Skunk Baxter

Speed of Heat
Skunk Baxter
Jeff Baxter: Joel Manduke.

In no apparent hurry, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter just released his first solo album – at age 73. The guitar flash from Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers brings his six-stringing to the fore, even having the chutzpah to cover “My Old School.” Here, it’s a raucous jam, full of the wild-ass licks Skunk used so well to carve his reputation. Another homage to Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, “Do It Again” is revised as an instrumental, Skunk dropping tasty licks and guitar synthesizer over a cool urban vamp.

Another side of his oeuvre is instro/surf rock, evident in “Ladies from Hell.” It’s instro, yet funky and eclectic in fine Skunk tradition. The oft-covered “Apache” is given an update with synth-y tones and muscular twang. A secret talent, he plays lilting pedal-steel on Bette Midler’s “The Rose,” while Doobie mate Michael McDonald lends blue-eyed soul to “My Place in the Sun,” along with the guitarist’s fabled “orange squeezer” compression tone.

Closing with “Speed of Heat,” Baxter fuses heavy funk and Fagen-like jazz chords with abandon. Throughout this muscular album, you’ll find careening guitar riffs, runs, and twists throughout. Let’s hope it doesn’t take Skunk another 50 years to do it again.

This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

No posts to display