Classic Rock Bottom

The philosophy around here is that if an idea works once you might as well play it out until its totally dead and buried. Kind of like Jon with Devind Townsend, and RJ with The Smithereens, Tom Petty, Mothers Finest, well you get the idea...

So this week were showcasing a producer who's name everyone should know - unless you dont like Queen - well then you maybe should be on another site...

Heres the pre-requisite Wiki info...

Baker began his career at Decca Records in England at the age of 14. Encouraged by music producer Gus Dudgeon he soon moved to Trident Studios, where he worked with music producer greats Gus Dudgeon, Tony Visconti, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Frank Zappa as well as recording artist The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Who, Gasolin', Nazareth, Santana, Mothers of Invention, Be Bop Deluxe, Free and T.Rex.

After co-founding Neptune (Trident's record company), Baker met a band that would eventually be known as Queen. He began a working relationship that lasted for five albums (Queen, Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack, A Night at the Opera and Jazz) and a number of awards – including Grammy Awards and The Guinness World Records for the best single, "Bohemian Rhapsody".

Following his successes with Queen and other artists Baker signed a multi album production deal with CBS Music (Columbia Records, Sony Music, Epic Records, etc.). He then proceeded to move to the US and set up The RTB Audio Visual Productions' Offices in New York and Los Angeles. At this time under his new CBS deal RTB produced Journey, Starcastle, Reggie Knighton (The Grass Roots), Ian Hunter and Ronnie Wood (The Rolling Stones).

Baker, also at this time, committed to produce four albums for The Cars after being prompted by Elektra Records to see them perform in a Boston school gymnasium. The albums were certified platinum and The Cars were Grammy nominated.

He was offered the post as The Senior Vice-President of "Artist and Repertoire" (A and R) for Elektra Records as executive and/or producer with recording artists The World, Lindsey Buckingham, Mötley Crüe, Joe Lynn Turner, Josie Cotton and Dokken as well as continuing with Queen and The Cars. During his tenure as Sr. V.P. Elektra signed artists Metallica, Simply Red, Yello, Peter Schilling, The World and 10,000 Maniacs.

Baker has also worked with artists Guns N' Roses, Alice Cooper, Foreigner, Pilot, Ozzy Osbourne, Devo, The Stranglers, Dusty Springfield, T'Pau, Cheap Trick and Lewis Furey. In 2005 he produced One Way Ticket to Hell and Back by The Darkness, The Smashing Pumpkins' 2007 album, Zeitgeist, The Storm's 2008 album When the Storm Meets the Ground, The Smashing Pumpkins' American Gothic and One Karma's 2011 album Life Got in the Way. He also produced Yes's 2014 album Heaven & Earth, 35 years after his previous experience with the band, working on sessions in Paris that never led to an album.



1 - Change In Time

The group's third album, reissued on CD by Tennessee-based Renaissance Records in 1999, is another Yes-like affair, Herb Schildt's keyboards dominating the sound in the best sub-Rick Wakeman manner while Steve Tassler's drumming holds the band's sound together. Terry Luttrell can't quite hit Jon Anderson's high notes, but coupled with the backup singing by Tassler, bassist Gary Strater, and guitarists Matt Stewart and Steve Hagler, the Yes illusion is maintained, especially when Hagler's angular lead playing comes in, as on "Shadows of Song." "Change in Time" is the best of the Yes-style numbers here, a driving little tune with gorgeous choruses and soaring synthesizer breaks. The two most interesting numbers, however, are "Can't Think Twice" and "Could This Be Love," serious attempts at catchy Top 40-type tunes that reconsider the group's whole progressive sound, and which hold the group's talents in check in service of an unchallenging AM approach. They're refreshing, although not why people who were buying the band's stuff were spending their money.

