Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Sandy Nelson - A Hunk Of Drumsdotdotdot
artworkSandy Nelson is one legendary studio drummer. His career began with his earliest work with the Teddy Bears ("To Know Him Is To Love Him") and the Gamblers ("Moon Dawg"), through his solo studio projects beginning with 1959's "Teen Beat" and including his 1965 "Casbah" surf single from the Drums A Go-Go album with Richie Podolor on guitar, and culminating with this eighties album.

Here, we find guitar duty carried by Dennis Edmonton a.k.a. Mars Bonfire, former founding member of the Sparrow, which morphed slightly while moving from Canada through New York and LA to San Francisco to become Steppenwolf, and writer of "Born To Be Wild." Edmonton is also the guitarist on Sky Saxon's (Seeds) eighties projects. This album is classic studio project fare, with lesser developed songs, but is very well played. It's cool, fun, and displays Sandy Nelson's expertise on the skins.
Picks: Witch Hunt, Hunk Of Drums, Redondo Strand, Dirty Fast Beat, I Feel Great, Drum Tunnel, Fourth Generation Rock, Switchin' To Greig, Turnabout, Boogie #5 (You Might Get)

Track by Track Review

Witch Hunt dotdotdotdot
Drum Rock (Instrumental)

This is a funny sorta song, with a playful edgy guitar line, and a relentless funky percussion and bass groove. Lead guitar on the track is played by Dennis Edmunton, the original lead guitarist with Canada's legendary Sparrow. Dennis left Sparrow over band direction disputes after they became Steppenwolf. You may better know him as Mars Bonfire, the writer of "Born To Be Wild."

"A Drum Is A Woman" was pulled and reissued as "Witch Hunt" following protests from Southern California women's groups, who were offended because the title suggested beating women like a drum. Ironically, Sandy Nelson meant nothing of the sort. He meant by the title that drums should be treated with the same reverence and respect that women should be. He was dumbfounded by the furor, and reacted by retitling it accordingly.

The reissue features a distant guitar note and a Wolfman Jack voice (Frank Beeson) crying "Witch Hunt" dubbed over the opening in a kind of political statement about the attack its name had incurred. This was co-written by Mars Bonfire and producer Frank Beeson.

Hunk Of Drums dotdotdot
Studio Rock (Instrumental)

"Hunk Of Drums" a sensually rhythmic meandering through Sandy Nelson classics "Teen Beat," "Drums Are My Beat," "Let There Be Drums," "Drums A Go-Go," and "Wipe Out." The medley is fun, but not terribly inspired.

Redondo Strand dotdotdotdot
Instro (Instrumental)

Sandy was a major player among the studio musicians in LA. His drums are heard on many hits by many people, as well as on his on hits, beginning with "Teen Beat" in the late fifties. In the early eighties, he did some recording and issued an album with Mars Bonfire a.k.a. Dennis Edmonton on guitar. This track is a rhythmic thing that is pretty typical of the album. Long out of print, it's worth a listen for sure.

Dirty Fast Beat dotdotdotdot
Euro Surf (Instrumental)

Laika and the Cosmonauts' "Surf's You Right" with the Euro replaced by reverb, more beefy and more surf driven. Solid thumping glissando powered surf.

I Feel Great dotdotdot
Studio Rock (Instrumental)

Great drums, playful lightweight guitar into, and an almost movie theme melody line come together here for a solid track. Both the guitar work and the kit action are precise and nicely counter balanced.

Drum Tunnel dotdotdot
Studio Rock (Instrumental)

"Drum Tunnel" is a funky drum pattern number with tweaky effected keys. Much more gimmicky than the rest of the tracks here, it never the less sports typically tribal Sandy Nelson drum work. Mostly drumming.

Fourth Generation Rock dotdotdotdot
Studio Rock (Instrumental)

This is more of a standard instro, with a cool melody riff and tasteful drumming. The drum breaks are minimal and appropriate, and the guitar work very nice. Simplicity and just enough arranging to make this a complete song with a satisfying rhythm and riff. "Fourth Generation Rock" is a slowish number that has a lazy afternoon flow to it.

Switchin' To Greig dotdotdotdot
Studio Rock (Instrumental)

The Nut Cracker Suite, popularized as "Nut Rocker" by B. Bumble and the Stingers, is suavely rocked out on this superb track. The pumping piano work is mighty infectious, and the rhythm is equally cool. Like Jerry Lee Lewis rockin' at the keys, this cruises right along, with a solid and interesting drum break.

Turnabout dotdotdot
Rock Surf (Instrumental)

Yeaow is a punky instro, with a good melody, and a surf influence, though it relies heavily on chord progressions for definition, it also has some lead guitar lines using fuzz and/or double picking. Mostly rhythmic, but some of that is the non-discrete demo mix. It's quite a fun track with definite possibilities. The ending seems to go on in the same way Davie Allan likes to play with guitar sounds at his endings.

Boogie #5 (You Might Get) dotdotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Guitarist Tom Stanton was a member of the Crossfires, and this is one of their tunes. It's a garagie recording, sounds like it's compressed unevenly (or maybe roughly mixed), but none the less captures one of the best leading edge bands delivering a a powerhouse rendition of a song with enough gloom for the meanest surfer among you. This is a splendidly necessary track. Surf coming of age, meeting the next millennium head on.