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The Best Drum Beats In The World

Six of our favourite drummers choose 30 of their favourite drum tracks.


1 ROY HAINES "Trio Improvisation One" Chick Corea (1982)
2 ANDY NEWMARK "If You Want Me To Stay" Sly & The Family Stone (1973)
3 ELVIN JONES "Resolution" John Co/trane Quartet (1965)
4 JIM KELTNER "What You Got" John Lennon (1974)
5 TONY WILLIAMS "Byrdlike" VSOP (1977)


1 RINGO STARR "Happy Birthday" The Beatles (1968)
2 JIM KELTNER "This Is The Way We Make A Broken Heart" Ry Cooder (1980)
3 JEFF PORCARO "Rosanna" Toto (1982)
4 LINN DRUM "Thriller" Michael Jackson (1983)
5 KEITH MOON "My Generation" The Who (1965)


1 JOHN BONHAM "Kashmir" Led Zeppelin (1975)
2 SIMON PHILLIPS "El Becko" Jeff Beck (1980)
3 JOHN BONHAM "Moby Dick" (live version) Led Zeppelin (1976)
4 KEITH MOON "Cobwebs And Strange" The Who (1966)
5 TONY NEWMAN "Plynth" Jeff Beck (1969)


1 KEITH MOON "My Generation" The Who (1965)
2 UNKNOWN "The Son Of Hickory Hollers Tramp" 0 C Smith (1968)
3 STEVIE WONDER "Superstition" (1972)
4 ANDY NEWMARK "In Time" Sly Et The Family Stone (1973)
5 TONY WILLIAMS "The Eye Of The Hurricane" VSOP Quintet (1977)


1 RINGO STARR "Long Tall Sally" The Beatles (1965)
2 RITCHIE HEYWARD "Cold Cold Cold/Tripe Face Boogie (Medley)" Little Feat (1974)
3 CARLTON BARRETT "Positive Vibration" Bob Marley Et The Waiters (1978)
4 SLY DUNBAR "Carbine" Black Uhuru (1981)
5 BILL BRUFORD "Cinema Show" Genesis (1977)


1 TONY THOMPSON "Let's Dance" David Bowie (1983)
2 SLY DUNBAR "Warm Leatherette" Grace Jones (1980)
3 ROBBIE MclNTOSH "Person to Person" Average White Band (1974)

TERRY CHAMBERS "Making Plans For Nigel" XTC (1979)
5 PETE THOMAS "Watching The Detectives" Elvis Costello (1978)


1 SIMON KIRKE "I'll Be Creepin'" Free (1969)
2 SIMON PHILLIPS "Space Boogie" Jeff Beck (1980)
3 CHARLIE WATTS "Dance" The Rolling Stones (1980)
4 MITCH MITCHELL "Manic Depression" Hendrix (1967)
5 BILLY COBHAM "Quadrant 4" Billy Cobham (1973)


"Speed of reaction. There's an athletic quality about Tony Williams. You can hear a phrase played on the saxophone, and then you can hear the drum equivalent returned in about five different variations in about three seconds! It's quite staggering. Lightning speed, total dexterity. A tremendous dialogue between saxophone and drums. He influenced a whole generation of jazz-rock drummers." BB


"This shows how far Sly Dunbar has taken reggae drumming. This album ('Red') is a master lesson in how to create power and drive with the least fuss and bullshit on any of the instruments. I love to listen and learn from all the Cobhams and Gadds of this world, but somehow, the starkness and sureness of Sly's drumming has a deeper effect on me." GN


"Bruford is so obviously having a great time on this track. I like Bruford because you can always hear his European roots, and he's a great kit player." GN


"This track has an incredible craziness, which is what I always liked about Keith. The way he played was the way he lived – absolutely crazy. You could not predict the way he would do things. He'd play figures that no other drummer would play. He hardly used the hi-hat." HR


"The funkiest rock drummer in the grittiest rock'n'roll band of the Seventies. No contest." GN


"Simon is a very precise player who's had a big influence on jazz-rock playing, but he keeps a good rock'n'roll feel. Jeff Beck is my favourite guitarist, and Simon plays perfectly with Beck." HR


"Ringo Starr always played what was appropriate, and thereby increased the effectiveness of the song. Here, as always, the drums really work for the song." RL


"Andy Newmark was an uncredited early starter of funk drumming. Sly & The Family Stone was the black group and Andy was a little white kid. He played very quietly, but right up in the front of the mix – sotto voce drumming. He was also one of the early guys to play on top of a drum machine. Now we all do it." BB


"This outrageous slab of almost avant-garde funk set a roomful of lazy slobs (ie musicians) dancing within seconds of first hearing. A fabulous, gurgling orgy of rhythmic interaction that took the breath away and set the feet moving. It was the first time that I'd heard anyone using a rhythm box on record and it seemed to free the drums from their traditional time keeping role: 24-year-old Andy Newmark threw in some business on snare, bass and hi-hat that still defies logic." AD


"I like the heaviness of this. It sounds like a simple drum beat, but it isn't really when you listen to it closely. It's really steady and laid back, but so heavy." HR