The Cars

2 - Night Spots

Since the Cars had created a perfect album with their 1978 self-titled debut, it would be nearly impossible to top it. Instead of laboring long and hard over a follow-up like many '70s bands did after a huge commercial success, the band cranked out their sophomore effort, Candy-O, almost exactly one year later from the first LP. And while the album was not as stellar as its predecessor was, it did contain several classics, resulting in another smash album that solidified the band's standing as one of the most promising new bands of the late '70s. The first single, the Top 20 anthem "Let's Go," proves to be the best track, but plenty of other standouts can be found as well. The title track remains one of the band's best rockers, while the gentle "It's All I Can Do" also deserved to be a hit. The band pays tribute to T. Rex on "Dangerous Type" (the main guitar riff resembles "Bang a Gong"), rocks out on "Got a Lot on My Head" and "Night Spots," shows their softer side on "Since I Held You," and embraces modern pop on "Double Life" and "Lust for Kicks." Their second strong release in a row, Candy-O proved that the Cars were not one-hit wonders, like so many other bands from the same era.

Head Games

3 - I'll Get Even With You

Foreigner continued its platinum winning streak on Head Games, the band's third album. By the time Head Games was released, FM radio had fully embraced bands like Foreigner, Journey, and Boston, whose slick hard rock was tough enough to appeal to suburban teens, but smooth enough to be non-threatening to their parents. Tailor-made for the airwaves, "Dirty White Boy" and "Head Games" kept Foreigner at the top of the arena rock heap as the decade came to a close; and the supergroup's successes would continue well into the '80s.


4 - Winds of March

Released in January of 1978, Infinity easily proved to be the band's most cohesive work to date. Dead and buried were the jazz fusion overtones of previous offerings, and with the new songwriting combo of Perry/Neal Schon leading the march, the band set out to completely redefine their sound. Traditional pop arrangements were now adopted, cutting out the unnecessary musical fat, and allowing each bandmember to play to his strength: Perry's soaring, whale of a voice, Schon's scorching fret work, and Gregg Rolie's subtle keyboard arrangements. Enlisting eccentric producer Roy Thomas Baker (already famous for guiding the likes of Queen and Nazareth to giant commercial triumphs of their own) also proved to be a rewarding move for the boys. With newfound confidence, Journey crafted a record that could finally land them on the radio.


5 - If You Can't Beat Them

Famously tagged as "fascist" in a Rolling Stone review printed at the time of its 1978 release, Jazz does indeed showcase a band that does thrive upon its power, thrilling upon the hold that it has on its audience. That confidence, that self-intoxication, was hinted at on News of the World but it takes full flower here, and that assurance acts as a cohesive device, turning this into one of Queen's sleekest albums. Like its patchwork predecessor, Jazz also dabbles in a bunch of different sounds -- that's a perennial problem with Queen, where the four songwriters were often pulling in different directions -- but it sounds bigger, heavier than News, thanks to the mountains of guitars Brian May has layered all over this record. If May has indulged himself, Freddie Mercury runs riot all over this album, infusing it with an absurdity that's hard to resist. This goofiness is apparent from the galloping overture "Mustapha," and things only get a lot sillier from that point out, as the group sings the praises of "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Bicycle Races," as May and Mercury have an unspoken competition on who can overdub the most onto a particular track while Roger Taylor steers them toward their first disco song in the gloriously dumb "Fun It." But since over-the-top campiness has always been an attribute in Queen, this kind of grand-scale exaggeration gives Jazz a sense of ridiculousness that makes it more fun than many of their other albums.

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Gasolin'!!! We all know and love all the great songs, Gasoli'n wrote and Baker produced, right? (around the same time he produced the best Quen-albums, meaning in the mid-seventies).

Kloden Drejer stille rundt


Kvinde min

Sct. Emétri

Det var Inga & Katinka

and so on....

Producing Bohemian Rhapsody "alone" makes R.T.Baker one of my absolute alltime favorite producers (along Mutt Lange and George Martin).


I know what you think, and yeah: We really look that good here in Denmark!

About the play list:

Definitely hear the Yes vibe in the Starcastle. Awesome art work on the cover. The track overall is not for me. The Cars track was typical Cars, and it was pretty good. A little more guitar, and less synth would work for me (as always). On a side note, Elliot Easton was an endorser of Kramer guitars back in the 80's.

I have the Foreigner on vinyl, but I dont really recall this song at all. Best track so far, though, and the chorus is a good one. Dont ever recall hearing this Journey, so Scott's "hidden treasure" theme is apparent in this producer post. Not posting hits is a good move, for sure. But the track is almost half over before I hear any guitar. Maybe Schon had the day off when they recorded the first part? But now the tempo and intensity pick up, and this track just improved a lot for me. Very good organ "lead", before Schon starts smoking. Very pleasant surprise on this track.

