Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Drum Solos Are Boring!

As you know, I love everything in the world, with the exception of three things. One of those things that I love is drum solos (of the 1960s).

So here, in chronological order, are my top 10 drum solos of the 1960s:

1. Toad - Cream (Ginger Baker) December 1966 

When the notoriously unpleasant Ginger Baker wasn't threatening his bandmate Jack Bruce with a knife or battling heroin addiction, he was thundering his way through solos with a pioneering use of two bass drums. Toad is one of the earliest recorded rock drum solos, a piece of musical history from the original supergroup.

2. Cold Sweat - James Brown (Clyde Stubblefield) July 1967

The 1960s saw the origins not only of hard rock, but also of funk. No single individual has greater claim to popularising funk music than James Brown, who in amongst his various noises shouts "Give the drummer some!" in the middle of the extremely funky Cold Sweat, to which drummer Clyde Stubblefield responds with a particularly groovy mini-solo.

3. My Generation - The Who (Keith Moon) September 1967

Keith Moon hated drum solos, once reportedly stopping mid-gig to yell "Drum solos are boring!" So this isn't actually a drum solo, but it's my blog so shut up. The Who were known for destroying their instruments on stage, and Keith Moon, another early adopter of the double kick drum, would load his kit with cherry bombs to make it blow up. For their performance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Moon used considerably more explosives than usual, resulting in an unforgettable climax to My Generation that caused a momentary break in transmission, singed Pete Townshend's hair and left Moon with shrapnel in his arm. So-called rock bands of today take note, this is how it's done.

4. Catfish Blues - The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Mitch Mitchell) October 1967

Recorded at the BBC, this unbelievably cool Jimi Hendrix cover of Robert Petway's Catfish Blues features a very nice drum solo by Mitch Mitchell. Admittedly I just wanted to include Mitch Mitchell, because his name is Mitch Mitchell. 

5. Alligator - Grateful Dead (Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart) January 1968

Is it still a solo if there are two drummers? That's one for the philosophers. All I know is how hard it is to pick a Grateful Dead drum solo from one of the travelling hippy troupe's 2,300 odd gigs. And I mean odd. But this Alligator drum break in Seattle is a prime example of Bill Kreutzmann's rhythms and Mickey Hart's percussion forming the centrepiece of a typically psychadelic jam. Not bad considering they were all higher than Snoop Dogg watching 2001: A Space Odyssey.

6. Channel One Suite - The Buddy Rich Big Band (Buddy Rich) July 1968

This has all been child's play up until now. No one played the drums with the sheer level of effortless talent as Buddy Rich, who brought popularity and personality to drumming while taking centre stage with impossibly tight jazz solos. One of the finest of these comes at the end of Mercy, Mercy's Channel One Suite, in which he double-handedly tears the roof off Caesars Palace. And he had a black belt in Karate. 

7. Sex Machine - Sly and the Family Stone (Greg Errico) May 1969

Sly and The Family Stone's album Stand! is a perfect slice of '60s psychadelia, featuring the awesomely narcotic Sex Machine, which Greg Errico closes with a simple but dynamic drum solo. He'd later play with the likes of Santana and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, in a combination of rock and soul that demonstrates the way psychedelic music breaks musical boundaries and blurs them together, until they're very, very hazy.

8. Do What You Like - Blind Faith (Ginger Baker) August 1969

Ginger Baker's importance in rock drumming cannot be understated, so here he is again. Blind Faith's Do What You Like was written by Baker himself in the unusual 5/4 time signature, showing that not only could he drum, he could also compose. Like the angry Buddy Rich, only much angrier. 

9. Soul Sacrifice - Santana (Mike Shrieve) August 1969

Woodstock 1969 is the stuff of musical legend, with a lineup that included the Grateful Dead, Sly Stone and of course Santana. Glastonbury-goers would have hated it, all those rock bands. The latin-rock giants became one of the festival's highlights, thanks to a blistering Soul Sacrifice drum solo by then 20-year-old drummer Mike Shrieve. If you were there, I hate you. 


10. Moby Dick - Led Zeppelin (John Bonham) October 1969

Who better to bring us out of the '60s and into the '70s than Led Zeppelin, with their quintessential instrumental Moby Dick. It's hard rock at its purest, from the bluesy Jimmy Page riff to the junky cowbell beat, sandwiching John Bonham's classic drum solo which takes us rattling into the 1970s.

Thanks for reading and peace out etc.