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Former Cream and Blind Faith stickman Ginger Baker was never my favorite classic-rock drummer. Unlike virtuosic hard hitters like Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham or The Who’s Keith Moon, Baker used his talents for evil, competing with bandmates Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce instead of complementing them by hanging back and taking care of business. Sure, the plodding toms of “Sunshine of Your Love” and cymbal washes of “White Room” are good, but not good in an uplifting way, like Ringo Starr’s childlike drumming. Instead, they’re cool in a disconcerting, horrifying way, like the atomic bomb or the Orcs of Middle Earth. Those terms could also describe Baker’s current state of affairs: Bad vibes followed Baker away from the kit, as made clear in Beware of Mr. Baker, a new documentary directed by D.C. native Jay Bulger. It chronicles the drummer’s move to South Africa, failed personal and professional relationships, descent into drug addiction, and polo-pony ownership. It’s further proof that bad things happen when you use two kick drums.
The film opens Jan. 25 and runs all week at West End Cinema, 2301 M St. NW. $8-$11. (202) 419-3456. westendcinema.com.