Les Blues Du Richmond and Plymouth Rock
The Tompkins Square label released Duck Baker’s Les Blues Du Richmond on CD and LP in early 2018, and the reception was very positive. The first half of this record was drawn from a demo tape made in 1973 when Duck was 23 years old and living in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. He sent the demo to various independent labels, eventually landing a deal with Kicking Mule Records the following year, by which time he had relocated in San Francisco. Some of the material that was on the demo was rerecorded for Kicking Mule, but 3 of the 6 numbers used on Les Blues were never revisited by Baker on record, and 1 was only redone many years later. Baker’s association with the Kicking Mule label led to 5 solo records, plus appearances on 5 anthologies, but even so he recorded a fair amount for them in the late 1970s that was never released until Stefan Grossman selected a dozen tracks from various sessions and issued them on a limited-edition cassette called Both Sides in 1987. Eight of these tracks were included on Les Blues Du Richmond, and these show the various ways that Baker was challenging himself during this period of rapid development, as he moved beyond his folk/blues/ragtime roots towards swing and modern jazz, as well as Appalachian fiddle tunes and Irish dance tunes and airs.
Since there were still a few of the tracks that had been released of Both Sides that had not been reissued, as well as a handful of other outtakes from KM sessions that had never been released at all, along with one unissued track from the 1973 demo, it made sense to put these things out, too. To fill out the program, 6 previously unreleased performances recorded for radio broadcasts have been added, and are now being released as a digital album as Plymouth Rock. It will also be available as a budget release on CD. (The process used is duplication, instead of replication, which involves the production a glass master. There is no difference in terms of audio fidelity, and all modern CD players will play duplicated CDs as well as the standard, replicated ones.) Click here for the download version of Plymouth Rock, and here for the budget CD.
Plymouth Rock is being released with hard-core fans of Duck Baker’s early style in mind. There are only two titles that were not revisited by Baker on later records, but the energy of the live performances makes several of them seem more immediate than the studio versions of the same pieces, and all of the alternate takes differ in various ways from those on record. Click here to see the liner notes and the full track listing and recording info.
Plans are also underway for Baker’s second LP, When You Wore A Tulip, to finally be released on CD for the first time (on Southern Summer, the same label which released Baker’s “twofer” CD The County Set in 2016). Added to the program of the the original record will be the set recorded in France in 1976 while Baker was on his first European tour, which was originally released as side B of the Both Sides cassette. At that point, almost all of Baker’s early work as a solo artist will be have been released in some form or other, and the focus on reissues of archival material will shift towards the 1980s (a CD release of rare and previously-unissued studio material called Not The First Time is planned on the Fulica label, also for 2019).