Postings on the Cream2005 Forum

Note: Soon after the band Cream announced that they were re-forming to play 3 shows at London's Royal Albert hall in May of 2005, an official 'Cream2005' website was created for the band. This website featured bulletin boards that soon hosted some extremely interesting, informative and amusing message threads, posted by a wide assortment of people. Although most of these threads related directly to Cream (both in its 1966 - 1968 incarnation and its 2005 incarnation), many of them had only the most tenuous relationship to the band, and some had no detectable connection whatsoever. Before the boards were shut-down by the website's host near the end of 2005, I copied some of the more interesting discussions in which I participated (my screen name -- occasionally referred-to in some posts -- was hsosdrum), and I present them here for your amusement. Although I have cleaned-up some errant punctuation and added a few explanitory notes in brackets [ ] (sometimes it's hard to know what a poster is talking about unless you've read the entire message string, and some of these message strings contained hundreds of posts), I have not edited any of the text in any of the postings. My postings and responses are in plain type; postings by others are in italics.

Thread about Clapton's post-Cream playing (and improvisation in general)

Originally posted by Pickin':
ecru, Why do you think this is? [that since 1971, that "magical" quality in Clapton's solos has often eluded him]

Personally, I think it's because after Cream, Clapton has surrounded himself with musicians who DON'T challenge him to go beyond his comfort zone. When outside an environment that encourages him to push his personal envelope, EC seems content to play things very safe, which makes sense considering how he has always doubted his own musical abilities.

Jack and Ginger have an exceptionally strong jazz background. They often said that Cream was a jazz band (and it truly was). The essence of jazz is improvisation. When you're in a jazz band you improvise. When you play hundreds of gigs a year, you constantly search for new ways of musically expressing yourself if you want to remain fresh. When you listen to bootlegs of Cream's live gigs from late 1967 and early 1968 you can hear Eric really stretching himself into new melodic and textural areas. Just listen to his playing on the beginning of "Toad" from the 10/67 Grande Ballroom gig. He's using the whammy bar and producing a grinding, feedback-laced solo that's way more reminiscent of Hendrix than it is of anything Clapton played in the post-Cream period. This experimentation is the natural result of playing with musicians who encourage you to create beyond your self-imposed boundaries. (This encouragement happens both on and off the stage.) Jack and Ginger have also been quoted saying that in Cream they were trying to turn Eric into Ornette Coleman without his knowledge. (Coleman is an avante-garde jazz saxophone player.) It's clear that they might have succeeded if Cream hadn't split-up, and to me, this is the real tragedy of Cream's demise.

Since Cream, EC has created a playing environment for himself that encourages him to stay very close to home, so to speak. I can't think of a single musician he's been in a band with (excepting Duane Allman's brief tenure in Derek & The Dominoes) who can claim to be anything more than a hired studio gun. Nobody with any credentials in jazz or other experimental music. Nobody with the balls to light a fire under Clapton. Listen to the backup musicians on any of EC's live recordings. Nobody's on fire -- nobody. Everyone's playing it straight down the middle. This places all of the burden of creativity squarely on Clapton's shoulders, and this can be a crushing burden, indeed. So, to avoid being crushed, EC plays it safe. After all, if you stick to what you know works, you don't risk failure. Trouble is, you also don't risk achieving anything truly great.

Playing improvisational music demands that you accept, even embrace, the risk of failure. To avoid this is to avoid ever making magic. Cream made magic precisely because they were also willing to fail (and fail they did, sometimes). Watching supremely talented musicians play improvised music is like watching a great tightrope walker work without a net. Part of what makes the magical moments so thrilling is the knowledge that failure is just a misstep away. The greatest respect I have for other musicians is reserved for those who are willing to walk that tightrope night after night in front of an audience. I've done it myself, and when you succeed it's the most fulfilling feeling life has to offer. And when you don't, you pick yourself up and get right back on the rope. For whatever reason, since Cream Clapton has clearly had no interest in taking-up this challenge. And for this we're all the poorer.

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Thread about great live concert experiences that evolves into a discussion of swing-era drummers and then of some of the differences between Cream in 1968 and in 2005

HS Post #1:

I have had so many great concert experiences, but the absolute most transcendent was the Jeff Beck Group, Ten Years After & The Moody Blues at the Shrine Exposition Hall in L.A., November, 1968. TYA played first and Alvin Lee kicked serious ass. Then the Moodys played on the side stage while roadies set-up JBG's gear on the main stage. The Moodys opened-up with "Ride My See-Saw", and I can still feel the sound of the Mellotron washing over me, 37 years later -- fantastic! Well, after the Moody's set, no Beck (he was [in]famous for being late). So they set TYA's gear back up on the main stage while the opening band played their second set and TYA played a blistering second set. Then back to the Moodys on stage 2 for their second set while the roadies re-set Beck's gear, and by the end of that it was after midnight and we were so blown-away we really didn't care if Beck showed-up or not.

About 12:30 Jeff Beck, Ron Wood, Rod Stewart, Nicky Hopkins and Mick Waller finally walked-onto the main stage, with Beck mumbling a barely-understandable apology for being late. They brought-out a frizzy-haired rhythm guitar player (looked like Noel Redding) who carried a solid-body Rickenbacker 12-string and they launched-into the most mind-blowing version of "Beck's Bolero" that any of you could ever imagine. They played until nearly 3AM, with each song topping the previous one. Besides "Bolero" they played "Train Kept A-Rollin'", just about everything from the 'Truth' album and "Rice Pudding" and "Spanish Boots" (from 'Beck-Ola'). But the piece de resistance was "Jeff's Boogie" (an old Yardbirds song). During the guitar solo the band stopped playing, allowing Beck to play a solo cadenza that included "The Theme From The Beverly Hillbillies". No kidding, he finger-picked the banjo part 100% note-for-note perfect on his Les Paul, at blinding speed. After they ended with "Ain't Superstitious" my friend and I went outside and collapsed on a parked car before driving home. Absolutely the best concert experience I've ever had.

Contenders for my #2 best concert experience would be: Cream at The Shrine Expo Hall (03/68), Monty Python at The Hollywood Bowl (1980), Jimi Hendrix & Vanilla Fudge at The Bowl (1968), ELP with full orchestra and chorus at the St. Paul Civic Center (1977), Deep Purple performing Concerto For Group And Orchestra with the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl (1970), Vanilla Fudge at The Shrine in 1/69 (when they recorded "Break Song"), Mahavishnu Orchestra at The Whiskey Au Go Go in 1972, Jack Bruce and Friends (Cobham, Sancious, Clempson) in 1980 (3rd-row center seats), the Doobie Brothers (a private corporate show in 1996, and it was great fun), and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 2000 (front-row center seats).

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HS Post #2:

One of the better things about going to rock concerts in the late 1960s was the variety of bands you were often able to see at a single concert. As an adjunct to this thread, I thought I'd list some of the more memorable shared concert bills I've seen:

The Who/The Animals/The Everly Brothers/The Association/Spanky And Our Gang (1967)
Cream/James Cotton Blues Band/Mint Tattoo (1968)
Jimi Hendrix/Vanilla Fudge/Soft Machine/Eire Apparent (1968)
Cream/Deep Purple (1968)
Jeff Beck/Ten Years After/Moody Blues/Outlaw Blues Band [not The Outlaws] (1968)
Vanilla Fudge/Richie Havens (1969)
John Mayall/Deep Purple (1969)
Led Zeppelin/Brian Auger & The Trinity w/Julie Driscoll (1969)
Vanilla Fugde/The Collectors/It's A Beautiful Day (1969)
Paul Butterfield/Lee Michaels/Procul Harum (1969)
Ike & Tina Turner/Canned Heat/Savoy Brown/Buddy Miles Express (1969)
The Who/Bonzo Dog Band (1969)
Lee Michaels/Big Mama Thornton (1969)
Jimi Hendrix/Chicago Transit Authority (Chicago)/Cat Mother & The All-Night Newsboys (1969)
ELP/Edgar Winter's White Trash/Humble Pie (1970)
Deep Purple/L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra (1970)
The Who/Leon Russell/Blues Image (1970)
ELP/Mahavishnu Orchestra (1971)
Yes/Mary Wells(!) (1971)
King Crimson/Fairport Convention (1972)
Mahavishnu Orchestra/Keef Hartley Band (1972)
Yes/Poco (1972)
Deep Purple/Faces (1972)
West, Bruce & Laing/J. Geils Band (1973)
Boston/Starcastle (1976 -- got free tickets -- memorable for how bad a concert it was)
UK/The Great Jazz Trio (w/Tony Williams) (1978)
Steve Martin/The Blues Brothers (Dan Ackroyd & John Belushi) (1978)
DEVO/Dove (Devo appeard as their own opening act -- a quasi-Christian band) (1982)
Frank Zappa/The BOBS (1984)
Styx/Martha & The Vandellas (2000)

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quote:

Originally posted by pLee:
HSO - your posts are so insightful - would you please expound a bit on your impressions of Hendrix, Cream and Mahavishnu - how they developed live over the gigs you saw. Also, was Hendrix truly the force of nature he is remembered to be - that is, if you walked in without knowing about him - what would you have thought.
Thanks.


Thanks so much for your very kind words, PLee. I really can't imagine what I would have thought of Hendrix as a live performer if I had never heard his music before seeing him live the first time. I can tell you that his music was so original and powerful that I can still clearly remember the very first time I ever heard it. Back in early 1967 I was a huge fan of the Beatles and Doors, when a guy I didn't know very well invited me over to hear this new album he just got. He put "Are You Experienced" on his little 'close'n'play' record player and Hendrix's magic came through loud and clear even on that toy music system. I really felt that my ears had been opened to a completely new kind of musical expression. Right around that time I also heard 'Fresh Cream' for the first time, and my vision was further expanded. Then 'Sergeant Pepper's' came-out that June, and it seemed that everything was possible, musically.

You see, you really can't isolate Jimi Hendrix from what else was happening in music at that time -- he was part of a huge shift that took pop/rock music into whole new areas, away from the simple love-song orientation that had defined it since Sinatra became such a huge star during and after the big-band era. Music became much more meaningful, in a social context. Song lyrics talked about the war, the rift between generations, the importance of spirituality, racial and social equality, and other important subjects. Much of this was Bob Dylan's influence, and it affected every songwriter and musician. Even Motown began releasing songs that were about subjects other than love. Hendrix's music was a part of this sea-change in music, which made it less revolutionary than it seems now, when you look back on it isolated from the way society was changing in 1967-68.

As far as Hendrix as a live performer, I can tell you that I think what separated his stage persona from that of every other rock performer at that time was his sexuality. He was the first rock musician who wove sexuality into the way he performed, and this gave his live performances more power, both with women and with men. Although Jim Morrison's stage persona was also very sexual, Morrison was white, and this made him much less threatening to the powers-that-be than Hendrix. Also, Morrison's on-stage sexuality seemed more a byproduct of his drug use -- the more stoned he was the more he acted up because of it. Hendrix's sexuality seemed simply to be who he was, and he wove it into his playing so that it became a part of his music when he played it live. During live renditions of "Foxey Lady", when Hendrix sang "Here I come baby -- comin' to git'cha", there was no doubt what he meant.

Of course, Hendrix was also a hugely original guitarist, and a very unpredictable performer. I saw him live three times: the first was at the Hollywood Bowl, and it was a top-notch performance. The next time was 6 months later at the LA Forum, also a very good performance, although you could tell that by then Hendrix was getting weary of having to repeat the same guitar hystrionics (playing with his teeth, playing behind his back, etc.) and the same old songs to satisfy the audience. His show was more perfunctory than the Bowl show was, with less fire and originality.

The third time I saw him was at the Newport 69 festival in Northridge, CA. This was the very last time The Experience performed together on stage. Mitch Mitchell speculates in his book that someone backstage spiked Hendirx's drink with some sort of drugs before they performed, because the band was truly awful that night. Hendrix wandered the stage seemingly in a blur, missing cues in the music and forgetting lyrics. The audience got rowdy (a security guard fought with someone trying to climb-onto the stage during Mitchell's drum solo, taking so long that Mitchell stopped playing, got up from the drums and yelled "Will you get him off there?"). Hendrix felt so badly about this that he came back to the festival two days later and jammed on stage with other bands to try to make it up to the audience. Mitchell says that this really put the last nail in The Experience's coffin, driving Jimi to want to find new ways of musical expression.

As for Cream, I saw them in March of 1968 and again on their Farewell tour, and much has already been written about the changes in the band and their playing between those two tours. You could certainly see that on stage at The Forum on 10/19/68 Clapton was much more going through the motions than Bruce and Baker were. Bruce especially seemed into performing, while Clapton sulked around, doing little more than the 'blues noodling' that John Landau had criticized him of in his May, 1968 'Rolling Stone' review. The only two songs they stretched-out on that night were "I'm So Glad", which you can hear on 'Goodbye', and "Spoonful", which they played as an encore. I remember thinking at the time that Clapton sounded like he would rather be somewhere else, whereas when I heard Cream the previous March, Clapton played with real energy and imagination. At the Forum Bruce and Baker kept trying to pull "Spoonful" in different directions, but Clapton never took the bait -- he just spun his wheels for 10 minutes. It was disappointing, since at the time none of us knew much about what was splitting the band up -- we only knew that our heroes were letting us down. Suffice it to say that I wish I had been old enough to see them when they played at The Whiskey during their first tour, but I was only 14 at the time. I consider myself very lucky to have seen them at all, and especially lucky to have seen them before Clapton self-destructed after reading Landau's review, which I think was more accurate than many of his current fans allow themselves to believe.

Mahavishnu? I saw them twice: first at the Santa Monica Civic with ELP and then at the Whiskey. The Whiskey gig was amazing because 1) they were unbelieveably loud in such a small venue, 2) I was sitting in the front row, and 3) Cobham did things on the drums that I had never even imagined possible at that time. He was playing the clear Fibes kit, so you could see everything he played, and he was the first ambidextrous drummer I had ever seen, so he was able to go around this huge kit in either direction (low-to-high and high-to-low) with equal facility. (Of course, a couple of weeks later I saw Buddy Rich's band play at the Whiskey -- maybe the 10th time I had seen him live -- and in spite of how impressive Cobham was with Mahavishnu, all it took was one song for Buddy to once again prove that he was the greatest drummer who ever lived.)

I didn't notice any significant differences between the two Mahavishnu gigs. They were tighter the second time, but it seemed that there was some tension, especially between McLaughlin and Cobham. When they first came on stage McLaughlin put his hands together, turned and bowed to the band, and Cobham stood-up behind the drums and thumbed his nose at him. Then they launched into their first song as if nothing had happened. At the time I thought this was very weird. Nonetheless, they were truly mind-boggling live. Like Cream, they were virtuosos, and McLaughlin and Cobham were much more technically accomplished players than Clapton and Baker were. (Rick Laird couldn't hold a candle to Jack Bruce.) Like Hendrix, Mahavishnu showed that music could go places where nobody thought to take it previously.

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Originally posted by Francesco the Magnificent:
Excellent post as always, hsos. It, and something I read on the other forum, got me thinking, and I was wondering if you'd care to share any opinions about the big drum rivalries of the swing and bebop eras; specifically, Krupa/Rich and Roach/Blakey. My dad was a major swing fan when he was young, and according to him, Krupa was the big star of his time whose fans felt that he was a "tasteful" player, whereas Rich's style was too "busy." He would immediately follow that by saying that Krupa's fans were all wrong, because Rich was the best drummer in the world. I agreed, because I had the good fortune (if you can call it that) to grow up in Queens in NYC, where a number of famous jazz players (everyone from Buddy Rich to Louis Armstrong) ended up, and I saw Buddy play any number of times when I was a kid. He was a regular neighborhood type guy who (for example) played a benefit concert every year for a high school close to my parents' house with which he was somehow connected. He also played a lot of free gigs for the Parks Dept., so it was always easy to see him. Spoiled as I was, I grew up thinking all drummers played like that. Anyway, I know where I stand, but where do you, as a professional, come down on Krupa vs. Rich and Roach vs. Blakey (another "tasteful" vs. "busy" contest)?


Comparing Rich and Krupa, I must agree with another drummer who has been frequently quoted saying that "Buddy Rich is the greatest drummer who ever drew breath." The quote is from none other than Gene Krupa himself.

I strongly disagree with those who characterize Rich's playing as "busy". Everything he played evolved directly from the song; he never added anything that was gratuitous, just to show-off. His left hand was constantly in motion, tap-dancing on the snare drum in wonderful counterpoint to the melody; always in support of it. I've heard recordings where Rich played almost straight time throughout the whole song -- nary a fill to be heard -- because that's what best suited the particular arrangement. The man had uncanny musical memory; he didn't read music, yet if he heard an arrangement even once he never forgot it. This tool helped him get the most out of his playing, no matter what musical situation he was in.

When Krupa was at the height of his popularity in the late 30s - early 40s he was also criticized as being "too busy" and "a showoff". I think that those critics were simply unwilling to consider the drums as a truly 'musical' instrument that is capable of adding its own voice to music. Even now, most critics and musicians see the drummer's role as simply one of support to the "real" musicians and singers. Back in Krupa's day they preferred the more laid-back styles of Jo Jones and Dave Tough to the more up-front and musically adventurous styles of Krupa and Rich. A matter of taste to be sure, but as good as Jones and Tough were, they broke no new ground for the instrument the way Krupa did. In fact, I really don't consider Rich's playing as "revolutionary". He really didn't stake-out a new role for the drums the way Krupa did early on. He didn't revolutionize the role of the drums in music; he took the drums farther than anyone else ever did within the role that had already been set for the instrument.

What thrills me the most about Buddy's playing has always been his utter and complete command on the instrument. When I see him play I always have the feeling that he could play anything and everything that he could conceive of. He always sounded completely comfortable, no matter what musical context he was playing in. His playing always seems effortless the same way that Fred Astaire's dancing always seems effortless. Of course we know that both were the result of genius (and in Astaire's case, of a lot of hard practice).

When I was studying music in college I took on an assignment to transcribe one of Krupa's drum solos. I chose his long solo from "Gene's Blues", on the 'Krupa And Rich' album. After a couple of weeks' work, I was able to transcribe the solo 100% accurately. Emboldened by this, I decided to transcribe one of Buddy's long solos. After all, how much harder could it be? Well, there was no way I could transcribe anything more than a 4-bar break of Buddy's. No matter what long solo of Buddy's I chose, there were way too many musical twists, turns and surprises in his playing. Krupa's long solos were all very linear and followed a simple musical logic. On the other hand, Buddy's long solos, while also very linear, followed a much more complex musical logic that was simply beoynd my understanding at that time. Krupa's solos consisted mostly of dotted eighth note/16th note patterns, strings of triplets with accents and strings of 16th notes with accents. He rarely varied from this (although the "Gene's Blues" solo does contain a couple of cool connecting passages). Buddy's solos consist of very complex melodic figures, theme-and-variation passages and call-and-response passages, strung-together one after another and played at blinding speed. A very different approach to soloing. Naturally, Buddy's solos also contained some 'patented' tricks of his (like the single-stroke roll he started at a snail's pace and gradually accellerated until it was so fast his hands were a blur) that always got the crowd on its feet, but he only used those as climactic passages.

