From Charlie Watts to Keith Moon to Meg White, virtually every drummer in rock history owes something to Sandy Nelson, so despite featuring a re-recorded version of the title cut (previously a Top Five hit for the Original Sound label), Nelson's debut LP, Plays Teen Beat, remains a landmark event in the history of popular music. One can only imagine the number of kids who started banging pots, kettles, and trashcans in emulation of its aggressively tribal rhythms. For what it's worth, the version of "Teen Beat" that opens the album is virtually identical to the original, and the remainder of the album follows its lead, marrying simple but infectious rock & roll melodies to Nelson's aggressive, energetic drumming. Indeed, Plays Teen Beat establishes the template for dozens of efforts to follow, balancing original material ("The Wiggle," "Alexes") with familiar covers (including Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'," the first of Nelson's myriad Domino renditions) that combine to capture all the dimensions of the drummer's much-copied style. As far as pre-Beatles albums go, this is standard fare (i.e., a few hits and a whole lot of filler), but as a summation of the visceral force and expressive power of drumming, it's still hard to beat.
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