When debate over the alleged ham-fistedness of John Bonham came up the other day, it became clear to me which drummer I would first place on the examining table in a new feature I’d like to call Is There a Drummer in the House? I know we’ve got a couple of drummers checking in regularly, and I know we’ve got a number of self-appointed drum consultants on hand. As much as I value the role of the drummer, I don’t know enough about the instrument to articulate what it is I value without the aid of shooting dirty looks at a drummer and speaking in vague impressionistic terms that few drummers can understand. I’m counting on you to help me articulate what sometimes confuses me in the role and execution of drummers.
Bev Bevan, drummer for The Move and ELO. If you’ve already gotten the impression that Mr. Moderator loves The Move, you’d be right. I also grew up liking the hits of ELO as much as any Beatles-loving, lonely, love-starved teen in the ’70s, although I’m not one to spend much time filling in the paperwork toward a Critical Upgrade of their output.
In both the music of The Move and, as I listen to them with more discerning ears, ELO, I’m frequently perplexed by Bevan’s drumming chops and choices. The guy could bash like a mofo, and his bashing added an element of excitement to the records, but I can never tell exactly where the line is between heavy rock chops and poorly executed, overplayed choices.
Following are three examples of the Bev Bevan style, each of which are from late-period Move albums, that period when Jeff Lynne had joined the band and they’d fully embraced The Power and Glory of Rock, so these factors probably play a part in the resulting arrangements. Nevertheless, see if you can help me out.
The first example is “Chinatown”, a Roy Wood song not out of character with his whimsical pop numbers from the years before he’d fully committed to The Power & Glory of Rock. I love this song, but from the opening fill through the end of the song, Bev Bevan seems like he’s not paying attention to the song’s core vibe. He’s bashing away and laying into the kick drum like he’s in a street fight. Do I love this song, in part, because of or despite Bevan’s drumming?
Next, the original version of “Do Ya”. I’m not sure which version I like better, this one or ELO’s hit, but on both versions, Bevan seems a bit sluggish. It’s almost just right – or is it? Could the song have been even better with a slightly more sympathetic, nimble drummer (eg, the heavy yet not ham-fisted Bonham)?
Finally, a song on which Bevan’s drumming sounds wholly appropriate: “Feels So Good”. This, by the way, is a prime example of The Power & Glory of Rock. See if you agree that it best suits Bevan’s style. Then tell me if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Then tell me what you think of this FACT: Continue reading »