I don't think I'd characterize Blakey's playing as "busy" either. In fact, I think Roach's style may have consisted of using more notes than Blakey's did. I think Roach's style was more melodically oriented while I'd characterize Blakey's as more 'textural'. Blakey's playing was more dynamically volatile than Roach's, and his approach to time was always looser; more African-sounding. Roach's playing was much more precise and refined-sounding. (If you can't tell, I'm a huge fan of both.) I think Roach's playing was more revolutionary than Blakey's, since he helped put the drumset's timekeeping emphasis on the ride cymbal and added the toms and bass drum as melodic elements, allowing the drummer to play figures similar to a horn player. Max Roach is the third leg of the triad that (along with Bird and Dizzy) invented be-bop, which really turned jazz on its ear during the late 1940s.

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Originally posted by pedro:
The buzz I've heard is that Chick Webb smoked Krupa in Harlem. Buddy Rich was excellent drummer but I have trouble thinking of him in the same league as Max Roach, Art Blakely, Lenny White, Jack DeJohnette. My $.02.


When Benny Goodman's band played the famous 'battle of the bands' against Chick Webb's band at the Savoy Ballroom in 1937 even Krupa admitted that he had been "cut" by Webb, but I think this has more to do with Webb's band just plain swinging harder than Goodman's ever did. (Compare their recordings of "Don't Be That Way" -- both bands played the same Edgar Samson arrangement, and while the Goodman band sounds tight-assed, the Webb band really swings on it.) I've heard a lot of Chick Webb's records and frankly, I don't think that Webb's drumming has withstood the test of time nearly as well as Krupa's has. Webb rushed his fills and solos terribly: just listen to "Liza". His style was firmly-rooted in dixieland (2-beat), and his solos were classic dixieland solos of the "hit everything and sort it out later" variety. Krupa is the player who moved drumming beyond this and into a much more elegant (and musical) attitude. He helped move timekeeping away from dixieland 2-beat and into the classic swing "4-on-the-floor" mode. And his solos were the first to really take advantage of the instrument's musical capabilities, getting away from 'bashing everything in sight' in favor of longer passages on individual drums (the classic example being his floor tom solos on "Sing, Sing, Sing"). So although Webb was a huge influence on Krupa and others at the time, I think his style was of an earlier era that Krupa, Rich, Jo Jones and others simply moved beyond.

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Originally posted by pedro:
hsosdrum I’m sure you know a lot more about this than I do but it seems to me that if Chick Webbs band swung harder than Benny Goodman’s than at least part some of the credit has to go to Chick’s playing.


No doubt that part is due to Webb's playing, but a lot of it is due to the different approach to rhythm and time that black swing bands had compared with white swing bands. Black bands approached time in a much more 'elastic' fashion — the rhythm really breathed. On the other hand, white bands seemed to have a much more straightlaced approach to time; much stricter, and they just plain didn't swing as much as the black bands did. This goes beyond how the drummers played -- it was how everybody in the bands (especially their leaders) approached rhythm. If you listen to Ellington, Basie, Webb, Lunceford, Cab Calloway and then listen to Goodman, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Woody Herman you can hear that the black bands handle rhythm and time differently than the white bands. Of all the white bands I think that Krupa's 1938-41 band and Woody Herman's band probably came the closest to matching the rhythmic approach of the black bands, but there was still a gulf that separated them when it came to rhythm. Where this difference came from could be the subject of a book (probably already has), and has certainly been debated among jazz scholars for decades.

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Originally posted by Francesco the Magnificent:
Great post again hsos, are you coming to the Garden [for Cream’s shows at Madison Square Garden in October, 2005]?


Thanks. No, I won't be seeing Cream 2005. I don't know if you saw my post in the "More DVD Clips Are Available" thread, but watching the DVD clips of "Crossroads", "Outside Woman Blues" and "I'm So Glad" confirmed what I had suspected after watching all the bootleg videos and listening to all the bootleg audio recordings of the RAH gigs: that Cream 2005 is a very different band from the one that I saw twice in 1968. Here's what I wrote in that thread:

"I really feel bad for all of you who didn't have the opportunity to see Cream play live during 1966 - 1968. Although I realize that 'Cream 2005' is three men in their 60s, this band is but a pale reminder of the glory that was Cream in its prime. If the only opportunity you ever have to see them is in 2005 I suppose it's better than never being able to see them at all, but don't kid yourself that you're seeing the band that changed the course of rock music, because you aren't. All you have to do to prove this to yourself is compare the video version of "I'm So Glad" from the upcoming RAH DVD with the audio version of "I'm So Glad" that's on the 10/67 Grande Ballroom bootlegs. If you honestly think the 2005 version is better, then you really don't understand what made Cream such a great band in its prime. Thomas Wolfe was right: you can't go home again (and if you've never been there at all you don't even have the luxury of your own memories of it)."

I spent a total of $9.00 to see Cream twice in 1968. I won't be spending at least 500 times that much in 2005 to see what I think is an inferior band. 1968 was a very special time, never to come again.

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Originally posted by Francesco the Magnificent:
Sorry we won't see you there, hsos. I've seen the dvd preview clips too, and I agree that the band's sound is different and their ferocity level is way down from 1968. However, I've got to respectfully disagree with you on two points. First, this Cream IS the "same band" as the old one in every meaningful sense of the word. Same three guys. 'Nuff said. Second, I don't think that these particular three guys are ready to hang it up. They've all been quite creative since the band's original breakup. Now that they're putting their heads together again I believe we can expect more creative music from them (and that's a rare commodity in any year). This doesn't strike me as some lame oldies tour by a longshot - they're only playing rwo of their old hits fer crissakes. Rather, they seem to be restarting fresh from their original blues/rock base. No, for my part I'll be happy to listen to whatever music the band plays regardless of what volume they're playing it at. Hope you'll reconsider.


Gotta disagree with you on a few counts, FTM:

"Same three guys": Not exactly. None of us are the same persons we were 37 years ago. At the very least, all three members bring different musical influences and life experiences to the table now. Even though they may be playing the same songs, this makes the music they play substantially different in emotional content than the music they played 37 years ago. As a band they aren't saying the same thing in 2005 as they were saying in 1968. In fact, I don't think that Cream 2005's music has a very cohesive emotional content at all -- I can hear that the three of them are coming at this from three very different musical and emotional directions. What made Cream so potent in 1966 was that all three members wanted to show the world the power that rock music could have in the hands of virtuoso players. Putting their energies together in a single band proved this point for all time. What exactly are they saying in 2005? The only emotional messages they've communicated are "we better do this again while we still have the chance", and "let's give an opportunity to those who never got a chance to see us". Not very potent mantras for a band, in my opinion.

"I don't think that these particular three guys are ready to hang it up": Again, not exactly. For the past decade Ginger has been perfectly content to spend his life playing polo and never get behind a drumset again. The injuries that have made it so difficult for him to play were all sustained either playing polo or while tending to his horses. As posted elsewhere here, he hasn't played drums at all in the past two years, and I'm sure it was the lure of big $$ that got him back behind the kit. So while Jack and Eric definitely weren't ready to hang it up, Ginger's actions over the past 10 years indicate that he was.

"I believe we can expect more creative music from them": I hope you're right about this, but the lack of any new material at all at the RAH shows doesn't bode well for that prospect. They were in rehearsal for weeks (if not months) before those shows; if any new music was to come from this reunion I would think that they would have created it during those rehearsals, when they had lots of time. I'll certainly be excited if a CD of new Cream material appears, but if I had to place a wager on it I'd bet against it.

"they're only playing rwo of their old hits": No, their old hits were "Sunshine", "Badge", "White Room" and "Crossroads", and they played them all at RAH. However, I do agree that this doesn't make their reunion an "oldies tour".

"they seem to be restarting fresh from their original blues/rock base": Quite frankly I don't hear this at all. They already proved what they set out to prove as a band in 1966. For the 37 years since then Eric has been the journeyman blues musician he always wanted to be, and to my ears the RAH boots make this band sound much closer to an EC backup band than I ever imagined a reunited Cream would sound like. Their version of "Stormy Monday" -- the only non-Cream song they played, and therefore their best chance at staking-out new musical territory for the band -- sounds completely interchangeable with any of the hundreds of versions of it that Clapton has played in concert over the past two or three decades. I'm sorry, Francesco, but I just don't hear any new musical territory in those RAH boots, and I'm very, very disappointed to say so.

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Originally posted by Pressed Rat:
I was at RAH and it was absolutely great ... yes, they're different now. Maybe less "energy" as some have said, but they are now (unbelievably) better musicians, and far better sound ... and that incredible chemistry was there.


I absolutely disagree that they are now better musicians. There's absolutely no way anyone can make a credible case that Ginger is playing better now than he did in 1968 — it just isn't so. Compare the DVD clip of "Outside Woman Blues" at RAH with his playing on the song on Disraeli Gears. On the original his snare drum/bass drum patterns are integral to the song, really moving it forward and adding appropriate punctuation. On the DVD he plays straight time (with that jazzy 2 - 4 hi-hat that just doesn't fit here), and sounds like a drummer who hasn't even heard the original version. He just "plays-through" the song without adding any texture or counterpoint like he did on the original. Same with "Crossroads". In fact, to my ears on "Crossroads" he sounds like he's just barely hanging on. On "I'm So Glad" it's also straight time -- none of the cowbell on the verses that added spice to the original, none of the twists and turns that turned the song into an anthem during their first tour. To me, this does not make Ginger a better musician now than in 1968.

I'll defer to bass players for comparisons of Jack's 2005 playing and his 1968 playing, but to this drummer's ears, he's quite a few beats behind where he was in 1968 as well. I'm not saying that I expect him to be the same, considering his health issues, but them are the facts as I see (hear) them.

"Far better sound"? No doubt, but this has nothing to do with the band in 2005, it's the result of the tremendous improvements that have taken place in the state-of-the-art in concert sound technology in the past 35+ years. As I've posted elsewhere, Cream's farewell tour in 1968 was really the birth of the concert sound industry that exists today, since that was the first tour that played huge (10,000+-seat) indoor arenas, and the sound reinforcement technology available in 1968 was woefully inadequate to the task. So really, the improvement in sound quality at RAH can be directly attributed to Cream in 1968, not Cream in 2005.

As for "that incredible chemistry [being] there", I certainly don't hear it in their music. Maybe you could feel it if you were in the audience, but it doesn't come-through in the music on the DVD. Pressed Rat, I don't know if you ever saw Cream back in the 60s, but I did, and to my ears their musical chemistry in 2005 is miles behind where it was in 1968.

I'm not trying to throw cold water on anyone's party here, but that's what I think. Believe me, nobody's sadder about it than I am...nobody.

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Thread about who is the best drummer of all time

HS Post #1:

I've been following this thread for days and finally had to speak-up. Talking about "the best" drummer implies some sort of objective measure. Otherwise, we're really talking about "my favorite" drummer. Larry Dyer nailed it: "There's no way of knowing who is really the best drummer "of all time"...how do you rate that? Technique? Speed? Independance? Style? Endurance? Approach? Power? Finesse? Time keeping ability? Diversity?"

My contention is that if you could find a single drummer who was the best when measured by all of the above criteria you might very well have found "the best drummer of all time". If you objectively rate each drummer in each of the above measures you can narrow-down the field of greats to just a few, or perhaps, to only one.

Let's define each criteria:
Technique: How accurately the drummer translates his ideas into music. Is he unintentionally sloppy? Does he try to play things he can't execute? Is he always in command of his playing?
Speed: I contend this is more than simply playing fast. Does the drummer apply speed to enhance the music? Can he play with speed all over the kit, or only on the snare? Speed relates to technique in that it indicates the level of command that the drummer has on his instrument.
Independence: How well can the drummer execute different rhythms with different limbs? How well can the drummer apply this to the entire drumset, not just single elements of it?
Style: On the surface this seems to be totally subjective, so let's define it as this: How distinctive and original is the drummer's playing? How instantly-identifiable is he? How distinctive is his drum sound?
Endurance: This is probably impossible to measure, since all we have to use is recorded performances. Perhaps we can ask if the drummer is consistently able to maintain their energy level throughout an entire live performance. Of course, the style of music would come-into play here -- death metal drummers have extraordinary endurance, playing extremely loud and extremely fast throughout an entire concert performance.
Approach: I take this to mean "originality", which would make it a subset of 'style', above. Perhaps Larry Dyer could explain why he listed 'approach' as a separate quality...
Power: Is the drummer able to apply energy and drive to the music? Can he play powerfully at both high and low volumes? (Playing with power at a low volume is extremely difficult.)
Finesse: How musically does the drummer play at lower volumes? How well is he able to find "just the right thing" to play in many different musical situations? Can he play simple things that are nonetheless musically appropriate? Does he play with musical command at low energy levels as well as high energy levels?
Time-Keeping Abilty: Is the drummer's sense of time appropriate for the music? This does NOT necessarily mean how dead-steady the drummer's tempo is, since subtle tempo variations allow music to 'breathe', and add life to it. After all, a drum machine has perfect tempo, yet it's playing is highly amusical. For me, good time-keeping ability means precisely how the drummer uses tempo variations to enhance and bring life to the music.
Diversity: Can the drummer play appropriately in many different types of music? Does he sound just as comfortable playing jazz as he does playing hard rock?

I have my own ideas about how different drummers rate in each of the above measurements, but that's another post. For now I just wanted to see if anyone agrees with how I've defined the criteria. If so, then we can have some real fun trying to figure-out who's really the best drummer of all time.

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Originally posted by Larry Dyer:
HSO...first of all...thank you for the compliment. By approach I meant how does the drummer view his/her role as a musician. Do they view themselves as primarily a time-keeper or as an equal brother-in-arms who contributes to both melody and harmonics? Of course, the approach can vary from song to song.

In identifying the "style" of, say, Ginger, I think we could all agree that a significant aspect of his style reflects his African influences. But in approach, style sometimes isn't as important as is how he views and interprets things. I think a nice example is how he approached "As You Said" by using hi-hat only in comparison to the relentless drive he shows on something like Master of Reality's "She Got Me". Someone like Ginger knows his place in the music and what fits...even when sometimes the best thing to play is nothing.

In short...another term that can be substituted for "approach" is "interpretation". Without trying to sound like a politician...for me anyway...it's the visionary thing.


I hear ya, Larry. Then "approach" would also relate to "finesse" in that they both relate to finding just the right things to play. Judging from your examples, I think that by "approach" you also mean to include originality, since Ginger's choice of only the hi-hat for "As you Said" was certainly an original approach.

I don't know if you're familiar with Peggy Lee's famous recording of "Fever". The drummer on that was none other than Shelly Manne, and I've always loved how he approached that song. Rather than keep time (after all, with Monty Budwig playing bass the drummer has the luxury of not having to be the timekeeper), Shelly instead chose to provide 'answers' to Lee's vocal phrases, and the resulting musical point-counterpoint is absolutely delicious. Manne played that tune with extreme taste and finesse — it's always been one of my favorite drum performances.

I've always been partial to drummers who consider their role as that of an equal partner. I've never bought into the idea that the drummer is simply the timekeeper and groove-maker for the music. A drummer who takes musical advantage of all the instrument's potential is, for me, a much more interesting and important musician than one who simply accepts the expected role as a timekeeper. As much as I respect the ability and accomplishments drummers like Steve Ferrone and Jim Keltner, I never found their playing original or interesting. They simply do what's expected, and while that may support the music, it doesn't add anything to it or make it truly special -- it merely makes the music what everyone thinks and knows it should be. Part of what makes Ginger's playing so vital is that he refuses to remain tied to what's commonly expected of the drummer. He constantly searches for a new approach, and as a result his playing is always fresh and never fails to surprise. In short, he brings something to the music that no other drummer could have brought. He's a true original.

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Originally posted by Francesco the Magnificent:
I believe you Rick. I think that my point was that Bonzo's sound, and hence, reputation, was more a product of the studio than of his own talent. Seriously, how many other drummers get that much echo/equalization etc. applied to their drum tracks?


Bonham's sound was absolutely NOT a product of studio trickery, it was the result of how he played the instrument. Dave Mattacks tells the story of once having Bonham visit him at his home. Mattacks had a small jazz drumset in his den -- small drums (20" bass drum, 12" & 14" toms). He said that Bonham played that kit for a couple of minutes and sounded exactly like he did when he played his own drums (26" bass drum, 14", 16" & 18" toms). Mattacks said that he'd never heard his own set sound anything like how it sounded while Bonham was playing it. The sound is in the MAN, not in the drums, folks.

Bonham's reputation has much less to do with his sound and much more to do with his playing. Before any of you try to speak with authority about Bonham's playing I suggest that you trash your copies of the "Song Remains The Same" film and watch ALL of the recently-released Led Zeppelin DVD several times. After you do, it will become crystal-clear to you that John Bonham was a musician of extreme talent, taste and invention. To judge Bonham strictly by the "Song Remains The Same" film would be the same as judging Ginger only by Cream's 10/4/68 performance at the Oakland Coliseum. I saw Zep live 3 times (69, 70, 71) and Bonham's playing was the glue that held Zep's music together. Without him Page and Plant couldn't remain musically Earthbound. Page's playing is 100% responsible for Zeppelin's sloppy live sound. The worst thing I can say about Bonham's live playing is that he sometimes rushed his fills. The best thing I can say about it is that Zeppelin's live music absolutely revolved around and grew out of it — it was the essential element of their live sound. Not so of Ginger with Cream (a band of equals, but I must give the nod to Jack as being their essential element in live performances), Moon with The Who (it's all Townshend), Watts with The Stones (it's all Richards), or just about any other live band. Live, Zeppelin's music was all about Bonham.

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Originally posted by Bridge:
"Extreme talent, taste and invention?" I'm sorry, but no way. By the time I saw LedZep live - and nearly died in the process, as described elsewhere - I'd already seen (live) drummers of the calibre of Tony Williams, Jon Hiseman, Aynsley Dunbar, Mitch Mitchell. I knew what real talent, taste and innovation were - right there in front of me, I saw them.

If simply seeing great drummers play live gives someone the perspective necessary to judge a drummer's talent, then move-over, Bridge. I've had the pleasure of seeing live:

Ginger Baker
Buddy Rich
Louie Bellson
Billy Cobham
John Bonham
Bill Bruford
Tony Williams
Elvin Jones
Shelly Manne
Ralph Humphrey
Sonny Payne
Rufus Jones
B.J. Wilson
Carmine Appice
Mitch Mitchell
Jim Gordon
Kenny Jones
Mick Waller
Clive Bunker
Carl Palmer
Ian Wallace
Robert Wyatt
Cozy Powell
Ian Paice
Simon Phillips
Phil Collins
Lenny White
Neal Peart
Mike Mangini
and many, many, many others.

If sitting within 6 feet also confers the ability to make musical judgements, at performances by Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Elvin Jones, Bill Bruford, Ralph Humphrey, Simon Phillips and Ginger Baker I sat close enough to reach-out and touch their drums while they played (not that I did so, of course). But of course, none of the above really matters. What does matter is citing some examples to back-up our assertions.

