[REMOVE ADS]




Results 1 to 22 of 22
  1. Is there an "Un-named" Motown Drummer?

    There are at least 3 Motown productions where it sounds like Motown may have been using another drummer on occasion other than Benny, Pistol and Uriel.

    On Kim Weston's "You Hit Me (Where It Hurt Me)", Brenda Holloway's "You're Walking Out With My Heart" and Stevie Wonder's version of "My World Is Empty Without You", the drums seem to have a very unique feel when it comes to the fills. It doesn't sound like Benny's style or Uriel's or Pistol's. I've heard how each of those drummers play a shuffle/swing beat and this style just seems altogether different. The fills are almost the aural equivalent of someone skating over the ice- hard to describe but there is a very seamless transition on the fills between the snare and tom-toms that is very different from Benny's style. Also, the fills tend to pop up almost anywhere and any time.

    I'll post the songs, and maybe someone can tell me if this is one of the Big 3 or another drummer.




  2. Maybe this is in fact Benny. As I'm listening to it, it sound more like his style, but there is just something a bit different here on the fills that keeps me wondering.
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 07-04-2018 at 03:52 PM.



  3. #5
    You can hear a lot of similar fills on "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" which I've heard is Benny on drums. I like your description of it as somebody "skating over ice," and I'd guess a lot of that smoothness comes from the drummer not accenting the downbeat of "1" after the fill with a cymbal as most drummers would, but instead just returning to the groove without any flash.

    All that being said, I know there were more drummers than just Benny, Uriel, and Pistol who recorded tracks at Motown including Melvin Davis, Andrew Smith, George McGregor, Fred Waites, Clifford Mack, etc. I'm constantly amazed because it seems like almost every session musician to grace the Detroit Soul scene played their butts off and knew just how to fit their puzzle pieces into the larger picture.


  4. #6
    As I understand it, Motown were able to call on a string of drummers including Larrie Londin but also, of course, Marvin Gaye (who played on many sessions) and also Stevie Wonder himself. Bernard Purdie also claims to have played on some Motown sessions (but in New York I think). However, Brenda Holloway for example often recorded on the West Coast so the producers would most likely have drawn on other drummers available there.

    What is most interesting about the three tracks you initially mentioned, "You Hit Me (Where It Hurt Me)", "You're Walking Out With My Heart" and Stevie Wonder's "My World Is Empty Without You" were all produced by Henry Cosby at Hitsville.

  5. Quote Originally Posted by drewschultz88 View Post
    You can hear a lot of similar fills on "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" which I've heard is Benny on drums. I like your description of it as somebody "skating over ice," and I'd guess a lot of that smoothness comes from the drummer not accenting the downbeat of "1" after the fill with a cymbal as most drummers would, but instead just returning to the groove without any flash.

    All that being said, I know there were more drummers than just Benny, Uriel, and Pistol who recorded tracks at Motown including Melvin Davis, Andrew Smith, George McGregor, Fred Waites, Clifford Mack, etc. I'm constantly amazed because it seems like almost every session musician to grace the Detroit Soul scene played their butts off and knew just how to fit their puzzle pieces into the larger picture.

    Wow, Drew, thanks for that list of drummers. I had an idea Motown was using other drummers from time to time (the drumming on Martha & The Vandellas "Wild One" sounds very unlike "The Big 3" drummers) but had no idea how extensive the list was. I also like the musically-technical explanation you gave for way the drum fills have that "skating" sound. Right on the mark. And you're right too about how these drummers were able to retain their personal style yet adapt it to fit in with Motown's style.

  6. Quote Originally Posted by mysterysinger View Post

    What is most interesting about the three tracks you initially mentioned, "You Hit Me (Where It Hurt Me)", "You're Walking Out With My Heart" and Stevie Wonder's "My World Is Empty Without You" were all produced by Henry Cosby at Hitsville.
    You read my mind. I was looking up these songs on the DFTMC site and noticed that as well. Over the years, I've had the thought that maybe these performers favored certain drummers on their sessions. Henry Cosby and Clarence Paul's productions have a very distinctive drum sound on some of their songs. It's a very thunderous sound especially when the tom is struck- The Four Tops' "What Else Is There To Do...", "Stevie Wonder's "Bang, Bang", "Down To Earth", "My Girl", The Miracles' "After You Put Back The Pieces..." to name a few.

    These shuffle beat tunes though, I really love what the drummer is doing. His work is very fast and precise.

  7. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    There are at least 3 Motown productions where it sounds like Motown may have been using another drummer on occasion other than Benny, Pistol and Uriel.

    On Kim Weston's "You Hit Me (Where It Hurt Me)", Brenda Holloway's "You're Walking Out With My Heart" and Stevie Wonder's version of "My World Is Empty Without You", the drums seem to have a very unique feel when it comes to the fills. It doesn't sound like Benny's style or Uriel's or Pistol's. I've heard how each of those drummers play a shuffle/swing beat and this style just seems altogether different. The fills are almost the aural equivalent of someone skating over the ice- hard to describe but there is a very seamless transition on the fills between the snare and tom-toms that is very different from Benny's style. Also, the fills tend to pop up almost anywhere and any time.