Never heard this Queen, either. Not much of a Queen fan as you guys may know, even though I've always said the talent level was immense. I like hearing Freddie Mercury using a somewhat lower register on some of the vocals here. Adds some balls to it. Very good guitar lead from Brian May. He gets some great tones out of that same old guitar he always plays. One of the better Queen songs I've heard, for me.

And now, my Roy Thomas Baker story. Some of you may remember my mentioning a great band in Atlanta in the early 80's, by the name of Riggs. The lead singer, lead guitarist, and main songwriter was all Jerry Riggs. Who would end his own band, and join the Pat Travers Band as Pat Thrall's replacement. He stayed with P.T. for at least 10 years.

Anyway, before Riggs ended the band, they were part of a double album, movie soundtrack, by the name of "Heavy Metal". An animated movie from the early 80's that included a lot of "big name" rock n roll. Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Sammy Hagar, Nazareth, Cheap Trick, and Journey. Riggs was one of only two artists to be given two tracks on the double album release. So, it was a big deal, and Riggs was more than just a local band for a while there.

But, the two songs Riggs had on Heavy Metal, were both hard rockers....when heard live. They kicked serious ass. Enter a trip to Miami, and working with Roy Thomas Baker to record these two tracks for the movie soundtrack. Mr. Baker preceded to soften up both tracks, had the band change the chorus and title (only) of one song. The lyrics, outside the chorus, did not change. This track, called "Radar Rider", was once known and played as "Streetwalker". So a song about a "lady of the night" had it's chorus changed, but not its verse lyrics. Kind of made for a strange song, lyrically. The worst part about this whole episode was how two hard rocking, bad ass tracks were made softer, and far less appealing to me by Mr. Baker.

I think without a doubt, the play list here proves that Mr. Baker preferred softer rock, and lots of keyboards. This is neither right nor just is. Wrong to me, but no one asked my opinion. So I give it now, over 30 years later.

An insiders view!  Now that was a cool story!  And I recognize the Riggs tunes as soon as you mentioned them being on the Heavy Metal Soundtrack and you're right, I certainly do not remember them being heavy tunes...

Great read Gordon!!

Niels, when I was reviewing Bakers production credits I totally took notice of all the Gasolin albums he worked on.  My first thought was you!  I've been through their group page on here and listened and tried to get it.  But while this band eludes my understanding there are very entertaining and some of the music is quite cool. 

Starcastle - I like the album cover, did Baker have anything to do with that?  I'm not much of a Yes fan, but this is okay.  Nice guitar.  Saw the vinyl a year or two ago for a buck, should  have picked that up.

The Cars - Outstanding.  Nuff said.

Foreigner - See previous remark for The Cars.  Plus, this is my favorite Foreigner album.

Journey - See previous remark for The Cars and Foreigner.  However, I slightly prefer Evolution.  Schon shreds on this track.

Queen - See previous remark for The Cars, Foreigner and Journey. However, This is one of my least favorite Queen albums.  Maybe because it is sandwiched between my two favorite Queen albums.  But May does shine, as usual, on this track.


Instant update: I listened to Jazz today.  I don't think it's radio friendly at all (other than Fat Bottomed Girls), but I did notice the individual performances.  They are quite remarkable.  Just listen to each musician on the song Dead On Time.  I still wouldn't put the album in my Top 10 for Queen, but I got it much more on this listen than I ever had before

That's DEVIN, not DEVIND. It appears that Scottipedia is as incorrect as Wikipedia.

When I first saw the title, the first band/album that came to mind was Queen's  "Jazz". Very underrated album that gets better and better upon each listen. Don't know why the album would be called "fascist" when it included a posted of nekkid women on bicycles.

Even way back then, "Candy-O" sounded great. However, "Head Games" never really sounded that good on LP or CD. It has always sounded a bit muffled to me but it's one of my favorite Foreigner albums. The Perry/Journey albums sounded better which each album release, with the best sounding being "Escape", at least to my tender ears. 

I have a couple Starcastle albums and they're very "light" sounding. Not much bass. Could be that the CD releases are a bit crappy, or maybe that's how they originally wanted to sound.


Devin Devind - whatevs!

Jazz is cool!  I don't care what anyone else says...


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