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I am getting freaking SCHOOLED by a bunch of listening recommendations from my friend and A-squad Nashville session player John Hammond. I’ve been emailing back and forth with John over recent days, and most of my listening revolved around his suggestions. These include…
1) Gino Vannelli – Brother to Brother … 70’s and 80’s pop artist/singer/songwriter/vocalist/instrumentalist Gino Vannelli has possibly the most incredible roster of backing musicians on his recordings that I’ve ever seen. Drummer Mark Craney on this records blows my mind, and I’d never heard of him before John told me about him. #whoa
2) Mother’s Finest – Another Mother Further … 70’s funk stylings from the South. Drummer Barry Borden laying it DOWN. #whoa
3) The Producer’s – Self-titled … 80’s new wave from Atlanta. The drummer is Bryan Holmes. #whoa #howdidInotknowaboutthis
4) Joni Mitchell – Wild Things Run Fast … a less jazz-leaning and more 80’s pop-leaning record from the iconic singer/songwriter. Vinnie Colaiuta splits the drum tracks with John Guerin. Both are #whoa
5) Graham Central Station – Misc … I’ve been digging through a handful of tracks from Larry Graham’s 70’s funk band. Graham played bass in Sly and the Family Stone and is hailed by many as having INVENTED slap bass. Not yet sure who the drummer is on these tracks because they are a compilation. But still. #whoa #funky
Not trying to brag here… but I had lunch and hung out with Nashville studio legend John Hammond the other day.
He rules. He was very kind and super insightful, and bought me a killer currywurst at a cool restaurant in town called The Pharmacy.
For another example of his ruling-ness, check out this photo of him doing his thing.
The first installment in my album of the week series was the Dogs Of Peace record, a slamming 90’s power trio album made by some slamming Nashville session players. I recently got in touch with drummer John Hammond on Facebook, and he was kind enough to spell out his intro fill on “The Truth,” and with great detail!
The first thing you need to do is listen to the track somehow. I couldn’t find the individual track streaming online anywhere, but you can find the record on iTunes or whatever. Here’s Hammond giving us a how-to for a pretty complex rhythmic structure:
Thanks for asking about the DOP thing. The intro fill from “The Truth” was inspired by the fill into the choruses of an old, really weird King Crimson song (link below). The song is freaky, but I always loved the idea of that fill. Anyway, on “The Truth,” the first four beats are a 16th note triplet between floor tom and kick: R-L-R-L-K-K, etc. The fifth beat is a little trickier. You need to end with the left hand on the snare on beat six, so you have to squeeze a “seven” in the space of the six. It’s sticked like this: R-L-R-L-K-K-R-L, the last left being the snare on the downbeat of beat six. I hope that makes sense.
“The Court Of The Crimson King” by King Crimson
John then emailed me the next day with this awesome geekfest follow-up…
“OK. Call me OCD boy, but for some reason I woke up thinking about my explanation of the fill, and if you’re going to post it somewhere I think it needs one little bit of clarification in terms of the approach. The last bit is not an even seven. It’s more like you make the last 2 16th notes of the sextuplet a triplet. The first R-L-R-L (on the floor tom) of that beat is exactly the same as the the others. Then what was the 2 kick hits at the end (of the first 4 sextuplets) is a triplet between the kick and floor tom that ends with the snare on the downbeat. Hopefully that doesn’t cloud the water even more.”
Thanks for the explanation, John! I’ve got some thoughts about this fill and John’s explanation that I’ll post tomorrow.
I’m going to start a new series of posts… one album each week that I think totally rules. I’ve posted a few times with lists of what I was listening to that particular week, but now I’m going to focus more on specifics.
First up… “Speak” by the Dogs Of Peace. This was recommended to me through my “top ten unknown albums” club. So awesome. It’s a bunch of Nashville studio musicians just throwing down on some killer alternative rock. Gordon Kennedy (who wrote Clapton’s smash hit “Change the World”) on guitars and vocals, Jimmie Lee Sloas (renowned Nashville producer and bassist) on bass/vocals/keys, and John Hammond on drums. The sound is something like STP meets the Posies, with a definite “songwriter” feel to the lyric and structure (not to mention some great vocal harmonies).
From a drummer’s perspective, John Hammond’s feel on this recording is so great. He has a rocking quality that definitely keeps the band from sounding too pop, but his ideas and approach are great lessons on how to play “inside the lines” and “by the book” and yet not make things sterile or plastic-sounding. The fill at the beginning of track 7? C’mon. The Porcaro shuffle in 6/8 on that same track? Seriously.