Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Sandy Nelson - Let There Be Drums / Drums Are My Beatdotdotdot
artworkSandy Nelson is one of rock 'n' roll's enduring stories. He played on as many hit sessions as Hal Blaine, but was also able to chart many times with his own singles. He played with real hard precision. Not long after his first hit "Teen Beat," he lost his right foot in a motorcycle accident. He just learned to use his left foot on the kick drum and never looked back, charting many more times and plying on endless more sessions.

Drum solos are a difficult thing to pull off. nelson was able to make his kit sing. Many rock drummers have indulged their fantasies on stage, most to the chagrin of audiences everywhere. Bill Graham used to hate drum solos, and particularly disliked the endless solos from Ten Years After. He booked Gene Krupa to open for TYA just to show him up. TYA did not do a drum solo at the Fillmore after that.
Picks: Slippin' And Slidin', Tequila, My Girl Josephine, Big Noise From Winnetka, Let There Be Drums, Bouncy, Birth Of The Beat, Quite A Beat, Get With It, Drum Roll, My Blue Heaven, Hawaiian War Chant, Twisted, Caravan, Drums Are My Beat, Day Drumming, Drum Stomp, Hum Drum, Topsy, The City, Teen Beat, Drummin' Up A Storm, All Night Long, And Then There Were Drums, Teen Beat '65

Track by Track Review


Slippin' And Slidin' dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Little Richard's wailing song is the basis for this infectious blues jam. Energetic and bouncy, with a pumping piano and thumpy bass line, and a solid drum solo.

Tequila dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A sorta big band arrangement modeled on Cozy Cole's "Topsy II," the drums are rhythmic and so cool. It's a long ways from the Mexican cool of the Champs, but Sandy Nelson's drums sure do rock!

My Girl Josephine dot
Rock (Instrumental)

Fats Domino's suave song finds a pale presentation here. The sax work is not inspired...

Big Noise From Winnetka dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Aside from catchy drum work, this is just a moderately interesting interpretation of Bob Crosby's "Big Noise From Winnetka." Lotsa fun though.

Let There Be Drums dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Let There Be Drums" was the first track released after Sandy Nelson lost his foot. It is an infectious thing with a rolling rhythm and great drums. The formula was a cross between "Wipe Out" and "Rebel Rouser." Nelson's drums are solid, and Richie Podolor's guitar work is excellent too.

Bouncy dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Sandy Nelson wrote "Bouncy," which is a riff rocker for sure. Kinda relentless, but rhythmic and party cool.

Birth Of The Beat dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This slowly evolving drum masterpiece shows off a healthy nod to Cozy Cole and Gene Krupa. Tribal like a forties big band rocker, this drum solo is very powerful. It's drums solos that best show off how important a really good sounding and well tuned drum kit really is.

Quite A Beat dotdotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

Richard Podolor plays guitar and co-wrote "Quite A Beat" with Sandy Nelson. It's patterned like many of his drums singles, with lots of drums and chord progressions on guitar setting off different verses. Richard Podolor's guitar plays an Indian thing. This grows on you.

Get With It dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Richard Podolor's cool reverbed guitar chops under the dry riff lead as Sandy Nelson plays restrained drums. Similar in some ways to a softened "Let There Be Drums," "Get With It" is an infectious percussion track.

Drum Roll dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This sounds almost like a demo, with dry sound and less distinct ambiently captured drums. Perhaps it's from earlier sessions. It's a rocker, with little focus or hook value.

My Blue Heaven dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Cool piano and fifties studio rock and roll sound. Pumped up, but not particularly catchy.

Hawaiian War Chant dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Sandy Nelson's drums amp up this traditional Hawaiian number in a big band format. It's fun, but not particularly remarkable.

Twisted dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A rock solid drum beat opens this fifties style studio rock cut. Aside from Sandy's kit, there's nothing to really set this apart. It is quite energetic.

Caravan dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Duke Ellington's "Caravan" is a natural for a drum record. It's so rhythmic. This is a very cool version of this venerable song. Very exotic.

Drums Are My Beat dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Drums Are My Beat" sports a fun little riff carried on piano and bass against guitar. It's pretty simple, but very cool. As always, the drums are focus.

Day Drumming dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Day Drumming" is another Sandy Nelson composition. There are no players adding to the song. It's all drums and almost eight minutes long.

Drum Stomp dotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

"Drum Stomp" employs a Richard Podolor vibrato shimmered progression to lead the drum fest. Kinda country, kinda surfy, and rooted in the fifties.

Hum Drum dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

With a simple riff inspired slightly by "Istanbul," this is a rhythmic and tribal track with solid energy. It's also a bit like "Let There Be Drums."

Topsy dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Topsy" opens with the middle section in brass before giving way to lead xylophone. It's an interesting concept, but is not as hard driving as the Cozy Cole hit.

The City dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Steve Douglas' nasty sax and Sandy Nelson's tribal thunder work wonders on this track. The guitar riff is highly repetitious, but the back ally mean streak comes through clearly, coupled with a Vegas runway giggle.

Teen Beat dotdotdotdot
Drum (Instrumental)

Sandy Nelson's first single, from 1959, set the stage for many rock drum records to follow. Only Cozy Cole's "Topsy Part II" had charted before, and it was a big band monster. This is a simple drum pattern, guitar and bass thing that was both innocent and infectious in its day.

Drummin' Up A Storm dotdotdotdot
Drum (Instrumental)

Richard Podolor wrote "Drummin' Up A Storm" for this album. The riff is simple and elegant, and gradually evolving from dry notes to twin note chords and dissonant twang.

All Night Long dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This classic forties raver gets updated cleaner recording, but otherwise remains heavily in the big band drum groove. This one note blues jam was often covered, though besides the honkin' energy I've never quite figured out why. There's no melody, just a big band drums session and a relentless riff.

And Then There Were Drums dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Studio drummer Sandy Nelson cut a long string of successful singles following his initial hit with "Teen Beat." Always drum centered, his rhythmic sessions captivated listeners and defined rock and roll drums until Ron Wilson and Hal Blaine came along. "And Then There Were Drums" is a grodie road runner of a track, with a nasty low-E guitar line that has always made me think of rolling down a rail line through a tribal outback. Excellent tribal drumming, of course. Incidentally, this single was cut after Sandy Nelson lost his foot in an auto accident. It didn't slow him down.

Teen Beat '65 dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Drummer extraordinaire Sandy Nelson was without his right foot by the time this was cut live in Las Vegas. The recording is dreadful, but it almost made the top forty, and was his last single to make it into the charts at all. It's an updating of his first 1959 hit, making his exit song the same as his debut. The guitar player is sometimes Ventures guitarist Jerry Magee, who uses some mighty surf tone here. Drums, grungy guitar riffs, crowd shouts, and muddy sound.