K-Chuck Radio: The Arthur Baker Groove System

If you’ve never heard of Arthur Baker, you’ve missed out on a lot.  In the early 1980’s, the New York City producer was at the top of the club and dance music scene.  He created and operated Streetwise Records, which had a number of Top 10 R&B and dance hits, and he eventually crossed over to mainstream pop and rock.  His beats are instantaneously recognizable … trust me, you’ll know an Arthur Baker beat when you hear it.

And on K-Chuck Radio today, let’s show off a few Arthur Baker dance tracks – including rare 12″ remixes – for your enjoyment.

And let’s start with …

AFRIKA BAMBAATAA AND SOULSONIC FORCE
Planet Rock

This track mixed New York City hip-hop with German minimalist beats – even threw in a lyrical shoutout to Kraftwerk – and became a monster hit in 1982.  It also launched the Tommy Boy label to prominence.

PLANET PATROL
Play At Your Own Risk

And while Planet Rock was racing up the charts, Arthur Baker took the leftover sections from the Planet Rock recording sessions, hired some vocalists (including former Temptations member Melvin Franklin) and raced up the R&B charts with this electro-funk hit.

ROCKERS REVENGE
Walking On Sunshine

This was originally written by and recorded by Eddy Grant, prior to Grant’s success with Electric Avenue.  Baker hired a New York City band, Rockers Revenge, to perform an electro-reggae version of the song.  This, and Rockers Revenge’s follow-up, a cover of Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come, dominated dance clubs in the early 1980’s.

NEW ORDER
Confusion

Straight off their international success with Blue Monday, the British group collaborated with Arthur Baker and John Robie to create this awesome dance track.

FREEEZ
I. O. U.

Freeez was another Arthur Baker studio collaboration, featuring British vocalist John Rocca and plenty of digital synth magic.  And yes, this is the song, where the Korg Polysynth actually “sings the alphabet.”  Cool stuff.

FACE TO FACE
10-9-8

And if Arthur Baker was having this kind of super-success on independent New York City 12″ dance labels, what would happen if he got his mitts on major label artists?  Well, he did give struggling artists Face to Face a Top 40 hit and a Top 10 dance track with this mix.

DIANA ROSS
Swept Away

Not to be confused with the Lina Wertmuller 1970’s art film, this track helped Diana Ross earn a #1 dance hit in the 1980’s.  The track was actually co-produced by Arthur Baker and Daryl Hall, and you can even hear Daryl Hall as one of the background vocalists in the track.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND
Dancing In The Dark

Once you get established, suddenly you’re now wanted by every record company to put your own personal spin on established hits.  And that’s what happened when Arthur Baker remixed Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” as a “Master Blaster” remixed dance club version.

DARYL HALL AND JOHN OATES
Out of Touch

Remember when Daryl Hall backed up Diana Ross on that “Swept Away” single a few tracks ago?  Yep, Arthur Baker helped produce this Top 10 hit for Hall and Oates, and here’s the 12″ dance mix.

JOHN ROCCA
I Want It To Be Real

And if you remember that Freeez track from a few videos ago, here’s the lead singer of that studio group, John Rocca, getting the Arthur Baker treatment for his own solo hit.

Okay, that was fun… a great way to rev up for the day.  So enjoy today’s K-Chuck Radio blast from the past, and have a great day!

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