Oct 152012

Is there a drummer in the house?

The first thing that caught my eye when I stumbled across the above video by Christie’s 1970 UK hit “Yellow River” was the double bass drum featured in the video’s still. As unappealing as I’ve ever found even the concept of hearing a song involving a double bass drum, those things look cool. I suppose that’s the point, but drummers: has any song ever been improved by the use of a double bass drum? Have you ever been playing a song with your band and thought to yourself, Damn, if only I had a double bass drum!

I am curious to learn of songs that were actually improved by the use of the dual kick drum, and I am curious to know whether you prefer Christie’s take on “Yellow River” using that set up or, as seen in the following clip, when the drummer is reduced to a single bass drum.


  12 Responses to “Is There a Drummer in the House: Has Any Song Ever Been Improved by the Use of a Double Bass Drum?”

  1. misterioso

    Mod, I’ve posted the link for one of these videos before–cannot recall which one, the single or the double bass drum. I think only Ginger Baker made the double bass drum work. But I’m a big fan of “Yellow River,” a song I found hiding on one of the Rhino “Have a Nice Day” discs years ago and couldn’t believe I had no knowledge of.

  2. I thought the clip was familiar. The tune is really familiar, in part because it reminds me of a song by The Move.

  3. misterioso

    At least I thought I had! Can’t find it. Maybe I didn’t.

  4. Doesn’t Alex Van Halen do some triplets on the kick drums during a breakdown in Hot For Teacher? I can’t say whether it improves the song or not because I hate Van Halen but the part would not be possible without the double kick drums.

    As an aside, I’d like to see a poll as to whether people favor the term “kick drum” or “bass drum”.

  5. I used to get annoyed when sound guys called it a kick, becasue you dont kick the drum. You snap down on the pedal and either release the beater quickly for a ressonant tone or you bury the beater into the head for a quick choked bass note. In my later years,I dont get bothered by the kick term cause I’ve heard it forrever. If you like Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” then you would want and need Dbl bass. If you are in a group like me with ltd talent all around, and guys with specific tastes, then no song with Dbl bass would ever be suggested. My feeling is no one song is improved by two basses.

  6. I think the line “a double kick drum / on the landing in the summer” improves the song “Heavy Metal Drummer.

    Speaking of heavy metal drummers, I think the skittery drum parts at the end of the Scorpions “No One Like You” are kind of the high point.

  7. Probably. That song was a double super bitch to play on the plasticy toy drums on Guitar Hero World Tour.

  8. cliff sovinsanity

    I don’t know about The Move but I hear a little Waterloo Sunset in the verses.

  9. cherguevara

    Maybe it’s a kick drum because you do use a pedal, instead of an orchestral bass drum that you hit with a mallet. But you know, it’s an expression. I think it’s dumb when people refer to their guitars as an “axe.”

    I can’t think of any song that is made better from double kick drums. But I do think it is interesting that eventually the “double kick pedal” was invented, so you could have the functionality of two kick drums but only carry one drum. Without the Mach Shau of the two kick drums, all that’s left is the musical function. This leads me to believe that there must be some people who believe that the double drum can be used for something cool, but I am not that person.

  10. BigSteve

    The single bass drum Christie drummer’s hair gets my vote.

    The only two Cream songs I have — Crossroads and Badge — both have some double bass drumming. In Crossroads it doesn’t kick in (get it?) till the guitar solo starts, but it sounds good. Would a single bass drum have sufficed? Does the song absolutely need the double bassing? I couldn’t say. Badge also seems to have a touch of it after the guitar solo, not all the way through. The fact that double-bass-drumming is used sparingly in both of these songs argues in its favor. It’s not like Baker just had two, and demanded to use them throughout every song.

  11. patrock

    Sound guys started saying “Kick” because most “Bass” players are idiots…. but so are drummers. Kick was just a way to not confuse bass guitar and bass drum when you have to yell above amps and crowds to give instructions.

    I think what might be the earliest version of what would be considered a “modern” double bass sound is in “Hocus Pocus” by Focus (not Krokus) …the breakdowns have doubles. Then there is “Overkill” by Motorhead, the “Whiplash” by Metallica….. the entirety “Reign In Blood” by Slayer

  12. The first time I was on a stage with a real sound system with real monitors and a real soundman: during soundcheck, the soundman asked me to play the “kick” drum. I said, “huh?” He said, “KICK!” I had no idea what he meant. I hit the rack tom. He said, “No No No, KICK!” Someone (might have been a guitar player) eventually told me he meant the bass drum. Embarrased? Oh yes.

    I always knew it as a bass drum and it will forever be know as such.

    The Stones didn’t say “my heart pumpin’ louder than a big KICK drum,” did they? I rest my case.

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