Thursday, November 5, 2009

Singing drummers who sing and drum while singing

I've been listening to Levon Helm's new album Electric Dirt (7/10; needs more grit) this week and was trying to think of others who sang from behind the skins. Phil Collins, of course. Karen Carpenter, Don Henley, um, er. Ringo when they had to give him a go. Um, er.....


(in keeping with the Sesame Street flow)

28 comments:

tincanman said...

Shouldn't there be more? Or is it too hard to do?

B-M said...

The dude out of Snuff.

sourpus said...

Paper Lace?

Its true, there were not so many vocalists who sang from the drum stool. I think it was especially unpopular with record companies and promoters, because they didnt like the idea of a guy sitting and the back - presumably they were thinking of the short-sighted but rich and influencial punters who usually bogart the first three rows at almost all gigs(?)

Chris said...

Levon Helm actually did a pretty good job of both tasks in The Band and Chris Frantz was the driving force behind the Tom Tom Club.

Singing drummers are a sound engineer's nightmare, I would think. There's obviously a huge problem with placement and separation of microphones, given the need to hear the voice distinctly from the snare and cymbals being bashed so near to the vocal source. Only those singing drummers strong enough to beat the sound engineer in a fight are allowed to do it on stage...

Mnemonic said...

The drummer in Magma does some of the vocals. This, by the way, is probably the gig I've really disliked more than any other this year. Support acts Chrome Hoof and JP Massieri were great, Magma were overblown egos who never knew when to stop, the drummer in particular.

May1366 said...

Don't know the fella's name but the lead vocals for the verses of The Four Seasons' December '63 (Oh What A Night) are sung by the drummer, as opposed to Frankie Valli, who comes in for the "Oh, I got a funny feeling when she walked in the room..." bits.

Maurice White from Earth Wind and Fire? Obviously, Phil Bailey was the main voice but when the vocals were traded, Maurice would do his fair share from the stool, though he'd sometimes get up to loon about upstage while probably another drummer carried the beat on.

James Brown doesn't count, does he? Think he drummed and then sang at different career stages. So, other than the above - Robert Wyatt?

nilpferd said...

Tony Williams sung a little bit in his fusion band with John Mclaughlin and Larry Young, not very well though. Sorry Tony.

Most of the drummers in Flying Nun bands sung at one stage or another, because they were nearly all actually guitarists or bass players who drew the short straw and ended up bashing the skins- a bit like getting picked to play in goal on a sunday kickaround.

Japanther said...

didn't the bloke out the Dave Clark Five sing and drum at the same time?

nilpferd said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfA-O_4HeeU&feature=PlayList&p=150EDB8FC194FC4D&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=80

Evidence of my Flying Nun claim.. Hamish Kilgour of The Clean playing drums and singing Whatever I do is right. Admittedly not the most strenuous vocal workout. But a fine song.

gordonimmel said...

@Japanther, that'd be Dave Clark himself then - although evidently lead vocals were mainly done by Mike Smith (guitarist) who died recently.

In my own experience when I used to play drums many years ago, although I felt that I could do the drum part in my sleep, if I tried to sing at the same time it all went a bit Pete Tong; either I'd only sing half the words or the drumming would fall apart so I knew I could never have done both. Maybe it's just the way my brain's wired up and I'm just as slow and fick as Gerald Ford (of whom LBJ said 'he can't fart and chew gum at the same time'), innit?

Chris said...

gordon/Japanther: according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, "although Clark always played drums during live performances, it has been suggested that because of time constraints (he was also producing the group's singles) he employed the session drummer Bobby Graham for some of the group's recordings." (And Mike Smith was the keyboard player.)
May: I don't think Robert Wyatt played drums and sang at the same time on stage (and he wouldn't need to in the studio).

Chris said...

How could we forget everyone's favourite singer and drummer, Phil Collins? (Because voluntary amnesia works sometimes...)

barbryn said...

Hank Starrs, lead singer of Animals That Swim (nominated each week by either me or mark68), was also their drummer. The video to "The moon and the mothership" doesn't show the band, but does have space hoppers in it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpKxE_rOjHY

ejaydee said...

Just remembered Buddy Miles, seen here singing Them Changes as Jimi Hendrix's Band Of Gypsys:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeFRHwfAiY0

Chris said...

Oops, sorry tin, you didn't forget PC,did you?

Jack White seems to have appointed himself as the drummer in The Dead Weather and, from what I saw of them on Jools a few weeks ago, he makes a good job of the singing/drumming thing.

shoey said...

Mimi Parker - Low

Mnemonic said...

Doh! How could I have forgotten Mimi.

TatankaYotanka said...

Robert Wyatt frequently played drums and sang live on stage with Soft Machine.

Tim (Kalyr) said...

Johannes James of metal power-trio Kyrbgrinder, who I saw at the Cambridge Rock Festival back in August.

Manages to only to play drums as a lead instrument, but manages to be an in-your-face frontman at the same time. You barely notice the other two guys on stage at the same time.

Last time I saw Journey, Deen Castronovo sang lead for a few songs - He sounded remarkably like Steve Perry.

Chris said...

Oh, I see, TY. That's another retraction from me, then...

I did see SM back in the old days but there were no vocals at all, just long heavy instrumentals, so I sort-of assumed the numbers with words on didn't get played on stage. There's a well known cliche about that word 'assume', isn't there?!

BloodyParadox said...

I believe Ginger Baker sang a few times with his Airforce. Well, once anyway on that first album.

And I was convinced that Keef Hartley sang on the Halfbreed album I've got - but it seems it was just him doing the 'intro' and 'outro' phone-call with John Mayall, about getting sacked. Great Blues/Jazz/Rock album that . . .

lambretinha said...

Dave Grohl could be on the list too, I suppose (I'm not sure I've seen him singing on the drumkit that often, though...)

Tim (Kalyr) said...

Albert Bouchard, original drummer from Blue Oyster Cult sang lead quite a bit in the studio, although much of it was on songs they tended not to play live. He did sing lead live on "Cities on Flame".

Ginger Baker sang during his days in Cream - No drumming on "A Mother's Lament", but I'm pretty sure they've played "Pressed Rat and Warthog" live.

BloomingParadise said...

and there's Jim Capaldi, who wrote and sang for Traffic before going solo with his great 'Short Cut Draw Blood' album . . .

Exodus said...

Moe Tucker did when I saw the Velvets

TatankaYotanka said...

Kevin Godley with 10cc who went on to use two drummers in live performance, perhaps to allow for the bits of singing?

Anonymous said...

Aki from Comanechi.

Brian from Lightning Bolt.

Both drum and yell.

(a haiku)

AliMunday said...

I dunno but in what used to be my local, the landlord (Mad Ernie) used to perform a similar trick using the optics, the bar staff, customers, furniture, motor cycle helmets and the cars parked outside. His long-suffering wife was known as Sane Joan.