Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Groove o' the day PLUS: Roger Hawkins — Mustang Sally

Another Groove o' the day on steroids, from the studio drummer Roger Hawkins, of the famous Muscle Shoals rhythm section— we last checked him out on him on Aretha Franklin's Chain of Fools. Here we're looking at the original big hit recording of the song Mustang Sally, recorded by Wilson Pickett. This is one of those songs you play so many times on bad gigs, that you may go to great lengths to avoid all future contact with it; but hearing the original, good versions of these things will at least give them a chance to not always suck...

So, yeah: the main groove for the song— I neglected to put a key, but you know the deal by now: there's hihat, snare drum, and bass drum, plus crash cymbal and tom tom occasionally:

There's something happening in the (quite dense) accompanying tracks that almost sounds like a tom tom on the & of 4, but isn't. When playing the song, you could add that to the groove to fill in that missing part of the texture— just move your left or right hand to a tom tom on the & of 4.

Hawkins will do some normal variations with the bass drum, though not a whole lot:

And he plays this for a few measures before the last verse:

This fill, also used on Chain of Fools, happens several times— he'll also play it with the last two 8th notes on the snare drum:

More after the break:

This break happens several times throughout the song. You might play the first two notes of the triplets with your right hand:

He'll also play that lead-in like this:

Here's a fill that happens on the out chorus:

Something interesting happens on the last verse, which may have been semi-intentional; he moves the open hihat to the front of the measure, and then plays a little syncopated thing in the middle of the phrase to move it back. This starts at 2:10:

Here's the audio:


Ken Morley said...

Cool. Have you seen the Muscle Shoal documentary movie? If not, do so!

Todd Bishop said...

I need to see that one-- I'm embarrassed to say I didn't even know who Hawkins was till recently! That's not good!

Ken Morley said...

It's a fascinating story - Hawkins should definitely be better known. As much as Jabo and Clyde et al. The doc is on Netflix if you indulge in such a thing!

Ed Pierce said...

I've probably said this before, but some of my favorite playing by Hawkins were the tunes he played with Paul Simon, like "Kodachrome" "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" and "Still Crazy After all these Years." On the former two you can hear the ska/reggae influence on his drumming, with the emphasis on the upbeat (something you can also hear in his great track with the Staples Singers, "I'll Take You There").