Vote Early Vote Often: The annual Cover Freak anniversary post is coming up in two weeks. As usual I’ll be posting the ten best songs from the past year. If there’s something you’d like me to repost from the past year (October 2010-September 2011) let me know by leaving a comment or using the contact form to send me an email.
One of my favorite movies is the sublime This Is Spinal Tap. Among the many hilarious bits is the story of Spinal Tap’s drummers, who have a habit of dying in unusual ways. Who can forget the cautionary tale of Eric “Stumpy Joe” Childs, who choked to death on somebody else’s vomit?
This comes to mind because the Large Soulless Corporation moved me to a new cubicle last Thursday. The cube they moved me into has been occupied by three other people in the seven months I’ve worked there, and the occupants keep vanishing. Since my time there ends on Wednesday (probably, I’ve asked for confirmation from the boss who hasn’t gotten back to me but has been telling other people that my last day is Wednesday), I’ve started encouraging people to call me Stumpy Joe. I’ll be on the lookout for suspicious vomit.
And on that note, let’s turn our musical attention to the humble but vital drummer.
Nguyên Lê “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (Iron Butterfly)
When I was in high school I used to religiously read a British heavy-metal magazine called Kerrang. It was informative and snarky in that way the British have. Since Iron Butterfly apparently never hit it big in England, they included an article about “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” The article talked about how the guitarist made sounds like a parrot getting its tail stepped on and described the drum solo as sounding like a drum solo by a drum machine. It was funny because it was true.
This instrumental version dispenses with the lyrical gibberish and features some sophisticated jazz drumming.
Carmine Appice “Paint It Black” (Rolling Stones)
The first time I heard this I thought something had gone horribly wrong with my stereo. I couldn’t hear anything but the drums. But no, this is what happens when a drummer is in charge of the mix.
Smashing Pumpkins “Jackie Blue” (Ozark Mountain Daredevils)
I just love the big booming drum sound on this one, it sounds like you’re trapped inside the kick drum.
Bow Wow Wow “Fools Rush In” (Glenn Miller)
These guys are famous for their cover of the Strangeloves’ “I Want Candy” and for having their jailbait lead singer appear naked on the cover of their first album. But they also gave us this over-caffeinated polyrhythmic take on the 1940s classic.
Tom Jones and the Pretenders “Lust For Life” (Iggy Pop)
This is one of the most distinctive drum lines in rock. Soupy Sales’ son Hunt actually stole it from two Motown songs (“You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Dancing In The Streets). This cover stays pretty true to the original rhythm but the duet between Chrissy Hynde and Tom Jones is delicious.