Now this here, this is proper drumming

(Just ran across this video the other week on youtube, and so hence the timing of this post.)

Seems to me you don’t hear much about great drummers very often. Someone mentioned the agile work of the New Pornographers drummer Kurt Dahle in the other thread, and I tend to agree…

…but it seems strange to me that when the great drummers in rock history are brought up and discussed, no one ever brings up the guy I think who might be the best drummer of the last 25 years or so. The guy’s name is Will Rigby. If you’ve heard of him, perhaps it’s because his ex-wife, Amy, has a very solid solo career of her own and sells a lot of records. Maybe though, you remember seeing Will play on the first few Matthew Sweet albums. Or you’ve seen him play in Steve Earle’s band. Rigby does a nice job with those folks, but…

…it’s his first two albums in the limelight that make him a giant to me. Rigby was a founding member of the legendary North Carolina/New Jersey band The dB’s, a group who preceded and were a huge influence on the college radio sounds that emerged from the southeast in the 1980’s. The first two dB’s albums are magnificent because guitarist Peter Holsapple played a well-grounded McCartney to Chris Stamey’s ethereal John Lennon, and the two wrote some brilliant songs. What fuels a lot of the way those songs turned out, though, is Will Rigby’s drumming.

So, before we go to the video documentation, a little explanation about why Rigby is so great. The dB’s were a pop band, with some almost New Wave overtones. dB’s songs have a beat that is danceable. They have traditional pop structures. And they have Will Rigby playing games with those traditional structures. Rigby just throws out one manic drum fill after another, adds in weird cymbal crashes, and just sets the rhythm of his band’s songs on their ear. He basically did a bunch of stuff you should never do, but somehow made it work and actually kind of carried the band live.

So. Here’s the song “Happenstance”, from Swedish TV.: (How can anyone resist a song with the line “Happenstance we fell into, the off-the-cuff vitriolic remark”?)

Further documentation of drumming brilliance, “Cycles Per Second” (Gene Holder’s bass line is just as brilliant as Rigby’s drumming here; one of rock’s great unheralded rhythm sections…)

That’s some pretty impressive drumming for a pop song. The song wasn’t particularily great, but I could definitely dig on the drumming.