Arthur Baker (musician)

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Arthur Baker
Born (1955-04-22) April 22, 1955 (age 59)
Origin Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Genres Electro,[1] post-disco,[1] club, dance,[1] freestyle, old school hip hop
Instruments Vocals, synthesizer, drum machine
Years active 1982–1996, 2006–present
Labels Criminal Records
Streetwise Records
A&M/PolyGram Records
Associated acts North End, Afrika Bambaataa, Brooklyn Funk Essentials, Arthur Baker and the Backbeat Disciples

Arthur Baker (born April 22, 1955) is an American record producer and DJ best known for his work with hip hop artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Planet Patrol, and the British group New Order.

Biography[edit]

Early career[edit]

Born in Boston, Massachusetts,[2] Baker began working as a club DJ in Boston in the early-1970s, where he was known for playing crowd-pleasing soul and Philly soul. Nonetheless, he had little patience for DJing, saying in an interview: "[If] I didn't get a good reaction on a record, I'd just rip it off, break it up and throw it on the dancefloor."[2]

Remixer/producer[edit]

In 1981, Baker moved to New York, where he continued to DJ whilst pursuing a career as a producer. His first successful single was "Happy Days," which he released under the name North End on Emergency Records in 1981.

In the early eighties, prior to digital recording equipment that would emerge a decade later, Baker and his contemporaries created remixes on analogue tape. He worked closely with the Latin Rascals, which were influenced by the earlier work of Tom Moulton, John Morales (of Morales and Munzibai), and Walter Gibbons, the creator of the first commercially available twelve-inch single, a remix of Double Exposure's "Ten Percent." The Latin Rascals would eventually edit the work of every major United States dance-music producer active in the 1980s, but in the early days the duo was part of Baker's circle.

He went on to work for hip-hop label Tommy Boy Records, where he produced Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force's "Planet Rock" single, which was a hit in the summer of 1982. The record combined elements from two Kraftwerk recordings, "Trans Europe Express" and "Numbers," which were interpolated by studio musicians, rather than sampled. Later that year, using unused tracks from “Planet Rock, he later produced Planet Patrol's "Play at Your Own Risk" single in 1982, another group with a hit album in 1983.

Also during 1982, he produced the single "Walking on Sunshine" by Rocker's Revenge featuring Donny Calvin which hit number one on the U.S. Dance chart on September 18 that year.

In 1983, Baker found work doing dance remixes of pop and rock hits, first with Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," and Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark," "Cover Me," and "Born in the U.S.A." from his Born in the U.S.A. album. Also during 1983, Baker produced the track "I.O.U." by Freeez, which was one of the biggest dance hits of the year in the UK. In 1984, Baker contributed his "Breakers' Revenge" to the Beat Street score and movie soundtrack, which he also helped produce. He is the remixer and additional producer for songs for Hall and Oates ("Out Of Touch", "Method Of Modern Love", "Possession Obsession", "Dance On Your Knees") and Diana Ross ("Swept Away", co-written and co-produced by Daryl Hall)). In 1985 he produced three songs on Jennifer Holliday's album"Say You Love Me", the biggest hit being "No Frills Love", a song he co-wrote, co-produced, arranged and remixed. The infamous and much sought after Remixes for Pet Shop Boys´ "Suburbia" followed in 1986.

Following these successes, Baker came to the attention of British alternative dance group New Order, who co-wrote "Confusion" and "Thieves Like Us" with him (and Baker can be seen prominently in the music video of the former). The 12-inch single "Confusion" was a crossover hit on the U.S. dance charts, and established a relationship between Baker and the band that has continued for more than 20 years. This also set a precedent for rock-style bands to produce dance records and remixes, which have now become commonplace.

Narrowly missing out on signing the Beastie Boys to his Streetwise label, Baker did manage to sign the group New Edition, which had success with its single "Candy Girl."

Further collaborations[edit]

In 1984, the New York-based Baker worked with Philadelphians Hall & Oates as mix consultant on their album Big Bam Boom, and the result was a markedly urban and electronic sound for the duo. Baker co-wrote the opening instrumental, "Dance On Your Knees," with Daryl Hall. He also remixed that song and the album's other three chart hits: "Out Of Touch," "Method Of Modern Love," and "Possession Obsession."

In 1985, Baker helped Bob Dylan complete his Empire Burlesque album as mixer and arranger, and with Little Steven Van Zandt organized and produced the anti-apartheid anthem "Sun City" by Artists United Against Apartheid. He was later honored by the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid for "high valuable contribution to the international campaign for the elimination of apartheid and the establishment of a non-racial and democratic society in South Africa"[citation needed].

In the late 1980s and later into the 1990s, Baker worked with soul star Al Green, writing and producing the international hit "The Message is Love" and the anti-handgun song "Leave the Guns at Home". In 1989, he released the album Merge on A&M Records as Arthur Baker and the Backbeat Disciples, and remixed Neneh Cherry's debut single Buffalo Stance. He was also the music supervisor of the films Fried Green Tomatoes and Listen Up - The Lives of Quincy Jones. In 1991, he released a second album under Arthur Baker and the Backbeat Disciples, Give in to the Rhythm.

1990s–2000s[edit]

In the 1990s, following a break from production for some years, Baker moved to London, and established a chain of successful bars—The Elbow Rooms—across the city. He also owns the Tiny Robot restaurant and The Starland Social Club members bar in London, located in Notting Hill. He continues to work as a DJ and producer and recently produced "Part-A" for the genre-busting London Electro Metal band Monsta.

In 2006, the financial services company Visa used a Baker-produced track from Afrika Bambaataa's "Looking For the Perfect Beat" as the backing music of a Visa Check Card commercial. In the ad, an animated worm drawn on the pages of a checkbook does the 1980s dance known as the Worm.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c allmusic (((Arthur Baker > Overview))), retrieved on 03-08-2011
  2. ^ a b 'Interview: Arthur Baker', DJ History, Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton. Retrieved June 13, 2005.

External links[edit]