International Drum Month: 10 Essential Drum Vinyl Records

International Drum Month: 10 Essential Drum Vinyl Records

In April, we celebrated International Guitar Month with a collection of albums by some of our favorite axe-slingers. This May, it's the drummer's turn, as we ring in International Drum Month. Drums are the backbone of virtually every genre of music, and most of our favorite songs start with a good beat. A tight rhythm section can bring a song to life, and an inventive beat can stay in our heads for years. Today, we honor the funky beats, the smooth jazz cats, and the heavy hitters. Here are 10 essential drum vinyl records. 

2112 (1976) — Rush

It would be a downright travesty for a list of the greatest drum albums to omit the late, great Neil Peart. Considered by many to be the greatest rock drummer of all time, Peart joined bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson to elevate Rush into progressive rock superstars. The trio is at their best on 2112, thanks in no small part to Peart's innovative style that incorporated jazz and rock, as well as African rhythmic elements. Peart's ability to drum across his kit was unmatched, and nearly every modern rock drummer cites him as a major influence. 

Led Zeppelin II (1969) — Led Zeppelin

Though many have certainly tried, matching Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham's raw power is a tall order. Bonham's command of the kit was a major reason for Led Zeppelin's status as the godfathers of hard rock. Led Zeppelin II features "Moby Dick", an improvised drum solo by Bonham, edited down to an album-friendly four minutes. Bonham would frequently extend this solo anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes when playing live, maintaining his powerful stroke the entire time. 

The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) — The Velvet Underground & Nico

The debut album by proto-punk legends The Velvet Underground, "the banana album" as it has come to be know, is an experimental masterpiece. Produced by artist Andy Warhol, the record features de-tuned guitars, droning, as well as odd-time signatures. Drummer Maureen "Moe" Tucker began developing her unique approach, playing standing up as opposed to in a seated position, and her minimalist style provided a blueprint for the punk drumming that would rise in popularity in the next decade. 

Charlie Parker with Strings (1955) — Charlie Parker, ft. Buddy Rich

One of just two collaborations between Charlie Parker and Buddy Rich, Charlie Parker with Strings captures both performers around their peaks. Rich is considered by many to be the greatest drummer to ever sit behind a kit, a jazz virtuoso in every sense of the word. Rich was unique in jazz, combining incredible speed with power that would lay the groundwork for rock drumming. Rich began using the drums as a lead instrument, achieving unprecedented fame on an instrument that was previously seen as a means to simply keep time. 

Who's Next (1971) — The Who

During an era in which "the bad boy of the drums" could describe several musicians, The Who's Keith Moon was perhaps the baddest of them all. Moon was a mercurial person, smashing his kits on stage, destroying his hotel rooms on the road, and even driving his car into a hotel pool. This behavior carried onto the stage, where his aggressive, powerful style transformed The Who from another British Invasion band into rock royalty. Moon's self-destructive lifestyle led to his death at just 32 in 1978, but his legacy behind the kit is beyond reproach. 

An Evening with Silk Sonic (2021) — Silk Sonic

Silk Sonic, the collaboration between Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak began with a mission to pay homage to the funk and soul acts of the 1970s as authentically as possible. They reached out to older musicians and read vintage magazines to source the old-school equipment they eventually used on their debut album. An Evening with Silk Sonic listens like a classic, a true throwback record that stands on its own as an original record without coming off like a copycat album. Anderson .Paak's mastery of the kit and his ability to truly feel the music makes it feel all the more authentic. 


Moanin' (1959) — Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

Art Blakey had been experimenting with some softer styles in the late 1950s, but fell firmly back into hard bop with the release of Moanin'. Blakey, while retaining some of the traditional jazz stylings he had picked up, plays with the tenacity that made him one of jazz's most celebrated drummers. "The Drum Thunder Suite" a three movement feature for Blakey, is where he's at his best, pounding the kit with his trademark intensity. 


Closure/Continuation (2022) — Porcupine Tree

Porcupine Tree's Gavin Harrison is the paragon of modern progressive rock drumming. He is a technical master, but uses that proficiency not to play the most complicated parts he can dream up, but to simply meet the moment. Harrison is able to perfectly identify what a song or part needs and play exactly what you want to hear. Having worked with some of the biggest names in the genre like King Crimson and the Pineapple Thief, Harrison is most at home with Porcupine Tree, helping Steven Wilson reunite the band in 2021 after an 11 year hiatus. 

Disraeli Gears (1967) — Cream

Cream was quite the experiment as rock music's first major supergroup. Guitarist Eric Clapton was already well known in the British blues-rock scene, whereas bassist and bandleader Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker hailed from a free jazz background. The melding of these styles, combined with the aura of Swinging London were the perfect ingredients for the psychedelic music of Cream. Each artist retained the integrity of their respective styles, with Baker's jazzy drumming matching his bandmates' technical prophecy and helping to give the band its signature sound. 


In a Silent Way (1969) — Miles Davis

Miles Davis' prestigious status and reputation as a an almost authoritarian bandleader led to his working with young musicians of only the highest caliber. Davis recruited 17 year old drummer Tony Williams in 1963 and Williams became the foundation of the band as Davis gradually built what was considered his second great quintet. After adding guitarist John McLaughlin in 1969, Davis pivoted to an experimental jazz-fusion sound with In a Silent Way, dividing fans, but beginning a new era. Williams was a virtuoso talent, able to piece together complex polyrhythms and incorporating techniques that helped to bring new life to the genre.