Friday, December 17, 2010

Have you see her, have you heard? The way she plays there are no words. (Stone Roses)

Speaking of Grateful Dead (previous post): I have often wondered why they bothered with two drummers. The Dead's songs are not that wild that they need two drummers surely? I know Hart calls himself a percussionist but that seems disingenuous. It's not like the Allman Brothers Band where one plays drums and t'other plays percussion instruments. Both Hart and Kruetzmann are playing drums in the Dead.

This got me thinking about other bands with two drummers and why they have them. The school of thought on the two drummer thing comes down to: either they exist to gain certain effects (eight limbs playing like eight limbs) or produce meatier drum sounds (eight limbs playing like four).

You either use each player to generate something totally different that comes together in a way that one drummer couldn't possibly achieve, or, you have two or more drummers playing the same thing to get an organic meaty sound that delays/EQ can't replicate. Like in a marching band.

Personally I mostly fail to see the point. Bonzo only needed one set after all. But then I watched Zappa's Roxy band and remembered he had Chester Thompson and Ralph Humphrey on drums. And they were amazing. Trouble every day from the Roxy and Elsewhere album has a HUGE drum sound. Zappa was a percussionist at heart and if it's good enough for him etc.

Chester Thompson also features on the Genesis track Home by the sea. It ends with an extended orgy of drums that puts the case for two drummers most succinctly. But the Dead?

P.S. Just heard from my son that Captain Beefheart died recently. He (my son) and I remain big fans. A sad day - the planet needs more courageous musicians like Frank and Don. Where is the like in today's crop?? Sho nuff there's no one!

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