crap drummers

many years ago i heard someone say 'a band's only as good as its drummer'. i used to trot this one out occasionally too; as a bass player i have a vested interest i suppose, but as a maxim it's not a bad one. imagine led zep without john bonham, coltrane without elvin jones, the sex pistols without paul cook, the corrs without

but here is my own rogue's gallery of crap drummers; players with successful bands who are, er, crap. in my humble opinion.

1. nick mason - pink floyd

this may be a bit unfair - after all, mr mason (who seems like a rather nice chap for an overfed rock star type) is quite dismissive of his own abilities and would probably rather be flying helicopters or driving very fast cars than plodding away at 90 bpm behind one of david gilmour's endless solos. but if there is a drummer more deserving of the adjective 'plodding' i've yet to hear them. my good mate chris always maintained that nick's finest moment was the 'funky' bit on floyd's 'echoes'. listening to this recently i realised that nick had actually overdubbed two drum parts on this. a good indicator of a crap drummer is the presence of additional drummers ether on stage or on album credits. even as early as 'the wall' there are three other drummers credited.

2. ed cassidy - spirit

this is a band i rather love and in a way it's hard to imagine them without ed's ham fisted interventions, but here we go. and again, ed is a great bloke with a great hairstyle so this is again, slightly snarky. before spirit, ed was apparently a jazz drummer and played with people like gerry mulligan and roland kirk. presumably this was as part of a pickup band at jam sessions or whatever. i can't imagine he got many return gigs. ed's role in spirit seems to have been more about keeping his stepson randy california on the rails, so he probably spent the time he should have been practicing talking randy down from acid trips or finding him twinkies at 3am. there's a partcularly hilarious and strangely moving moment on a spirit live record where after a protracted drum solo of such awfulness that it's sort of hard to believe, randy says 'let's hear it for the greatest drummer in the world - ed cassidy!'. irony was not one of randy's strong points, so bless him.

3.graeme edge - the moody blues

someone once asked john lennon if ringo starr was the best drummer in the world. lennon's reply was that he wasn't even the best drummer in the beatles. arf. but that didn't stop him from being a major influence on nick mason or especially graeme edge, whose leaden playing is so devoid of imagination that it takes ringo's contribution to 'strawberry fields forever' as its sole template. admittedly the moodies were never the most energetic or innovative combo, but even so mr edge's contributions are marked by such a lack of drive it's hard to believe he was actually conscious at the time he made them. mr edge has been augmented by a second drummer during recent live appearances. even so, his drumming is much better than his poetry.

4. larry mullen - u2

remember, u2 are larry's band. and in some ways his stiff, unresponsive one dimensional skinbashing is perfect for the biggest band in the world. so it's maybe beyond criticism. but still - after god knows how many years you think that there might be some improvement - some subtlety perhaps, an acknowledgement that maybe that merely ripping off stephen morris' work wth joy division or any other post punk drummer might be a bit of a dead end. but no. it's a dead cert that any rhythmic nterest you might be lucky enough to hear on a u2 record or gig comes from a sampler and not from larry. but that's's his band.

1 comment:

Al Gordon said...

Great idea - and I totally agree with some of your choices e.g. Ed Cassidy, Graeme Edge. I have no idea why Spirit didn't kick their drummer to the kerb, Just listen to Animal Zoo from their classic album 12 Dreams etc for some truly duff, duff drumming.

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