Download Mix Six: “Frickin’ Awesome Drummers” HERE
It’s the Friday before the 4th of July and what better way to celebrate than to get another guest DJ in the house! It’s none other than Scott Malchus of Thunderbolt who is here to mix it up with six FRICKIN’ AWESOME DRUMMERS! What I love about this mix is that Scott didn’t go for the obvious choices when it comes to great drummers. Instead he found some gems that highlight the spice and groove great drummers add to a song. I think you’ll hear what I’m talking about when you download the mix and read along with Scott’s notes.
When I asked
Ted Py Korry if I could play DJ this week, I thought about the drummers that influenced me or have inspired me over the years. See, Iâ€™m that idiot whoâ€™s always driving in front of you, banging imaginary drums or beating the crap out of his steering wheel. With three of the 80â€™s most influential drummers on tour this summer, I thought itâ€™d be fun to feature upbeat, â€œsummerâ€ songs by great drummers of that decade. However, instead of â€œThe Analog Kidâ€, â€œOmegamanâ€ or â€œMe and Sarah Janeâ€, I give you these songs by six frickinâ€™ awesome drummers.
â€œIn A Big Countryâ€ Big Country (Listen HERE) What do you think of when you hear this song? Guitars like bagpipes? ATVâ€™s driving over grass covered Scottish hillsides? Not me. I immediately think of the remarkable Mark Brzezicki, whose tight, precise playing made him a popular session drummer (For Pete Townshend, in particular) before he joined Big Country. Taken from their 1983 album, â€œThe Crossingâ€, listen to the stellar bass drum work and the tight, measured way each drum fill fits the song.
â€œTempus Fugitâ€ Yes (Listen HERE) Alan White may always be more famous for taking over the drum stool of Bill Bruford, Yesâ€™ original drummer. But I would argue that White has always been a better fit for Chris Squire, the bandâ€™s enigmatic bass player. White is a workhorse and is much more rock than progressive. Though, as this song shows, he can play different time patterns with the best of them. Taken from the 1980 album, â€œDramaâ€, this was Yesâ€™ last record before their phoenix rise several years later.
â€œEscapeâ€ Journey (Listen HERE) While Steve Perry and Neal Schon are lavished with most of the attention when Journey was at their peak, they were a great BAND. And the man driving every song in their heyday was the vastly overqualified Steve Smith. With a background in jazz and better technique than just about anyone, Smith seemed like an odd fit for an AOR band like Journey. Still, whether it was power ballads, or stellar rock songs like this title track from Journeyâ€™s 1981 monster hit album, Smith proved to be the consummate professional and one of rockâ€™s greatest drummers.
â€œKiss Me On The Busâ€ The Replacements (Listen HERE) The â€˜Mats were Paul Westerbergâ€™s vehicle for his extraordinary songwriting, but they were also a tight knit group capable of some great punk pop music (when they werenâ€™t falling down drunk and rambling through concerts). Next time you listen to their music, like this classic from 1985â€™s â€œTimâ€, pay attention to how well drummer Chris Mars keeps the chaos in check while playing some snazzy fills and displaying true musicianship. Mars doesnâ€™t drum anymore, which is a real shame because he was one of the best to come from the whole underground/college movement of the 80â€™s.
â€œCherry Bombâ€ John Mellencamp (Listen HERE) Kenny Aronoff is the best rock drummer alive! He always brings passion and meat to each song he plays. For years, he helped define Mellencampâ€™s sound and I think this gem from 1987â€™s â€œThe Lonesome Jubileeâ€ is one of his defining moments. Sure, youâ€™ve heard it a thousand times, but notice how Aronoff is able to keep the steady garage band beat Mellencamp is famous for, while tossing off complicated fills and off beats that sound natural and organic to the song? I can listen to this guy anytime.
â€œTightropeâ€ Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (Listen HERE) The late Stevie Ray Vaughan never labeled himself as a solo artist — even though he was the main attraction. Thatâ€™s because he knew his band mates were equally important to the sound of his music — allowing him to shine as one of the greatest guitarists ever. Chris Layton provided a solid foundation for Stevie to build his songs around, but itâ€™s not like Layton was a human metronome. No, he has a very personal, bluesy style to his playing that sounds laid back and easy, but is, in fact, very difficult to pull off. From SRV & Double Troubleâ€™s final studio LP, â€œIn Stepâ€, this 1989 rocker is a great way to end any mix tape.
[P.S. In an interesting bit of coincidence, my friend Theo did a mix featuring the great Tony Thompson. Who’s Tony Thompson? Well, he was the back beat Chic, but his was all over the place in the 80s drumming for Madonna, Robert Palmer, David Bowie and Diana Ross — all of whom are featured on his mix.]