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This review is from: The John Baker Tapes Volume 1: BBC Radiophonics (Audio CD)
I would imagine that most people reading this review would already know who John Baker is, in which case I will simply say that this wonderful compilation is even better than I'd hoped and I recommend it without reservation. In addition to the CD, Richard Baker's fascinating biographical sketch of his brother's ultimately tragic life makes heartbreaking reading and answers a lot of questions.
If you don't know anything about John Baker, he was a very gifted musician who worked for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the 60s and early 70s, producing theme tunes and incidental music for television and radio. Working without the aid of synthesizers or digital technology, Baker created 'radiophonic' music by recording everyday sounds on tape, then manipulating them electronically until they were virtually unrecognisable. Wine bottles were a particular favourite and Baker managed to create whole theme tunes around a few simple sounds.
What comes across in this compilation is how versatile John Baker was. He was a natural tunesmith, creating many jingles for local radio, but he was also equally at home composing avant garde electronica or contemporary jazz.
Baker was incapable of writing bad music. Even the most banal jingle had something about it that transcended the genre and some pieces like Baker's music for BBC Wales were, in their own way, masterpieces.
If you're over 45 and grew up in Britain, you'll have definitely heard John Baker's music and this compilation is not just a fitting tribute to a very talented man, but is also a wonderful evocation of a bygone age.