Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Sound and the Fury
or - The Stamina of the Punk Rock Drummer
Earlier this week, BBC News ran an article with the headline that Rock Drummers are 'Top Athletes' and ran a photo of Blondie drummer Clem Burke wearing a mask that presumably is some kind of measuring apparatus. The article discussed things like heart rate / beats per minute and stamina and all that sort of thing - full of double entendres the likes of which you remember and roll your eyes over - you know, the "drummers do it with a beat" or whatever... Seriously, I encourage you to click the BBC article link. It will make you laugh and also nod in agreement that it does take a lot of energy to pound the drums in a punk rock band.
Here are a few drummers...
Tommy Ramone - the Ramones played through their live set super fast and without so much as 30 seconds between songs. While it was Dee Dee Ramone who always counted off One Two Free Four, it was Tommy who kept the clockwork like precision of the power pop punk legends marching Gabba Gabba Hey in perfect 4/4 time.
Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols. Next to the Ramones, the Sex Pistols are the living avatars of punk rock. Listening to the Pistols now, one realizes they didn't so much play fast as they played hard, with conviction. Paul Cook kept them in line, and you gotta give him props for holding the music fort together during fellow rhythm section member, Sid Vicious's more sloppy days.
David Quinton Steinberg a punk rock-era powerpop drummer channeling all the good parts from Keith Moon's repertoire. He was a member of The Mods when Stiv Bators lured him to play in a morphing version of the Dead Boys, and later in Stiv's own backing band. David played on and wrote songs for Stiv's solo album, Disconnected. Today, he is one of the most respected lawyers in the entertainment law field.
Rick Buckler of The Jam. Another human metronome, Buckler parlayed The Jam's penchant for American R&B and soul music into its own kind of punk rock with a HEARTbeat - a little Britpop, a little Motown, a lot of coolness.
Karlos Kaballero of punk rock's clown princes, The Dickies. Fast and furious and cartoonish. More fun than a Big Gorilla.
Television's Billy Ficca is a whole different kind of player, just as Television is a whole different kind of band. The band played with finesse and each of them was a bonafide master of his instrument. Billy was outstanding with Television and recently, I saw him do some shows with Richard Lloyd and they're both still incredible players... getting more and more masterful at their instruments as time passes. There may be no better players than these gentlemen.
The late Bruce Gary of The Knack and Lou Ramirez of the Plimsouls. Each of them provided the signature sound to their respective bands initial recordings - the instantly recognizable My Sharona and Zero Hour share a vibe. They defined the early 80s and LA punk influenced power pop.
I haven't forgotten the ladies on drums.
Tara McManus of Mr Airplane Man and The Turpentine Brothers
Miriam Linna was the Cramps drummer before Nick Knox (below), and then she formed the A Bones and continues to perform with the A Bones in addition to being one half of the genius that is Norton Records.
Nick Knox, The Cramps