Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pounding the Skins

Doug:  Pretty simple question today, kids:  name your favorite drummer, or perhaps your favorite song featuring some awesome backbeating.  Do you go for that confident, enhancing sound -- professional, creating a foot-tapping in all of us, akin to Ringo Starr or Charlie Watts?  Or do you prefer a bit more of a virtuoso (drawing attention to the percussion in its own right), such as Neil Peart of Rush?  Hey, maybe "your guy" (or gal) isn't in the public eye so much -- maybe you're partial to a song or songs that feature a studio musician.  At any rate, today let's talk about our favorite beats.



Edo Bosnar said...

Can't say I have an absolute favorite drummer, since there's so many good ones, but Peart is definitely up there. But then again, so are the tragically departed Mssrs. Bonham and Moon.
Another favorite of mine who's much less well known is Bill Bruford, the drummer for Yes on their first five or six albums (and he also played with King Crimson for a while). He brought a kind of jazz style to all of his work, and like the rest of the prog rock guys, he wasn't afraid to experiment.

Anonymous said...

I always think that the punk rock bands had more interesting drummers (or more interesting drumming at least) than the prog rockers. Don’t get me wrong, Nick Mason is a great drummer, but when you’re playing vast, ponderous, stadium friendly anthemic rock, you don’t get to do a lot of intricate multi-layered rhythms.

I’d call Keith Moon a percussionist rather than a drummer, as it was always John Entwhistle who kept the rhythm while Keith just battered, pulverised and occasionally exploded his kit.

Apparently, Karen Carpenter was an absolutely superb drummer, very highly regarded by Buddy Rich and other legends. And she always regarded herself as a drummer who sang rather than the angelic singer that we all think of. I guess ‘We’ve only just begun’ didn’t exactly lend itself to a ten minute drum solo.

I never had much time for Ringo, but I do remember when I played in a band, we were learning Ticket to Ride and the moment when the drummer suddenly cracked the drum riff, the whole song suddenly fell into place and we realised it was ALL about the drumming.

Ultimately, I think I’d go for Max Weinberg. I’m always astonished by how tiny his kit is, and yet he produces the mightiest noise ever and holds together the rhythm for a relatively very large band playing everything from intricate piano & string pieces to all-out thrashing rock. I refer you the live version of Born to Run, basically played with 3 skins.


david_b said...

You want style..?? Check out Micky Dolenz on 'Circle Sky' the LIVE version, Salt Lake City, 1968. You typically hear only the studio musician version, which is lame. The live Monkees version has the most stylish, explosive drumming, a tad like Moon in 'A Quick One' from Stones 'Rock&Roll Circus'. Sorry, but it's near-perfection.., from a non-professional, no less.

It's been said Micky could do great stuff, but typically he found it hard to repeat it consistently.

I like Charlie Watts quite a bit, subtle, yet as a band, Keith's said often that he can't launch into a song properly without seeing Charlie's leg go down on the bass drum, even after 50some years. In many ways, Charlie is KEY to the Stones. He fancies himself more of a jazz drummer, which is why he enjoys his own 'orchestra' when not touring with those other guys.

Like most musicians, you either love 'em for 'pure attitude', or technical competence. Seeing Ringo back in '63 on those Anthology DVDs, hammering the skins is a beautiful site to behold. Pure unbridled energy.

'Ticket to Ride'..? Absolutely, also 'Rain' and 'Tomorrow Never Knows' for hypnotic drumming.

Doug said...

Well, I didn't think Karen Carpenter's name would come up today... I unabashedly love Karen Carpenter. "Angelic voice" is so true. When I hear her sing, I'm six years old again and my mom is playing her LPs on our huge console hifi.

Can we talk about drummers without talking about our own silly selves playing the air drums? Of course, who doesn't do that on "In the Air Tonight", right? I love the intros. to Cheap Trick's "Ain't That a Shame" on the Budokan album -- Bun E. Carlos ain't the best, but that's fun, especially in the car. Of course Peart's intro. to "The Spirit of Radio" makes one use a whole lot of air space, and Alex Van Halen's growling intro. to "Hot for Teacher" almost sounds like a motorcycle revving up. Great fun!


Anonymous said...

Ah yes, Neil Peart! How many times did I listen to Rush's All the World's a Stage Live album in anticipation of Geddy Lee saying "Ladies and gentlemen, the Professor on the drum kit."

Much love for Moon as well.


david_b said...

Oh, terribly sorry, forgot to provide accolades for Max Weinberg..

Not a big Springstein fan, but LOVE Mr. Weinberg through and through. Great funny personality as well, perfect for Conan's show.

Big impressive drum sets are fine, but I'm MORE a fan of the 'less-is-more' idea, and yes Max does amazing stuff.

Ah, but lest we not forget the unmatched drummer lineage for Spinal Tap over the years as well, casting a dark shadow on all heavy metal drummers, especially the bizarre gardening accident.. Drummers didn't seem to last long in that group.

Karen said...

As someone who used to drum in my younger years, I've always had a great appreciation for Stewart Copeland of the Police. He too comes from that jazz background, and I think that's why he's able to handle such complicated rhythms. I've always been impressed too by his use of his cymbals; he just seems to be able to incorporate them so well into his playing, whether he's using a crash or ride, sticks or brushes. To top it all off, he's also punched Sting, which is something I would pay to see.

david_b said...

Doug, not to hijack, but we'll definitely need a day on Karen and Richard Carpenter..

You can't adequately discuss Bronze greatness without them playin' on the radio.

Steve Does Comics said...

