Wednesday, August 18, 2021

A 60s band: Love - Four Sail

Hey, let's talk about a group John Colpitts (aka Kid Millions) told me about: Love, an LA psychedelic band from the 60s, with some prog-y elements— he suggested I check out their album Four Sail. There's some very active drumming on it, and I thought it was interesting enough to make some comments. The drummer here is George Suranovitch, who I had never heard of.

John and I were talking about busy rock drumming, I mentioned how easy it is to do that pretty well, and still have it sound kind of bad— I think you have to be pro-active about supporting the groove with the busier stuff, or it sounds weak. If you listen to, say, Harvey Mason playing busy in a funk setting, he's stating groove the whole time. With an average drummer, or even some well known drummers, not so much— it may not be bad, but not totally effective either. 

Strangely, the drummer here reminds me a little bit of Billy Cobham. Even though they're separated by a couple of orders of magnitudes of talent. He plays a lot of singles and open rolls/drags, centered around the snare drum moving, to the tom toms—listen to the song Robert Montgomery for many examples of that. This is kind of a Louis Bellson way of playing fills, as well— Bellson was very active doing clinics, and I think he may have had a much bigger impact on the rock drumming of that time than we generally realize. I need to look into that some more. 

Suranovitch does a thing a lot of rock drummers used to do, that annoys me, soloing/filling with the hands over a steady rhythm on the bass drum. That can be effective— I've posted a couple of transcriptions where John Guerin and Jeff Porcaro do it, and it really nails down groove during the fill. Done unsubtly, all the time, I hate it. It's kind of a primitive way for rock drummers of that era to glue together a not-very-tight performance. 

Some of what Suranovitch does is really effective, but there's so much activity you want him to pick his spots a little more. I think the vibe of the period was that people wanted to see drummers going wild. 

I like the other drummer on this record more— Drachen Theaker, an English drummer who I had also never heard of. He sounds good on this quasi-“jazzy” song: 

I want to be clear about something: I'm not into rating drummers or performances— I'm only commenting on what I hear. You could get the idea there's some kind of linear thing where something different should have happened— “He should have played it like this” or “I would have done this.” or “....therefore he's not a good drummer, and/or this record sucks.” That's not it at all— I just want to find out what happened, and learn something about playing the drums from it. Overall the record is real interesting to me.  

My only real criticism of it is the solo section of that first song, August— that was BS. The bass and guitar don't know what they're doing with their rhythm parts, so they're just kinda playing them at the same time as the drums and other guitar are soloing, and they're rushing badly. That's the kind of thing you leave on a record when your attitude is what the hell, it's just a lot of noise anyway. A la the butchery of Elvin Jones's solo on Zachariah. Not a fan. 

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