Bonham was far from simply a basher. He had an uncanny ability to play just the right thing at just the right time (the definition of musical "taste"). Let's look at "Stairway To Heaven". Up till the point Bonham enters, the song has been acoustic guitar, electric piano, voice and recorders. Bonham had the taste to know that a bombastic entrance would destroy the mood of the song, so he played a simple 4-note decending fill that served to firmly announce his presence and take the song to the next level without overshooting the mark. Further examples of Bonham's taste are the two fills he plays out of the choruses in "Kashmir". Both are technically simple, because Bonham knew that complex fills would destroy the song's feel. The first fill also serves as a perfect musical "exclamation point", momentarily stopping the meter so the next verse can start from scratch -- brilliant. And of course, his playing throughout "Kashmir" is a perfect synthesis of heavy rock with just enough swing to maintain the song's Middle-Eastern roots. His playing is simple and immovable; completely effective and absolutely essential to the song.

And how about his wonderful shuffle in "Fool In The Rain"? Bonham's playing manages to keep the song at an ideal energy level while still maintaining a 'behind the beat' quality that adds just enough seriousness to keep the song firmly anchored in the rock realm. You can't listen to Jeff Porcaro's playing on "Rosanna" without being reminded of "Fool In The Rain", which came out years earlier. And on "Bron Yr Aur Stomp" he only plays bass drum, hi-hat and castanets (and when they played it live he also sang back-up vocals). And his two-handed shuffle intro to "Rock'n'Roll" speaks for itself when it comes to invention, as do his brilliant fills in "D'yer Mak'er". You want taste? How about his playing on "Since I've Been Loving You"? Very simple dotted eights/sixteenths keep things moving in spite of his sparing use of the snare and bass drum. You want invention? How about "Four Sticks", where Bonham plays the kit with 4 sticks instead of 2? (Years before Steve Gadd tried it in Paul Simon's "Late In The Evening".) Or his trememdous bass drum triplet fills in "Good Times, Bad Times". Bonham's playing was unique; his style and sound were instantly identifiable as his own; his influence is undeniable.

Face it, Bridge, if you look deeply into Bonham's playing with Zeppelin you'll find a wonderfully talented, tasteful and inventive drummer who, like Ginger Baker, was talented enough and fearless enough to do the unexpected (even if it meant playing very little) if he thought it would add to the music.

Oh, and Bridge, just how could you possibly know if on the night you saw Bonham live "he was playing as well as he was able"? Although I agree that it's not too difficult to tell if a musician is having an off-night, there's a tremendous gulf between an 'off-night' and 'playing as well as you're able'. A great musician makes great music even when they're not playing their absolute best. I'm quite sure that even though you may have thought that Bonham couldn't play better than when you saw him, in reality there were many times when he was much closer to his peak form. I saw Buddy Rich play live two dozen times and I would never be so presumptive as to pronounce that "he was playing as well as he was able" at any one of them. Only the musician himself could possibly know this.

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Originally posted by Francesco the Magnificent:
"When the Levee Breaks"? I'm sorry, but I have to stand by "studio trickery"...

Francesco: Do you even know how the drums on "When The Levee Breaks" were recorded? Bonham was set-up on the floor at the bottom of a huge stairwell in Headley Grange (an old castle) and two mics were placed on the second-floor landing. That's it -- no individual mics on any of the drums. What you're hearing is Bonham playing in a huge space, picked-up by two microphones feeding an analog tape recorder. A far cry from the sort of "studio trickery" that's common on recordings made today. I'm quite sure that if you were standing on the landing between those microphones on that day (oh, to have been there...) you would have heard exactly what's on the record and nothing less.

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Originally posted by Francesco the Magnificent:
Well defended hsos. I'm just glad we're talking music here and not indulging in mindless trolling like on the other forum. How about if I change the word "trickery" for "enhancement?" I won't deny that Bonzo was a tasteful drummer (i.e. that he played what was required of a song without overdoing it), but you're not going to tell me that the drum tracks on both Kashmir and Fool in the Rain haven't been tinkered with just a little, are you?

Well, the drums on "Kashmir" have been run through a slow flanger (phase-shifter) throughout the entire song. They duplicated this when they played it live, but the effect is relatively subtle on the studio recording, especially when compared with extreme phase-shifting such as you hear at the end of Carl Palmer's drum solo on the studio recording of ELP's "Tank". Now that's some studio tomfoolery. I can't recall any effects on the drum track of "Fool In the Rain", but I don't have "In Through The Out Door" on CD and got rid of all my vinyl (except for collectible stuff) about 15 years ago, so I'm remembering it from hearing it on classic rock radio over the past decade or so.

Today you have click tracks and digital editing that are used to squeeze all the life out of a drummer's performance. They can electronically pitch shift without effecting speed so they can re-tune a drum to better compliment the rest of the instruments. They can use the acoustic drum tracks to trigger sampled sounds so that what you hear isn't the instrument the musician actually played, or at a minimum add sampled sounds to the acoustic drum sounds. None of this crap was done to the drums on any Led Zeppelin records. Maybe they did some analog editing, maybe a little EQ and some compression. Very mild and benign compared with today. There's almost nothing on the drum tracks of a Led Zeppelin record that isn't just plain Bonham.

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Originally posted by Dan in Mississippi:
I really love Bonzo's playing, power, style, etc. Although I'd ultimately have to agree with Graeme's [Pattingale] write-up that Bonham didn't have the technical skills that Ginger did. Dan

I'm afraid I have to disagree with you and Graeme on this matter, Dan. If you listen carefully to both Ginger and Bonham you'll find that Bonham actually gets around the kit faster than Ginger, has a much faster and more powerful right foot, and uses speed as an element of his style much more than Ginger does. Bonham also varied his rhythmic patterns much more than Ginger does (Ginger sticks with straight 16th notes an awful lot more than Bonham did). Both drummers were very adept at integrating their hands and feet, using their feet as "extra hands" (of course, having two bass drums gives Ginger an edge in this area). The only area of technical skill where Ginger is clearly more advanced than Bonham is in limb independence -- Ginger's jazz background gave him a much greater ability to play different rhythms with his different limbs at the same time. But in speed and coordination and their application I think Bonham holds the edge over Ginger.

HOWEVER, technical facility alone does not a great drummer make. I think that Ginger's playing shows much greater musical imagination than Bonham's (and Bonham's was quite imaginative, as I discussed earlier in this thread). While Ginger's and Bonham's playing both had the capacity to suprise the listener, I would give Ginger the decided edge in this area, especially in the timekeeping patterns he came up with ("Politician", "Born Under A Bad Sign", "Sunshine", etc.) and how he applied conventional timekeeping patterns (for example, Ginger's playing on the live "Spoonful" on WOF is a brilliant use of 12/8 time in a rock context). And while both drummers infuse their playing with a lot of swing, I think that Ginger's playing shows a much wider variety of feels and grooves, partly due to his having been a jazzer, partly due to the African influence. Bonham's approach tended to be more one-dimensional than Ginger's. I think all of this makes Ginger a more musically vital and interesting drummer than Bonham, although I think they're both giants.

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Originally posted by lono:
Sorry, but the pathetic wretch playing drums on "The Song Remains the Same" should NEVER, EVER be spoken of in the same breath as that of a player like Ginger Baker. My grandmother can play better drums than that. Use all the excuses you can muster, but there's no excuse for a supposed "great" drummer playing drums that poorly in ANY context.

OK, without getting into a shouting-match, what in particular is it that makes you think Bonham's performace in SRTS is so awful? I'm fully aware that those MSG gigs were off-nights for Zep (check-out the 'Led Zeppelin' DVD if you want to see them at the top of their game), but I don't see or hear anything in SRTS that would lead me to think that Bonham was as bad a drummer as you say he is. Would you care to tell us why? We may learn something.

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Originally posted by lono:
Jeez, here we are discussing drum soloists the likes of Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, and Ginger Baker ... I don't know, if you can't tell what's the matter (the difference) with Bonzo's drum solo in Moby Dick from "The Song etc.", I don't know if I have the time here to expain it all. It has NO dynamics, goes NOWHERE, is a completely BORING, ham fisted attempt...

Well, this thread isn't just about drum soloists, it's about the best drummers. Lots of great drummers were poor soloists. Jo Jones (w/Basie from 1935 into the 1950s) and Dave Tough (replaced Krupa in Benny Goodman's band in 1938) were two of the most highly-respected jazz drummers to ever pick-up a pair of sticks, yet their soloing ability was universally acknowledged as lousy. I have an audiophile record (The Sheffield Drum Record) with Jim Keltner playing solo for about 7 or 8 minutes and it's musically dreadful, yet he's one of the most sought-after session drummers on Earth. For a great drummer, being able to play a terrific solo is the icing on the cake, not the whole enchilada (to mix food metaphors).

I admit that I've never found Bonham to be a particularly engaging soloist, although I have heard solos of his that have plenty of dynamics and form. My main complaint about him as a soloist is that many of his musical ideas seem under-developed; it sounds like he's working them out for the first time in front of us. And while I heartily approve of improvisation, you'd best have your shit together before you do it -- otherwise you'll sound lame (Dead fans take note). Bonham's soloing is too full of musical dead-ends for my taste. And like most rock drum soloists of the late 1960s - 1970s (including Ginger), he often overstayed his welcome, repeating himself and building to too many false climaxes during his solo.

BUT... drumming is about much more than just playing drum solos. The overwhelming majority of what a drummer plays is during songs. Cream played for 2+ hours at RAH this May; less than 6 minutes of that was a drum solo. Same with a Zeppelin concert: Out of a 2½-hour concert, only about 15-20 minutes was drum soloing. A few posts up in this thread I wrote a farily detailed comparison between the way Ginger plays during songs and the way Bonham plays. If you want to gain some insight on Bonham's drumming you might want to read it and then listen to the specific examples I've cited.

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Quote from lono:
faster than Ginger???, please, don't make me laugh!

There is absolutely no doubt that Bonham played faster than Ginger. Listen to the studio 'Moby Dick". At 3:16 Bonham plays a hand-foot pattern at the same tempo that Ginger also plays it, but Bonham plays the double bass drum notes on one bass drum (Ginger uses two). At 3:49 Bonham explodes with a hand-foot triplet pattern similar to Ginger's 'helicopter' pattern, but once again, he only uses a single bass drum, and he plays it faster than Ginger does. These two examples show Bonham's remarkable speed and coordination.

Listen to "Carouselambra", ('In Through The Out Door'). The descending triplet fills that Bonham plays at the ends of some of the verses are faster than anything I've ever heard Ginger play. There are several instances on the live Zep DVD where he plays figures that are quite a bit faster than Ginger ever has played (at least on officially-released material and the hour of solos that I recorded at his home).

Ginger's playing style is not about speed: It's about melody, swing and form. Ginger is a master at building logical melodic and rhythmic musical phrases. His fills during the verses in "White Room" are so perfect that by the end of the song they've become an integral element of the drum part. You miss them when they're not there, like at RAH this May — Ginger didn't play the fills and the song suffered for it. His solos are about building phrases that start simply, then he elaborates upon them in a "theme-and-variations" style until he reaches a musical climax. Then he moves on to another theme and repeats the process. In "Toad" on WOF he does this several times. He also uses "call-and-response" (playing a figure, then answering it with a complimentary figure -- something originated by Max Roach, one of Ginger's heroes). The early part of "Toad" on WOF (where he brings-in the hi-hat for the first time) is a call-and-response.

On the other hand, Bonham's solos are more about playing different hand-foot patterns that he repeats on different drums. He doesn't vary each pattern, he only changes the drums he plays them on, so it's not really a theme-and-variations the way Ginger plays. This hand-foot pattern basis for drum solos is what is used by the vast majority of rock drummers, and unless the solo is kept short, its lack of logical musical melody and rhythm can quickly become boring and monotonous for the audience (even for most drummers). On the other hand, jazz drummers tend to play solos the way Ginger does, although very few of them play solos that last longer than a minute. Louie Bellson's solos were closer to rock drum solos, although he punctuated his patterns with bursts of melody. Buddy Rich's solos are quintessential jazz drum solos, but he plays so damn fast that the incredible melodic elements become mostly a blur to an ear that hasn't become accustomed to listening for how rapidly the music goes by.

Baker and Bonham are stylistically miles apart, yet the playing of each was perfectly-suited to the musical situations they were in. I couldn't imagine Cream without Ginger any more than I can imagine Led Zeppelin without Bonham. To dismiss him as only "ham-fisted", a "bricklayer" (since when is that an insult?) and "a pathetic mess" is to tell the world that you really haven't listened to the music the man was making.

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Originally posted by lono:
Hey hso, I think zep's musicianship is putrid, but next time you get a chance, ask Eric, Jack, or Ginger what they think of it. Being actual musicians, they can probably articulate it better than myself. Hendrix thought they were terrible. Townshend said they were disgusting. They are people that would know. As for Black Sabbath, last time I checked Ozzie hadn't bought Alister Crowley's frickin house because he was so obsessed with the occult. Sabbath isn't my favorite band of all time either, but I'll take Tony Iommi in a heartbeat over Page.

I don't look to others to make up my mind for me, lono, not even to musicians whose playing I respect -- I'm quite well able to arrive at my own opinions about music; I don't need Jack, Ginger or Eric to tell me what's good.

Truth be told, Ginger has never had anything good to say about any rock drummer -- none. The only drummers he respects are jazz players, so if you feel that his opinion is always valid you must also think that Neal Peart, Keith Moon, Ian Paice, Cozy Powell, Carmine Appice, Carl Palmer, Simon Phillips, Vinnie Paul, Omar Hakim, Steve Gadd, Jim Gordon, Steve Ferrone, Mickey Hart, Billy Kreutzman, Charlie Watts, Mitch Mitchell, Steve Smith, Jon Hiseman, Michael Giles, Bill Bruford, Terry Bozzio, Phil Collins and every other rock drummer who's ever lived are all a bunch of stone wankers, because Ginger has often dismissed them out-of-hand as such. So tell me, lono, when was the last time you pulled-out a Max Roach record and listened to it? Or one featuring Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Baby Dodds, Phil Seaman, Elvin Jones, Sid Catlett, Joe Jones or Gene Krupa?

As for Jack and Eric, I could imagine them not liking Led Zeppelin, but I seriously doubt that they felt as you do about the individual members' talents. John Paul Jones is a superb and versatile musician who is extremely well-respected by his contemporaries, and I'm sure Jack feels this way too. Page was also a very well-respected session musician before he joined the Yardbirds -- one of London's 'A-List' guys. During the mid 1960s the music scene in England was pretty tight-knit -- everybody knew everybody else. (Ginger was the one who recommended Charlie Watts for the drum chair in The Stones.) Clapton has played on stage with Page, and I doubt that he was muttering insults under his breath at the time. If you can show me any legitimate interviews with Jack and Eric that back-up your assertion I'll glady check them out. Anecdotal evidence doesn't count.

By the way, lono I am a musician -- 43 years playing drums and percussion (which is more playing experience than any of the members of Cream had at the time the band was a going concern).

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Originally posted by lono:
If you remember the interview Eric gave to Rolling Stone at the time of the ARMS Concert in '83, you'll remember he denied EVER having worked with Page, EVER (when we all know that's not true). Why do think that is?

Well, since it was 1983 I have a hunch the reason Clapton couldn't remember ever working with Page is because he was drunk through just about all of the 1980s.

There's plenty of interviews out there where EC, Jack, and Ginger lament the poor quality of the musicianship in zepplin. Even in a recent interview, EC said he "didn't appreciate" the direction led zep took the blues

Where were these interviews published? I'd like to read them. As I said, anecdotal evidence doesn't count.

Apparently, you're so hung up on yourself this stuff goes right by you. And BTW asshole, I don't need ANYONE else's opinions to form my own, I'm the most opinionated person in the world. This is a Cream site which is the only I brought up the opinions of EC, Jack, and Ginger. 43 years in music, dude, you should find another job ...

Lono, maybe you should carefully read my posts and then carefully read your own. Do you really want to start a pissing contest with me?

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FranciscoTheMagnificent: You make some interesting and thoughtful points. I'd like to discuss the ones that relate specifically to Ginger and Bonham, since this is a thread about drummers.

quote:

I'm sorry hsos, but next to Ginger's structure and intensity, Bonzo's efforts on Moby Dick just don't compare favorably.

No argument there, Francesco. As I wrote way up in this thread "I've never found Bonham to be a particularly engaging soloist", and I went on to explain why I think Ginger is a much better soloist. To paraphrase myself, Ginger's solos are much more musically inventive and interesting, containing a greater variety of musical themes that he more thoroughly develops. However, like Bonham I think that he often dragged motifs on a little too long. I've never heard a 15-minute solo in "Toad" that wouldn't have been more musically satisfying if Ginger had edited his own playing down to about 11 minutes.

quote:

you have done a commendable job of demonstrating that Bonzo possessed solid drumming technique. I'd also be a fool to deny either that Bonzo was a great influence on all heavy rock drummers, or that his playing was well suited to his band's musical vision. These same compliments must be paid to both Ringo ("suddenly, everyone wanted to copy me silly little fills") and Charlie Watts. However, hsos, I spent a few years in the music biz myself and I know a few major league professional drummers too (Steve Gadd and Kenny Aronoff among them), and I agree with their opinion that - taken outside the context of their respective bands - neither Bonzo, Ringo or Charlie was anything special, and that none of them has ever demonstrated either technical ability or musical inventiveness of that curmudgeonly, arrogant old bastard Ginger Baker.

In the case of Bonham, I think this must remain an unanswered question, because of course, we never had the chance to hear him play in other musical situations. Although your contention may be correct, I think that Bonham's talent as a drummer ran deeper than most people (your illustrious friends included) suspect. We have heard Ringo and Charlie in other musical contexts, and I agree that their playing was nothing special. However, neither Ringo nor Charlie were anywhere near as talented as Bonham was -- Zep's records show that he was simply a much, much better drummer than either of them were, so I wouldn't assume that just because Ringo and Charlie fared poorly outside of their original bands that Bonham would have as well. (I don't think that Watts' drumming even fares all that well within the context of the Stones, but that's best left for a different discussion.)

quote:

One point that I'm sold on is that when a band has lots of time in the studio to make a record, it's a lot easier for the drummer to work out the appropriate beats and grooves for the songs. I think Bonzo's reputation benefits from the fact that he always had the luxury of time.

Another interesting point, and another that must remain speculation, unless you have anecdotal evidence that I'm not aware of. (Any stories from Page, Plant and Jones in this regard?) It's also quite possible that Bonham worked-out his drum parts quickly, while large amounts of studio time were taken-up with other matters. One thing I will say is that Bonham's drums parts don't sound like they had been refined to a fine degree. If in reality his parts were meticulously worked-out in advance, then I must commend Bonham's talent at being able to make them sound as fresh as if he were composing them spontaneously.

quote:

Ginger's drumming was both innovative - certainly no contemporary rock drummer played "drum parts" (as many here would have it).like he did - and suited to the band's songs. In several instances, particularly on Sunshine and Ulysses, it actually MAKES the band's songs; as you know, guys who play a basic four on the floor rock beat to that material make it sound positively pedestrian.