    I'll post the songs, and maybe someone can tell me if this is one of the Big 3 or another drummer.

    I'd say that the drummer on these these tracks you mentioned are certainly from the big three. "You Hit Me" and "My World Is Empty" are more along the lines of Pistol. As far as Benny's style is concerned you know what you're talking about. Benny was the most versatile of the three and had the best technique,timing, and a more fluid execution. Another thing to listen out for is the way each of them tuned the snare drum. All three had a special and unique snare sound. These tracks demonstrate more of Pistol's tuning in addition to fast,urgent, and airy fills. Listen to The Velvelettes "Ain't No Place Like Motown" which Pistol played on and it's exactly the same technique.

    As far as " You're Walking Out" is concerned it's a toss up, but i'd go with Uriel here. Listening to the track you can tell it's a clear imitation of the Benny B style, but like before without the tight technique and execution. Uriel's nickname among the band was "Mini Benny" due to his ability to play somewhat close to him. He studied him and modeled himself after him. But this is my breakdown.

  8. Quote Originally Posted by Quinn View Post
    These tracks demonstrate more of Pistol's tuning in addition to fast,urgent, and airy fills. Listen to The Velvelettes "Ain't No Place Like Motown" which Pistol played on and it's exactly the same technique.
    OH MAN! There is always that moment when the light bulb goes on and you just flipped the switch. I had forgotten The Velevelettes' "Ain't No Place Like Motown" and as soon you identified Pistol as being the drummer, that's all I needed. I remember back when I first listened to that one, the drums stood out in my mind a lot. I kept trying to figure out who was doing those fills. Thank you so much!

    I also appreicate your mention of how the different drummers tuned the snares. Once again, a simple fact, but one I hadn't even considered. Thank you again!

  9. #11
    Name:  av-5.jpg
Views: 162
Size:  21.1 KB
    Motown used George McGregor and Melvin Davis sporadically in Detroit, when needed.

  10. #12
    I have always thought that the drumming on Smokey and The Miracles' (Come Round Here) I'm The One You Need sounds different to the "norm" of the mid 60s classic era.

    Has anyone else observed the same?

  11. #13
    Nearly all the other guys mentioned in the previous posts played during the Joe Hunter era ('59-'63). That time at the company was critical because it was searching for an identity,as a result various musicians were tested. Most didn't fit in (George McGregor) or found playing around the city more profitable. George was very tight with Benny Benjamin who made him aware that the producers didn't care for his style. Melvin Davis played on a few Smokey Robinson productions. Andrew Smith came on the scene to usher in a new era with Norman Whitfield. But other than the big three, Frederick Waites was probably the only drummer to survive the Earl Van Dyke period('63-'72) when he left in '67. But nearly every back beat from 1964 until Benny passed in 1969 was played by the big three.

    1959 to the summer of 1966, Benny is inarguably "THE MAN". Hitsville is practically his house with the drum chair. From there due to his horrific addictions,bad health and not having Mickey Stevenson around to hunt him down Pistol takes more responsibility. By 1967, Benny no longer has the strength to hold a steady beat and Uriel starts to help Pistol with the workload. Benny now only plays accents and light fills(when he shows) and by 1968 his schedule is drastically reduced. It remains that way until he passes away the following year.

    Hopefully this helps with distinguishing who's playing what and which drummers era it is.

  12. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by rovereab View Post
    I have always thought that the drumming on Smokey and The Miracles' (Come Round Here) I'm The One You Need sounds different to the "norm" of the mid 60s classic era.

    Has anyone else observed the same?
    To be honest the drum track on that tune has never been impressive to me. Brian Holland instructed the drummer to find a pocket and stay there basically. Very plain, very straight forward and direct. Doesn't surprise me that it's out of the norm though because HDH's productions were becoming more out of the norm. That song was recorded during their "classical" period when they were trying to stretch out creatively. That period in my opinion was their peak. Once they tried to elevate from there it didn't work(In And Out Of Love). Things were gonna go downhill from there had they stayed at Motown.

  13. #15
    You Hit Me (Where it Hurt Me) - Pistol

    You're Walking Out With My Heart - Benny

    My World Is Empty Without You (Stevie's Version) - Pistol

    Don't Let Me Down - Pistol

    Uptight (Everything's Alright) - Benny

    As for '(Come Round Here) I'm The One You Need' that was Benny.

