Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Best Drum Songs

Blah blah. No drum solos here. Just great tracks by my faves. Sorry, no Neil Peart or Phil Collins. They just don't make the cut. Also, apologies for any shoptalk. You'll figure it out. In no order...

Dave Weckl Band - "Tower '99" - Dave Weckl - A master's master. My favorite "chops" guy. Yes, I am biased because I knew him when he was a student at UB back in the day. I did double drums with him on one tune at a club. I wasn't embarrassed or humiliated. I did attempt to slit my wrists later. Check the song out here.

Lee Michaels - "Do You Know What I mean?" - Bartholomew Eugene Smith-Frost. Yes. Just "Frosty" and Hammond. That's it. And that last fill--one of the best ever. And no toms! Listen here.

The Rascals - "Do You Feel It?" - Dino Danelli - I have written this before, but he was the guy who helped me fall in love with drumming. Check out the snot and swagger. Pundits say Ginger Baker was the first "star" drummer. I say Dino. Period. Nobody played like that back then. Only a handful do now.  Listen here

The Fifth Dimension - "Save the Country" - Hal Blaine - Here's the guy who invented the studio drummer. Listen to how he shifts gears (for the whole band) between syncopation and straight time. I know master drummers who can't pull this off. Oh, this tune wasn't a big hit? Try "Bridge over Troubled Waters" or "California Dreamin'". He has more gold records than anybody. Listen here.

Tower of Power - "Squib Cakes" - David Garibaldi - The guy who taught me funk. See the control--how he lariats this big semi and can make it howl or whisper. Plus a great Hammond flight by original ToP member Chester Thompson. Listen here.

Rickie Lee Jones - "Chuck E's in Love" - Steve Gadd - A glorious, swampy half-time shuffle sidles into full-time in the choruses. And that fill after the breakdown? Jaysus. Listen here.

Sting - "Seven Days" - Vinnie Colaiuta - An exquisite foray into 5/4 time. There are many renowned drummers who could never cop this feel. Civilians, get your minds out of the Maidenform; this is music talk. Listen here.

Steely Dan - "Gaucho" - Jeff Porcaro - Just dig the beautiful dovetailing by all players on this track. That breath on the "and" after 1. And the late JP holds it together with consummate technique, style and nuance. Listen here.  One of two who are not with us anymore (1992). Yes, and there's also that fabulous half-time shuffle on "Rosanna" by Toto.

Yes - "Roundabout" - Bill Bruford - The pioneer of prog rock drumming ... and still the best. I don't think he hits a tom in the entire song. Tons of bottom-feeding, double-bass, paid-by-the-note drummers couldn't carry his stick bag. A star drummer (who has played on multi-platinum albums) once bragged to me, "I've got a sample of Bill Bruford's snare from 'Roundabout'." Listen here.

Aretha Franklin "Rock Steady" - Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - Oh yes. Pushin', shovin', smokin'. With the inimitable Chuck Rainey on bass.  Listen here.

Carly Simon - "Anticipation" - Andy Newmark - A hallmark drummer with tons of credits. And few know his name. Those fills fit the song so well. And no splashy, crashy cymbals, either.  Listen here.

The Beatles "With a Little Help from My Friends" - Ringo Starr - Could've gone with "Ticket to Ride," but here's where Mr. Starkey treats the world to their first taste of Pepper Rolls--those wonderfully syncopated, jaggy fills. Easy to duplicate, sure. But he invented them.  Listen here.

Rod Stewart - "(I Know I'm) Losing You" - Mickey Waller - Nasty, loose, sloppy shit that works splendidly. Just flips, flops and flies, but the wheels never fall off. RiP, Mr. Waller (2008). Listen here

Honorable mention:
The Police - "Roxanne" - Stewart Copeland
Little Feat - "Dixie Chicken" - Richie Hayward (RiP)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Little Wing" - Mitch Mitchell (RiP)
Paul Simon - "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" - Steve Gadd

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