While I certainly agree about "Sunshine", I don't think that the drum part in "Ulysses" is all that unique. I think Ginger's playing in "White Room" more strongly makes your point. And at the recent RAH gigs Ginger did in fact play "White Room" with a basic four-on-the-floor beat, leaving-out his own classic fills, and the song did sound positively pedestrian because of it. I've pointed this out elsewhere on this board.

quote:

Ginger is a colossus. No other drummer, rock, jazz or whatever, has done for the instrument what he has. It's time to give the man his due.

I've always given Ginger his due here on this forum. Just because I think Bonham was more talented than many here give him credit for in no way disses Ginger -- this isn't an 'either-or' situation. I can (and do) recognize them both. I also agree that Ginger was extremely important in the overall history of the instrument (an influence that has been sadly overlooked by most drummers), but one cannot deny Bonham's influence either.

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Thread about what type of music Jimi Hendrix would be playing had he lived

Originally posted by white room:
The big question is would JH have endured as well as Clapton and maintained the public profile that EC has?

I don't know how old you are, White Room, but that's a question we've been asking ourselves ever since the day Jimi died 35 years ago. There's simply no way to answer it -- there really isn't even any way we can speculate about it, since Jimi's musical muse was anything but linear: You never knew where it was going to lead him. On the other hand, Clapton's muse is and has always been the blues, which is very steady and predictable. In fact, if Clapton, not Hendrix had died in 1970 it would have been much easier to have predicted what kind of music he would be making in 2005, that's for sure. Those of you who were adults in 1970, think about it: Put yourself back in 1970, and from that vantage point it's not much of a stretch to imagine Clapton's 2005-era music. In fact, it's not at all difficult to imagine the entire arc of his musical career. But Hendrix? You could stand in 1970 and cast-about in almost any musical direction and plausibly imagine Hendrix going there.

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Thread about Cream's live sound on the 1968 farewell tour resulting from personal rifts within the band

Originally posted by Bridge:
Everyone - I just wanted to draw your attention to a great post from 5thD on the "To all the guitar playin' folks..." in case you've missed it. It comes in a conversation between 5thD and rabbit about Clapton's use of the Firebird. Rabbit in a later post compliments the insight in what 5thD says below:

5thD:
"the sound on i'm so glad/goodbye kind of complements the acrimony that existed between the band members at the time. similarly, bruce's tone and riff selection at that point had gotten increasingly unorthodox."

I agree with rabbit; 5thD's observation is really interesting and could open up a whole direction in new appreciation of Cream's sound in relation to how the three of them were with each other at any one time: the degree to which changes in the band's sound reflected their inner feelings about each other and themselves.

A very interesting interpretation, but I was at the Forum the night the cuts were recorded for 'Goodbye', and I can tell you that the recording sounds very little like Cream sounded live in the hall that night. I remember being extremely disappointed when the album came out in 1969 that the sound of the live cuts sucked as bad as it did given my vivid memory of how it sounded, and spending the past 30 years in the audio industry (over 20 years making live recordings myself) has only deepened my disappointment. In particular, Bruce's sound on those cuts ("Politician" in particular) is much drier and deader than he actually sounded in the Forum. It's a shame, but those recordings managed to drain all of the life out of the way they really sounded. That night the hall crackled with energy from the band, none of which seems to have made it onto the tapes. The recordings on WOF and Live Cream Volume 1 are much closer to how the band sounded that night. While it's certainly true that Eric's SG 'sang' more than the Firebird ever did, the difference isn't nearly as extreme as the sound on the 'Goodbye' recordings would lead you to believe. Riff selection is a different matter...

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Originally posted by Monkey Banana:
hsosdrum, you were there [at The Forum on 10/19/68 when Cream recorded the live cuts featured on their "Goodbye" album]? It must have sounded good based on your post. But, the forum is a large venue. Was the sound system large? Was it up to the task? Were Ginger's drums miked? Was it frighteningly loud for '68?

I was sitting dead center on the floor, about 20 rows from the stage. As I've posted in other threads, the sound system was quite small by today's standards but was large for 1968. Ginger's drums were indeed miked (3 or 4 Shure SM56s and 2 old 1930s-era RCA 44 ribbon mics), and he was well-balanced with Jack and Eric. However, when Cream first started playing that night the volume was considerably lower than we were used to at other concerts at the time, and dozens of people in the audience yelled "Turn it up!". The sound guys did turn it up during the second or third song, but even then it wasn't as loud as when Cream played smaller venues during their first and second tours. In fact, it wasn't even as loud as when I saw Hendrix at the Hollywood Bowl (outdoors) a month earlier (I was about the same distance from the stage at both shows).

As for the sound on the recordings, I remember there being much more 'snap' to the live sound than you hear on the recordings -- it was much crisper and had more 'air'. As someone else posted, they may have recorded those shows using only a 4-track recorder, which would have severely limited their ability to use additional mics to pick-up the ambience in the hall, which is now standard practice in live recording. This makes the 'Goodbye' live cuts sound more like a soundboard tape than a live recording.

Here's an excerpt from another post I made in another thread about concert sound systems back in 1968:

As for what sound systems were like back then, this was before manufacturers began designing and building speakers and amps specifically to amplify live music at such loud volumes. At that time the only equipment available were movie theater sound systems. Most of these consisted of 1945-vintage Altec components, known collectively as "Voice Of The Theater". The bass speakers were huge combination horn/bass reflex cabinets that typically held two 15" bass drivers. High frequencies were usually reproduced by one or more multicell horns. When Cream played at the Shrine Exposition hall in March of 1968 the sound system had two Altec model 210 bass cabinets (each was over 7 feet tall, with 2 x 15" bass drivers) and two Altec model 805B multicell horns (each with a single horn driver) on each side of the stage, which was a huge system for that time. [The sound system at the Forum was maybe 50% larger than this, but the Forum holds 8 times as many people.] I have no idea what amps were being used. (At that time the most powerful amps available would have been Crown DC300s, which delivered 150 watts x 2 into 8 ohms.) A typical rock show today would have more total drivers and way more amp power just for the stage monitors.

Cream's farewell tour was the first to play huge (10,000+ seat) indoor arenas, and its unprecedented success spawned today's live rock concert industry. This new industry forced audio manufacturers like JBL, Crown, and Altec to begin producing products specifically designed to reproduce live rock music. Speaker cabinets got smaller and more densely-packed with drivers, so they would have more output and be easier to transport (the Altec cabinets I described above were 7 feet tall, 3 feet wide and more than 3 feet deep and weighed nearly 300 pounds -- each!) . Amplifiers got smaller and more powerful. Mixing consoles became more sophisticated and reliable. Microphones specifically designed for use on concert stages were developed. (At the time of Cream's first incarnation the only pro-quality mics available were designed for use in recording studios. They were physically large, and for the most part too delicate to survive much use on stage at a rock show.) The bottom line is that Cream changed everything about rock music... EVERYTHING.

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Thread about a Cream ticket [in 2005] being worth $1,000 or not

The first time I saw Cream in 1968 was as close to a religious experience as I've ever had. It was the confluence of many different things at that moment in time that made that night so life-altering for me. There's no way that seeing Cream on stage in 2005 could mean as much to me as that experience I had when I was 16. It's not Cream's fault -- I'm 37 years older and the world is 37 years different. (Although after hearing the boots from RAH I feel that they've lost much of the fire and committment to the music that make Cream and their music so important to me.) Spending a lot of money to see them now could only disappoint me on many levels. I'll remain satisfied with my very special memories of seeing them twice in 1968, and the powerful emotions that I feel every time I listen to their recordings from that era. And of course, I'll be first in line to buy the DVD. But spend $1,000 to see them at MSG? I'd get way more long-term emotional satisfaction from spending $1,000 on a new snare drum. (In fact, I've got my eye on a couple of new Ludwigs...)

If I hadn't seen them in 1968 I might feel differently about it, (a friend who never saw them first time around spent several thousand dollars to fly to London and see them twice at RAH and feels it was worth every penny), but I did, and that makes all the difference to me.

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Thread about Eric Clapton being the "most important musician of the last 50 years"

originally posted by goin down slow:
That very fact is why I’m willing to go on record saying that Eric Clapton is the most important musician of the last 50 years. As songwriter/lyricist, there are many better than him. But as a preservationist, none are more important than Clapton himself.

I really don't want to rain on anyone's parade, since you all seem to be having such a good time here on this thread, but only someone with a 20-year old's lack of perspective would state that Clapton is the most important musician of the past 50 years. In fact, it can be very convincingly argued that Clapton isn't even the most important guitarist of the past 50 years, let alone most important overall musician.

Consider the entire past 50 years of musical history (back to 1955, and the beginnings of of rock'n'roll) and then objectively examine the influence any musician during this period has had on both other musicians and on the world at large (the only reasonably objective yardsticks one can use when measuring an artist's importance). By these standards, Clapton's overall importance is far, far eclipsed by that of Lennon/McCartney as songwriters and The Beatles as a group, by Bob Dylan as a songwriter, by Elvis Presley as a singer, and by Jimi Hendrix as a guitarist, just to name a few.

By your own admission Clapton is a "more than competent" vocalist, and that as a songwriter/lyricist "there may be many better". You even say that he's "arguably the greatest guitar player of all time", which leaves lots of wiggle room for other opinions. By what standard can these statements possibly add-up to "the most important musician of the past 50 years"?

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Originally posted by lono:
Funny HSOSDRUM but the artists you mention probably would agree with GOINDOWNSLOW and give YOU the stink eye. Think of it, Jimi Hendrix only went to England with the promise that Chas Chandler would introduce him to Clapton (history making). Jimi went out to buy his 1st Marshall amp after hearing the Bluesbreakers album (history making). The Les Paul guitar, which had been discontinued, was put back into production as a direct result of the success of the Bluesbreakers album (history). Who's the only other guitarist to be invited to play with The Beatles? ... Eric Clapton (and he put on a stunning solo). Who was the main axeman who recorded with George Harrison AND John Lennon after the demise of the Beatles? ... Eric Clapton. Who's the man who singlehandedly got the blues back to the forefront (and took on the Beat Groups who were having so much success at the time) so guys like BB King, Buddy Guy, Skip James, etc. could make a decent living again? ... Eric Clapton (and they would be 1st to tell you so). Who's guitar playing was so influental that Duane Allman followed him from gig to gig on Cream's '67 US tour? ... Eric Clapton. Who's recorded with BB King, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones, Steve Winwood, Aretha Franklin, (to name just a few???) ... Eric Clapton. Who wrote most famous love song and one of the most popular songs of all time? ... Eric Clapton. Who was the lead guitarist of the most influential power trio of all time? ... Eric Clapton. Who is the ONLY artist to be inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame 3 times? ... Eric Clapton. Who's the only guitarist with the clout to put something like the "Crossroads Guitar Festival" togethor ... Eric Clapton (and not for his own glory, but for charity). Who, as a solo artist at 60 years of age is still selling out 20,000 seat venues on the strength of his own name? ... Eric Clapton. That's just for starters, sounds to me like GoinDownSlow is dead on correct in his assessment! There have been few if any artists in the history of rock who have been more influential than Eric Clapton, period.

Nice try, lono, but The Beatles changed the course of musical history across the board. Their influence reaches throughout all genres of pop and rock music and well into jazz and serious music (what's commonly referred to as "classical" music). When examined against the whole of musical history for the last 50 years Clapton's influence is very narrow and shallow. His songwriting has no meaning beyond those fans who buy his music. On the other hand, The Beatles (Lennon/McCartney) and Bob Dylan shifted ALL of popular songwriting away from simple love songs and into much more socially-relevant territory. Everyone who has written a song with lyrics about something more than "I love her, she loves me" or "I miss her", or "She dumped me; I'm so blue" has Lennon/McCartney and Dylan to thank for it. I can't over-emphasize how important this is -- EVERY SINGLE SONG written in the past 40 years has blood lines back to Lennon/McCartney and/or Dylan. When judged on this scale Clapton's influence doesn't even register.

On another level, The Beatles introduced the whole concept of using multi-track recording to create pop music in the studio that couldn't be re-created verbatim live -- they were the first to apply this technique to popular music. This completely and forever changed the way pop music was recorded, and changed the way musicians even conceive of music. Every group that goes into the studio and spends weeks layering extra parts into their music owes this directly to The Beatles. This influenced everyone -- EVERYONE. Without it, Pink Floyd couldn't have recorded "Dark Side Of The Moon"; Jimi Hendrix couldn't have recorded "1983...". In fact, just about every rock and pop record made in the last 35 years owes a debt to The Beatles (and to George Martin, their producer). Clapton can claim no similar influence when it comes to recording technique. In fact, he's one of the many who owes that debt to The Beatles. (Three simultaneous guitar solos in "Politician"? Send a thank-you to The Beatles, Mr. Clapton.)

Charity events? George Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh was the first large-scale rock charity event. Clapton played at it, but George was the very first with the clout to conceive and organize the whole thing (and this was back in 1971). And Bob Geldof had the clout to put Live Aid together in 1985 while Clapton was still struggling with his personal demons. (And Live Aid was an international event, not a single-location festival.) Sorry, lono, but compared with Harrison and Geldof, Clapton's but a babe in the woods in the rock charity department, certainly not an innovator, and certainly not the only one with that much clout (Geldof's recent Live 8 concerts were held in London, Berlin, Tokyo, and the US. Now THAT'S international clout.)

Playing with The Beatles and John Lennon may accord Clapton some degree of respect, but your statement leads to an obvious conclusion: The only reason this matters is because The Beatles were so important that anyone who played with them received notice and a certain degree of respect. All because of how important THE BEATLES were, not the other way around.

Recording with a bunch of artists doesn't, by itself, elevate a musician's importance. Hal Blaine was the drummer on more #1 records than any other human being in history, but that certainly doesn't make him a more important musician than Dylan, The Beatles, or Elvis. The same goes for Clapton.

I'll leave the guitar playing arguments to others. Suffice it to say that although Hendrix may have counted Clapton as a strong influence, Hendrix certainly can't be considered a desciple of Clapton's. Hendrix took Clapton's influence, combined it with many other diverse influences and created a revolution in guitar playing. Reasonable people can argue that either Clapton or Hendrix is the most influential guitarist, but the issue is by no means settled one way or the other. This is the ONLY area where Clapton's influence can be measured on a long-term scale, and yet this is but one small area in the vast pantheon of all of music.

A musician's importance must be judged by how their music has influenced the overall course of music. On the overall road that music has taken over the past 50 years Eric Clapton is but a small bump, while The Beatles were a hairpin turn in a completely different direction. Their tremendous influence includes how instruments are played, how songs and lyrics are written and how music is recorded in the studio. No musician in the past 50 years comes close to the having as much influence on all of music that The Beatles had -- none.

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Originally posted by GoinDownSlow:
in my view, no single musician has done more for modern music than Clapton, but arguments could certainly be made for Mssrs. Lennon, McCartney, Dylan.

The gist of your argument seems to be that Clapton's music serves as a gateway for you to other musics, and this is what makes him so important. Well, a good music history professor could also do that, GDS, yet I doubt that you would bestow upon that professor the title of "most important musician of the past 50 years". All that takes is for you to be exposed to different musics, and to then listen to them with open ears.

Truth be told, The Beatles music is also chock-full of the influences of other musics. They were the first pop musicians to incorporate Indian and mid-eastern musical influences (thanks to George). "Eleanor Rigby" has them accompanied by a classical string quartet, while "For No One" features a French Horn solo. There are a great many modern serious musical influences in The Beatles music -- Bartok, Vaughan-Williams, Cage and others. They revolutionized harmony and chord structure in pop music. Country influences? How about "Act Naturally" (originally done by Buck Owens), "Honey Don't" and "Matchbox" (originally by Carl Perkins). Roots of rock'n'roll? There's "Twist And Shout", "Rock'n'Roll Music", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Please Mr. Postman", "Chains', and "Baby It's You", along with a few others I can't think of just now. There's 1920s dance hall music in "When I'm Sixty-Four". For a couple of generations of music lovers that came before you, The Beatles were just as much a gateway to other musics as Clapton is for you. But this isn't what makes a musician truly important in the grand scheme of things, since there are many different ways one can be exposed to these other musics. (Remember that music appreciation professor...)

What defines a musician's real importance (in a 'general truth' sort of way) is: How Much Did He/They Influence Other Musicians? Did He/They Change Music? Was Music Different After He/They Came Along? (and if so, How Much Different?) There's simply no other way to judge an artist's overall importance as it relates to their art and to those who experience their art.

Think of it this way: On the one hand we have an artist whose art is tremendously popular and has millions of fans who love and find great meaning in his art. On the other hand we have an artist who is tremendously popular and has millions of fans who love and find great meaning in his art. His art has also influenced other artists so much that all art that follows has been changed by it. Which artist is more important? Of course it's the second. Well, Eric Clapton is the first artist, The Beatles are the second. (You simply can't make a truthful case that Clapton's music has influenced other musicians so much that it has changed all music that has followed it. That's just not the case.)

The Beatles simply are the most important musical force on Earth in the past 50 years. Look at how pop/rock songs were written before The Beatles and after The Beatles: There's an enormous change that can be directly attributed to them. In fact, their influence as songwriters has permeated all forms of songwriting. Do the same thing with Eric Clapton: no influence whatsoever. Look at how pop/rock music was recorded (and therefore, how it is conceived by musicians) before The Beatles and after The Beatles: There's an enormous change that can be directly attributed to them. Do the same thing with Eric Clapton: no influence whatsoever. Look at the way vocal harmonies are constructed before The Beatles and after The Beatles: There's a definite, but not so enormous change that can be directly attributed to them. Do the same thing with Eric Clapton: no influence whatsoever. The only area in which Clapton's influence is undeniable is in the realm of guitar playing, and even in that, there are others who have arguably had as much or more influence.

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That was interesting stuff with the multi-track recording going back to The Beatles, I had no idea. But-- and this may be just the stuff of legends, correct me if I'm wrong-- the sound on the Beano album-- plugging the guitar in directly to achieve that incomparable sound on Hideaway, Steppin' Out, and others-- couldn't one argue that it's just as influential... mechanically, if you will... to modern music production as George Martin's multi-track recording? And again, wasn't that sound/technique discovered by Clapton himself?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Clapton get his famous "Beano" sound by using a Les Paul through a 60-watt Marshall combo amp w/2 x 12" Celestions? And even if he did plug directly into the board, that wasn't particularly influential, because very, very few guitarists since then have recorded this way (the only one who comes to mind right now was none other than... John Lennon, for his guitar solo on "Revolution"). Almost every guitarist who goes into a studio uses an amp, they don't plug directly into the board (and if they do plug directly in, they go through all sorts of electronic trickery that was beyond even science fiction in 1966). On the other hand, every rock and pop album recorded since 1967 has used multi-tracking as pioneered by The Beatles. EVERY one, including all of Clapton's albums.

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Clapton's music offers a clear and diverse lineage that can be followed to the very roots of rock and roll, taking you along the way to things otherwise impossibly met.

 Sort of true, but hardly unique, since Clapton's music is surely not the only path one can take to arrive at "the very roots of rock and roll" and find "things otherwise impossibly met". The Beatles were just as big a gateway for millions of others, yet that's not the criteria I use to judge their importance -- it's too personal. Important? You've certainly convinced me that Clapton's music is important to you, but if you want to proclaim that it's IMPORTANT in a 'general truth' sort of way you're going to have to find reasons that are much more universal. And I'm afraid they don't exist. If you go beyond yourself into the realm of objective judgement, Clapton's importance is miniscule compared with that of The Beatles.

