Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Prime Mover 10 - Top Ten Drummers of Rock
I seriously couldn't think of another Rush appreciation post that hasn't been done somewhere else. I was going to do the best Rush references of all time until I realized that Power Windows (Rush tribute page) has already done it. So, I'll just offer up my usual drunken rants on something that no sane person should give a crap about. These are the drummers that I have grown up with and I feel are the best for my generation (some before my time). They are only rock drummers because if I included jazz I would be banging my head over who should be number 1, seriously, jazz is ridiculously hard to play well. As a note to all I am an armchair drummer, entirely self-taught. My style can be best described as drunken drumming, or ADHD drumming. Not bad, but definitely not professional. Here we go (open beer)........
Banned From The List
1) Lars Ulrich - Metallica - Two words keep him from the list, Load and Reload. Two of the worst albums of rock or metal. The only band in history to make a sequel to a song (Unforgiven Too, or was it two, who gives a shit it sucked) and album (Reload after Load, get it?). Then they come out with St. Anger. After bassist and long time punching bag Jason Whatshisname left the band (good call on his part) and Metallica replaced him with a bassist who looks like he came from a holloween party dressed up like the Korn bassist, they decided to make an ill advised album which James Hetfield sounded more like Captain Caveman then James Hetfield. To make matters worse they make a documentary along with the album chronicling the fact that they are waaaaay past their prime and James Hetfield needs to lay off the booze before his liver and mullet explode. It also doesn't help that Lars was in front of congress lobbying for record companies to stop online song sharing. Before you go nuts remember, most bands get a majority of their money by touring, not records sales. Thanks Lars, now go pick up James Hetfield from rehab.
2) The chick with the rack from White Stripes - White Stripes - How anybody thinks this band is good is beyond me. I finally figured that most music critics are men and seeing Meg White jiggling her gigantic boobies like crazy while desperately trying to keep time hypnotized them from making any sort of sane, intelligent critique of the band. How else can you explain Meg's creepy brother Jack (I know they are not siblings) being ranked number 17 on the best guitarist list on Rolling Stone magazine back in 2002? A list that did not include Alex Lifeson or Eric Johnson! That was the last time I read Rolling Stone magazine by the way. She looks like my 2 year old playing trying to play drums, confused but having fun. I know, I know, nowadays it's all about style, not talent with rock music.
1) Charlie Watt - Rolling Stones - Those of you who know me are probably doing a double take. I've been harsh on ol' dapper Charlie before (with reason) but three things came about which reversed my opinion.
a) He can play jazz. Like I said before, that ain't easy.
b) He is very well respected by almost every drummer in the business.
c) The story of him getting a call at five a.m. from a very drunk Mick Jagger. Charlie is a proper gentlemen who wasn't ever in the overindulgence of libations like the other members of Rolling Stone were. Early to bed, early to rise and dress like a proper Englishman, that's Charlie. Anyways Mick and Keith were plastered out of their skulls after a night out when they rang Charlie out of his slumber. Mick called him "his drummer" and told him there was a band meeting right now, "get your ass over here." Charlie calmly got up, put on his best suit and polished shoes and went over to Mick's hotel room. When Mick opens the door Charlie said hello then plastered him with a right hook nearly sending him out his hotel window and to his death. After a shocked Mick came to he was greeted with Charlie hovering over him yelling, "I'm not your fucking drummer, you're my fucking singer!" Charlie politely let himself out and went back to bed. I love that story, and it completely changed my opinion of him.
2)Dave Grohl - Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, Killing Joke - I've always been a big fan of Josh Homme's music with QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal or Kyuss. When QOTSA 2002 album Songs for the Deaf came out I was floored. The first thing I asked when I got through the first 4 songs was, "who in the hell is that drummer, and why wasn't he found sooner?" I was really surprised that it was Dave Grohl, I had no clue he could play like that. The entire album was great and the drumming was spectacular. Given that fact that Grohl can play just about any instrument gave me great respect for him. Then when Killing Joke's long awaited self titled album came out I asked the same question. "This drummer is great, who the hell is it?" Again Dave Grohl. Not only did he manage to work with Jaz Coleman (insane leader of Killing Joke) without stuffing him into a trash compactor, but he fit in quite well with Killing Joke's industrial, bombastic sound.
Best Output: Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf, Killing Joke - Killing Joke
The Up and Comers
1) Erin Tate - Minus The Bear - I've really come to love this band. Mixing prog rock, emo (or emu), alternative, new wave, electronica, and the current thing going on, this band has really impressed me. Erin is great at off beat, odd time signature rock. Great Drummer with great skill.
Best Ouput: Planet of Ice, Menos el Oso
2) Zundel Tkotch - World/Inferno Friendship Society - Great band out of Brooklyn, NY. They have actually been around for a while boasting a rotating musician cast of over 30 people. Very imaginative band mixing ska, punk, swing, jazz and something else I seriously can't put my finger on, which is why my Ipod list them as "unclassifiable". I have heard that they are great live, but they would never come near Indianapolis so I will never know. I'm not sure if Zundel is their original drummer, I'm guessing not, but he was unbelievable on their live album from 2003.
Best Output: Hallowmas Live at Northsix
3) Sammy J. Watson - Apex Theory - The only non-Armenian in an all Armenian band. Just ridiculous with the time signatures. Good style, great licks, does not rush like some drummers naturally do. Great drummer with a great band. I almost put him in the top ten but he has really made only one album. Apex Theory's (sans original lead singer) latest output was a very disappointing 15 minute song that they put on Itunes. So the future of the band looks pretty crappy.
