Best drummer in King Crimson history?

Lunar Satellite Brian

Senior Member
Pretty basic question, honestly I can't remember all of them, there was at least 4, Giles, Bruford, Mastelotto, Gavin Harrison.

The question is not which is the best drummer that has played in King Crimson, it's, "Who is the best drummer FOR King Crimson?"
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
All top drawer players. I can't really say "better" between Mike Giles and Bill Bruford, based on their Crimson work. Technically Bruford was stronger and he had more tonal variation, but MG's playing was more naturally inventive, less canny, and more fun than BB's.

We should also mention Ian Wallace. I don't think KC brought the best out in him - we was unbelievable with the Crimson Jazz Trio:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFil1YlH2M4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZkx3vXGcF8

Pat Mastelotto was also a smart and talented player. He had a unique way of mixing acoustic and electric drums. Like Ian W, he played with them in one of their weaker creative periods.

Also there was Andy McCulloch who played on Lizard. A very fine player but he didn't have as clear a musical voice as the others IMO

Gavin H has more advanced technique than any of them but I find his playing has less musical personality than the others. He sounds like dozens of other players, only better, if that makes any sense.

Crimson were like Steely Dan and Zappa in that way ... you always knew that any drummer brought in would be top notch. Great bands for drummer-watchers.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I have to say Bruford, but I think that is primarily because I like the music from that period best.

It is hard to separate my liking for the music from my preference for the drummer, I guess.
 

criz p. critter

Silver Member
I think Ian Wallace was great on Islands, and I absolutely loved Andy McCulloch on Lizard.

But to the majority of people, me included, I'm sure the answer is going to be either Giles or Bruford. However, this to me is a classic apples vs oranges question. They are both awesome drummers, and both were a big influence on my own playing. But they are so fundamentally different in their styles. How can you compare them? But then how can you even compare their two respective versions of King Crimson? Each of the different KC line-ups had its own distinct sound and material. Which makes sense because Fripp was the only constant throughout all of them.

So I think this is really a question about which King Crimson you prefer.

However, there is one correct answer to this question, and I will enlighten everyone with it right now. ;) Michael Giles was the best drummer for the original KC, and Bill Bruford was the best drummer for the third and fourth line-ups.

As Gordon Haskell once said: It is and it isn't.
 
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mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
My favourite King Crimson album is easily 'Larks' Tongues in Aspice' but I think Bruford was at his best on 'Discipline'. Bruford definitely wins it for me but they were all good in their own way.

Mastelotto is an interesting player but very 'four square' and rigid compared to Bruford in his more 'fluid' moments. Reminds me of the same interplay between Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew although my preference is definitely more weighted towards Fripp in that instance.

And Pol, I've got to disagree; I think 'Thrak' was a really good album.

It's also a shame that I've never heard any of Gavin Harrison's work with them.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Gavin H has more advanced technique than any of them but I find his playing has less musical personality than the others. He sounds like dozens of other players, only better, if that makes any sense.
You are such a trouble maker. :) I happen to think Gavin is an incredibly unique player. :p

I'll put in my vote for Michael Giles for two reasons. When I first heard him he totally changed the way I thought about fills. Fills could be syncopated and didn't necessarily need to set up the next section. Try to get away with that in a band. He created a whole new style of drumming on those first two Crim albums, jazzy-classical rock drumming. His drumming on the title track on the first album is over the top. Andy McCullough takes over where he left off on Lizards. MG didn't like to tour, so he was unfortunately out.

Despite all of Pol's insights, the mid-70s Wetton Crimson is not my favorite. I never liked Red until Niacin did it. Does that mean my favorite Crimson drummer is Dennis Chambers? I really liked those first three Crimson albums, pre-Bill. And I love the red-blue-yellow period. As far as Bill, I much prefer his drumming in Yes, Bruford and UK.
 
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mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
I've just put on 'Larks' Tongues' for the first time in years. I think it's possible that the first part is one of my favourite pieces ever recorded. Thanks for reminding me guys!
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I've just put on 'Larks' Tongues' for the first time in years. I think it's possible that the first part is one of my favourite pieces ever recorded. Thanks for reminding me guys!
No shame there. That is a great tune and a great album. I actually listened to Lizards in honor of this thread. Okay, I love the mellotron. I admit it!!! I also love The Moody Blues. Now I'll go hide my head.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
No shame there. That is a great tune and a great album. I actually listened to Lizards in honor of this thread. Okay, I love the mellotron. I admit it!!! I also love The Moody Blues. Now I'll go hide my head.
No shame there, either! I love the mellotron and the Moody Blues, too. Great stuff!
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
My favourite King Crimson album is easily 'Larks' Tongues in Aspice' but I think Bruford was at his best on 'Discipline'. Bruford definitely wins it for me but they were all good in their own way.