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Then, after many posts of the "I like [XYZ] the best" variety:

Everyone:

There is a difference between personal feelings and objective facts. When someone makes the statement "Eric Clapton is the most important musician of the past 50 years", they are making a statement of objective fact. To have any value, such a statement must be able to stand-up to scrutiny beyond people's personal feelings and opinions.

So now we need to determine what sort of scrutiny the statement must be judged against. In my posts I set-out some objective standards that are commonly used in the world to judge the importance of art and artists. (Namely, the artist's influence among his peers and those who followed, and the changes in art that can be directly linked to the artist's work.) Judging Eric Clapton's music against these objective standards leads anyone who can think along logical lines to the conclusion that Clapton's influence in the overall scheme of music history for the past 50 years is quite limited.

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And a note to Zenon: I'm quite aware that Les Paul invented multi-track recording (I have CDs of his records with Mary Ford, and saw a whole slew of his early equipment at the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame). In fact, Tom Dowd (the engineer of Disraeli Gears and Cream's live recordings) used an 8-track recorder on many jazz sessions during the late 50s and early 60s. However, he still recorded the music 'live', in real time -- he just put different instruments on different tracks so he could more fully control them when they mixed the songs down later. What The Beatles did differently was to actually use the multi-track technology as a creative and compositional tool. They used it to create music that couldn't be played live in real time. THIS is what revolutionized pop and rock music -- the application of this technology directly to the creation of the art. This step can't be overemphasized. Les Paul's application of the multi-track technique was (unjustly, in my opinion) regarded as merely a gimmick at the time he was pioneering it in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It wasn't until The Beatles used it as a compositional tool that it's use became widespread.

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Originally posted by lono:
Sorry, I've never been one to look the other way. Never have and I'm not gonna start now. When someone is beating you out in the alley and everyone else looks the other way, you'll be glad I'm there. So if you want to come on this Cream reunion site and piss on good old Eric, I'm gonna be right here to defend him, because I know it's a bunch of crap. On top of being one of the most influential artists in the history of rock, he is also known as one of rock's gentler souls and nicest guys. Case in point, what he's doing right now for his buddies Jack and Ginger, who have recently faced very difficult times. I'm extremely sick of hearing this BS EC slagging day after day. If you don't like being slagged off, then stop the slagging. And MFC, why keep bringing up the Beatles over and over again? We all know how great the Beatles were, talk about cliche. There's probably about a million Beatles websites where you can go on and say positive things about the fab four. This is the Cream reunion site for crying out loud!

Are you trying to say that a website dedicated to Cream is not a proper place to rationally discuss the relative importance of different musicians, one of whom was a member of the group the site is dedicated to? Give me a break, lono, this is the PERFECT place for such a discussion.

I never "pissed on" gool old Eric. I merely challenged a poster's assertion about his overall importance as it relates to the past 50 years of music history. In my posts I've listed solid objective reasons why I feel the poster's assertion is not true. This is how civilized people discuss issues, and is one of the ways open-minded people learn and grow in their lives.

Just because this website is about Cream, it doesn't automatically follow that everything about the band and each of its members is beyond reproach or beyond question. I'm trying to get people who seem to have a somewhat limited view of the vast expanse of the past half-century of music to expand their knowledge by considering an alternate perspective. In other words, I'm trying to provide the means for people to increase their enjoyment of music by increasing their understanding of it. They don't have to accept what I post as the gospel truth. All they have to do is consider that it is a valid alternative to their own personal views, and use it to question their own opinions and therefore, better understand why they feel as they do. Lighten-up a little and have some fun here, lono.

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Originally posted by lono:
No HSO, I do NOT believe this is a forum to dicuss all the other bands that are better than Cream, all the other guitarists that are better than Clapton, etc. No, I personally don't think that's what this site is for at all. That's where we differ.

OK, then don't post anything that challenges anyone's preconceived notions or causes them to become curious and think. No problem. You can always skip my posts if they bother you.

I don't think you're increasing anybody's "enjoyment" of music by helping them to "understand" it. How presumtuous [sic] of you make such a statement. What are you, some kind of professor or something??? Like your words are going to change the way people hear music?

I don't know if my posts have in fact, increased anyone's enjoyment or understanding of music, but I can guarantee you that a website filled with nothing but parrotted praise for an artist certainly won't increase anyone's knowledge or understanding; it will just make people feel better about themselves as they pat themselves and each other on the back. Words alone won't change the way people hear music. But words can get people to think, and when people think, they almost always change. And if they think clearly, they change for the better.

The kid who started this post in the first place (Goindown ...) made an eloquent, well written, POSITIVE post about the musicians he happens to love (amazing for a 20 year old!, I'm proud of the kid!), and then you have to go and slam the kid and start once again on your anti-Clapton bag.

Ah, but his post wasn't only about how he felt about EC. His post contained a blanket statement about EC's importance in the history of music over the past 50 years. This was stated as fact, not as opinion. And I never once slammed GoinDownSlow in any of my posts here. All I did was challenge his assertion about Clapton's importance.

And yeah, you've been pissing on EC all over this web site, not just on this one post. ...

I have indeed made many posts in various threads about how I feel that Clapton reached the peak of his creative powers while he was in Cream, and how I'm saddened that in the 35+ years since then he seems to have avoided musical situations that would truly challenge him to play and create beyond his comfort zone. This is not the same thing as tearing him down. Lots of other posters (many of them Clapton fans) agree with this assesment of his carreer. We've had some very lively discussions on this subject -- they've been fun, and they've certainly taught me things I didn't know before I participated.

I've even made a post somewhere on here about the time I called Jack Bruce on the phone and what a great, neat, kind guy he was ... just like I knew he'd be! A real POSITIVE kind of guy, the kind of people I like.

Way cool! What thread is that in? I'd like to read it.

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Originally posted by Jon:
So what defines EC's importance? He picks up the guitar, he plays, and you can connect with what he's feeling. THAT's a REAL musician. THAT'S how a REAL musician can stand up and be counted.

Absolutely. But that's only why he's important to you. If you want to talk about the importance of an artist in a universal sense, you must go beyond what their art may mean to any given individual, since after all, this connection between the artist and an individual is a deeply personal experience; it's not universal. Not everyone who experiences Eric Clapton's music is affected as powerfully by it as you may be. I'm certainly not. So which one of us gets to decide how important he is? Neither of us, because the criteria you describe doesn't have any meaning beyond any one individual.

If you want to discuss an artist's historical importance you are saying that you want to evaluate their place in the entire history of art. And to do this you must use objective criteria to evaluate their art. This is how we get close to figuring out how important the artist is in terms of the entire history of their art.

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Originally posted by Ripley:
One thing that I should mention - is whilst I am a huge fan of The Beatles for their music and songwriting , their influence to recording technologies owes far more to the talents of Sir George Martin than to J,P,G&R. They may have written the songs, but it was George Martin that knew how to package them.

Not entirely true. Martin has been quoted saying that most of those avante-garde musical ideas originated with the four Beatles (especially John), and it was up to him (Martin) to figure-out how to make it happen. My point was that once The Beatles realized that this technology was available, they used it in ways that had never been done before in pop or rock music. Up till then, multi-tracks were used to store the individual instruments of a real-time performance, which is how Tom Dowd recorded jazz artists like John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. The Beatles combined tracks, bouncing things back-and forth on the multi-track machines to create music that was impossible to play in real-time. Up till The Beatles only experimental 'serious' composers like John Cage had been looking into making music this way.

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Originally posted by lono:
MFC, once again you're way way off when it comes to comparing Dylan and Clapton. First of all, Bob has little instrumental influence on the music anymore. Nowadays he taken to plunking away on the piano in concert, not playing any guitar at all. Certainly not world beating stuff, not anything like the artistry EC displays every time he steps on stage with his guitar...

You've skipped the obvious here, lono: Bob Dylan's greatness, his absolute importance in the history of music has always been his songwriting, not his performing. In the early-mid 1960s Dylan absolutely changed the course of songwriting for all time. It doesn't matter that he can't sing any more or that during live performances he only tinkles-around on the piano. Dylan's influence and importance in the history of all music was solidified 40 years ago with songs like "It's Alright Mama", "Like A Rollin Stone", "Ballad Of A Thin Man", "Blowin' In The Wind", A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall", "Desolation Row", "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright", "Positively 4th Street", "Subterranian Homesick Blues" and dozens more. Even if he hadn't sung or played a note since 1970, the impact of Dylan's songwriting is reflected in every single song that has been written over the last 40 years, and cannot be overstated. It's not just that he wrote songs that you may or may not like, it's that his songs changed music, influencing every single person who has written a pop or rock song over the past 40 years.

I can't disagree with anyone who loves Clapton's solo music and finds great meaning and import in it. After all, that's what art is all about. However, almost every post on this thread has been looking at music and musicians from a very personal point of view. To gauge a musician's true import and influence (don't forget -- the statement that started all the hoopla here was "Clapton is the most important musician of the past 50 years") you must look at their work as it relates to music and the world as a whole, not just how much it is loved by or how important it is to you, your friends and the musician's fans. Try taking a step back from your own involvement with it to objectively judge Clapton's contribution in the context of music as a whole. That means you'll have to have a good knowledge of the entire history of music since 1950 (preferably since 1750).

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Originally posted by GoinDownSlow:
All right, maybe someone can clear this for me. The term "songwriting," that encompasses the lyrics and the notes/arrangement, right?

The only elements of a song deemed unique enough to warrant legal copyright protection are the melody and lyrics. Arrangements (what instrument plays what notes), the chord sequence, the structure, the rhythms/time signatures can't be copyrighted. Think about it: If somebody held the copyright on the 1 - 4 - 5 blues chord progression, everyone who ever wrote a song using it would owe that person money. If somebody held the copyright on the classic pop song structure (verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, verse, chorus) everyone using it would owe them money. So in the strictest definition of the term, "songwriting" can be considered only the meoldy and lyrics. Everything else is considered style.

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Besides, songwriting aside, EC is still the most important musician of the last 50 years

C'mon, GDS.. By what objective measure can you possibly make this assertion? Again, I stress objective measure... No "he's opened the door for me to all these different musics" -- that's a terribly subjective thing that holds no meaning for anyone beyond you. This leads to the basic question: What makes a musician (ANY musician) important to everyone, not just to you?

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Originally posted by GoinDownSlow:
You're right. I need an objective measure [of a musician's importance to everyone, not just to any one individual]. I wonder, though... can it be found? For Eric Clapton, The Beatles, or anyone?... Notice I haven't held you to the same standard you have me-- I haven't asked you (or anyone) to prove objectively that artist X can be the most important of the last 50 years.... mostly because I don't know what that measure is.

OK, GoinDownSlow, I'll give you the standards that people have used for centuries to evaluate the relative importance of an artist in the world. In fact, I already gave them to you -- in the 3rd paragraph of my second post on page 2 of this thread, but here they are again:

1) How much and in what ways has the artist's work influenced the work of other artists?

2) How much and in what ways has the artist's work changed the course of art?

You can't look at how many people love their art, because popularity is certainly not an indication of true artistic influence. (Does anyone really believe that the Backstreet Boys, the Monkees, or ABBA were important artists?) If you use record sales as a judge then Kenny G and Kenny Rogers are both more important than Eric Clapton, since each has sold more records than EC has.

No, to judge an artist's importance you must look at their influence among their peers. And you can't simply ask their peers what they think, because 1) their peers may very well be dead, and 2) doing so removes the objectivity and turns the question back to being a popularity contest. Instead, you must examine the work of the artist's peers to see how the artist in question has influenced them. And you must look at how art has changed since the artist in question came along, and determine which of those changes are the direct result of the artist. This requires that you do much research and take an exceptionally long-distance view of the entire body of the artist's work as it relates to the history of art. This is admittedly more difficult to do with an artist who is still creating, since you're forced to aim at a moving target, so to speak. Nonetheless, it's still possible to get a pretty accurate picture of their influence as of a certain moment in time.

In the case of a musician, the areas of consideration are:

1) Their influence as a composer (songwriter) or arranger (orchestrator)

2) Their influence as an instrumental player or singer

3) Their influence as a conductor or bandleader (in the case of bandleaders who don't play instruments)

I add this last category because it is important when considering 'classical' musicians. For example, Leopold Stokowski never wrote a note of music and never played an instrument, but his influence as an orchestra conductor and music director is undeniable and far-reaching. And Leonard Bernstein arguably had more influence as the conductor and music director of the NY Philharmonic Orchestra than he ever did as a composer ("On The Town", "Candide", "West Side Story", etc.).

So there it is GoinDownSlow. Ask yourself the following questions about any musician you like:

1) How has their work as a composer, instrumental player/singer and conductor/bandleader influenced the work of other musicians?

2) How has their work as a composer, instrumental player/singer and conductor/bandleader changed the course of music?

After you've thoroughly researched their work as it relates to all of music you'll be able to honestly answer the questions and determine how important they really are. And if you do this dilligently and honestly for Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley there's no way you'll be able to conclude that Eric Clapton is the most important musician of the past 50 years.

If anyone else has a different objective way to evaluate a musician's importance I'm all ears.

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Thread about Vanilla Fudge's “Break Song”

Originally posted by Tony:
I would like to have the rest of that Shrine concert. Someone, somwhere must have the complete show.

I was in the audience at that concert, and I've always wished that Atlantic would release the entire performance. Of the 3 times I saw VF live (9/68 at the Hollywood Bowl opening for Hendrix, 1/69 at the Shrine, and 4/69 at the Rose Palace), the Shrine was their best performance. (They announced they were recording at the beginning of the concert.) During "Season Of The Witch" (a song Fudge always played with great theatrics), by the last verse Vince Martell was sobbing into his mic and Mark Stein had jumped up on his organ bench and was shouting at the audience "HEY YOU OUT THERE, YOU BETTER LISTEN!!" Great stuff. They also did an absolutely killer version of "Shotgun" at that concert -- way better than the studio version on 'Near The Beginning'. And I remember the sound quality at that Shrine concert being noticeably better than it was at most other concerts at that time -- even though it was quite loud (although not by today's standards), you could hear everything very clearly. One of the best concerts I've ever been to. (Richie Havens was the opening act.)

Going to concerts back then was a much mellower (an over-used word, but 100% accurate in this case) experience than it is today. Besides not costing an arm and a leg (admission at the Shrine was only $3.50 at the door!), you sat on the floor on AstroTurf. Since there were no chairs you could move around. It was much easier to get to know other people (and share 'refreshments'), and the whole scene was a lot more communal and friendly than it is today.

Unfortunately, the tremendous success of Cream's farewell tour in 1968 deserves most of the blame for the bleak state of today's concert industry. That tour paved the way for bands to play in giant arenas at much higher ticket prices. (Tickets for Cream's farewell shows in L.A. were $6.50, twice the cost of advance tickets for other shows. At the time this seemed completely outrageous. Silly us...) This, in turn, spawned the ticket broker industry, with its exhorbitant fees. Of course, states with the balls to pass anti-scalping legislation (where you can be arrested for selling a ticket above it's face value) don't have this problem.

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Originally posted by Tony:
hsosdrum...you were there when they recorded that tune eh'...far out.

Yep (being an old fart does have its advantages).

They announced that they were recording that night, so my friend and I yelled-out during the quiet passage in Appice's solo, just to get on the recording (you can hear us on the CD). I know it was dumb, but we were young and stupid.

On 'Near The Beginning' I really wish that they had released the live version of "Shotgun" that Fudge played that night instead of the studio version. I'm sure that the recording quality was superior to the wretched quality on the studio version, and they really played the shit out of it that night. In fact, they were 100% ON that night -- did a killer version of "Season Of The Witch" where Vince Martell wound-up crying into his mic and Mark Stein jumped up on his organ bench to exhort the crowd: "You better listen!". Vanilla Fudge's music may have had a bit too much 'garlic' for rock purists, but I've always enjoyed the extreme amount of drama that they were able to wring from even the most innocuous songs (like "She's Not There", "Bang Bang" and "Some Velvet Morning"). And as you can hear on "Break Song", each was a brilliant player and singer.

If you ever get the chance, watch their performance of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" on 'The Ed Sullivan Show (I think it's on one of that show's compilation DVDs.). At a time when just about every band who appeared on that show either sang live and played air guitar and air drums to pre-recorded backing tracks or lip-synched and air-guitared everything, Fudge played and sang 100% live, and they really tore it up.

I saw them live 3 times. The first was in September of 1968 when they opened for Jimi Hendrix at The Hollywood Bowl. Ahhh, those were the days, indeed...

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Originally posted by Citiesofheart:
Dang, I love your stories Hsosdrums..honestly write a book! You write well and have a lot of interesting things to say!

Thanks for your kind words. I guess I write well because that's what I do for a living (technical writing -- instruction manuals for audio equipment), but I never thought that my experiences during the 60s were all that unique. I was a little too young at the time (16 in 1968) to have been able to fully participate in the underground scene (and by the time I turned 18 in 1970 things had changed radically, both in society and in my personal life). Like thousands of other kids, I was a budding musician, and a huge fan of what turned-out to be "classic" music. At the time we didn't know it was going to be classic music, we only knew that we loved it, and that it had real meaning in our lives. It helped define a generation of young people who were trying to change the world.

I know that sounds very cliched today, but 40 years ago American society really was undergoing some fundamental upheavals. Four of our most important leaders (President Kennedy, Malcom X, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy) were assassinated within a 5 year period. The government mired the nation in a pointless war thousands of miles overseas that was destroying a region and sending hundreds of American boys home in body bags every week, and was continually lying to its citizens about it (some things don't change, do they). Formerly accepted behavioral and social norms were being challenged -- de jure (by law) racial segregation was in the process of being dismantled, women were demanding to be treated as equals at home and in the workplace, and young people were increasingly questioning society's long-held values about what really is important in life. And as they got a little older, those same young people turned that questioning nature towards their government's actions, spawning public protests that threatened to split the nation as it hadn't been split since the civil war a hundred years earlier.

The music that we listened to became an integral part of all of these dramatic, traumatic, life-changing events. It's not mere nostalgia that binds those of us who lived through the 60s to the music we love, the attachment is far deeper than that. This music became a part of the very events that made us who we are as people; it has become, in effect, a part of ourselves.

And we were listening to much more than what has become to be called "classic rock". Back then radio stations weren't 'Balkanized' into neat, narrow segments like they are now. On our favorite AM stations here in LA (KHJ and KRLA) in the summer of 1968 you could hear Sunshine Of Your Love (Cream), followed by Hey Jude (Beatles), followed by Ballad Of The Green Berets (Sgt. Barry McGwire), followed by Classical Gas (Mason Williams), followed by Poppa's Got A Brand New Bag (James Brown), followed by Heat Wave (Martha And The Vandellas), followed by Mrs. Robinson (Simon And Garfunkel), followed by Cloud Nine (The Temptations), followed by Sunday Morning (Spanky And Our Gang), followed by All Along The Watchtower (Hendrix)... you get the idea. You could hear this huge variety of music without ever changing the station, and all of of it became a part of us. It was a very different time.

