ass-backwards. For example, if you hold it normally so that the the gatefold opens like a book (from the right) as is customary, this is what the album looks like:
Or, it’s back cover.
In other words, to view the album from the front the records will slide out from the left and the gatefold opens unconventionally from the left.
So first you have to get your head around this left-handed design.
Is that C-O-N-F-U-S-I-N-G, or what?
The other thing is that the records themselves are labeled incorrectly so that Side A is actually Side C, and Side B is actually Side D.
Based on the actual performance, there may not seem to be much about this to like as there is with other live albums of that era. Long jams probably not rehearsed very much, as witnessed by stumbles in the musical “choreography” here and there, feedback screams from the sound system, muffled intros, etc. But who can ignore the percussion locomotive of three drummers that drives this music along, capped off by a plaintive version of ‘Man of Constant Sorrow‘ (done decades before ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou‘) by Denny Laine.
Production and performance aside, it’s creating a neat rhythmic foundation for my work day this morning and, actually, it melds together well with the steady downpour of rain beating on my basement window outside.