The Vinyl Five:
Arthur Baker

The Vinyl Five Concept

Victrola's monthly series features artists, authors, DJs, producers, athletes, and other cultural icons discussing their five essential albums on wax and beyond—an exploration of individuals' personal soundtracks and the music that inspires them.

Arthur Baker

For this installment of The Vinyl Five we catch up with music producer and legendary disc jockey Arthur Baker. Baker is an industry luminary who has sculpted the sonic landscape of rock, hip hop and electronic music for over four decades. From the streets of Boston to the neon-lit corridors of New York City's famed studios, his journey is as unique as it is groundbreaking. 

With a penchant for pushing boundaries and a relentless pursuit of sonic innovation, Baker has seamlessly woven himself into the fabric of multiple genres, leaving an indelible mark in his wake. From his work with hip-hop icons like Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force to the early sounds of electronic music with New Order to his seminal contributions to the emerging sounds of electronic dance music, Baker's discography is one worth diving into, especially for fans of soul, disco, and electronic music.  

Baker still can be found behind the decks and continues to work in the world of film, radio, and music production. 

1. Quincy Jones - Gula Matari

I somehow discovered Quincy Jones' music in junior high school, probably hearing something on WBCN, my favorite alternative radio station, that played everything and would delve into long tracks. Gala Matari was a favorite of mine; you could get stoned, relax, and lose yourself in it.

Crazily, many years later, I ended up being the music supervisor on Listen Up - The Lives of Quincy Jones documentary, chosen by the producer because of my work on sun city, she not knowing I was a longtime fan of Quincy's early work

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In a world of streaming and almost limitless titles available, why do you think people are going back to vinyl? 

That in a world of streaming, it is nice for people to have physical things they can share (and show off). It seems as if collecting is big with the younger generations. 

Why do these albums mean something to you? 

They take me back to my youth and the magic of making discoveries when everything sounded new because everything was new. 

If you had (or have) your dream vinyl listening room, what would/ does it look like? What would/ does it sound like? 

I've started building my ideal listening room in my garage. I'm still working on the best system for it, but it already includes my Victrola Hi-Res Carbon! All my records and multitrack tapes are there, along with lots of photos, so it's a bit of a museum and recording studio at the same time. 

2. Allman Brothers Band

One of my favorite bands as a kid. I saw them a few times before Duane (and Berry) died in motorcycle crashes.

This album was when they were developing their sound, which ended up coming to fruition with their live at the Filmore East classic. This is more intimate and acoustic. 

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What's your favorite record store? 

Technique Records in Miami is my local, and my friend Mickey owns it. I've DJ'd there several times and sold some of my overstock collection there. He has everything, and it's a chill place to hang. Also, Sweat in Miami is a close second. 

When you shop for records, do you make a plan or just ransack the stacks and hope for the best? 

I stopped picking for a long time, but now I'll go looking for records that I've lost along the way and fill out my 70s/80s disco 12" collection. 

When listening to records, what's your go-to beverage? Whiskey? Wine? Beer? High-end mineral water? Nada? 

I Like a nice full-bodied red—or some strong coffee.  

3. The Kinks- Lola 

I was a Kinks fan, and I've seen them a few times. When Lola came out, it was during the glam explosion, and I was already a fan of their Arthur album (of course).

This album is underrated but worth listening to, with "Lola" being an amazing sonic example of time and space. 

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What is the most important album in your current collection? 

What is the rarest? I'm not really up on what's rare. I've got a Jim Pepper album called Peppers Pow Wowwhich includes one of my favorite songs called "Witchitai-to."

What is the weirdest? 

My Boston Celtics Johnny Most record, which includes his Havlicek stole the ball rant. 

On a 10-scale how much of an audiophile are you really (One: if it sounds ok, I'm ok. Ten: I'm extremely picky and need it to sound just so!)?

I'd say one for my left ear as I’m pretty deaf on that side, right ear is an 8. 

Did you make mixtapes as a kid? 

My mix tapes were my early productions! I did make mix cassette/CDs later to impress girlfriends.

How elaborate were they? 

Not elaborate at all, my music did the talking! 

4. David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars 

Another piece of glam rock, Bowie at his best and most influential. I spent many days blasting this before heading off to school. 

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Did you deck them out with custom ink-work? Fill them with rare grooves? Were they full of your favorites you wanted to share? 

The best one probably was getting Pharaoh Sanders to record an acapella- sax only- version of "The Creator Has A Master Plan" for my then girlfriend's birthday CD. 

Tell us. What are some of your favorite music films or documentaries? 

I love the Iggy Pop documentary American Valhalla, which captured him and the making of the album and tour he did with Josh Homme. It then inspired me to direct my own documentary on my 80s group, Rockers Revenge - On A Mission, which is still unreleased. 

If your career had a soundtrack, what artists would be on it and why? 

Any genres of music that are a hard pass? 

Not a big Trance and commercial "EDM." I am not a big country fan, but occasionally, something country is so soulful you'd have to love it. 

Do you organize your records? If so, how? 

Not really, but I try to organize my 70s/80s 12's singles by label and then alphabetically. 

Any favorite record labels? 

I loved TK and Prelude which were classic disco labels. 

5. Joe Gibbs & The Professionals – African Dub - Chapter 4 (Including Sly & Robbie

I loved dub, and this is an excellent example of it. Growing up in Boston allowed me to hear reggae since we were early supporters of Bob Marley and the great film The Harder They Come

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Besides vinyl or music, what else do you collect? 

I've saved a lot of my own cassettes and press clippings, which have been helpful while writing my memoirs, some autographed baseballs, and a good collection of Downbeat mags, too. 

What new albums or artists do you have in your current rotation that are flipping your lid right now? 

I'm a fan of Yard Act from the UK (I did a vinyl only remix for them on the track Trenchcoat Musem) and just discovered Idles also. 

Headphones or speakers? 

Speakers when available. 

What was your first album (and how did you score it)? 

Crosby Stills and Nash (right when it was released, I think, in May '69. I bought it at my friend's parent's record shop in Needham, Mass, 

Is there any specific person, place, or moment that minted your love of music? 

My mother loved music, especially Frank Sinatra and Broadway musicals, and my dad was a big Nat King Cole fan. They gave me control of the Chevy's radio, too. Also, hearing the cantor and choir at the temple was my first live music experience. 

Catch Arthur Baker:

Bakers Revenge on Studio 54 radio on SiriusXM first airing on Thursday noon and on demand on the SiriusXM app.

DJ sets -  NYC, Miami and Europe this spring and summer. Gigs announced on @arthurhbaker Instagram

Listen to Arthur Baker’s new music on vinyl:

Northend “Can’t Put No Price On Love”

Arthur Baker Presents Dancemasters -  Compilation series on Demon Records:

Shep Pettibone

John Luongo

Arthur Baker

Arthur Baker presents “Breakers Revenge” (Compilation of original B-boy and B-Girl Breakdance classics  from 1975-1984 on Soul Jazz Records. Coming June 24, 2024)

Comosomos- “Miami Rhumba” EP - Coming September 2024

Listen in Hi-Res

As part of our Vinyl Five series, we ask our esteemed participants to play their thoughtfully picked records on a premium Victrola Hi-Res turntable while sharing their thoughts and feelings. Using either wireless aptX™ Adaptive Bluetooth connectivity or wired with a switchable preamp standard RCA outs, Hi-Res turntables provide vinyl listening in stunning clarity.

Learn More about the Hi-Res Series