Remembering Mike Baker (09-02-63 / 10-29-08)

One of the few inspiring and original Progressive Metal Bands around with a true innovative and unique style is Shadow Gallery. Their Music has immensely contributed to the modern-metal genre. Wondering what they were up to lately, last night before going to sleep I hooked on the net
and found out very sadly that their main singer Mike Baker had died exactly one year back this day.

Shadow Gallery is an active American Band from Pennsylvania compromising a group of talented multi- instrumentalists and Sound Engineers who formed in the early eighties.

They went under the name of Sorcerer until they came up with their actual moniker. The band recorded their first 8 track demo and were signed shortly after by the specialized New York based label “Magna Carta”. Their rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Time” featured on “Moon Revisited” which contains many of the musicians signed by Magna Carta to tribute the legendary British Progressive pioneers, stands for one of the best covers I have ever heard. Their Music is as intricate as any of Dream Theater’s effort or just as powerful as any Symphony X tune, yet S G’s approach stands high in musicianship and sound. I’ve never been a big fan of either both Bands I cited before, I think of them as parodies of themselves, instead Shadow Gallery’s own characteristic sound set them apart from their peers.

With five albums: Shadow Gallery (1992), Carved in Stone (1995), Tyranny (1998), Legacy (2001), Room V (2005) a compilation; Prime Cuts (2007) and Digital Ghosts which as seen their release in Europe (Magna Carta paradoxically distributes first mostly in Europe due to the lack o interest for the Progressive movement in the US), Digital Ghosts will se the light on November 3, 2009 in America and features new singer Brian Ashland. Combining the sound of Steve Vai, the technical and classical approach of Ingwie Malmsteen and the forceful power of Iron Maiden and Queensr¥che, Shadow Gallery’s Music is such a piece of jewelry not to be missed, long songs, complex structures and conceptual story lines are given a fair treat on each of their works, Tyranny specifically its the origin of an amazing journey which was followed later in Room V.

Mike Baker died of heart failure on October 29 2008 just when the band had demoed a few tracks which were the Embryo to their recent release not yet out in the United States, his voice will be long remembered as he will be missed, another strange fact of the US Music Industry poorly distributed and handled is that despite each member have appeared on different collaborations, they are normal human beings, paying houses, attending family matters, facts in life that are good enough reason to understand why they had never performed live for a period of about 15 years until when the “Room five” album was released in 2005. I have no idea if they have after that album, consequently then, they are a “Studio Band” current original members: Gary Wehrkamp - Piano, guitars, keyboards, vocals, Brendt Allman - Guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals, Carl Cadden-James - Bass, vocals, flute, fretless bass, Joe Nevolo – Drums and Brian Ashland – Vocals hopefully will continue to make more soulful albums, we still have Carl Cadden James as a side main singer but Mike Baker shone at his own, versatile powerful and original in all senses, there’s no doubt his spirit will live on forever. Rest In Peace Mike.

Previous Album's Songs Recommended: War for Sale (Tyranny), Hope for us (Tyranny), Christmas Song (Tyranny), Destination Unknown (Legacy), Society of the Mind (Legacy), Legacy, Comfort Me (Room V), Torn (Room V), The Andromeda Strain (Room V).

Rodrigo Trupp


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