Thursday, August 23, 2007
Lots of Links, and Sam Baker, Too!
Sam Baker - It's All Over
Today's post goes out to Red Kelly, whose prolific blog activity has brought about four noteworthy blogs, all of which are highly-recommended and which can be found in the "MP3 Blogs" links section at right: The B-Side; its companion, The A-Side; the highly-informative Soul Detective; and Holy Ghost, a fine gospel blog. Occasionally Red will spread a particular subject of interest across one or more of his blogs. Most recently, Red has been discussing the careers of singer/songwriter/producer/label owner Allen Orange and pianist/producer Bob Wilson, and the two stories have overlapped, as both men spent some time in the latter half of the '60s at Sound Stage Seven. If you haven't been following these stories, I recommend you follow the ongoing Allen Orange story at Soul Detective and then dig the Bob Wilson story at both The B-Side (in these four posts) and The A-Side (two posts). In the Allen Orange story at Soul Detective, Sam Baker's name came up, which inspired me to do today's post.
Sam Baker was one of the immense parade of Nashville soul acts that just didn't get the fame they deserved, and Baker was probably the most deserving. His emotive tenor was amazingly effective, and records like "Something Tells Me" are goosebump-inducing in their beauty. I'll refer you to the great Sam Baker profile John Ridley has at the Sir Shambling site for more details about Baker and his career, as well as some further audio files of Baker's material (including pre-SS7 stuff). John Richbourg ("John R") knew how strong a talent Baker was, and he released more Sam Baker singles on Sound Stage Seven than any artist other than Joe Simon. Unfortunately, conflicts between the two men over Baker's erratic behavior, coupled with poor record sales, resulted in Baker leaving the label in 1968 to do a one-off 45 for Hollywood and then vanishing. SS7 released two more Baker singles, and today's selection was the last. It's pretty uncanny that "It's All Over" would be the last 45, but it is a solid recording. Over a very polished and lightly-funky groove, Sam really sells the song's lyrics. Although the song is clearly about the breakup of a love affair, it almost sounds like Sam's giving John R his resignation notice: "there is nothing more for me to say; it's all said and done, I need to go away," Sam sings. The sadness of the lyrics, however, is undercut by the song's great groove, so by the end of the record there one almost senses a tinge of hope. Although such hope would be futile for Baker, it's a strong record and it provides a nice final chapter to Baker's recording legacy.