25 old school songs with wicked drums
If you were listening to Down 4 Whateva last Saturday afternoon, you would have heard the big beats special where I ran through some old school songs with nice beats. A couple of weeks ago we had the wicked basslines show so it was time for the other half of the rhythm equation.
Music of today is very much beat orientated and drums are very much in your face but back in the day, it was more about the music as a whole. However, some songs did come out that had beats that just could not be denied, people heard them and went: “woah, I like the drums”. Here are my top 25 of those:
- James Brown – Funky President – one of James Brown’s most sampled songs, Allan Schwarzberg on drums – who says white men can’t jump?
- Lyn Collins – Think – Produced by James Brown, another much sampled break from the great man.
- Foster Sylvers – Misdemeanor – Check this one out to hear drums being played like a melody instrument, walking all over the place with the bass, just brilliant.
- Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up – Percussion heavy, Blackxploitation era groove.
- Isaac Hayes – Do Your Thing – Heavy production on this, drums sound like they were cut today, not like their 1971.
- B.T. Express – Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied) – Another much sampled groove.
- Mtume – Juicy Fruit – You must recognise these drums, even if not from this song because it’s been so so so sampled. Never been able to figure whether these were live or a drum machine, James Mtume is afterall, one of the baddest drummers alive.
- Bill Summers & Summers Heat – You Can Call It What You Want – Now we’re definitely in the drum machine era, I believe this was actually a preset pattern, kudos to some funky programmer then.
- Cheryl Lynn – Encore – Nice beats courtesy of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. A drummer would simply look like the mac playing this live. The art of posing….if played right.
- Ollie & Jerry – Breakin’ (There’s No Stoppin’ Us) – Some nice electro beats.
- The Controllers – Stay – Some tough beats for what is a relatively mellow jam.
- Bobby Brown -Don’t Be Cruel – Nice beats courtesy of LA & Babyface before LA became an X-Factor judge and forgot the funk.
- Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper – Percussion heavy beats from Sly & Robbie
- S.O.S. Band – No One’s Gonna Love You – Another one from Jam & Lewis, creative work with Roland TR808 drums. Borrowed by Nick Martinelli for Loose Ends ‘Hangin’ On A String’ thereby causing friction between said band and Jam & Lewis. Back then obvious biting was punishable by death.
- Tashan – Read My Mind – One of the early proponents of Hip-Hop R&B, from 1986 and still sounding fresh.
- Cameo – She’s Strange – This had to make the list, even if only for the intro. Larry Blackmon on drums.
- BB&Q Band – Dreamer – Nice Roland TR909 drums on this.
- Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers – Bustin’ Loose- The late, great Chuck Brown with some good ole fashioned Washington DC Go-go beat. Obama twerking anyone?
- Midnight Star – Curious – The only slow jam to make the list, just proves how good these beats are.
- Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam – I Wonder If I Take You Home – Electro beats courtesy of Full Force, quite novel at the time, the way the bass and the drums were married together.
- African Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force – These groundbreaking beats from Arthur Baker went on to form the foundation for Hip-Hop, House, Trance and even Crunk.
- Strafe – Set It Off – Many a deejay’s get-out-of-jail card back in the mid-80’s, these beats were simply made for getting people to move.
- Man Parrish – Hip Hop, Be Bop (Don’t Stop) – Another electro customer.
- Gwen Guthrie – Outside In The Rain – Roland TR707 aided production by the guys from Surface.
- Soul II Soul – Keep On Movin’ – It was a toss up between this and Dennis Edwards’ Don’t Look Any Further because they sound so similar and Dennis Edwards came first. But I went for the home team.
So there we have it, my top 25, so many beats and not a Dr Dre in sight!