I'd like to take a moment to interrupt this liberal salon with a musical presentation. No, this isn't Matthew F. King drinking eight Sierra Nevada's and ranting about McCain, but I think you'll enjoy what I've got here.
First, a little shop talk. It's widely regarded that Steely Dan's classic 1977 record Aja is the '70s record before which all other '70s records must genuflect. If you dispute that you're either imbalanced or possibly Canadian.
I remember well driving around the crap hole of Western New York where I grew up, listening to the Dan in my black and red Astro van with all the back seats removed. For whatever reason, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's portrait of a white, wasted middle-aged culture of scotch and divorce papers stirred my sixteen year-old soul. Sure, a lot of the time I had no idea what these guys were talking about, but it sounded like where I wanted to be — at the end of the world, in loafers.
And being a drummer myself, well shit, this was the holy land. Steve Gadd's one-take performance on the record's title track is possibly the greatest face-melting take of all time.
But we're not here to talk about Gadd, that brilliant bastard. This post is about a lesser known but still wickedly awesome sticksman: Bernard "Pretty" Purdie. Pretty is one of the coolest drummers ever. A lot of guys can hang with him technically, but few have his style, either behind the kit or in front of it. Sure, Pretty has stated, among other things, that Beatles manager Brian Epstein approached him to play on the majority of Beatles tracks from 1962-1964, and claimed that "Ringo never played on anything" during those years, but what the hell? I find it distasteful to begrudge a man as cool as Pretty his own version of rock history.
What is undisputed is that Pretty secured his place in the rock drumming canon during the Aja sessions. On "Home At Last," Steely Dan's version of a blues about Ullyses, Pretty employed what he termed "The Purdie Shuffle," a beat so cool it's ice cold. Without a doubt it's one of the best swagger grooves of all time.
And here, for your viewing pleasure, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie will demonstrate the Purdie Shuffle. Just take a minute and let Pretty 'splain it to ya. There's also a bonus clip where Pretty unilaterally declares it to be Samba time. Enjoy.
It's Samba time, babe!