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Thread about favorite drum solos

HSPost #1:

I saw Buddy Rich play live over a dozen times and any one of the solos he played at those performances was light-years better than any of the solos I heard Ginger play live (2 with Cream in 1968, one with his own band in 1990, 2 with the Jack Bruce/Ginger Baker band in 1991, 1 with The Masters Of Reality in 1991 and 4 that I personally recorded at his home in 1992), or any that he's done on record. Sorry, other GB fans (and I'm a big GB fan), but Buddy was the greatest drum soloist who ever lived, bar none.

Want video proof? Check-out these DVDs: "Live at the 1982 Montreal Jazz Festival", "Rich at the Top", or "Buddy Rich: Jazz Legend".

Want audio proof? Check-out the "Krupa and Rich" CD. The song "Bernie's Tune" begins with a 'drum battle' between Gene and Buddy, and Buddy plays some absolutely amazing passages.

Want more audio proof? Check-out any of the CDs that Buddy released with his big band between 1966 and 1968 on Pacific Jazz: "Swingin' New Big Band", "Big Swing Face", "The New One", and "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy". His solos are concise, technically brilliant and tell a musical story from start to finish.

Other drum soloists I've seen live who handily surpassed GB: Elvin Jones, Louie Bellson, Billy Cobham, Tony Williams. Even the solo I saw Clive Bunker play with Jethro Tull in 1969 gave Ginger a strong run for his money.

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Originally posted by wheelsofire:
question and comment for hsosdrum:since you've seen buddy play numerous times,i've only heard him on records and seen him on videos.my impression is that in some ways he was better at the end of his life,specifically after his recovery from his heart attack,then he was in his earlier days.just a certain smoothness to his playing.care to comment?also agree buddy could play rings aroung ginger.about clive bunker he's pretty fast,but the live "dharma for one" solo keeps popping into my head!echhh!andsome live stuff his playing makes me feeling edgy,like he's rushing.

My feeling on Buddy's playing is that it definitely slowed-down after his quadruple bypass in 1980, and probably before, since I'm sure he was in some cardiac distress. During the last 7 or 8 years of his career he didn't incorporate quite as many different musical ideas into his solos, and he tended to more fully develop each idea before moving on to another one. I agree that this made his playing sound somewhat 'smoother'. I must admit that this evaluation is mostly from audio and video recordings, since the last time I saw him play live was in 1978 or 1979. Some nights he was more adventurous, constantly playing things that I'd never heard him play, while on others he pulled more from his "bag of tricks", something all musicians do when they aren't particularly inspired. Of course, even when he was just having an average night, Buddy Rich's playing was nothing short of thrilling to experience live. Not once did I ever feel that he was 'coasting' -- he always gave over 100% to the music. It's just that on some nights he would bring more new ideas to the music.

If you have the "Buddy Rich -- Jazz Legend" DVDs you can sort of track how Buddy's soloing changed from the 60s into the 80s. My personal favorites on those videos are the solos he plays on "Caravan" and "Two O'Clock Jump" with the Harry James band (probably filmed in 1965, not long before he put his own band together). In particular, I think he's at the absolute top of his form on "Two O'Clock" -- in total command, able to effortlessly play all of the musical ideas that come into his head, changing between them at lightning speed. You can hear him go through three distinct sections in that solo, like a race car driver thoroughly wringing all of the performance he can get out of a car in each of 3 gears. By the end he has his foot to the floor, yet is still 100% in complete control of everything. It's an absolutely breathtaking performance. I know that from those discs most people cite his solo from Ronnie Scott's, since it has that incredible single-stroke roll that he plays from a whisper all the way to deafening (including just on the rims, which is ridiculously difficult), but for me it's the solo on "Two O'Clock Jump" that really shows what a unique and musical soloist Buddy Rich was.

I've not heard the live "Dharma For One". My comment about Bunker's soloing is based solely on the one time I heard Tull live in 1969. On that night he played a terrific solo that had several people in the audience yelling "Bunker Beats Baker" at the tops of their lungs. But like all musicians, I'm sure had his good nights and his not-so-good nights. The key to being a great musician is that even on a not-so-good night you can connect with the audience.

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Originally posted by Dan in Mississippi:
Yes, hsosdrum, as asked by Fermat over on "The Band" forum, HOW DID YOU GET TO RECORED GINGER AT HIS HOME??? .....what were those recordings for??

One of my closest friends was a good friend of Ginger's until Ginger left the USA for South Africa and they lost contact. During 1991 Ginger had several drum students here in Southern California, and in January of 1992 he invited them all to his home for a barbecue and a private performance. My friend invited me to come along and I asked if I could record Ginger playing. Ginger agreed, with the stipulation that I not make copies of the recording (and I continue to honor that agreement).

Ginger had his drums set up on the wooden deck outside -- walnut-finished Ludwigs: 12", 13", 14" and 16" toms, two 20" bass drums, and a 3 x 13" bronze piccolo snare. His cymbals included the 22" double riveted Zildjian ride and 14" Zildjian hi-hats that he's used ever since the early Cream days. I set up two mics about 4 feet in front of the kit at chest height and 6 feet apart. I wanted the recording to sound like you were standing right in front of him (and it does).

When I saw that piccolo snare I asked Ginger if he still had the old black Leedy snare he used with Cream and he said "Yeah, it's in the garage." I went and got it -- it was filthy; looked like it hadn't been played in decades. I asked him if he'd use it if I cleaned it up and he said "we'll see", so I disassembled it, put a new batter head on it, cleaned it as best I could (all he had was some Windex, not the best stuff to clean drums with), put it back together and tuned it up for him. I must tell you all that getting to give some TLC to the snare drum Ginger used to record "Disraeli Gears" and "Wheels Of Fire" was a very special experience for me.

He played four long solos that afternoon and used the Leedy snare on 2 or 3 of them. Each solo lasted between 10 and 15 minutes. It took him a while to get things happening -- the second and third solos are the best. They all had that loping swing feel that now permeates his playing. I haven't listened to the CD in quite a while and don't have it handy right now, so I can't remember many more specifics. I must admit that I found his playing that afternoon to be fairly repititious, although there are some really good passages. This isn't surprising, since there were no other musicians for him to be inspired by. It was like listening to him practicing for an hour, which is a rare treat indeed for a mere mortal fan like myself -- something I'll never forget, and I'll be eternally grateful to my friend for giving me the opportunity to be there.

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Originally posted by microguitar:
Looks like Rich-itis has reached the Cream forum. Trouble with some people is, Buddy Rich is the only top-line big band jazz drummer they've seen.

FYI, in addition to Buddy Rich, I've seen the following 'top-line' big-band drummers play live:

Louie Bellson (with his own big band and small groups)
Sam Woodyard (with Duke Ellington)
Sonny Payne (with Count Basie)
Rufus "Speedy" Jones (with Count Basie)
Ralph Humphrey (with Don Ellis)

I'm also intimately familiar with the recorded works of such big-band luminaries as Gene Krupa, Jo Jones, Sid Catlett, Sonny Greer, Dave Tough, Don Lamond, Moe Purtil, and Mel Lewis.

Want to talk about small-band jazz drummers and rock drummers I've seen live and am extremely familiar with on records? We don't have enough room here.

So, contrary to microguitar's inference, my assessment of Buddy Rich's playing is based on an extremely thorough knowledge of jazz and rock drummers and drumming, the result of close to 45 years of experience that includes seeing hundreds of different drummers play live. If it's 'qualifications' you require I'll put mine in this regard up against those of anyone else on these forums.

quote:

But the real guv'nor, not British but still often overlooked, just as clever as Buddy Rich, but with the double kick drum to boot- you guessed it, the one and only Louie Bellson.

I'll heartily agree that Bellson's playing was "clever", however, Buddy could solo rings around him when he wanted to. I've seen both Buddy and Louie play live many, many times (on occasion I've sat close enough to each to be able to reach out and touch their drums), and Louie's soloing was always predictable -- he always pulled just about everything from his bag of tricks. On the other hand, Buddy's solos were always an adventure. Certainly they often included elements that he played many, many times before, but he always tied his solos together with passages that were completely original. Sometimes his solos were 100% new stuff -- things I'd never heard him play before. I never (I repeat, NEVER) heard Louie play a solo that was 100% stuff I'd never heard him play before. The overwhelming proportion of what he played was "bag-of-tricks".

Beyond his originality, Buddy had a command of the instrument that I never heard Louie (or anyone else, for that matter) exhibit. True, Louie could play very, very fast at times, but his speed was limited to some well-learned passages of rudiments. When he wanted to, Buddy could play unbelieveably complex sticking patterns with blinding speed and extreme precision, moving accents around on the different elements of the kit. He didn't just play fast paradiddles or single-stroke rolls. I never heard Louie play any ultra-fast passages that were like this. His speed was much more narrowly-applied. Now I'm not equating speed with musicality here; what I'm saying is that Louie could only play fast in certain, limited ways, while Buddy could play ANYTHING just as fast as he wanted. To me this shows that he had a command of his playing that far eclipsed Louie's.

quote:

The thing is, yes these jazz guys were wonderful. Snare rudiments, speed and tricks to die for. But Ginger brought the whole powerful tom-tom/kick drum thing to the fore in a way that jazz drummers had previously not done, and may not have even thought of doing, with the possible exception of Joe Morello.

Jazz drummers who brought tom/bass drum patterns into their playing? Max Roach, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams and Billy Cobham come immediately to mind. You'd have a very hard time making the case that any of these drummers could cite Ginger as an influence -- in fact, Ginger cites many of them as his influences. To bring things back to Buddy Rich, I have a video of him playing snare/tom/bass drum patterns back in 1946.

Double bass? In a 1947 performance at the Paramount Theater in New York, Buddy's big band played a special arrangement of "Old Man River" in which Buddy played only on two bass drums (22" Ludwigs) during the entire song. I haven't heard a recording of this (don't know if one exists), but Buddy's performance is reported to have been nothing short of amazing.

quote:

Many who slagged Ginger's playing off for being crude were jazz drummers who, not knowing Ginger was once one of their own, deeply envied his ability to hit the power-button to climax a solo, and were jealous of the almost ecstatic reaction this triggered with his audience. One thing to be applauded by a jazz club audience, but a standing ovation in a packed auditorium full of people?

You want power? Ignoring Buddy Rich's legendary power, listen to Art Blakey or Tony Williams close a solo. You want audience reaction? Get the CD "The Drum Battle" and listen to the reaction of the audience at Carnegie Hall to the playing of both Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich at that concert. It wasn't merely a standing ovation, it was complete pandemonium.

Honestly, microguitar, it sounds like you're the one who needs to brush-up on their jazz history. Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, Cab Calloway and Artie Shaw had 'em dancing in the aisles in the 1930s and 1940s. Before Sinatra came along and shifted audiences away from pure jazz instrumentals towards pop vocals, big-band music was the social equivalent of rock'n'roll, causing the same audience reactions as Cream and Hendrix.

quote:

When you're judging Ginger against his rock competitors, by the way, be sure to listen for that pedal hi-hat ticking away, giving the solo a pulse. How many rock drum soloists have that ability?

Playing 2 and 4 on the hi-hats isn't the only way to keep a pulse going during a solo. In fact, it's really the easiest way to do it, and wastes of 1/4 of the drummer's limbs. Point of fact, listen to "Toad" on WOF. Ginger only keeps the hats going on 2 and 4 during the solo's early passages. Through most of the solo he's shifting back and forth between the hats and the left bass drum. Yet the pulse comes-through his entire solo. It's really the swing in Ginger's playing that keeps the pulse going through his solo. That's part of what makes him so great — his playing is infused with swing, and doesn't require the overt expression of the beat (2 and 4 on the hats) to keep your feet tapping.

quote:

Notice also how the sections of the solo, at first completely separate entities, are in fact changes of emphasis or cross-rhythms around the same pulse. Also notice how the time is kept steady whatever (and I do mean WHATEVER) is going on. Ginger was and is a masterful drummer, but he is also, by virtue of his limb independence, verging on being a freak of nature, and only now are some people realizing how profound his influence was.

Gotta 100% agree with you here (although many jazz drummers have limb independence that equals Ginger's). I would describe Ginger's playing as being 'seminal'. Much of what followed grew from what Ginger played. And I do agree that his influence has been sadly overlooked. I've voted for Ginger to go into the Modern Drummer Hall Of Fame every year in the past 2 decades, and am saddened to see others who lack his talent and originality precede him into it. But, there's a reason that Buddy Rich was the second drummer voted into it in 1979 (Gene Krupa preceded him in 1978).

I agree that Ginger is a truly original drum soloist, bringing elements of African music into his playing and incorporating all the elements of a large drumkit in ways that no rock drummer has done before (or since). But when it comes to using the drumkit as a solo instrument, Buddy Rich was the absolute master. To put it another way, I have no doubt whatsoever that Buddy could have played anything Ginger ever played after hearing it only once (Buddy had a photographic musical memory and didn't read music), but there are many, many things Buddy played that Ginger could never play even with a lifetime of practice.

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Originally posted by microguitar:
That's what I mean by richitis, HSOSDRUM. See how when someone dies their talents, tangible and palpable though they undeniably were in life, become talked up to mythical proportions.

My feelings about Buddy's playing have nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that he is now dead. I've felt this way about his playing ever since I first heard him on record, when I was nine, 26 years before Buddy's death. They were cemented in my psyche the first time I saw him play live, when I was 15. Your arguments would be more compelling if they were based on facts, rather than on erroneous assumptions, micro.

quote:

Likewise every Buddy Rich solo I've seen, there has been too much time spent on speedfreak, technical snare work, and precious little on trying to tell a musical story.

A legitimate opinion, although the opinion of someone who hasn't listened closely to Buddy's soloing. It's easy to get lost in the speed and miss the music in Buddy's playing (not unlike Art Tatum), and this is why many people dismiss him as an unmusical "speedfreak".

Let me suggest that the next time you listen to or watch one of Buddy's solos that you try to 'hear-through' the sheer speed and listen to what he does with his rimshots and other accents. That's where a lot of the music is. If you strip-away the notes between the accents you'll often hear the melody of the song he's soloing in. I have a video of him playing a solo in "Surrey With The Fringe On Top" and you can hear the song's melody in the snare accents. And if they're not playing the song's melody, Buddy's accents describe their own melodies and phrases.

quote:

Tony Williams ? Fiery but an erratic time keeper and prone to putting in dramatic fills at inopportune moments. Elvin Jones? a timeless mess. Billy Cobham? Overrated funk drummer, embarrassing when he fluffs the fast single stroke rolls round the toms,which he does often, and less than impressive on double kick drums. Art Blakey? great time but monotonous.

Again, everyone's entitled to their opinions, but I must disagree with your characterization of Tony Williams as an erratic timekeeper. On what songs? His time was good enough for him to spend years in Miles' band, and Miles was a very difficult and exacting bandleader. With all the ballads that Miles played, if Tony's timekeeping had been erratic he would never have been given that most coveted of drum chairs. As for him "putting in dramatic fills at inopportune moments", this is actually the age-old struggle of a drummer trying to expand the role of the instrument beyond what is traditionally expected. Most musicians (obviously yourself included) consider the role of the drummer to be primarily as a timekeeper. Tony Williams thought of the drums as a much more integral part of the music, adding drama, texture and color, and even taking the lead at times. This is what made him so important. Thankfully, Miles didn't share your narrow view of the drummer's role in music.

As for Cobham making mistakes, big deal. Ginger clams all the time. The only musicians who never make mistakes are those who are only playing things from their well-worn bags-of-tricks. I'd much rather hear someone spontaneously composing music out of thin air than someone rehashing stuff they've played thousands of times before. That's what made Cream so brilliant. Of course, when you improvise you run the risk of sucking. If you have talent (like Cream), when you improvise you're brilliant more often than you suck. When you don't have talent (like The Grateful Dead), when you improvise you always suck. As for Cobham being less than impressive on double bass drums, I agree that his double-bass work on "Birds Of Fire" sounded amateurish, but he quickly got past that. Of course, even Louie Bellson's double-bass work pales in comparison to Ginger's.

Your characterizations of Elvin as "a timeless mess" and of Art Blakey as "monotonous" are so laughably absurd that I'll leave you some dignity by not eviscerating you here in public over them. Anyone with even a minimal appreciation of jazz will take them for what they're worth -- nothing.

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Joe Morello? a giant, and one of the few to make something of the drum solo as a piece of listenable music rather than a display of technique.

I love Joe's playing, and his soloing was extremely melodic. Reminds me of Max Roach with a bit of Buddy Rich's technique thrown-in. But he was hardly an original. I guess I would describe his playing as "polite", which seems to be a quality that you admire in drumming. I don't.

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I would restate ,though, my opinion that, impressive though B. Rich was, he has never had the same emotional effect on me that P.E. Baker has,

Can't argue with you here. If you're moved, you're moved. If you aren't, you aren't. All I'm trying to do is get people to listen to Buddy's playing with more open ears.

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Buddy's achievement should perhaps be judged more as a circus act than as a musician.

Oh, come on, micro. Most of your writing indicates that you have a decent command of English and know how to think, but this statement is so stupid that it allows the reader to dismiss everything you've written as the ranting of a fool.

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I was moved to tears by Ginger's solo at the RAH in May, and I can't think of any other drummer who has ever lived who could have caused that.

Buddy Rich's playing may never have moved you to tears, but it moved many of the world's greatest drummers to tears on many well-documented occasions. It's also moved me to tears many, many times, both in-person and on recordings. As for Ginger's playing at RAH, I'm quite sure that had I been there I would have been moved to tears as well, but for many reasons besides the sheer musicality and emotional impact of it. (Nostalgia and respect come instantly to mind.)

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Let's agree to differ here; I know exactly how good Buddy Rich was, and anyone who denies him his place as the greatest exponent of drum technique is a fool. He was not the only human ever to have played the drums however, and his taste and artistry were of another era, to be polite, or to put it subjectively, I don't find his playing in the least bit interesting or inspirational to listen to, however good you may be able to prove it was.

Buddy's taste and artistry belonging to another era? Great artistry transcends time and space, micro. If one were to accept what you say about Buddy, one would also have to say that the taste and artistry of (among many, many others) Bach, Mozart, The Beatles and The Doors were also "of another era". Of course, that person would be very, very wrong indeed.

As I said earlier, I'm not trying to 'prove' anything. I'm just trying to get people to listen past the prejudices of others when it comes to Buddy Rich's playing. If they apply open ears, they just might hear the most magical application of talent to the drumset that they could ever imagine. And they'll expand their musical horizons and derive more joy from more music. And that's always a good thing.

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The thread continues, following some posts complaining about the forcefulness of the dialog between microguitar and myself:

First off, if any of you are somehow bothered by, offended by or just plain don't care about my dialog with microguitar, please feel free to skip this post. My intent here is simply to have fun talking with others who share my love of Cream's music. That we don't always agree on everything is part of what makes the world a place worth living in.

Originally posted by microguitar:
I see where you're coming from, HSOSDRUM, although most of what you say is so obviously based on such a complete lack of knowledge, respect, insight, ability, experience and dress sense, that I hesitate to dignify a single one of your specific points with a reply for fear of making you appear foolish (Ha! two can play at that game! Great debating style, are you in politics by any chance?)

