1. Stewart Copeland, The Police — Demolition Man. This is a song that would be nothing without a bit of chaos. In the Dream of the Blue Turtles era, Sting would just play it really fast. Copeland can give you chaos with a backbeat, which is why it has always nagged at me that he never latched onto another high-profile gig after The Police broke up. He was due to go out with a revived version of The Doors, which would’ve been interesting, but I’d rather see him pop up with someone cranking out original material.
Hmmmm … Copeland and Ben Folds … that could be interesting …
Demolition Man has a couple of Copeland trademarks — subtle variations on the cymbals, a crisp snare drum that he only hits when it suits him, tom fills thrown into the middle of nothing. It starts with a classic fill in which he basically plays THROUGH the song like Keith Moon with technique, landing in his basic pattern about halfway through the next riff. He lays back during the verses, then brings the snare back into play to add a bit of urgency to the chorus.
Without Copeland, this isn’t much of a song. He turns it into something special. It’s rare that a drummer can do that.
2. Santana, Black Magic Woman. This is more of a complaint than a compliment. Any radio programmer who sets this one to fade out before the percussionists take over for the last 90 seconds or so should not be allowed to program an iPod, much less a radio station. It’s like listening to Livin’ La Vida Loca on the radio in Ireland, where they pronounced his name “Ricky Mar-TEEN” but played a remix that took out any Latin influences.