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DUCK BAKER - When You Wore A Tulip 

DUCK BAKER - When You Wore A Tulip 
Southern Summer Records SSCDFL032 

This is the only remaining of Duck Baker’s Kicking Mule records to be re-released – his catalogue has been completely revisited in recent years – and here we have a brilliant snapshot of his mid-seventies repertoire. Eight of the tracks are jazz standards, transcribed by DB for guitar and presented in his unique fashion. Duck Baker was always an incredibly accurate guitarist, with perfect tempo, as demonstrated here. From Rogers and Hart’s You Took Advantage Of Me to Hoagy Carmichael’s Up A Lazy River via Honeysuckle Rose he covers all bases. Traditional offerings include fiddle tunes such as Boys From Blue Hill and The Drunken Wagoner, all of which are toe-tappingly good.

One of the plus points of CD releases is the extra capacity that allows for bonus tracks, and here we have five live tracks from a French gig in 1976 contemporaneous with the original 1977 album and they are a perfect fit. Sometime around then I saw him several times on the Kicking Mule Roadshows with Stefan Grossman and Dave Evans, and I distinctly remember Duck Baker’s take on Maple Leaf Rag influencing me to pursue ragtime guitar myself – and its inclusion here reminds me why; it’s an absolute cracker.

Other highlights for me are his own Plymouth Rock and the title track, which both sum up his guitar playing for me. In a crowded field of acoustic pickers in the seventies and eighties, Duck Baker shone like a beacon and it’s a real pleasure to hear these tunes again.

Grem Devlin