Let There Be Drums

As Terry Bozzio explains in his introduction to “The Black Page“, the modern trap drum set is a very young invention (it was first created in the 1700s), and little has been taught at the post-secondary or university level about it and even less actually written for it. I recall just missing the opportunity to meet Ansley Dunbar in the mid-90s when he was in town teaching a workshop in Jazz Drumming to Jazz students at a local community college (I’m still kicking myself, even now).

The following ten tracks include some of my favorite drummers, drum solos and drum oriented tracks (I’d be interested what other drummers, solos, and tracks KUR readers have as favorites):

Terry Explains – Terry Bozzio (Oosterpoort, Groningen, NL, 4 Apr 2001)

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The Black Page – Terry Bozzio (Oosterpoort, Groningen, NL, 4 Apr 2001)

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Electric Cheese – Mats & Morgan (The Teenage Tapes, 1998)

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Uncle Meat – Kroumata Percussion Ensemble (Roots, Avantgarde & Freaks, Kulturhuset, Stockholm, 3 Feb 1996)

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Awakening – Mahavishnu Orchestra (Inner Mounting Flame, 1971)

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Moby Dick – Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin II, 1969)

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Stratus – George Duke/Billy Cobham Band (McAlister Auditorium, New Orleans, 18 Feb 1976)

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Drum Solo – The Tubes (What Do You Want From Live, 1978)

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The Orange County Lumber Truck – The Grandmothers (Eating The Astoria, 1998)

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Let There Be Drums – The Tubes (Wild In London, 2005)

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22 Responses to “Let There Be Drums”

  1. peter says:

    I think the most memorable drum solo I witnessed live had to be by Calvin Weston when he was a member of the Lounge Lizards, circa 1987. Other greats: Drumbo & Jaki Liebezeit. I’ve always liked what Ed Blackwell did in a group context, too.

  2. Harry Barris says:

    Wow, Peter, you have superb taste mentioning the great Edward Blackwell! Ornette’s live ‘Friends And Neighbors’ record features some wonderful drumming from Blackwell, and he is loud and clear in the mix for a change! Also, Don Cherry’s Symphony For Improvisers features prime Blackwell. He’s one of my favorite ‘jazz’ drummers along with Kenny Clarke, Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey, etc. But i better not get into jazz or there will be the inevitable comments of “….smells funny”!
    In the more ‘rock’ world, of course there’s the drums & percussion only live version of Cheepnis with Ralph, Chester (& Ruth) in late ’73. Chester has many great moments of drum soloing live in ’74 at the end of Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing? Chester’s and Phil Collins’ “drum duets” from Genesis live concerts. Barriemore Barlow’s solo on Conundrum and any live Tull show with him from the ’70s, Carl Palmer (obviously!) ripping it up on Karn Evil 9 (etc.) during ELP’s heyday. Narada Michael Walden live with McLaughlin, and Tommy Bolin, and on Jeff Beck’s Led Boots. Bill Bruford on acoustic (and electronic drums) on numerous great recordings. Keith Moon up through Quadrophenia. Mike Clark with The Headhunters on Actual Proof. that’s enough for now, thankfully.

  3. peter says:

    Thanks for the compliment, HB.
    On a jazz drummer note, Joe Chambers is someone Zappa fans should definitely look into for his compositions. His best material is to be found on a bunch of Bobby Hutcherson records from the 60s.

  4. sjz says:

    Don’t forget Professor Graves.

    Or Tatsuya Nakatani

    Or Sunny Murray

    Or Zach Hill

    And most of all, don’t forget Joe!

  5. Harry Barris says:

    Hey sjz, now that’s a Joe we can honor!
    (forget about Joe the Plumber and Joe the “vaultmeister”!)

  6. fit of an imposition says:

    is part two of the Drum World show with Ruth and the guys up yet?

  7. A Tinseltown Aficionado says:

    I used to like the sound of John Marshall…

  8. Robert says:

    Is it just me or is Bozzio delivering here the lamest and dullest sounding rendition of The Black Page #1 ever?

  9. jane23 says:

    I thought this rendition of the black page was without any energy.
    Lackluster performance.

  10. Hugh says:

    I guess my first unforgettable drum moment were those old jungle movies when suddenly you heard the sound of bongos in the distance and the guide with the machete would comment that the ”natives were restless”.
    I was 6 or 7 when I first saw Gene Krupa on TV in “The Glenn Miller Story” starring Jimmy Stewart. I thought, this guy is really working that kit and swing music is pretty nifty. And speaking of the jungle check out Gene in “Jungle Madness”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRwu1ZNaQ7w
    A year or two later, staying up late watching Johnny Carson, I catch Buddy Rich making those complex moves on his drums look so easy. Check out Buddy battle Tonight Show drummer Ed Shaughnessy on Carson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNhnioNNIPI

