it’s a truism (also a Hepism actually) that you’re only as good as your drummer. It’s certainly true as if the drummer is unreliable the entire foundation of the band is shaky. So let’s hear it for the drummer. The thing is, if the drummer’s time is solid all’s well and that’s base one. But when the drummer is musical on top of having great time they syncopate with the melody, they push time to create excitement, they speed up and slow down as the groove requires. Drum machines can’t do this (well, they can be “humanised” but rest assured it’s not a very human process like having an arrogant bloke making a huge noise totally bossing your song may be), and one of the great losses of modern recording is that everything is on “the grid” to facilitate easy editing, squashing excitement out of the track in the process.
I give you exhibit one, “Kid Charlemagne” by Steely Dan featuring the great Bernard Purdie, who allegedly used to put two signs on stands in from of his kit at a session, one saying “You done it” and the other saying “You done hired the hitmaker”. He’s played with everyone » Continue Reading.