drum play reviews with transcriptions

> Latest articles in Japanese

Belatedly realized James Brown - Mother Popcorn stays the best

James Brown - Mother Popcorn (You Got to Have a Mother for Me)!

When I listened to James Brown again, I couldn't wait to see how this funk groove was generated, and I couldn't wait to try it myself. That is the song: Mother Popcorn (You Got to Have a Mother for Me). It was released in 1969 and has been featured on his various albums. Take the sort of best album 20 All-Time Greatest Hits! or Star Time Disc 3 ("Soul Brother No. 1"), etc. Some live recording versions should also be available. 

Star Time

Star Time

  • アーティスト:Brown, James
  • 発売日: 1991/05/07
  • メディア: CD

The classic funk groove

Mother Popcorn is a very attractive track for enjoying a classic funk groove. First and foremost, the phrase of the horns in sharp 16th notes considerably generates its funk groove. Clyde Stubblefield, the drummer of this song, goes like this:



The high-hat always ticks in big quarter notes to form the holistic and overall cornerstones to make a space in the song. Stabilizing the quarter notes, the snare backbeat is put at the 4th offbeat instead of the 4th onbeat. Of course, the horns are also sharply shifted accordingly. That is a correct funk drum cliche. The snare drum's ghost notes sound softly but quite essential here. He places the ghost notes firmly on 16th notes to align with the rhythm of the horns. It should be noted that the bass drum is not considered to be an element of this groove since it is barely audible.

I listened to this song with concentration to find out important elements for the groove. Finally, I found that a muted guitar quacks in the background like this!


A secret ingredient that will make the difference. The ghost notes are not alone in supporting this attractive groove.

The second pattern

The pattern described above is repeated by dozens of bars in almost exactly the same way. We can call it a background track while James Brown freely sings. There is only one more such background pattern in this song. That is accented on the first and second beats. I think JB likes this way of highlighting because it appears in his other songs (for example Cold Sweat).




The red colored notes indicate different parts from the 1st background pattern. This 2nd pattern is exactly repeated several times until after 1:48 and it simply returns to the 1st pattern. The rest is pretty much the same. Simple! The first hit at coming back from 2nd pattern to the 1st pattern is, again simply, just one opened high-hat. I don't think he ever hits a cymbal in this song, so maybe he plays on a drum kit without a cymbal. Then, the accent of the maximum volume would necessarily be opened high-hat.

This should take the world by storm and should be handed down to the present. Today I reconfirmed such an immortal groove.

Everyone comes out for the Frank Zappa - Muffin Man Festival


Frank Zappa - Muffin Man

I was curious about Frank Zappa again when I listened to his old (1975!) songs. There must be no demand but let us check!

The name of the song is Muffin Man from Frank Zappa's album Bongo Fury. Check out the performance of Terry Bozzio with his youthful ebullience! 

Bongo Fury

Bongo Fury

  • アーティスト:Frank Zappa
  • 出版社/メーカー: Unive
  • 発売日: 2012/08/28
  • メディア: CD

Youthful single stroke

At the beginning, Zappa tells a story with dialogs with the Muffin Man. And the song starts right after the story is concluded that Muffin is the best:



What makes it so youthful is the single-minded single stroke sextuplets in the 4th and 8th bar. A person who can't do it, can't do it. A person who can do it may think it's a little bit hard to play at this speed. The muscular straightness that fills the space to the limit. Just like Terry Bozzio of that time of his year, you have to be shirtless and be stripped to the waist. You need to build up your body to appear visually. When you actually try this phrase, you feel pretty exhilarating like being after a good workout. Enjoy filling the space completely and reaching finally the first cymbal hit on the next bar.

An attractive phrase

I often played this phrase when I was in high school identifying myself with Terry. I remember that guys listened to my playing this phrase often asked me, "Give us one more time.". It's simple, but seems like a greatly attractive phrase because of the intense mashing and the sound of toms flowing from top to bottom. Maybe I'll play like that in my band now I'm joining in because I only can play such a sporty type phrase while I have enough physical strength. I'm very curious to know how Terry of today would play this song.

The spirit of Steely Dan - Aja you want to instill in your child

All right, let us continue! We are going to check the second half of the album titled song Aja from Steely Dan's album Aja.



  • アーティスト:Steely Dan
  • 出版社/メーカー: Mca
  • 発売日: 2006/07/03
  • メディア: CD

See the previous article here:

Just like the one in the middle part of the song that we covered in the previous article, let us see the drum solo that fills the niche of the song and the pattern during fading out at the end of the song.




The drum solo gets raging from the 3rd bar Auftact. Before coming to this drum solo part, the song goes with a cool and mezzo forte section, so the big gap of this sudden fortissimo drum solo attracts listeners first.

The drum solo continues along with a variety of phrases including the Steve Gadd's golden phrase. And the next moment, with the cue of the fill-in in the 18th bar, it changes into a brilliant samba pattern like this:



This samba pattern is also his specialty. It's a Latin like pattern with a unique feel and groove, sometimes called the Steve Gadd Samba. His left foot always kicks the hi-hat to splash it in quarter note (On the music score, "○" (circle) should be put on the left foot hi-hat notes, but I omitted it to make it look simpler).

It doesn't look like technically impossible, but when I play it, I cannot reproduce this Gadd-style driving groove. Perhaps that is because the pattern requires whole limb mobilization which makes it difficult to accurately place notes on 16th notes and to control dynamics (intensity of sound). Gadd has an excellent skill for rudiments like paradidles, and this basic techniques can make a big difference in the groove of this pattern. In addition, the subtle intensity of the sound, which is hard to describe in the score, is considered to be a decisive factor for this feel. It's a groove at a level that you can't easily get close to!

Check out the Steve Gadd Samba in the series of Golden Classic Tapes. It's a bit different from the pattern in Aja, but it helps you to imagine how he played Aja:


Of course, I'm amazed again at how talented he is! That's fairly legendary.