Sandy Nelson

Let There Be Drums/Drums Are My Beat!

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This two-fer pairs back-to-back Sandy Nelson LPs from the drummer's commercial and creative heyday. Let There Be Drums is more than just an album title. It's a proclamation from above, a call to arms that galvanized an entire generation of aspiring drummers. The infectious title cut proved Sandy Nelson's second and final Top Ten hit, and its bombastic drum sound remains a rock & roll archetype, distilling the immense power and allure of bashing the skins in well under three minutes. Like no one before him, Nelson captures the fundamental frenzy that is the essence of rock drumming, and his performance remains the template for successive generations of players to follow. The remainder of Let There Be Drums ain't too shabby, either. Additional Nelson/Richie Podolor originals like "Bouncy" and "Birth of the Beat" showcase the energy and invention of Nelson's drumming to no less impressive effect, rendering the record's cover songs (including the Champs' "Tequila" and Fats Domino's "My Girl Josephine") obsolete in the process. Drums Are My Beat! is most eclectic Sandy Nelson LP to appear during the drummer's commercial heyday. Like the preceding Let There Be Drums, it evenly divides between originals and covers, but the songs in the latter category derive from an unusually diverse group of sources, guaranteeing Nelson the opportunity to explore new facets of his craft. Duke Ellington's rhythmic fantasia "Caravan" proves a perfect fit with Nelson's primal style, as does the traditional "Hawaiian War Chant," presented here in a big band-influenced arrangement. Best of all is a version of Cozy Cole's "Topsy," featuring Nelson on xylophone. His original compositions are equally appealing -- "Drum Stomp" is a shimmering surf-rock excursion, "Hum Drum" anticipates the Middle Eastern flavor of the subsequent hit "Casbah," and the closing "The City" features a filthy Teenage Steve Douglas saxophone performance that brings to mind the bump-n-grind joints of days long gone. Most impressive of all is the epic "Day Drumming," an eight-minute Nelson solo showcase that captures the drummer in all his protean glory.

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