I hope that the first day of the best part of summer finds you well.
I ‘m sorry it’s been so long between posts, but it has been an extremely busy weekend.
After spinning at Lucky Cat on Friday, I (and the rest of the Funky16Corners family) got good and sick with a nasty cold.
The baby was already sick and passed it on to the rest of us, so the weekend was a veritable tsunami of snot and tissues. Everyone was miserable and any plans we had for Labor Day Weekend recreation went right in the shitter.
Naturally, I took advantage of my weakened, sleep-deprived state to stay up late and get some work done.
I should start things off by mentioning that today (Tuesday 9/4) is my birthday. Not just any birthday mind you, but my forty-fifth.
As actual age goes, it couldn’t be less significant. My health (cold aside) is the best it’s been in years, and I’ve never really felt my age anyway.
I can’t ignore the symbolic significance of the number 45 in my life (and in this blog) as my house is full of them (45s that is) and my entire adult life has in many ways followed that revolutions per minute pattern as I’ve hunted, studied and absorbed these totemic artifacts of a bygone age. Every one of these records carries in its grooves an aural snapshot of a time and place, some representing the zeitgeist, others representing a departure from it, and each and every one telling a small part of a larger story.
Sometimes the story is a personal one (whether my own or that of the performer) and sometimes what you get when listening to a record is just another piece of a puzzle that you’ve been assembling bit by bit for years.
The odd thing is that more often than not when I think I have a puzzle solved, I realize that I’ve only completed a small section of a much larger, still incomplete picture, and the search continues unabated.
The public face of my personal search has been manifested over the years via print zines (1984 – 1992), the Funky16Corners web zine (2000- present) and the Funky16Corners blog which will complete its third year this November.
As my 45th birthday approached I’ve been thinking of someway to mark the occasion on the blog – in music of course – but until this past weekend I really hadn’t made up my mind.
What I finally decided on, has a lot to do with my own musical past, and is an attempt to tap into the literal heartbeat of the music I love.
Back in the day, after a protracted struggle to find a melodic instrument I could handle, I found my way to the drums.
All of those jokes you’ve heard about drummers as being heavy handed goons who like to hit things…well…they’re only partially true.
There is in fact a primal satisfaction from beating a drum that is like almost nothing else. I can’t think of a physical interaction between a human being and a musical instrument that is more basic than drumming. Hitting things and producing noise, and then rhythm was probably the first music ever made by man, and today is usually the first kind of music any child gets to make, whether it’s with an actual toy drum, or just by bashing one thing against another. It just doesn’t get more basic than that.
When I was 14, while I’m sure the primal motivation was there, I was more interested in finding a way to be in a rock band than connecting with the Neanderthal within (though some would say that those are one and the same).
I’ll be honest with you and admit that I was never more than an adequate drummer, in part because I was never really willing to work at it in a meaningful way, i.e. I’d “practice” with a garage band for days on end, but never really find time to sit down with my practice pad and master the rudiments, and probably also because the natural talent wasn’t there. I was unable to tap into the subtleties of percussion, happy instead to bash away at my kit in an often fruitless attempt to be heard over my better amplified companions (the punky drummer, not the funky drummer).
That my folks ever allowed this kind of noise in their house is a very monument to parental love and tolerance.
That said, it was only later in life, just about 20 years ago, when I pretty much laid down my drumsticks forever, and started really listening to the drums, that I gained a serious appreciation of how powerful an instrument they are.
Though my early years were filled with awe for the likes of Neal Peart (the Buddy Rich of the longhaired set), as time went on, and I grew to appreciate the work of masters like Art Blakey, Max Roach, Zakir Hussain, Al Jackson and Clyde Stubblefield, the drums began to mean more to me than they ever did when I “played” them.
This was underlined even more as I got deeply into the sounds of funk.
Funk, more so than just about any other kind of music is really a drummer’s genre.
One of the hallmarks of funk, and something that has carried on into the world of hip hop and turntable culture un general is the break, i.e. the section of the song where the band steps back to – in the words of the almighty Godfather of Soul – give the drummer some.
The collection of ones and zeros you are downloading today is a sampling of 45 of my favorite drum sounds. Most (not all) are breaks, some are “open”, others not, some aren’t even breaks at all, but rather iconic drum moments from some of my favorite records.
The end result – clocking in at just under 15 minutes – is a sliced and diced percussive suite of sorts, from some of the greatest drummers of the last 40 odd years. Many of these clips were produced by giants of the musical world, others by drummers whose names have been lost in the sands of time. Either way, there’s something in each and every one of these percussive explosions that hits me in a special way.
It’s all ripped from OG vinyl (not all 45s…)
I hope you dig it.
Wish me another 45 years.
The sounds come from records by:
James Brown – Lee Dorsey – Roy Ward – James K Nine – Herbie Mann – Roger & the Gypsies – Ray Barretto – The Winstons – Ramsey Lewis – Bernard Purdie – Ray Barretto (again) – Lou Courtney – BW Souls – Alphonse Mouzon – Eddie Bo & Inez Cheatham – Incredible Bongo Band – Buddy Guy – Chuck Carbo – James Brown (again) – Lavell Hardy – Eddie Bo – Brother Jack McDuff – the Soulful Strings – Bob James – Marvin Holmes – Dennis Coffey – Larry Darnell – Curly Moore – Keith Mansfield – John Phillip Soul & his Stone Marching Band – Andre Brasseur – Louis Chachere – The Electric Indian – Don Soul Train Campbell – Mohawks – Herman Kelly & Life – Allen Toussaint – Funkadelic – Louis Bellson – Gabor Szabo – Sod – Bernard Purdie (again) – Mel Brown – Dave Grusin – Smokey Johnson