"Not because it's complicated drumming, but it's very solid and exudes so much feel. I first heard it at Camden Palace before I even knew what the track was and instantly it hit me. You can't help but move." GD


"The much-maligned Ringo. But the Beatles knew that they had to get the right drummer in before they could make it. On this early track, Ringo plays with almost Keith Moon-like abandon." GN


"This was the first time I'd ever heard toms being played so prominently within the chorus. He does this double hi-hat offbeat and 'goodab, goodab, crash' within the chorus. A good way of tackling it." GD


"I can't analyse what is so good about this solo, but it's my all-time favourite. I like the bit where he plays with his hands – he was the first drummer to do that. I particularly like his footpedal work. He was able to do with one footpedal what many drummers can only do with two. John Bonham is without doubt my favourite-ever drummer." HR


"There's excitement and a certain maniac quality to this record that goes beyond a visualisation of a drummer playing a drum set. Keith Moon creates a locomotive experience on this song." RL


"Rival gangs of Mods and Rockers were creating outrage and sensation every bank holiday, and Keith Moon was doing the same for drummers every time The Who appeared on TV. Suddenly the bloke at the back, formerly confined to the role of a nodding buffoon, was transformed into a wild, thrashing madman. It was flash, loud, gloriously individual, incredibly exciting and utterly inspiring. What more could you ask!" AD


"This is good taste drumming. It's an overall thing, another element in the track, he doesn't let anything get in the way. Really it's the 'late' Robbie McIntosh, a fellow Scotsman. I heard this track on their White album. When I got the next one I thought he'd left the band. It wasn't until later I found out he died in America." GD


"The rhythm of this song was very sophisticated for its time (1969), and it still is. It was the first time I heard a drummer using that sort of syncopation within a rock beat. It impressed me very much when it came out." HR


"The reggae one-drop still amazes me. It's seemingly at odds with the American jazz and rock kit playing evolution, but it really works. The persistent broken triplets on the hi-hat is a trademark of Carlton Barrett's and I love the way it makes the rhythm surge." GN


"Elvin Jones developed a whole style which involved many notes to go along with John Coltrane's saxophone playing. The 'sheets of sound' technique. This was a revolutionary track showing the development of his style based on triplets – a blur of sound. But it also exemplifies how jazz drummers play a pulse as opposed to a beat, which is what you get from a drum machine. We're not talking about pop music here – this is real drumming, the serious stuff." BB


"Jeff Porcaro adds a tremendous amount of excitement to a record, just with the explosiveness of his drumming, yet he's always appropriate. He always plays the drum part that makes the song work the best." RL


"The greatest challenge is to play the same beats as anyone else, but make them sound like you. Stevie seems to be able to do it without even trying. His feeling for rhythm is so strong and instinctive that he gives this simple groove a special magic that's all his own. It's loose, uninhibited, free-flowing and irresistibly danceable." AD


"Wherever the music goes he's right there, simultaneously listening, provoking and swinging majestically. As such, drum solos bore the pants off me but Tony's are something special, they explore the musical potential of the drum kit and feel genuinely spontaneous."


"As a fledgling 14-year-old basher, this record knocked me out with its blend of energy and hipness. The drummer seemed to make all the right moves at the right moments, laying down a socko R&B backbeat (with plenty of sloshy hi-hat) behind the verse, snapping at every accent and changing gear into the choruses with an effortless variety of explosive, syncopated fills. It made number two and nearly drove my Mum and Dad round the twist." AD


"I love Keltner's drumming because he tries such different things. He'll tap on the rim, and what he does is so musical. He's extremely creative, particularly on Ry Cooder's records." RL


"I'm gonna blow my own horn here. The thing I like about 'Thriller' is that the Linn drum keeps the song moving. There's a feeling that the drummer's going to play it great no matter what happens. It keeps the groove going. I don't know who programmed it here but it sounds great. I also like it because it was so successful." RL


"How can I explain how exciting this man's style is? Roy Haines achieves pure economy – saying something in the fewest possible notes. Totally identifiable style. The complete opposite to Elvin Jones who says something equally important with a lot of notes. Roy Haines sounds as fresh as a 19 year-old on this record. It's particularly noticeable here how effectively he is able to turn the beat around." BB


"This is a cross-over from his usual reggae approach to a rock drumming form. That's my interpretation, anyway. I don't think he'd done a lot of rock drumming before working with Grace Jones, and there's almost a tentative feeling about this... 'should I try it or not', and he manages to pull it off really well – that uncertain naivety makes it work." GD


"This is almost like an economy of drumming. You don't really notice the drums are there at all, but suddenly, some fantastic fill will come out and you realise there ARE drums, and then they gradually sink back into the track. He chooses his moments really well." GD


"All-time rock'n'roll drumming. An extremely good sound. Steady as a rock, open flying harmonics and acoustics, not at all machine-like. The beat stays exactly the same, but the tension increases and decreases on top of it. That's a great thing to be able to do. Drum machines have no tension." BB

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Doing A Video

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Tokai Guitars

One Two Testing - Copyright: IPC Magazines Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.


One Two Testing - Apr 1984


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