Microguitar:

Glad you're taking my comments in the spirit that I intended. And I heartily agree about my lack of dress sense. (Have you been spying on me?) And no, I'm definitely not in politics (too many skeletons in my closet).

The reason I'm answering your points individually ("dissecting them", as you mention in a later post) is strictly so that the discussion is easier to follow. Long paragraphs filled with many different points tend to tire the eye and mind (mine certainly included).

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With all due respect, and in all seriousness, do you have the slightest idea who I am?

I haven't any more of an idea who you are than you must have of who I am. I'm certainly not hiding behind anonymity -- I would say exactly what I've written here to you if we were having this discussion face-to-face in a pub. But part of what makes these forums fun is that anonymity strips-away the minor social norms that get in the way of spirited discussion between total strangers. If you're willing for us both to "undress" here in public we then face the old game of 'who goes first?'.

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The point of what you're saying, in a nutshell, or a clamshell, (same thing but out of tempo and off-key) [good one] appears to be that some people's drumming is MUCH, MUCH BETTER THAN IT SOUNDS. There's certainly no point arguing with that (nor in attempting to educate pork, but I digress)

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "some people's drumming being much, much better than it sounds". Drumming, like all music, is what it is. Basically, I'm trying to put into words why I love Buddy's drumming so much. Using language to describe the ephemeral and abstract is a very inexact science, to be sure, and I may not be as skilled at it as I'd like to be.

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However, to suggest that I only like drummers who just keep time is well short of the mark. I actually only like drummers who make me sound good when I'm soloing.

How a drummer makes others sound while they're soloing is immaterial to the discussion, since this thread is about drum solos. I brought up the point about drummers as timekeepers only because your comment about Tony Williams 'placing dramatic fills at inopportune moments' is a characterization I've heard other musicians use over and over to put-down drummers who choose to play more than the officially-alloted number of notes. My experience is that most non-drummer musicians (no jokes, please, we've heard them all before) have very narrow expectations of how a drummer is supposed to play. Making others sound good when they solo is musician code for "Lay back and groove (on a rainy day) and no more, please".

I happen to think that a talented, creative drummer is capable of adding much more than simply a good groove to music, but most musicians (including nearly all drummers) haven't the creativity or guts to stretch music much beyond its already-established borders. If a drummer ever "colors outside the lines" he's roundly criticized for playing too busily. Criticize Jack Bruce's playing for being too busy? The critic would be run out of Dodge. Criticize [insert drummer's name here] for the same sin? Yep, he's pullin' those "Gene Krupa antics" again. (FYI, a reviewer in 1969 described Clapton's playing on the Blind Faith album as "noisy guitar" and Baker's playing as "Gene Krupa antics". Can't remember the magazine -- could have been Down Beat.)

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Seriously, HSOSDRUM, as you seem happy, in between your personal attacks on my good self, to dismiss the genius of Joe Morello as "polite" and "hardly an original", I am curious to know which if any of your favourite drummers has had the most influence on your own playing, how close you feel you have got to reaching his or her standards, and whether playing that way has won you friends or enemies.

The word "polite" is simply the feeling I always get from Morello's playing. I don't consider his playing "genius" because his playing was evolutionary, not revolutionary, and I feel that for a musician to qualify as a genius his playing must be revolutionary. In the case of drumset players, my "genius" list is very short: Baby Dodds -- genius; Gene Krupa -- genius; Kenny Clarke -- genius; Max Roach -- genius; Elvin Jones -- genius; Ginger Baker -- genius. John Bonham -- genius. Each one of these people's playing signigicantly altered the course of how the drumset is played. After each one hit the scene, drums were forever played differently. Notice that Buddy Rich is not on the list. Although I think he's the greatest, most accomplished soloist who ever played the instrument, his 7 decades of playing did not alter the course of how the drumset is played. Like Morello, he was evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Which drummers have had the most influence on my own playing? When I listen to how I approach timekeeping (on recordings) I hear elements of Ginger Baker, Ringo Starr, Art Blakey and John Bonham. When I listen to my solos (again, on recordings) I hear elements of John Hiseman, Ginger Baker, Max Roach, Buddy Rich, Bill Bruford and Elvin Jones. However, I do feel that after 40+ years of playing I've been able to develop a style that most listeners would not be able to identify as being derivitave of any particular player. (That is, one that is original.)

The only standards I've ever tried to reach are my own, and I'm always placing them just out of reach, so I'll continually strive to get better.

When I was playing professionally (decades ago) my drumming did win me quite a few girls, but somehow I don't think this is what you meant by "friends". Enemies? None, but I'm smart enough not to force my playing on other musicians who are fearful of change, or into situations where it would hurt the music. So, for example, when I occasionally play with a surf band I play like Hal Blaine. When I play in a duo with an experimental guitarist I play like hsosdrum.

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Lastly, I'm intrigued by the spontaneous selection of musicians from other genres you quote in your parting shot when refuting my "of another era" suggestion about dear ol' Buddy. They are all to me very much of other eras, in the case of the Doors ("there's a killer on the road, his brain is squirming like a toad" please! Not to mention the guitar playing.) and Mozart (the musical equivalent of repetitive/compulsive disorder) unlistenably so. Now if you'd said Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Elgar, Vaughan Williams or, of course, Cream, we might have established some common ground. That's timeless music in the GOOD sense.

From your comment above, I think you're confusing "timeless" with "what microguitar likes". Although I personally find Mozart's music boring, history has proven its timelessness. We'll see about The Doors. Tell you what: If we're both around in a couple hundred years and The Doors' music is not at least as highly-regarded as that of Cream, I'll buy you a pint. Not that I feel that way about The Doors' music (I don't, although I'm not nearly as appalled by it as you seem to be), but historical perspective has a way of changing things around in ways we can't imagine.

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Originally posted by wheelsofire:
[snip]i'm just as impressed what a drummer does creatively within the song like a dave weckl,or a bill stewart.or soloing over an ostinato(let the others in the band keep the groove.)

I've always enjoyed hearing drummers solo over an ostinato as well. Using "Take Five" as a pertinent example, Morello solos while the piano and bass play the groove. It opens-up all sorts of possibilities for the drummer to play in and out of the meter and across the bar line. Those sorts of things are more effective if the meter is stated (by the other band members) than if the meter is implied (by the drummer alone).

I must admit that finding band members who can keep a good odd-time groove going while I solo over it has been a challenge for me throughout the years. Sadly, most non-drummer musicians are just too used-to having the drummer lock-down the meter for them. If the drummer plays something over the bar line in an odd-time piece, the rest of the band starts to 'swim', and if the drummer doesn't quicky restore order the whole thing heads towards a train wreck. The ability to maintain grooves in 9, 11 and 13 is one of the things I admired most about the original Mahavishnu Orchestra. Those guys didn't need Cobham to tell them where "1" was.

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Originally posted by wheelsofire:
to hsosdrum:regarding odd meters did you ever study out of ralph humphrey's book "even in the odds?" there is another underrated player,in my opinion.i guess listening and trying to play along is best.

When I was a senior in high school (1969-70) I was in one of Don Ellis' rehearsal bands. He always had two different rehearsal bands to train players for his big band, since he quickly found that if he called-up Local 47 whenever he needed a bari player or a bone player and had them send someone over, they couldn't play anything that wasn't in 4/4, 3/4 or 12/8. (And these were A-list guys — the ones who played the Academy Awards Show, on Sinatra recordings, etc.) So Ellis had to train musicians how to play odd-time charts himself. He had two different level rehearsal bands: beginner and advanced. The beginner band (that's where I was) had first-chair high school and college players; when they were seasoned enough they 'graduated' to the advanced level rehearsal band. And when Don's pro band had an opening he took the player from the advanced band.

Being in that band was great fun. At the time I was in the beginner band there were no other rhythm section players (I guess all the guitarists and keyboard players were too rock'n'roll for big bands back in 1970), so it was just me and about 10 horns (the mix varied from rehearsal to rehearsal). I can remember playing Indian Lady, Turkish Bath, Anthea, Final Analysis, even Bulgarian Bulge (two bars of 33/16 alternating with two bars of 36/16 -- a REAL challenge, especially with no other rhythm section players, lemme tell you).

One of the fringe benefits was that rehearsal band members got to see the pro band rehearse. I can remember one rehearsal the day after the pro band had clammed-up badly on "Indian Lady" at the previous night's gig. (I was at the gig. I must have seen that band play at least 2 dozen gigs that year.) Don dressed them down for being slack, then had them play the tune from A to Z and they totally nailed it. Imagine hearing that band blowing full-force in a relatively small rehearsal studio. I get chills just thinking about it now, 35 years later. Ralph Humphrey, the other drummer and the percussionist (can't remember their names right now, and I don't have albums handy) were totally smokin'. Although they kept the solos short, the ensemble passages absolutely crackled with energy -- everyone wanted to prove to Don that they weren't the ones who had clammed the night before.

So although I never studied Humphrey's book, I did get many chances to watch him at work, close up. Although later in his career, Humphrey said that the complexity of Zappa's music made Ellis's music seem like kindergarten stuff by comparison, I always loved it. Those guys really could swing in odd meters.

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Originally posted by microguitar:
Hsosdrum, I set a few bear traps in my last reply to you, and you seem to have got caught by one or two. First, I don't recall using the word "dissecting" anywhere, are you sure that was me ?

My mistake. You used the term "take my posts apart sentence by sentence". To be accurate I shouldn't have put quotation marks around "dissecting". Although the meaning's the same, I didn't mean to misrepresent what you had written.

quote:

Second, the "do you have the slightest idea who I am" bit was just an excuse for a joke and a facetious comment on your tone of authority and your tendency to write as though you're "pulling rank" about drumming for some reason.

I guess I write with a tone of authority because that's what I do for a living: I write instruction manuals for an audio equipment manufacturer. So I'm used to telling people "what's what" in plain, unequivocal language. Although I don't mean to sound as if I'm "pulling rank", I do try to make my points forcefully. And to be fair to me, when it comes to drums and drummers I do know what I'm talking about. I'd like to think that someone would know a little more about drumming after reading my posts than they did before they read them.

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Fourth, you seem to think my wanting a drummer to make me sound good when I solo is something to do with not allowing the playing of fills. What I said was "by whatever means necessary".

I'll certainly take you at your word, but in my experience, the phrase "make me sound good when I solo" is almost always code for "lay-down a groove and stay in the background". I shudder to think of what Cream would have sounded like if Ginger had played like that.

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I am as aware as you of what a good drummer can bring to music by departing from the basic groove, in fact I prefer playing with drummers who put a lot in if they're good enough to do it without screwing things up.

Absolutely. I'm not talking about people who can't apply the basic rules of musicianship. My comments assume that the drummer have a high degree of skill and empathy with the other musicians. But even with such a drummer, quite often his playing is relegated to the very ordinary. On the Clapton DVD with Steve Gadd playing drums (forget the name, only saw it once at a friend's), I didn't hear Gadd play anything that six hundred other drummers wouldn't have played exactly the same. (Including how he made the music feel.) Gadd is a uniquely talented and creative drummer, but I don't think he added anything of himself to that music, which is a shame, and a real missed opportunity for Clapton.

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So few are, and so many take the opportunity, when playing in the sort of 3-piece blues rock band where I am usually to be found, to try out bits of technique, usually copied badly from someone like Buddy Rich, instead of burying the intellect and living the music.

Again, I completely agree. The essence of musical communication is to bury the intellect so that playing becomes Zen-like. At that point your skill and intellect serve your inner emotions, allowing you to communicate them through your hands and feet. You can't play through your intellect, it must instead become a tool.

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Is your genius list based on opinion or fact? If the latter, you'd better take Bonham off, because he took almost everything from either Baker or Appice. If it's opinion, don't bother, leave him on. (How come I can't tell?)

Of course it's only my opinion. That's why I said it was "my genius list [for drumset players]". And I gave my criteria for what I consider qualifies a player as a genius: that their playing must have been "revolutionary" -- that it signigicantly altered the course of how the drumset is played.

I do agree that Appice was a very important influence on Bonham. In another post on another thread I even talked about how when Zep and Fudge toured together, Bonham got an exact duplicate of Appice's maple Ludwig kit (but with only a single bass drum) and how Appice wondered what audiences thought when roadies removed his kit only to replace it with a virtually identical one. But Bonham didn't play like or sound like Appice. He distilled what he got from Appice along with a lot of other influences and came-up with an approach to expressing time and adorning the music that was truly unique, and extremely influential.

I've never really heard any of Ginger in Bonham's playing. Can you cite examples? I'd be very interested to listen to them again keeping that in mind.

quote:

On the subject of Joe Morello, I'm very sorry to contradict you (I know you hate it when people do that), but his playing, both as an integral part of one of the most experimental, yet commercially successful, musical groups in history, and as a soloist able to do things over the whole kit in 5, 7, or 9 that many drummers stumble over in 4, may have been subtle, cool and controlled, but could raise the roof in the climaxes. Far more than evolutionary, in my opinion. Not much before it to compare and not much since, so evolution doesn't seem to come into it. No, that man was truly revolutionary by the usually accepted criteria.

You and I will have to agree to disagree on this. For playing to be revolutionary it must change what came after it, and Morello's playing didn't. The man you mention in the next section (Elvin Jones) was active at the same time Morello was, and his playing DID change what came after it. Revolutionary.

quote:

It seems you either liked Coltrane or Brubeck in the '50's, just as you either liked Cream or Hendrix a decade later. One had a time-based drummer, the other a flowing percussionist. To me, drumming is uninteresting without rhythm (whatever the time signature) and I find Elvin Jones and Mitch Mitchell less impressive, entertaining or exciting than Joe Morello or Ginger Baker.

An interesting take on things, but in my case, I love both Brubeck's and Coltrane's music, and I love both Cream's and Hendrix's music. They're not at all mutually exclusive. Your description of Morello and Baker as "time-based drummers", and Jones and Mitchell as "flowing percussionists" is an interesting way to look at them. But your next sentence implies that Jones' and Mitchell's playing was arhythmical, which I don't agree with at all. Mitchell simply doesn't state the meter with the authority that Baker does. It's a different approach to rhythm, but it's certainly not "without rhythm". Jones is almost unique in his ability to move the time forward with tremendous force while at the same time allowing the time to be elastic, to breathe. I find his playing exhilirating; extremely Zen-like. You'd certainly have to agree that Elvin Jones "bur[ied] the intellect and liv[ed] the music". In fact, I'd say that both Ginger and Morello play much more "intellectually" than either Jones or Mitchell. I don't mean to imply that this is a bad thing; I only mean to point-out that I think Ginger Baker and Joe Morello both have a more intellectual approach to drumming than do Elvin Jones and Mitch Mitchell.

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By the way, who was it who once dismissed your genius list member Kenny Clarke as a "teenybopper"? I know someone once did, and I think it was either Buddy or Ginger.

I vaguely remember that comment, but can't remember who said it. Whoever it was, they were very, very wrong. Kenny Clarke is singularly responsible for shifting the timekeeping element of the drumset from the bass drum to the ride cymbal. This was a cataclysmic change in drumming. Every drummer today who uses a ride cymbal to keep time (in other words, every drummer who played drums after 1948, which includes Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and Joe Morello) owes that to Kenny Clarke. In fact, after Baby Dodds (who distilled the playing of the 3-man New Orleans street drum section down so a single person could play it, and invented the "ding, ding, da-ding" jazz timekeeping pattern), Kenny Clarke is the most revolutionary drummer on my "genius" list.

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Originally posted by microguitar:
Hsosdrum: I get it- R.T.F.M, right? I sincerely hope it's not you doing the Japanese to English translations I keep trying to understand.

No, I write manuals from scratch in English. I used to work for a Japanese electronics manufacturer and some of the stuff we got from them was absolutely hilarious! The unfortunate part was that we didn't always have the opportunity to correct it.

quote:

The other day I was listening to the version of Toad from the Dallas 68 concert, and the little coda Ginger puts on the end of the solo, after the guitars come in but before the final chord, sounded just like a chunk of Moby Dick to me.

I don't have that boot. I was referring to any of Bohnam's playing that seems to have a direct lineage to Ginger.

quote:

I used to quite like Don Ellis, but it all got a bit boring for me after Electric Bath, in fact I gave up on him after the live album I bought. Fun to play though, I'll bet, but you'd have had to be a reader for that gig, and I never will be, not that guitar playing really came into it much (other than imtation electric guitar sounds coming from Hohner keyboards, if I remember correctly).

During the period I was involved with them (1969-70, right when the 'Live At Fillmore' album you refer to was recorded), the Ellis band had Jay Graydon playing guitar. In fact, I don't think they had a keyboard player at all by then.

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To me, a jazz group getting a top ten hit single in 5/4 time, especially one so groovy that people try (with amusing results!) to dance to is pretty revolutionary.

Perhaps, but that's certainly not the same thing as saying that Morello's playing was revolutionary. He didn't write the song (Desmond and Brubeck are credited), so the use of 5/4 was not even his idea. He did a great job playing it, but that alone doesn't elevate his playing to "revolutionary" in my book. His playing on "Take Five" certainly didn't have anywhere near the impact on the course of how the drums are played that the drummers I call "revolutionary" did (Baby Dodds, Gene Krupa, Kenny Clarke, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Ginger Baker, John Bonham).

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I think your definition of revolutionary versus evolutionary needs a rethink.

I stand by it (you really didn't expect otherwise, did you?).

quote:

Sorry, forgot ol' Elvin. I'm afraid I only saw him play once, at Ronnie Scott's in the '70's, and I don't know if there were medical reasons or something (I know nothing about the man's life) but his playing was such a cack-handed mess we walked out.

Sorry you heard him on a bad night. I saw him at a club in Hollywood in 1991 and he played fabulously. I wouldn't base my evaluation of him on just that one gig (I've seen lots of otherwise great musicians play on 'off nights').

quote:

You say how would Cream have sounded if Ginger had just played a groove and not put much in. Have you not heard the Reunion stuff? Surely that's how he is playing now, but it still sounds good, if very different from his old "wild man of rock" act.

Quite right (I have over an hour of boots from the RAH gigs). And I maintain that if Ginger had played that way in the 1966-68 version of Cream the band never would have attained the status it has achieved in the pantheon of music. While Ginger's playing at RAH is more than competent, no one listening to it with a critical ear would say that it has the same musical adventurousness and spirit that his playing did 37 years earlier. Neither did Clapton's. Don't know about Bruce's playing (the bass is too far-down in the mix on the boots for me to be able to tell much about what Jack is playing). And of course knowing what we know about Ginger, the "wild man of rock" bit wasn't an act, it was who he was at that time. Ginger's on-stage persona has always been 100% honest: What you see is what he is.

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To everyone, especially microguitar:
I need to correct an error in a previous post of mine.

Originally posted by hsosdrum:
Perhaps [the Brubeck band did have a hit with a jazz song ("Take Five") that was in 5/4 time], but that's certainly not the same thing as saying that Morello's playing was revolutionary. He didn't write the song ["Take Five"] (Desmond and Brubeck are credited), so the use of 5/4 was not even his idea.

I was reading a very definitive biography of Paul Desmond yesterday and it states that Desmond got the idea for writing "Take Five" in 5/4 from 5/4 passages that Morello had been playing in solos he played at Brubeck gigs around that time (1957-58). So it can be argued that the use of 5/4 in "Take Five" WAS Joe Morello's idea after all. I still don't think that qualifies the entirety of Morello's playing and career as being revolutionary, since it didn't shift how drummers approached their instrument, but I want to give credit where credit is due.