Mastelotto is an interesting player but very 'four square' and rigid compared to Bruford in his more 'fluid' moments.

... And Pol, I've got to disagree; I think 'Thrak' was a really good album.
Yes LTIA had a really unique atmosphere (even more than usual for KC) and a fair bit of that comes down to Jamie Muir IMO. I missed him badly on SABB and Red. The former just sounded plain ugly to me and Red was too mainstream (lol). Starless - with BB's amazing efforts - was special, though.

Thrak had both BB and PM on it, didn't it? It did have some good tracks. I might contradict myself and say that Power to Believe (especially TPTB II)was the best thing they did since Discipline ... agree that that was BB's high point with KC - outstanding and, along with ITCOTKC and LTIA the best drumming album in KC's catalogue.



You are such a trouble maker. :) I happen to think Gavin is an incredibly unique player. :p
Mea culpa, Ken, I'm being subjective. He may well have more musical personality than I think, but it doesn't speak strongly to me. He's one of those players who I find unbelievably impressive but who doesn't touch me like many less gifted players. I doubt he'd be too worried :)


I'll put in my vote for Michael Giles ... He created a whole new style of drumming on those first two Crim albums, jazzy-classical rock drumming. His drumming on the title track on the first album is over the top.
Yes, MG doesn't have the technique or sonic range of BB or Gavin but his playing on that first album was full of the kind of personality I was talking about. Or how about Cat Food? Love his little vaudeville touches. He was great at bringing other drumming traditions to rock.


Despite all of Pol's insights, the mid-70s Wetton Crimson is not my favorite.
I agree ... a very uneven band. For me, the LTIA album and Starless (the song) are some of the best music I've heard, but a lot of the other stuff from that lineup didn't do it for me. IMO John Wetton's vocals wrecked most of the vocal songs (and the adolescent lyrics didn't help).

That's the thing about KC ... every album has its gems and grating stuff, apart from Discipline and ITCOTCK, which was superb from go to whoa. Maybe the other exception is Construkction of Light, which I didn't like at all apart from the title track
 

Lunar Satellite Brian

Senior Member
I think Ian Wallace was great on Islands, and I absolutely loved Andy McCulloch on Lizard.

So I think this is really a question about which King Crimson you prefer.

However, there is one correct answer to this question, and I will enlighten everyone with it right now. ;) Michael Giles was the best drummer for the original KC, and Bill Bruford was the best drummer for the third and fourth line-ups.

As Gordon Haskell once said: It is and it isn't.
That's kind of what I have gathered, Giles was absolutely amazing with the classic prog rock music they were playing in the early albums, but he wouldn't fit in with something as heavy and experimental as 2,000 KC, Bruford was a great player, but definitely was not moving along with the band during the Projekcts.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
That's kind of what I have gathered, Giles was absolutely amazing with the classic prog rock music they were playing in the early albums, but he wouldn't fit in with something as heavy and experimental as 2,000 KC, Bruford was a great player, but definitely was not moving along with the band during the Projekcts.
Mike Giles auditioned for KC in later years but Pat Mastelotto won the gig. I doubt anyone though Pat was "better" than MG, but obviously Frippy thought he'd be more suitable at the time - seems to me he was looking for more power, precision and a more modern sound, which PM provided in spades.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Yes LTIA had a really unique atmosphere (even more than usual for KC) and a fair bit of that comes down to Jamie Muir IMO. I missed him badly on SABB and Red. The former just sounded plain ugly to me and Red was too mainstream (lol). Starless - with BB's amazing efforts - was special, though.



Yes, MG doesn't have the technique or sonic range of BB or Gavin but his playing on that first album was full of the kind of personality I was talking about. Or how about Cat Food? Love his little vaudeville touches. He was great at bringing other drumming traditions to rock.
I would disagree on the technique part. He definitely knows what he is doing. If you listen to Giles, Giles and Fripp, there is none of the idiosyncratic drumming of ITCOTCK.
The half time, double timing, melodic and odd phrasing came came from his jazz background, as well as perhaps an orchestral one. The vaudeville touched probably come from G G and F. I would bet that a lot of it had to do with the disjoined, austere lyrics.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsR1h1w-N1g&feature=related

you can hear it developing here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8mLqNR0wDE&feature=related

starts to sound like Crim.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLukUKA1khM&feature=related

demo for what became KC
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EskakFLl7XA&feature=related



I agree ... a very uneven band. For me, the LTIA album and Starless (the song) are some of the best music I've heard, but a lot of the other stuff from that lineup didn't do it for me. IMO John Wetton's vocals wrecked most of the vocal songs (and the adolescent lyrics didn't help).
Ahh, that's why Wetton became a pop star :p

I just bought Sound of Silence, since I had never heard it and it's oop. A few of the B sides are really dated. The remaster has four songs that were obviously recorded to round out the album but never made it into the final album. Three are traditional tunes. I'm glad they are not on the original because I enjoy the b sides. They are reminiscent of 1965 Bleeker Street.

