Record Gems with Open Drum Sounds
|By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)|
I'm a strong advocate for using custom drum sounds. And although I have no issue with stock drum sounds (I've used stock drums in the past, and I have no problem with using them in the future) I believe that one of the most effective ways of creating your own style and sound is through the use of your own customized drum sounds.
That being said, I will be compiling an ongoing list—the BeatTips List of Great Records for Drum Sounds—of ALL of the records that I (and many others) have found to be great for drum sounds. For each installment or volume of the list, I will try to post at least five songs. Furthermore, this list will also include those songs that I have studied as a guide for drum pattern arrangements. And it is my hope that the songs on this list well help serve as a guide for those who want to tune the drum sounds that they already have to the sounds showcased on this list.
Finally, although some readers will note that there are some obvious choices that should be on this list, please bear with me, as I will be rolling out this list periodically without, necessarily, any preference to the most well-known "break-beats" (this is not a list of break-beat records). In fact, I suspect some songs on this ongoing list will surprise some of you. But after a "full-listen" of the record, you'll see just why it earned a spot. Still as always, I invite discussion. So any and all suggestions, whether well-known or obscure, are certainly welcome.
The music and videos below are presented here for the purpose of scholarship.
Rufus Thomas - "Do the Funky Penguin" (1971)
Aside from the drum sounds on this Rufus Thomas classic, what's most appealing is the quarter-note tambourine arrangement. I can not stress enough how much this joint taught me about drum patterns.
Melvin Bliss - "Synthetic Substitution" (1977)
One of the most used breaks in beatmaking. Variations of this joint were used so much in hip hop/rap music that it's become some what of a right to passage for beatmakers. Indeed, if you're not familiar with "Synthetic Substitution," I strongly recommend that you immediately get to know it.
One more thing, when I first started beatmaking, I studied "Synthetic Substitution" for months. I wanted to learn how to play the main break (flawlessly) without the timing correct on. For some reason, I figured that if I could replay the "Synthetic Substitution" break (using my own drum sounds) then my drum programming skills would be tight. I was right...
Little Feat - "Fool Yourself" (1973)
The best part of the drum work of this joint can be heard within the first 5 seconds.
The Fatback Band - "Goin' to See My Baby" (1972)
Drum sounds or not, I can always zone out to "Goin' to See My Baby." Still, the double snare at the beginning is choice. Special note: Many more of The Fatback Band's songs will be on the BeatTips List of Great Records for Drum Sounds, particularly because of the work by Bill Curtis, the drummer who formed The Fatback Band.
Wilbur "Bad" Bascomb - "Black Grass"
The break comes up at the 1:40 mark.