    Cheers

    Paul

  14. Quote Originally Posted by Quinn View Post
    Nearly all the other guys mentioned in the previous posts played during the Joe Hunter era ('59-'63). That time at the company was critical because it was searching for an identity,as a result various musicians were tested. Most didn't fit in (George McGregor) or found playing around the city more profitable. George was very tight with Benny Benjamin who made him aware that the producers didn't care for his style. Melvin Davis played on a few Smokey Robinson productions. Andrew Smith came on the scene to usher in a new era with Norman Whitfield. But other than the big three, Frederick Waites was probably the only drummer to survive the Earl Van Dyke period('63-'72) when he left in '67. But nearly every back beat from 1964 until Benny passed in 1969 was played by the big three.

    Hopefully this helps with distinguishing who's playing what and which drummers era it is.
    Quinn, you have such an extensive wealth of information. I don't think I've ever before seen as detailed a breakdown of the drummers who were at Motown. I appreciate that very much. To me, I feel that a lot of us have a love for Motown that is on a par with those who love Jazz or Classical music. Fans of those genres have a passion that goes beyond the music. They have definite preferences for certain groupings of musicians or specific eras and are passionate about everything right down to record labels, studios, venues, etc.

    Reading your comments here has been really great. Like shining a brand new light on something I've only know a little about all these years.

  15. Quote Originally Posted by bradburger View Post
    You Hit Me (Where it Hurt Me) - Pistol

    You're Walking Out With My Heart - Benny

    My World Is Empty Without You (Stevie's Version) - Pistol

    Don't Let Me Down - Pistol

    Uptight (Everything's Alright) - Benny

    As for '(Come Round Here) I'm The One You Need' that was Benny.

    Cheers

    Paul
    Thanks Paul! Ever since years ago we were trading observations about there being two drummers and bassists on The Miracles' "Tears Of A Clown" mono mix, I've always enjoyed your posts. I love your list and the breakdown of who's drumming where.

  16. #18
    The "Big Three", Benny, Pistol, and Uriel were the mainstays of the Detroit Motown era as we all pretty well know, and were recognized as official Funk Brother contributors, and lent a pretty consistent style to the type of overall sound Motown was looking for. Those guys were pretty interchangeable... Some of the artists or producers however, would occasionally bring in their own drummer or other outside musician aside from the standard Funk Brothers lineup which is pretty much how Bob Babbitt ended up as a Motown Funk Brother after Stevie Wonder brought him in to play on one of his sessions and as timing would have it...the workload was becoming a bit much for Jamerson alone to handle and Babbitt started getting called on more and more sessions... Another such example of this outsider being brought into the snakepit was Marvin Gaye who brought in swing era drummer Chet Forest to play virtually the entire What's Going On album, which I believe is the biggest selling album in Motown history... Chet went on to back up and tour with Vegas type artists, but Marvin would bring him back to play on several of his later albums. I guess Marvin just liked Chets style and/or personality in the recording environment, which can happen...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 07-05-2018 at 03:22 PM.

  17. #19
    I did notice Marvin using Chet a lot on his albums!

    But yeah Benny & Pistol are definitely on the tracks in question. As mentioned also, Stevie & Marvin also played drums on other artists (and their own) tracks as well.

  18. #20
    I'd forgotten about Chet Forest and his role in making of "What's Going On". His job was to help Marvin take the "Motown Sound" out of a Motown record. Marvin was the company's rebel and had little patience for it's tendency to rely on a signature sound over an artist's talent. Most of the battles he had with Berry Gordy was his agitation of B.G's value in his looks as opposed to his extraordinary talents as a vocalist. So he wanted to show the company that it didn't really need what it relied on to have a hit. He wanted anything, but what was considered "Motown" even down to the mixing and Chet played a big part in delivering that.

    It's really good to marvel at how good Marvin and Stevie could play on early recordings. Marvin's explosive playing on Stevie's "I Call It Pretty Music, Part One" is pretty impressive. Stevie's consistent beat on The Tops "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" is a prime example of his trap skills and what he learned from Benny B.

  19. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn View Post
    I'd forgotten about Chet Forest and his role in making of "What's Going On". His job was to help Marvin take the "Motown Sound" out of a Motown record. Marvin was the company's rebel and had little patience for it's tendency to rely on a signature sound over an artist's talent. ... he wanted to show the company that it didn't really need what it relied on to have a hit.
    It's the most famous and highly regarded Motown album. Berry Gordy considered Marvin Gaye the "truest artist" he has ever known.

  20. #22
    From what I know and from what I've heard from others...it seems to me that Marvin and Chet had somewhat similar personalities which could be why they worked well together, and I'll leave it at that...

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

[REMOVE ADS]

Ralph Terrana
MODERATOR

Welcome to Soulful Detroit! Kindly Consider Turning Off Your Ad BlockingX
Soulful Detroit is a free service that relies on revenue from ad display [regrettably] and donations. We notice that you are using an ad-blocking program that prevents us from earning revenue during your visit.
Ads are REMOVED for Members who donate to Soulful Detroit. [You must be logged in for ads to disappear]
DONATE HERE »
And have Ads removed.