Best Output: Topsy Turvey
The Top Ten
10) Mike Portnoy - Dream Theatre - Might as well start out the list strong, Portnoy and the boys hail from Berkeley out in California where they had dreams of kick ass, ridiculously complex tunes lasting longer than 10 minutes. Portnoy has some great chops which I have actually never seen live until I got HD tv and they showed them live from Japan (where they are freakin huge) on one of the HD channels. Portnoy is not only freakishly talented he does most of the crowd baiting and cheering, which means he basically drums standing up. This is so because the rest of the band is about as dull as fence posts. He has retooled his set time and time again so every now and then when I look him up he's got something else going on.
Best Output: Awake, Falling into Infinity, Images and Words
9) Matt Cameron - Soundgarden, Those pinko commies Pearl Jam (Hi John!) - Matt's style, sound and skill has always impressed me. I was pretty disappointed he didn't let loose on Geddy Lee's solo album My Favorite Headache.
Best Output (all with Soundgarden) - Badmotorfinger, Superunknown
8)Danny Carey - Tool - This band is completely fucked up. Fucked up lyrics, fucked up album covers, fucked up lead singer, you get the idea. But I really genuinely like their music even though I feel like taking a shower after listening to them. Danny Carey is a damn good drummer and dare I say underrated. I was blown away by the drumming in AEnima.
Best Ouput: AEnima, Laterlus, Undertow
7) Will Calhoun - Living Colour - Damn fine drummer in damn fine band. Has this thing where he will play 3/4 time and 4/4 time simultaneously. Let me say I've tried a million times to do it and I can't even come close. He is often overshadowed by Corey Glover and Vernon Reid. He deserves major credit (I will never say props) for the drumming he has done over the years.
Best Output: All Living Colour albums except Callidiscope
6) Tim "Herb" Alexander - Primus - In an interview with Modern Drummer he said that in high school he was a huge Rush snob. He would only listen to Rush and come home everyday after school and air drum to Rush tunes for hours. Tim and I have that in common, except now he is a successful, well-respected musician boasting a catalogue of music and I'm a 32 year old alcoholic with a dead end job that still comes home everyday and air drums to Rush. Oh well. I was pretty disappointed when he left Primus because 1) Primus sucked after that and 2) He disappeared. I literally had to go looking for him in other bands to see what the hell he was up to. Great drummer that I got to see live when Primus opened for Rush in 1993 (you remember that John-O). Very inventive and managed to complement Les Claypool, something that other drummers have failed to do.
5) Stewart Copeland - The Police, Animal Logic, Klark Kent - Completely sentimental drummer of mine because he was one of the first drummers I used to hit pots and pans while listening to The Police back in the 80's. Has the distinction of actually being a well rounded musician. Wrote soundtracks to a couple of movies, unfortunately Highlander II was one of them. Uses a traditional grip and has the smallest drum set (5 piece) compared to every other drummer on this list, at least in the early days of The Police he did. Very fast drummer, continuously pushed Sting to make Police songs faster. He has a weird mesh of punk, jazz and rock drum styles that works really well. Also managed to not kill Sting for the years he worked with him.
Best Output: All Police albums, Animal Logic II
4) Carl Palmer - Emerson, Lake and Palmer - The least egotistical of the trio this drummer rounded out a ridiculously talented band that started in the late 60's and finally disbanded in the mid 80's. They regrouped for Black Moon in 1992, even though the album was definitely the worst output of ELP it did spawn a live album in 1993 that was very decent. Very fast and very technical drummer as evident in many ELP songs. He is a classicaly trained musician that moved into rock at 19 and then had a hand at starting progressive rock (which is what influenced Rush). Great drum solos, I got to see him in 1992 and I was completely amazed at how fast his hands and feet were, and he was in his mid forties at the time. He still does events and is very well respected in the drumming world.
Best Output: All Emerson Lake and Palmer albums excluding Black Moon and In The Hot Seat (which he admitted sucked complete ass).
3) John Bohnam - Led Zeppelin - Bonzo was one of the best and drunkest drummers of all time. His sticks were tree trunks, his toms were see through and his cymbals rang for weeks. His skill was unbelievable, not only was he thundering and loud he was also very technical and fast. Jon Paul Jones (the bassist of Zep) often cites Bohnam as the best drummer he's ever seen. His skills diminished greatly as his boozing went along as evident after seeing the 1980 concert at Wembley stadium. He died shortly after. He was definitely one of the best.
Best Output: All Zeppelin albums except In Through The Out Door
2) Neil Peart - Rush - The professor at the drum kit. The man behind my favourite band of all time. I really marvel at the fact that he's been doing this consistently for over 30 years now. When I saw him at the Vapor Trails tour in 2002 I thought he was playing better than he had in years, and I just sat back and marveled at his skill and the fact that he was 49 years old and still kicking the shit out of the drums. I know some people call Rush "drum solo with a complement" (I call them assholes) but they are the best musicians around (alive) today in rock. I hope they continue on after Snakes and Arrows, but if not, oh well.
Best Output: All with Neil
1) Keith Moon - The Who - Often cited as the best drummer of all time. If there was ever a title called lead drums he would be it. When I first heard him (Who's Next album) I immediately wanted to pick up a pair of stick. He played so fast and hard. He gave it his all every night. He was also completely nuts destroying countless hotel rooms and wreaking havoc with his next door neighbors. Moon will always be my favourite over Neil (I know, sacrilege) just because he was the first drummer I ever idolized.
Best Output: All Who albums except Who Are You