Wednesday, October 17, 2018

How Many Drummers Does It Take To Play "Rag Mama Rag?"



The answer is none. How the hell did I only just find out that it is Richard Manuel playing drums on this song? The groove, the space, and all of those tasty fills are pure Levon, and yet, it is the piano player keeping this in the pocket.

This made me think of another song I love for the drumming, especially what's going on on the out. This time, it's Stevie Wonder doing the honors.





I don't have any particular drum moment to call a fave on "Band On The Run," but it's damn astonishing that Paul McCartney is handling all the drums on arguably, his most popular record.

Have you got any non-drummers drumming? Or any non-something, somethin-ing, like Bowie playing all the guitars on the "Diamond Dogs" album. Sure, he plays guitar, but did anyone ever think of Bowie as the "main guitar player?"



Bands switching up live is not really what I am looking. It happens a lot. Todd & Utopia would do it regularly, where Willie the drummer would play bass while Todd took over on the kit. It was all fun, but nothing more. Adequate playing. What Richard Manuel does on the drums in Rag Mama Rag is real playing, nuanced, from the head of a drummer, not a piano player. Same with Stevie Wonder, his fills that close out the song that is posted are special. Same with Tambourine by Prince. What Prince plays makes drummers say, "Wow!"

Bowie has always been about lead guitarists- Mick Ronson, Robert Fripp, Earl Slick, Adrian Belew, SRV, Peter Frampton--so to take over all guitar parts for a entire album, is different/special, even if nothing being played is particularly astonishing. (Though, I think it's pretty great.)

The Replacements, who I cherish, were arguably a package, no one a particular virtuoso at the their given instrument, though one could argue Bob Stinson had something. Switching up during an encore was usually a shambles. Fun, but admittedly, bad.

I am looking for unique and amazing one-offs, not just, "Oh I can play this instrument, too."

I am interested in your examples.

18 comments:

cmealha said...

How about Prince on Tamborine?

Anonymous said...

It's nothing to write home about but Pete Townshend plays drums (and everything else) on all of his demos.

Randy

Shriner said...

*Live* -- the members of Sloan will switch instruments -- the bass player (Chris Murphy) will move to drums, the drummer to guitar (on songs he sings) and one of the guitarists to bass. Chris also would switch to drums from bass on that "TransCanada Highwaymen" tour.

The video for "People of the Sky" shows the other members shooting for who would play drums but I don't know if it was recorded that wa

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vHk_IOxGnc

Bill said...

I saw the Replacements switch instruments when they played Hootenanny as an encore.

Sal Nunziato said...

I should have specified in the post itself, which I will do after I post here.

Bands switching up live is not really what I am looking. It happens alot. Todd & Utopia would do it regularly, where Willie the drummer would place bass while Todd took over on the kit. It was all fun, but nothing more. Adequate playing. What Richard Manuel does on the drums in Rag Mama Rag is real playing, nuanced, from the head of a drummer, not a piano player. Same with Stevie Wonder, His fills that close out the song I posted are special. Same with Tambourine by Prince.

Bowie has always been about lead guitarists- Mick Ronson, Robert Fripp, Earl Slick, Adrian Belew, SRV, Peter Frampton--so to take over all guitar parts for a entire album, is different/special.

The Replacements, who I cherish, were arguably a package, no one particular great at the their given instrument, though one could argue Bob Stinson had something.

I am looking for unique and amazing one-offs, not just, "Oh I can play this instrument, too."

Keith Heitner said...

Jon Anderson does not have a reputation as a proficient musician. So the fact he plays everything on Oilias of Sunhillow, I find kind of impressive

Ken D said...

By coincidence I heard this wonderful version—from Levon's "Ramble at the Ryman"—on the radio this morning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1LCj1_WYIo

Levon on mandolin, Buddy Miller on guitar, and a killer tuba solo.
I'd forgotten about this album. I think I'll put it on my Christmas list.

I come up empty as far as "amazing one-offs."

Dr Wu said...

I hope these meet the criteria: Tom Schultz on the Boston debut; Lenny Kravitz on 'Let Love Rule'; Trent Reznor on the Nine Inch Nails debut, 'Pretty Hate Machine' - where nearly all the instruments were played by the artist themselves. Not sure if these fit your Richard Manuel example. Perhaps, more in line with McCartney solo and the early Prince albums.
Belated sidenote: Loving the new JSR single and very much looking forward to the album's release. Congratulations to you and the band! Will there be t-shirts available for those who wish to spread the gospel.

Sal Nunziato said...

Thank you, Dr. Wu! Appreciate the kinds words and if we do get shirts made up, you will be the first to receive one.

As for criteria, I think any artist who does it all himself and makes it sound as good as your aforementioned five, deserves a big nod. But, again...though Prince may play bass, piano and drums, I think the first thing most think of is the guitar. Bowie plays piano and sax, but no one will ever call him a sax player. But if a track surfaces of Bowie playing a stellar "A Love Supreme," then we have a deal!

Anonymous said...

Taste's "On the Boards" has Rory Gallagher playing sax more than competently on both the title track and "It's Happened Before It'll Happen Again." As far as I know, he never played it on any of his other albums.

Walter Becker taking over the guitar soloes for Steely Dan (from Aja forward?) always seemed a weird move to me. Becker had a style, but I was a Denny Diaz fan myself.

Shriner said...

Fair enough -- I'll revise my statement on Chris Murphy in Sloan. I've read more on him to find that he *has* recorded playing drums with Tuns and The Super Friendz, but I'd consider him "adequate" on the drums. No flash but a bit more than 4-on-the-floor, but nothing exceptional (though I think singing drummers have something going for them in general...). Unique and amazing? Probably not as much as what you are looking for. But I love Sloan, so...


And, hey, Madonna started out as a drummer!








Anonymous said...

Roger Taylor's Fun in Space is a very good LP and as far as Wikipedia confirmed, he plays the guitar and bass in all of the songs. Let's get crazy bass (and guitars) sound very good to me. Future Management is also quite good.

Roy

M_Sharp said...

NRBQ - "Tapdancin' Bats https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LK7TxBysCAE

The Nazz - "Loosen Up" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmQxzyIUTg0

Both fit the criteria of "unique and amazing"..........

Dr Wu said...

I remember that Roger Taylor album. Wow! I’ll have to give that a listen again soon. He also played all the instruments on ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ and ‘Fight from the Inside’ from Queen’s ‘News of the World’ album.

Slidewell said...

Jan Hammer plays the drums (and synths, of course) on Jeff Beck's Blue Wind. Certainly impressed me (as a drummer myself) back in '76.

As for Richard Manuel, he played all the drums on the 'true' Basement Tapes, while Levon was working on an oil rig in Louisiana.

Anonymous said...

Hello all...no, please remain seated,

Ron Wood fits the bill. He occasionally plays guitar for the Stones when his real role is to provide laughs for Keith. (ouch)


Best....RichD

Chris Collins said...

Actually, speaking of Ronnie, that's him playing drums on "Sleep Tonight" on Dirty Work. Not virtuoso playing, I know. But it's on theme.

Springsteen is playing all the instruments on Southside Johnny's "All The Way Home" from the "Better Days" album.

Steven said...

a minor point...Tom Scholz didn't play the drums on the early demos / first record...a friend of his named Jim Masdea did...