Most albums aren't that good from start to finish, are they? even if they may have classic tunes on them. I would bet the dark, cryptic lyricism of The Sound of Silence was an influence of early Sinfield.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I would disagree on the technique part. He definitely knows what he is doing. If you listen to Giles, Giles and Fripp, there is none of the idiosyncratic drumming of ITCOTCK.
The half time, double timing, melodic and odd phrasing came came from his jazz background, as well as perhaps an orchestral one. The vaudeville touched probably come from G G and F. I would bet that a lot of it had to do with the disjoined, austere lyrics.
Bear in mind that having less technique than BB and, especially, Gavin doesn't mean a player isn't an absolute monster, which MG was and is. Those guys are the most revered drummers in prog.

In the late 70s I had the full collection of KC and was hungry for more. I heard about GG&F's album and put it on order. Completely forgot about it and 2 years later the shop sends through a card saying they have my order. A hard album to get! Apparently sales of 600 worldwide in the year of release - that would have paid the mortgage :)

Yes, the album ended in a very KC way with the later part of Erudite Eyes and Suite No 1. Amazing to think of KC's roots in light 60s pop, folk music and cocktail jazz ... and then the first song on their first album is arguably the origin of metal. What on earth happened in the brief period between? lol ... Jimi, I guess.


Ahh, that's why Wetton became a pop star :p

Most albums aren't that good from start to finish, are they? even if they may have classic tunes on them. I would bet the dark, cryptic lyricism of The Sound of Silence was an influence of early Sinfield.
Haha, well, John W paid his dues being part of some fantastic music over a long period, so why not trot out some tripe and make a fortune? Especially since he seems to actively enjoy tripe ... it's not even a sellout :)

I do begrudge Frippy giving him the vocal duties. His diction is rough and he sings flat a fair bit ... not tragic but far from the level of such a top notch band.

Agree there's often filler on albums but KC were especially good at veering from genius music to near-unbearable ... at least IMO
 
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mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
I'm glad we can agree on Wetton being a vocal hack. Adrian Belew always felt a little forced but Wetton was not a good singer. I just can't listen to 'Fallen Angel' and although I still like the song, 'Easy Money' is uncomfortable.

'Starless' is just something else. Fripp's several minute 'solo' in that track took some serious balls and that bass line with the chromatically stepping guitar is something really special. Shame about the singing at the beginning but there we go.

'Fracture' from 'Starless and Bible Black' was actually my favourite Crimson tune for a long time. The wholetone guitar moto perpetuo is special as are the little guitar runs but Crimson always had problems with whole albums and generally with the non-instrumental material. Their most consistent album is probably 'Discipline' and that's because the vocals hold together better.

I'm definitely mixed on 'Lizard'. Sheer insanity but a lot of it very pretentious insanity. The first album pretty much stands alone (I never thought much of 'Islands') in the catalogue and it's decent with some real high points ('Schizoid Man') and some real low points (the vocal section of 'Moonchild').

Crimson always stood head and shoulders above the rest of 'Prog' to me (I don't count Pink Floyd as particularly 'Prog'). I like some early Genesis material but Crimson had something far, far darker and aggressive about them and the music is more than just notes strung together. I've always thought that the King Crimson sound was inherently confrontational and much more jarring than any other Prog band and that Fripp's roboticism really helped them come across as a deeply cold and clinical band. Fripp isn't playing notes - he's playing some horrible part of himself and that's always interesting. Although I just said that I don't always classify Pink Floyd as a prog band the album I like the best ('Animals') is actually very Crimson-esque in its cold, clinical aggression.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I'm definitely mixed on 'Lizard'. Sheer insanity but a lot of it very pretentious insanity. The first album pretty much stands alone (I never thought much of 'Islands') in the catalogue and it's decent with some real high points ('Schizoid Man') and some real low points (the vocal section of 'Moonchild').