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Thread about hsosdrum's assessment of Cream 2005 [that they are but a pale imitation of the great band they were in 1966 – 1968] possibly being accurate:

Originally posted by ande2005:
I don't think, that playing more complicated, more aggressive or faster makes for better music or musicians. In fact I really find it difficult to talk about music in terms of "better-best". To me it's all about enjoyment, mental and spiritual. I used to listen a lot to Cream Live-stuff in my youth, some of that is just guitar, harmonica or drum solos and nowadays I just don't listen to Steppin' Out otr Toad anymore. To me a 10-minute guitar solo doesn't mean the same it used to 37 years ago. I love Cream2005, it's a different animal compared to Cream1968, thank God. It was very brave and dignified for Baker, Bruce and Clapton to play the way they are in 2005 and not to try to re-ceate the past glories.

It's not a question of more complicated, more aggressive or faster being better, it's a question of "What was it that made Cream great in the first place?" The answer is: Musical Adventurousness, coupled with virtuosic talent. All 3 musicians were virtuosos committed to changing rock and blues music by doing things that had never been done before, and they succeeded brilliantly. They were willing to take chances, both in the studio and on stage, and from those chances came all their classic songs and classic live performances. Every time they took-off on an extended collective improvisation (their live performances didn't have "guitar solos", ande) they ran the risk of being boring and lame, but they also opened-up the possibility of creating magic. THIS is what made Cream the great band that we all loved in 1966 - 1968. And it's completely missing from Cream in 2005. Absolutely gone. What we have in 2005 is three men who, as Fermat accurately assessed, are indeed 'playing it safe'. They're playing the songs, but they're not making the music. By playing it safe they've foregone any chance of recreating the very thing that made them so special. Without taking musical risks they're nothing more than their own tribute band -- playing the songs and going through the motions, but not getting to the heart of the magic. And with that magic gone, there is no Cream.

quote:

To me Cream in 2005 is absolutely fresh compared to the sad days during the last months of Cream in 1968.

Then you don't understand what made them so great. I'd take Cream during their farewell tour over Cream 2005 any day.

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Originally posted by Francesco the Magnificent:
Hey hsos: I think I can put into words what it is that may be bugging some of the guys who disagree with your posts. I'm not referring to blind fan loyalty. Rather, I think you may have missed at least one aspect of what made Cream great back in the day. It's true that one aspect of the band was their adventurous and risky live playing. In fact, that aspect largely took the band over. However, an equally large part of their legacy was in their song composition. No one had reworked old blues into the forms that they did. The best example, IMO, is their version of Born Under A Bad Sign, which sounds nothing like the original blues version and fairly shudders with repressed power. That's the "blues/rock" sound that subsequent bands tried to pick up on.

I completely agree, but those songs have already been written. Cream 2005 adds nothing to that legacy unless they take a different approach to their old material or create some new material. So far, they haven't done either. By playing it safe when performing those songs live (like on "Outside Woman Blues", where Ginger simply plays time through the song instead of playing the snare/bass drum patterns that helped make the original version of the song so great) Cream 2005 does an injustice to their own musical legacy. If in 2005 they don't perform "Born Under A Bad Sign" with all the repressed power that you accurately say made it so special, then what's the point? Of course, if they take a whole new approach to the song, then they would be doing something worthwhile. But they haven't done that either, they've simply 'played-through' the song in a perfunctory manner, leaving-out all the magic that made the original so special.

quote:

Add to that some of the classical/jazz/African/comedic elements that Jack and Ginger brought to the table, and you have a band that took as many chances in their song construction as it did in its live shows. I'm heartened by this reunion because, from the RAH setlists, it looks as if they're going back to basics to see if there is more fertile ground to explore along that trajectory. As my old sparring partner Beatles/Cream 2 would probably tell you too, this is a band with more than one dimension. I repeat: there's good reason to hope.

Based on the RAH boots and the DVD clips, I didn't hear them explore anything along the trajectory they set 38 years ago. They played the songs, but so have dozens of Cream tribute bands over the decades. I suppose it's always possible to hope, but I would say that it's highly unlikely that they'll recapture any of their original magic when they play MSG.

Look, here's what I think the real deal is: people here who love Clapton's solo work love Cream 2005, which sounds alarmingly close to a Clapton backup band (sans keyboards). Those of us who don't care much for Clapton's solo work lament the passing of Cream, never to return (I fear). If the band proves me wrong I'll be deliriously happy to eat my words here on this forum. But so far, they haven't proven me wrong.

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Originally posted by lono:
Hey HSODRUM, for a guy who never made it as a musician, you sure do a lot of pontificating on this site. You remind me of TUSA, Fred M., and all the others who are on here strictly to stir up controversy (naysayers for the sake of being assholes). Who the hell are YOU to say Cream are no longer "taking chances"???

Anyone who has read my posts here knows that my intention isn't to stir-up trouble, and that I'm not a naysayer just for the sake of being a naysayer. Like everyone else here, I simply enjoy voicing my opinion. Lono's always had a problem with that over the months because he never seems to agree with my opinions and I can back them up with relevant facts that he can't (or at least has never been able to) dispute with other equally relevant facts. (He also gets upset because I won't take his troll bait.) As for what gives me the right to say that "Cream are no longer taking chances" -- nothing gives me any more rights here than anyone else has -- or any less. None of you need read my posts if you don't want to.

However, I suspect that by refusing to go along with the blind idolatry that seems to run rampant here I've made many who do go along with it feel uncomfortable. Good. This is the first step to getting people to think. If my posts cause people to re-examine why they like Cream (either the 1960s version or the 2005 version), then they've learned something, even if they still feel the same afterwards. At least they better understand why they feel as they do. There's way too much groupthink in this world. Humanity's strength lies in the ideas of the individual, not in the thoughtless parroting of opinions first heard from others. I can say that I've learned a helluva lot from these forums since I first got here on May 5th. Thoughtful posts from Francesco The Magnificent, GoinDownSlow, MicroGuitar, pLee and others have caused me to re-examine my own opinions about everything from Clapton's post-Cream body of work to why I love Buddy Rich's playing so much. That's one of the things a forum like this is supposed to do: get people to learn something. But you only learn if you're willing to objectively examine why you feel the way you do. And beyond that, I've had a shitload of fun here, which is the other thing a forum like this is supposed to be: fun.

I guarantee all of you that nobody on this board loves Cream more than I do -- nobody. Must have had two or three dozen posters of them up in my bedroom when I was in high school; saw them play live twice -- still have my ticket stub from the Forum, framed along with a photo of them playing at RAH in 1968, which is hanging right next to a framed promo poster from their 10/67 Grande Ballroom shows and another frame containing four unused tickets from their 3/68 shows at The Fillmore West; wore-out two vinyl copies of Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears, Goodbye, Live Cream 1 & 2 and three vinyl copies of WOF; air-drummed along with all their albums until I knew every note Ginger played on every song and could play them all flawlessly on the drums; studied hundreds of photos of them, looking for every scrap of info I could get about their gear; started using two bass drums because of how much I loved Ginger's drumming; and felt heartsick and empty for months after they broke-up.

But I also downloaded and repeatedly listened-to all the boots from the 2005 RAH shows and have watched the DVD previews many times. In spite of what lono may think, I'm an extremely talented drummer, skilled at improvisation, well-versed in playing rock, pop, classical music and jazz, who can indeed tell the difference between musicians who are truly taking musical chances and ones who aren't. And from what I've seen and heard of Cream in 2005, they are not playing 'in the moment' as a band in the way that made them so great 37 years ago. That magical band spark is not there to be heard.

Although I've been reserving judgement on Jack's playing until I can hear the DVD on my home theater system (my computer speakers have crappy bass), from what I've heard up till this point I must lay most of the reason for this lack of magic at Jack's feet, because in all of Cream's live performances during 1966 - 68, Jack's bass playing was the absolutely essential element of their live sound. He was the sparkplug that ignited their collective improvisations and kept them endlessly moving in different musical directions. Baker's playing was the next most important element of that live magic. In reality, Clapton's playing was the least important element: Cream still sounded like Cream even during the farewell tour -- when Clapton was doing little more than "blues noodling" during the extended jams -- because Jack and Ginger still had the fire to improvise together.

This musical situation is turned on its head in 2005. Now, Clapton is the one who is at the absolute top of his form. This fundamentally changes what Cream is all about, musically. As so many have said here, Cream 2005 is a different band than Cream was in 1968. Unfortunately, I no longer hear the elements that made Cream so special to experience live 37 years ago. Presumably for health reasons, Jack and Ginger are not able to contribute to the improvisations the way they did previously.

This completely changes the delicate musical dynamic of the band. Clapton's playing is much too straight-ahead blues oriented to serve as the musical sparkplug the way Jack's bass playing did. Blues players play within too narrow a range to push and prod the rest of the band all over the musical map. Jack is fundamentally a jazz player, and jazz musicians don't have the musical boundaries that blues musicians do. Jack and Ginger's jazz backgrounds are what fueled Cream's musical creativity. As a blues musician, Eric simply doesn't have as much to draw on -- he'd have to go outside the blues (way outside) to do what Jack did, and he hasn't gone that far since Cream broke up. So instead of being a band that crackles with musical possibilities, Cream 2005 sounds like one of Eric's backup bands that just happens to play nothing but Cream songs. And while this may indeed be very special for lots of other people, for me it's not Cream -- it lacks the essence of what made Cream so unique, and what made them my favorite band of all time.

So on October 24th, 25th and 26th [the dates Cream played at Madison Square Garden] I'll bring all my Cream CDs out to my studio and while I work out here I'll crank it up to 11 and bask in the glory that is the greatest band of all time: CREAM.

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Originally posted by CitiesofHeart:
Hsosdrum, I never pegged you as one to start trouble and I still don't. You have some of the most interesting posts on this forum. I understand your position, however, to many here, they feel you are trying to put a damper on their fun and excitement. That is what it is all about. They are excited at the chance to see Cream. Maybe they don't want to think and just enjoy the excitement of the moment.

I understand that, cities. While I'm not intentionally trying to bum anyone out, I can't help feeling the way I do, and these forums are fun precisely because everyone'e free to say what they feel. The best suggestions I can offer are:

1) To warn anyone who fears that my posts will bum them out to simply not read my posts.

2) To recommend that anyone who doesn't want my posts to bum them out to simply tell themselves (or anyone else, for that matter) that I'm full of shit. (Hell, sometimes even I think I'm full of shit.)

Either way, music is a totally personal experience. Nobody can intellectually convince someone else that there's not a connection between them and any particular music when they can feel one. And nobody can intellectually convince someone else that there is a connection between them and any particular music when they don't feel one. People can talk to me 'till they're blue in the face about how great Bruce Springsteen's music is, but that won't make me feel any emotional connection from it -- I just don't have any. And nobody could ever convince me that Led Zeppelin's music is all worthless junk, when I can feel a direct emotional connection with it every time I hear it.

So, enjoy everyone, I'm not here to bring anyone down, I'm just here to spout-off a little, get everyone to think a little, to learn a little and to have a little fun.

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Originally posted by Fermat:
ok... time to disagree with hsos. I really have to disagree that Jack and Ginger are not able to contribute to the improvisations the way they did previously . I really can't see it. The guys were playing great. Maybe age has taken the edge of their speed and endurance a bit (so? it's not a race...) but the playing was great... I've got an album of Jack and Ginger playing together from maybe 10 years ago and they improvise beautifully (in a jazz context, with Dick Heckstall-Smith)and Ginger was playing very inventive stuff with the Denver Q2O faily recently. As he suddenly lost the ability to stray away from straight four? No way!

He didn't improvise because he didn't want to. They didn't intend to. I do not know why, but I would guess that the three of them sat down and talked about it and this is the decision they made. They have 40+ years (nearly 50, Ginger first appeared on disk as a pro drummer in 1957) of experience behind them. They clearly still have the physical ability. Yes they played it safe, but I'm absolutely sure they could have taken off on a prolonged improvisational journey any time they wanted to. I really can't see any reason to believe they couldn't. They didn't, because they chose not to.

Fermat, you make excellent points -- can't argue with 'em. But why they played it safe and didn't collectively improvise is immaterial to me; the fact that they did choose to play it safe and not collectively improvise is everything to me. For me, the essence of Cream's live performances were the collective improvisations. I simply don't connect with them when they play those songs live in a straightforward, low-risk manner -- as I've said previously, to me this makes them sound like their own tribute band.

For me, the essence of what made Cream so great was the "high-wire act" that collective improvisation in front of an audience is. You have to be free enough that you may fail in order to open-up the possibility of making magic. This is what made Cream's live performances so thrilling and vital for me. Without it, they're a different band; a band that holds much, much less interest for me. I've been working off-and-on in a duo with an electric guitarist/multi-instrumentalist for the past 13 years or so, playing improvisational music, often pure improvisations with no communication at all before beginning to play. I know first-hand the risks involved and how difficult it is to consistently succeed at it. I have deep and boundless respect for musicians who are 1) fearless enough to take those risks in front of an audience night after night, and 2) talented enough to make magic in the process. In 1967 - 68 Cream was both those things. In 2005 Cream is only the second, and without the first the second never comes-into play. That's all the difference to me.

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A thread about Ginger Baker's current DW drum sound

Originally posted by winterland1968:
the main difference in Ginger's sound now is due mainly to the shell composition.


Absolutely, 100% NOT true. In order of importance, these are the factors that determine how a drum sounds live in a room (no recording or sound reinforcement equipment):
1) How it's played
2) The type of heads
3) How it's tuned
4) The bearing edge shape
5) The shell material

You can prove this to yourself by taking two 8"x12" toms of different brands (like a 60s-vintage Ludwig and a brand-new DW), putting identical heads on them, tuning them identically, placing them on snare drum stands and playing them side-by-side. They'll sound nearly identical.

Now, take two identical 12" toms (a friendly drum shop really helps here) and put different type heads on each drum (i.e. coated 1-plys on one drum and clear black dots or Pinstripes on the other), tune them as identically as possible and play them side-by-side. They will sound more different than the two different brand toms.

Given the same player and tuning, the heads have more influence over a drum's sound than the shell or edges do. All this about drum shells is stuff drum companies talk about because that's what they sell -- drums. The fact is that heads matter more. If you want your drums to keep sounding primo you should replace the heads (tops and bottoms) frequently. Mylar stretches-out, losing its resilience and therefore, its tone quality. Natural skin heads do not lose their resilience like plastic heads to, and therefore do not need frequent replacement -- they only need constant tuning and are a real pain in the ass, let me tell you, but they sound absolutely gorgeous if tuned properly.

quote:

His classic Ludwig set was a 3 ply configuration of mahogany/poplar/maple wood with a more rounded bearing edge. His DW kit is a combination of 6 ply all maple shell toms with 8 ply maple bass drums all of which are cut with a sharp 45* bearing edge.

All true, but all less important than his choice of heads and how he tunes them and plays the drums.

quote:

Also consider this...'back in the day",the only drum heads available were white coated or calf. In the 35+ years that Cream took off from performing,huge strides have been made in the manufacturing of drum heads.

It's very true that there's an enormous variety of drumhead types available now that weren't available in 1968, starting with Remo's CS (black dot) heads back in 1970. I was in the L.A. Valley College marching band in 1970, and our director was a chum of Remo Belli's. We got to beta test some of the first Remo CS heads, before they went into production. (They were coated, with a coated dot on the top -- clears came later.) We loved 'em because they didn't break as often (that band was incredibly loud -- had marching electric bass and electric organ with custom Cerwin-Vega amps powered by a bunch of motorcycle batteries. There were two guys who did nothing but push the amps when we marched -- and the drum section played at max volume all the time, especially during cadences). Then came clears, hydraulics, Pinstripes, and Fiberskyns (which I use because they sound the most like calfskin). However, the basic technology (mylar film anchored in an aluminum channel filled with epoxy resin) is the same for all of them. Remo has improved anchoring technology for drumset heads, has developed new anchoring technologies for conga and bongo heads, and tympani heads have undergone significant improvements as well. But plastic drumset heads aren't all that different from those that were available in 1968, there's just a wider variety avaiable.

quote:

I'm not a fan of DW.I'm a bit disappointed in Ginger's new sound.Tubby,low,and sadly,generic. His Ludwig sound was pure Ginger,purely original.

I agree 100%. I really HATE his new sound. 'Generic' is a perfect way to describe it.

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Originally posted by winterland1968:
hsosdrum...appreciate your points. but I disagree...a 60's Ludwig vs a 2005 DW with identical heads will sound drastically different.Case in point...Tony Williams played Gretsch with Black Dots...a GUMWOOD shell...then went to DW with Black Dots...a maple shell...identical sizes...completely different drum sound.It didn't sound like "TONY's Sound" any more when he switched companies.Check out 'Tokyo LIVE' then listen to 'Young At Heart'.You'll hear what I'm saying.

I understand, but recordings have way too many variables for anyone to conclusively say that the difference in drum sound is due only to the drum shells themselves. Different studio (room acoustics are a huge factor), different microphones (they all sound different, believe me), different mic placement and different EQ/compression, etc. will all have a huge effect on the recorded results. Now, if you heard those two kits live, side-by-side, and they sounded radically different, that'd be something else.

I performed the tests I described with 13" toms years ago at Valley Drum Shop. Brought-in my Ludwig 9" x 13" (1990 vintage 6-ply maple/poplar shell) and compared it with a 9x13 Yamaha Recording Custom (birch shell) and a custom drum with a fiberglass shell. We spent all day swapping heads around, and when all 3 drums had identical heads and were tuned identically they sounded nearly interchangeable. The fiberglass drum sounded more unique, but the two wood drums were impossible to tell apart if you turned your back while they were being played. Later, when they received another Ludwig kit I brought my 13" tom back in and we repeated the test using identical drums. Different heads made a much, much bigger difference than different shells did.

quote:

If the shell had nothing to do with the sound,then Steve Gadd's YAMAHA's (maple or birch) should sound like the Ludwigs he played with Paul Simon in the 70's.He used Evans Hydraulics then and continued with them thru the 80's. Same with Peter Erskine.His YAMAHA's don't sound at all like his old 5 ply Slingerlands.Birch vs Mahogany/Poplar.


I didn't say that shells have nothing to do with the sound, only that they matter less than the heads and how the drum is tuned and played. And again, if you're basing comparisons only on recordings there are too many other variables in the chain to be able to conclusively say that any sonic differences are due only to the drum shells. Do any of the drums in your Rogers and Ayotte kits match in size? If so, try the test I described and see for yourself.

quote:

Winterland...playing 60's Rogers and a 2000 Ayotte Custom kits...with many snares to choose from including a 1938 1 ply Maple Leedy Broadway Standard.Ginger's was a 3 ply.

Ahh, Rogers. I LOVE 60s-vintage Rogers drums. What components are in that kit? By any chance do you have a wood shell Dyna-Sonic? (Lust, lust...) I've always wanted a duplicate of the kit Buddy Rich used on 'Swingin' New Big Band' and 'Big Swing Face'.

 

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