I don't pay that much attention to drummers but the ones who've tended to catch my ear have been Ringo Starr from that group, Clem Burke from Blondie, and Budgie from Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Come to think of it, they all played for groups that began with a "B". Coincidence? Or the fickle finger of fate weaving its strange magic?

cerebus660 said...

I'd have to go for Moon and Bonham ( obviously ), the mighty Max Weinberg, Clem Burke, Lars Ulrich from Metallica, and one of the most underrated drummers in the business - David Lovering from Pixies.

J.A. Morris said...

I like all those guys, but I have to go with Ringo. Lots of great work, only one real solo, without Ringo they Beatles would've been good, but nowhere near what they became. That's the ultimate tribute to a musician.

But my "sentimental" favorite drummer would have to be the drummer in these videos, Johnny "Paradiddle Joe" Morris. In addition to being a great Big Band era drummer, he was my great uncle and gave my grandfather his first "real" job as road manager:



Hoosier X said...

I don't usually post on the non-comics threads here, but I had to check this one to see if Stewart Copeland was getting his share of the love.

Way to go, Karen!

You rock!

Anonymous said...

As a lifelong drummer, the list of influences is long.

John Bonham, Stewart Copeland, Palmer, Peart, Bozzio, Bruford, Buddy Rich, DeJohnette, Benny Greb, Dennis Chambers, Vinny C., Joey Baron, Keith Carlock, Antonio Sanchez, Jojo Mayer. I could go on and on.

Stewart and Neil will always be my sentimental favorites for style and originality.

Rock out.

Anonymous said...

Karen, you have great musical taste! Yeah I'm a Stewart Copeland fan too. His distinctive staccato drumwork on the classic Police albums really made that band have a unique sound. While Sting might have been the voice of the police it was Stewart Copeland's drums which drove their sound.

I remember watching an old 80s TV series called the Equalizer with Edward Woodward. When I hear the theme music I thought "Hey, that sounds a lot like Stewart Copeland's drumming!" Lo and behold, it really was him! He did the soundtrack to that TV series.

Hmm ... gotta go and load some more Police on to my Mp3 player.

- Mike from Trinidad and Tobago.

Anonymous said...

Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Buddy Rich...these guys could drum rings around any rock/pop drummer.


Garett said...

Add me in with Stewart Copeland.

Chris said...

I can't believe no ones's mentioned Ian Paice from Deep Purple. He waa constantly top of the favourite drummers poll in Rock Mags here in the UK in the late 70s/ early 80s.

And I thought Purple were as popular over the pond as they were here in the UK. Great band - and Ian's still drumming for them which is some achievement!

Also have to add my "vote" for Clem Burke. What energy!

Edo Bosnar said...

Anonymous above reminded me of a drummer I often forget as well, although he's truly one of the greats: Terry Bozzio. Any drummer who can play Zappa's Black Page is a master...

Rip Jagger said...

It's no doubt because I've been listening to Tres Hombres in the last few weeks, but I'd have to add Frank Beard's name into the mix. He locks down that trio of dynamite which was once upon a time (and still might be) ZZ Top!

Rip Off

david_b said...

Couple of closing comments..

Having played in various local line-ups and gigs over the years, I've gotten a few drummers look at us guitarists and be somewhat in awe of musical versatility. I always told them that 'All guitarists are simply frustrated drummers'.

They always got a huge pick-up from that, not sure why but glad to assist.

Also, when I pick new songs to cover, one cardinal rule I always lived by is, 'Never Let the Drummer Get Bored..'.

Edo Bosnar said...

Ever since this was posted, I keep thinking to myself, "there's someone I'm forgetting," and a few minutes it just came to me: Mike Shrieve. I particularly like his work on Santana's first half-dozen albums, but I think he became a drumming legend right off the bat due to that solo during the performance of "Soul Sacrifice" at Woodstock when he was only about 19-20 years old.

Anonymous said...

Doug said...
Well, I didn't think Karen Carpenter's name would come up today...

I must admit, I did feel I was holding my credibility in both hands as I typed that.


Karen said...

I'll second Budgie from Siouxsie and the Banshees. His work on "Spellbound" instantly comes to mind.

Edo mentioned Bill Bruford and he's another really talented guy, capable of some complicated work. I remember seeing his album, "Feels Good to Me," drawn into X-Men Annual #3, I'm assuming by inker Terry Austin. It's sitting on a table in the room where Cyclops and Nightcrawler are talking. I had to work a comics connection in here somehow!

Anonymous said...

Oh, man.... Budgie was a huge early influence on my drumming. "Happy House" was an eye-opener. There's an interview with Stewart Copeland where he talks about a recording project during which he discovered the tape he was taping on had rhythm tracks from some Banshees session on it. He slowed down (or sped up) one of Budgies beats and used it somewhere. (maybe a soundtrack he did?, not on the Klark Kent album, that's for sure.)

In any case, can someone post a link to a tune in which Stewart employed brushes? Aside from a waltz on the "Rumble Fish" soundtrack, I can't think of any work....soundtrack or Police track which features brush work.

Rock out.

Anonymous said...

hard to pick just one, but whenever I think of the ultimate drum song, it's "A Quick One While He's Away", Keith Moon just goes nuts on every version I've ever heard.

Gotta send a shout out to Meg White (White Stripes), I miss you Meg.


Joseph said...

Keith Moon is absolutely #1 for me. #2 - Janet Weiss
#3 - Neil Peart
#4 - John Bonham

Tony said...

There's no question Neil Peart is #1, followed by Stewart Copeland and Phil Collins and Levon Helm. I can't believe no one mentioned Phil and Levon. Who the hell is Janet Weiss?

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