Crimson always stood head and shoulders above the rest of 'Prog' to me (I don't count Pink Floyd as particularly 'Prog'). I like some early Genesis material but Crimson had something far, far darker and aggressive about them and the music is more than just notes strung together. I've always thought that the King Crimson sound was inherently confrontational and much more jarring than any other Prog band and that Fripp's roboticism really helped them come across as a deeply cold and clinical band. Fripp isn't playing notes - he's playing some horrible part of himself and that's always interesting. Although I just said that I don't always classify Pink Floyd as a prog band the album I like the best ('Animals') is actually very Crimson-esque in its cold, clinical aggression.

You meant the non vocal section of Moonchild, right? I remember you complained about that before, although the lyric is a bit silly. Most of them are. Lizards is fun because it's not too serious. Those three albums go from brooding seriousness too mixed too silly. Lizards really captures the whole carnivalesque atmosphere of the thing.

Your take on prog is interesting and comes from the perspective of someone who was born while these guys were having their comeback or breaking up. I was also into prog after it was done as a popular commodity.

I always liked Animals and wish You Were Here because they were not destroyed by FM radio. I loved that guitar riff that ends Sheep, I think. Those two albums make up the crux of The Wall, which I never much cared for. But they are great.

I also loved ELP, who are not treated too favorably in the doc prog Rock Brittannica if I remember. The drummer from Soft Machine basically said they were a sell out and that they had sold out the musical ideals of the movement for fame. I don't really see it that way. I think they were able to do music that was very commercial but still bizarre and interesting culminating in KE9, and BSS, which I think is one of the best prog albums of the period regardless of what most people think. it also features Sinfield and most of his best writing was done with ELP, Father Christmas, Pirates and I'll Be Watching You are all good lyrics. Waters, Sinfield and Gabriel all had that public school background so they knew Milton, Blake and Orwell. I think that you have a strain of prog that goes from ITCOTCK though KE9, that is marked by a lot of notes, a lot of cryptic lyrics, a lot of pomp. At it's best it portrays the chamber like qualities of the folk movement; but these guys were never the lyricist Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon were. You look at Ladies of the Road, a poor take on Ladies of the Canyon or KE9, "there behind the glass is a real blade of grass." match that to "that took all the trees out 'em in a tree museum and charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see 'em." he knew who to steal from. And their public school background gave them the ability to come up with these grand concepts. But KE9 picked up on the carnivalesque aspect of Crim and did it in a huge way. It's a lot of fun; you can't take it too seriously.

Then you have The Lamb and Wish You Were Here, in '74 and '75, which are ambient, atmospheric and orchestral in nature. That was always Floyd's territory and they became huge with it. But it was so much more serious, darker and so much stronger a social critique. And when these guys started to make millions doing it, I could see how some would say it necessarily loses its merit and authenticity.
 
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mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
If I said that about 'Moonchild,' I've changed my mind and decided that the second half was better.

I grew up when a lot of this was deeply underground. Generally speaking there aren't many twenty-three year old student teachers that have heard of King Crimson. Plenty have heard of Genesis, of course and even more Pink Floyd but generally few have heard 'Animals' and it's definitely a difficult album although I will happily say that 'Wish You Were Here' is a close second of that Pink Floyd*. 'The Wall' is over-the-top nonsense but I enjoy it and that's an end to it!

I've never had any affection for ELP. I'm not going to go into depth why but it goes along with my dislike of Yes generally. Some Yes stuff is fine if you don't take it too seriously but I always felt like ELP took themselves too far and too seriously and I just don't get it. I think the same of a lot of bands of that era.

The Public School thing weighs heavily on my mind as well because there's a certain stigma attached to that in my own mind and it's not because I have an agenda against Public Schools but I think there is certainly that 'influence' (for want of a better word) on a lot of bands that I really do not like. The connection with Gabriel is interesting though because his solo work really does have some fantastic lyrical content and in my mind he was always the interesting member of Genesis. His work only got better after he'd had time to mature and reflect as a writer and as a person. The whimsy of early Genesis is endearing but overly kitsch for me.

Eno's another one but that's another story. Let's just say I like his work after he left Roxy Music and I have a lot of time for Brian Eno personally based on a few anecdotes my uncle threw my way after he lived in a flat above one of Eno's flats.

So, for me, King Crimson are outside of this bubble of English bands. They're existing parallel to but not as part of the movement and that has to do with their coldhearted aggression and paranoia - the music on the 'middle three' albums was easily ten years ahead of everybody else even if some parts were stronger than others and the reboot with 'Discipline' is one of the bravest moves by any set of musicians.

*In my own mind, I classify 1967/8 Pink Floyd as a totally different band and I certainly like the first two albums a lot.
 
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