“Brian is a consummate musician. A multi-instrumentalist with an incredible vocal range. He is an outstanding songwriter with a highly attuned appreciation of melody, knowing intuitively what's needed to take a good song and make it great.”
Brian Baker is a singer/songwriter/producer living in the Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne, Australia. Brian has a passion for the environment and Buddhism, themes evident in his songs, music and videos. After moving to Australia from New Zealand in 1980, he performed with many Australian bands, securing a Sony recording deal with "The Ones" in 1986 after signing a publishing deal with Rondor Music. Around this time he scored his first song placement on the second Un Canny X-Men album, with the song "Colour Your Answer Blue". After writing and recording top 20 single “Heart” with The Ones he went on to co write the score for the movie "Rikki and Pete" with Eddie Rayner from Split Enz. Eddie and Brian continued to work together as "The Makers", releasing 2 CDs through Warner's East West label, including the hit single and video “Big Picture”. Together with drummer Michael Barker, they toured Australia and New Zealand with the B52's and appeared on TV shows like MTV, Countdown, Hey Hey It's Saturday, Tonight Live and The Midday Show. Brian has performed at countless shows and is writing and recording songs and music at the highest level of his profession. He offers that expertise from his recording studio “The Bakery”, producing other artists, co-writing and assisting with songwriting and recording. He still works closely with Eddie Rayner and has recently re-recorded several Makers tracks along with his excellent new material.
Brian also produces artists in his studio "The Bakery" - bringing out the very best in songs and performances for the likes of Cathy Dobson, Michelle Chandler, Ethan Famer and many more.
A review of Brian's 2020 activity from Stew Clegg.
I started drafting this post a couple of months ago, but due to awesome new tracks being dropped on a regular basis, it kept needing to be updated!
Anyway, Aussie solo artist Brian Baker
is going through a bit of purple patch at the moment, having arguably released some of the best music of his career in 2020.
I would say most members of this group are well aware of Brian Baker. But to recap, he co-wrote the score for the Rikki & Pete soundtrack, which featured Crowded House and Schnell Fenster, before forming The Makers with Split Enz keyboardist Eddie Rayner. Since then he's released a number of underrated solo albums, formed a couple of quality bands, written for other artists and collaborated with musicians such as Eddie and Split Enz reunion drummer Michael Barker.
Back in April, Brian released Grateful, which is one of the most uplifting, catchiest tracks I've heard all year. It was shared to this group earlier in the year, with its two music videos having so far accumulated almost 30,000 views between them on Facebook alone.
A 'Champtaloup Remix' of Grateful dropped the next month, which I also love, despite it having a completely different feel to the original single version. I'm no musicologist, but I would describe it as very stripped back and atmospheric. I've always appreciated hearing songs in a different light.
His next single, released in May, was In Our Backyard, which many people would have heard. This track features the brilliant keyboards of Eddie Rayner, has a Split Enz feel (especially the intro) and to me is another instant classic.
A 'Champtaloup Remix' of In Our Backyard came out a month later. This particular version didn't grab me as much as the Grateful remix but is still an impressive take and very chilled out. And only last month, a new piano and violin version of the song dropped. This is the definition of stripped back and features Robert John on violin. Very Enzso-esque and well worth checking out!
In July, Brian released a brand new version of Green, a song co-written with Eddie Rayner that originally appeared on the first Makers album three decades ago. The original is very atmospheric, lyrically on point, and one of my personal fave songs from the album. Gotta love the middle-eight especially. The lyrics are just as appropriate in 2020 (if not more so) as they were back in 1990, and the new take brings it into a modern age. Another tune to find its way into my listening queue. A new remix of this has also just been released. Dare I say it has a reggae feel? Either way, it re- invents it again and allows it to breathe even more. Highly recommend this one!
Brian released his next single, Willingly, in September. I was lucky enough to hear a demo of this last year, which I fell in love with on first listen. I ended up stumbling upon another version of this song earlier this year, recorded by Irish band The Sweet Sorrows, whose take on the song does Brian's songwriting justice. As expected, Brian's new single version of Willingly is another classic track. While the original demo would have definitely sufficed, the polished version is the dictionary definition of a perfect three-minute acoustic pop-rock song. Fair to say it's been a constant in my playlist since its release.
And last month, Brian's latest single, The Show, was released. This one is more of a ballad, with mild electronic elements, and does a great job showcasing his strong vocals. It's also very well
produced, as are all his songs, and sounds as fresh as anything else at the moment. Brian's recent material has been seeing decent numbers on streaming platforms and radio airplay, but this song is another example of something that deserves to be heard over whatever else the radio stations are playing these days.
Oh, and back in July, Brian released Golden Baby, a three-track single of songs recorded by his former band, Gradual. I'm not sure exactly when these were first laid down, but I imagine within the past year or two. Golden Baby and its b-side, Black Sand Beaches, are a lot heavier than Brian's solo work. Black Sand Beaches is a grower and probably my fave of the three. The sound is actually not too far removed from The Makers. The third track, Here Comes The Sun, is a bit slower, but still very anthemic. And no, it's not a Beatles cover haha, although I'm sure Brian could also do a great version of the George Harrison classic!
You can check all these songs out via Spotify, his YouTube channel, his website and his Brian Baker Songs Facebook page. If Brian's recent output was ever compiled into an album it would make for a killer release!
It's actually incredible to think that in 2020 we are getting such quality new releases from Brian Baker (and Gradual), Crowded House, Forenzics, Neil Finn and Harper Finn. Hell, even Betchadupa released a new (old) single a few months back. And last year we got new albums from Phil Judd, Elroy Finn and a soundtrack from Liam Finn, with 2018 bringing us a new Neil & Liam Finn record, Tim's The Fiery Maze and Eddie Rayner's live ENZO album. We are definitely living in the golden age of Split Enz and its offshoots!