    But there’s nothing like being there. And I’ve been fortunate to have witnessed some incredible drummers over the years (some mentioned by you).
    The stand outs are:
    Bozzio with Missing Persons @ Beacon Theater (first tour ‘82?) His kit (kit? That’s a joke, how about drummer’s arsenal?) was front and center and even with his wife singing half naked (oh Dale, I loved that see-thru bubble bra) right next to him, it was difficult not to watch Terry Ted. He was in his prime and it was his band and there was no doubting who the star of the show was. Here’s a clip but you really had to be there. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIcWxFR4uh0

    I already mentioned Billy Cobham as a favorite with Jack Bruce & Friends at Bottom Line 1980. It was a small club and I was about 15 feet away from those Tama double bass drums thumping away like a machine (truly a drumming marvel) And sings too!. Check them out here (I can‘t believe there‘s video of this short-lived band!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0Usx-JWYRc&NR=1

    UrbanG, I’m sure you know of your country-man guitarist Pat Travers? In the early ‘80s, Travers seemed to pop up as the opening act for every other show I would attend. Pat’s drummer at that time was Tommy Aldridge. Tommy would do an unusual drum solo with part of it done BARE handed! Symbols and all. A sight to behold. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watchv=KSml0DmWgSk&feature=related

    As far a BAND drum solo, the award goes to Gentle Giant during the song So Sincere at the Calderone Concert Hall 1980 (last tour). Nothing like 5 Englishman beating the crap out of a drum set. Very tribal and loads of fun to watch. Too bad I couldn’t find a visual.
    Drum solo starts at 5:00 minute mark. Just audio, no video available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e77uKxGq9AQ

    You folks have some interesting and varied taste above. I look forward to exploring these musicians. Thanks.

    UrbanG, I enjoyed the clips, especially “Stratus”. An excellent performance.
    Is there a more recognizable drum solo than “MOBY DICK”? I don’t think so. Bonham has a sound that is all his own.
    But I was told by a friend that when Bonzo played that song in ‘79 at the Garden, a good part of the audience took a pee break!
    Sorry for the lengthy post, but you asked.

  11. urbangraffito says:

    At first, Hugh, I wavered as to whether to include MOBY DICK in this post because it’s such a popular piece. I decided to include it for that very reason anyway. I never tire of it in all the years, and all the various versions of it that I have heard. That certainly says something about Bohham’s drumming.

  12. jane23 says:

    MOBY DICK: What is so compelling about Moby Dick?
    I think it is that the bass guitar is what is really keeping the rythmn.
    John Bonham’s accents during the main theme of the composition are all over the place which is what makes the piece interesting. And that would be true for many drum solos. It is how far you can stray from the beat without totally losing it that makes a drum solo stand out.

  13. Hugh says:

    I think of Moby Dick & The Black Page more as songs than solos, because those beats are burned into my mind as much as any other regular song.
    Putting, basically a drum solo track on your second STUDIO album (Zeppelin II) is an interesting choice. I guess when you have a unique drummer like Bonham, why not not let him shine?

  14. Alex says:

    Um, why hasn’t “Toad” by The Cream been thrown into this discussion yet? Fantastic and captivating for all 16 minutes – a rarity for any sort of drum solo.

    Take it from me, I’m a drummer. I generally don’t like drum solos lasting more than 30 seconds, probably because I’ll admit I don’t have the improvisational chops to keep it up that long (that’s what she said).

  15. Steve says:

    Second you on “Toad” – that’s a live performance from “Wheels of Fire” — great performance.

  16. potatohead Peccary says:

    A quote from peter:

    Thanks for the compliment, HB.
    On a jazz drummer note, Joe Chambers is someone Zappa fans should definitely look into for his compositions. His best material is to be found on a bunch of Bobby Hutcherson records from the 60s.

    Joe Chambers drum solo on track #2 of Freddie Hubbard’s Breaking Point.

  17. jane23 says:

    I wanna hear Caravan with a drum sola.

  18. jonnybutter says:

    A quote from Robert:

    Is it just me or is Bozzio delivering here the lamest and dullest sounding rendition of The Black Page #1 ever?

    Actually, I sort of liked it. No, it didn’t have the fire of the ZLNY version, but it was very precise and clear. A different perspective on the piece.

  19. Alex says:

    Live or the studio version on ‘Fresh Cream’, both sound great.

    There’s also “Cobwebs And Strange” by The Who; it’s worth noting that Keith Moon hated drum solos.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VvhJfRiNZo

  20. Pablo Contursi says:

    Great links.
    One of my favorite drums solos is that one Trilok Gurtu recorded on “Mother Tongues”, from the CD “Live at the Royal Festival Hall” by the John McLaughlin Trio.
    But there are also too many good drum solos by Tony Williams and Elvin Jones and Vinnie Colaiuta and… !

  21. Pablo Contursi says:

    (When I said “great links” I was thinking on all those green letters, but yes, I can see that the tracks are embedded on the page).

  22. Hugh says:

    A quote from Alex:

    Keith Moon hated drum solos.

    I’m not surprised Moonie hated to solo, considering he put a solo’s worth of effort into every song.
    It a shame I missed him live. :(

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