A hitherto “unknown” icon of the instrument….
Along with guitarist Norman Harris and drummer Earl Young, bassist Ronnie Baker anchored “The Sound of Philadelphia” which produced scores of hits in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. A combination of funk and rhythm & blues with pop songcraft enhanced by an orchestral / big-band backdrop; “Philly Soul,” TSOP, or simply the “Philadelphia Sound” achieved massive cross-over appeal.
Anonymous to most record buyers and Top 40 AM radio devotees as Philadelphia International and similar labels were notorious for omitting musician credits, Baker was also a producer, composer, and arranger. In fact, Ronnie was the legendry songwriting / production team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s go-to session cat.
A James Jamerson disciple, Ronnie adhered mostly to outlining the changes in a traditional manner (1/3/5/7), and unlike James, kept his harmonic extensions and grace notes to a minimum. As such, he afforded space aplenty for Harris and Young to groove, and for the horns, strings, and vocalists to do their thing.
A Baker’s dozen of Ronnie’s iconic credits included Labelle, Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, The O’Jays, Billy Paul, The Spinners, The Stylistics, MFSB, Blue Magic, The Trammps, Archie Bell & the Drells, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Laura Nyro, Johnny Nash …
Ronnie Baker Sound & Vision….
The Spinners “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” https://youtu.be/xttw2AHaNFE
The Spinners “I’ll Be Around” https://youtu.be/AOgfQoEUNHI
Tony Senatore’s rendition of The Spinners “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” https://youtu.be/Tpa6jvL70Vo
Tony Senatore’s rendition of The Spinners “I’ll Be Around” https://youtu.be/4tDyE7nfXZY
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes “Bad Luck” https://youtu.be/mykhgDJvp6g
Billy Paul “Brown Baby” https://youtu.be/lTD8IcRlknM
O’Jays “Back Stabbers” https://youtu.be/RmXRQ3vfzcA
Dig this clip of “Love Train” from Soul Train with the O’Jays lip-synching atop Ronnie’s groove https://youtu.be/QyT9jTW7MHc
Laura Nyro and LaBelle “Gonna Take A Miracle” https://youtu.be/5CoN9PyoU80
Laura Nyro and LaBelle “Monkey Time / Dancing in the Street” https://youtu.be/nyREgIqMCcU
Wilson Pickett “Engine #9” https://youtu.be/Geb7kUnKDzc