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Let There Be Drums, Again: Sandy Nelson Invites You To A “Big Sixties Frat Party!!!”

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One could certainly make a case that the 1960s was the prime time for the rock instrumental, with The Ventures, The Marketts, Booker T. & The MGs and The Fireballs just some of the groups behind the decade’s hit melodies.  Of the music-making individuals who were, well, instrumental in sending wordless tunes up the charts, few are as beloved as Sandy Nelson.   Ace Records has previously anthologized the drummer’s explosive work on Rock ‘n’ Roll Drum Beat (Ace CDCHD 586) and Sandy Nelson’s Big Sixties Beat Party (Ace CDCHD 1080).  Now it’s time to “let there be drums,” again, for Nelson is the subject of the label’s new Big Sixties Frat Party!!!, currently in stores.

A native of Santa Monica, California, made inroads in the music business from an early age.  While attending Los Angeles’ University High School, he made friends and soon formed a band with future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and hipster par excellence Kim Fowley.  Nelson was in on the ground floor of rock and roll.  Though he honed his chops while listening to big bands and jazz, Nelson couldn’t keep this burgeoning new music off his mind, and Johnston was a kindred spirit.  Nelson played live dates with the Kip Tyler band and “graduated” to session work before joining Phil Spector to play on The Teddy Bears’ “To Know Him is to Love Him.”  Tyler’s Flips were a proving ground for other soon-to-be influential musicians including Wrecking Crew stalwarts Steve Douglas, Larry Knechtel and Mike Deasy.  With Johnston and future Three Dog Night producer Richie Polodor, Nelson recorded “Teen Beat,” and it went gold in 1959, charting in both America and the United Kingdom.   (Though the three young men continued to work together, the success of “Teen Beat” strained Nelson’s relationship with Johnston and Polodor when Art Laboe of the Original Sound label didn’t credit them properly.)  Two years later, Nelson recorded “Let There Be Drums,” co-written with Polodor, on the Imperial Records label and scored another gold record.

Big Sixties Frat Party!!! presents 24 tracks from Nelson’s Imperial catalogue, drawn from ten LPs recorded between 1965 and 1969.  (The prolific drummer recorded 21 albums between 1965 and 1975!)  The best of the Los Angeles scene contributed to these albums including Bill Pitman, Barney Kessel, Mike Deasy, Carol Kaye, Lyle Ritz, Steve Douglas, Larry Knechtel and Plas Johnson.  (Needless to say, Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine wasn’t on call for Nelson’s sessions.)  Al Capps, Rene Hall and Mike Post were some of the arrangers.  Production reins were taken by notable figures like Nick DeCaro, Dave Pell and Joe Saraceno.

Hit the jump for much more, including the full track listing with discography, and an order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 2, 2012 at 14:09