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Beware of Mr. Baker [UK] Blu-ray Review

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Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

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Journalist and documentarian Jay Bulger gives us an interesting, and often maddening look at the life of living legend Ginger Baker, the era-defining drummer who played with Cream, Blind Faith, Fela Kuti, and Masters of Reality. In Beware of Mr. Baker, Bulger convinces the cantankerous, often violent, and notoriously difficult to get along with Baker to sit for interview, as Bulger gives us a detailed examination of his life and career, spanning the musician’s childhood, right up to his difficult present. Friends, family, and acquaintances all chime in with their thoughts, accolades, criticisms, and remembrances, everyone from Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and all four of Baker’s ex and current wives. Bulger manages to keep this documentary interesting as well, mixing the usual live action interviews and archival footage up with animated sequences portraying various moments in Baker’s life. It all helps to make this very entertaining, as does Baker’s own antagonistic interview, at every turn trying to avoid, but somehow still answering the really tough questions.

Humorous, enlightening, and, frankly, an often frightening look into the life and music of a man who always truly identified with jazz more than rock and roll, this is perhaps one of the best “rockumentaries” to come down the pike in a long while.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

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Beware of Mr. Baker arrives with an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from Curzon that, like most documentaries of this sort, is from multiple sources that don’t always align as far as the quality goes, therefore the image just varies. The high definition interview segments and animated sequences look really good, with rich details and natural flesh tones, although one can spot some color banding there. Some older film footage and standard definition video sequences look well below that level of quality, however. On the whole, this a solid transfer that presents this documentary in a good light.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

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This is provided with a strong lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack that offers and punchy and dynamic sound for the musical clips with good ambience. There are a few moments with discrete foley effects panned through the surround channels as well, such where Baker talks about African drums, and his voice pings around the room with a psychedelic effect, or in another scene where he talks about speeding out of Nigeria in his Range Rover and we hear the sounds of gunshots pinging through the room. Dialogue is full and natural. A LPCM 2.0 stereo (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is also included that is not as interesting as the 5.1 mix, but works just as well.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

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The original theatrical trailer (1080p/24) is the only extra included.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

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As if to prove that he is still somewhat unstable and a living force, this documentary wraps up with Ginger Baker hitting his interviewer, Jay Bulger, in the nose with his cane. “Beware of Mr. Baker”, indeed. If that isn’t enough to convince you that this will be one lively look into one of the more interesting (and still alive) characters in the musical world, then I don’t know what is.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00CFL5598[/amazon-product]

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[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00CFL5598[/amazon-product]

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