If we asked you what constitutes a great drum solo, your first answer would probably be the obvious skills of the drummer. However, we would like to think of it from a different light. The answer varies from one song to another. Between the multiple rich layers of musical genres that are too diversified to be summed up into one piece, there is always the potential for an incredible drum solo just waiting there. What deserves to be called the best songs with drum solos? That’s a highly debated topic where there possibly can’t be one answer!
The drum solo is the ultimate outlet of talent and expression for the player, and that’s what makes any solo segment the highlight of the show/music.
Has it ever happened to you that while hearing the live version of your favorite drum solo, you’re 100% sure this is somehow different from the pre-recorded version? The reason behind this “discrepancy” is the drummer’s improvisation, and it’s through this very tactic that the best drum solo songs are produced.
Who doesn’t appreciate a good solo? It adds a new level of depth to the final composition and helps a song transcend from mediocrity to the level of greatness. And when it comes to a solo, drumming skills form the backbone.
In this article, we will be listing some of the best drum solo songs of all times to have graced our ears.
You can also check: Types of Drums: The Complete Guide
1. Moby Dick by Led Zeppelin – John Bonham
John Bonham is often regarded as the best drummer that ever lived, and you have to agree with that. His drum solo in Led Zeppelin’s hit song “Moby Dick” is nothing short of incredible.
Although the solo’s album version is about two minutes, Zeppelin would increase the length in concerts, sometimes giving John up to 20 minutes to play his famous solo. The solo’s climax showcases a “Bonham Triplets,” a pattern of three notes that has entered into mainstream jazz and rock music. The 1969 classic was composed by John Bonham, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones.
2. Tom Sawyer by Rush – Neil Peart
Neil Peart, a compositional drummer to the fullest, goes all out in his feature section. His personal technique busy, polished, and purposeful.
The solo in “Tom Sawyer” hits the audience a rich drum solo after the 7/8 section, a continuation of the chord change in the intro. Much like the Bonham’s Triplets just mentioned, this song is powered by a similar rudiment called the quads. The feet and hands engage in a syncopation consisting of 30-second notes across the kick drums and toms. Sawyer’s solo feature is replicated by drummers to this day; Imagine Dragons, a popular rock-pop band once covered the track during one of their arena tours.
3. Ram Jam by Black Betty – Peter Charles
If you didn’t already know, the song “Black Betty” wasn’t penned by the 70s act Ram Jam. In fact, it’s a 20th century work song created by African-Americans and is often credited to Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter. But, the early recordings aren’t of him.
Fortunately for Ram Jam, their iteration was an instant hit. Albeit a tad bit spastic, the song’s instrumentation is rather organized. As the song cuts out and the rest of the band quiets down, drummer Peter Charles takes the stage to strum up a storm.
4. Beast and the Harlot by Avenged Sevenfold – Jimmy Sullivan
Also called “the Reverend,” Jimmy Sullivan shows his amazing control over the drums for the entirety of the song, but at the start of the song is where he truly shines. He commences with a steady cymbal roll, gradually increasing 20 seconds into the tune right after he hits the snares hard.
At the 45 seconds mark, he takes it up a notch by including the bass drums, setting foundation for one of the best drum solo song of all times. The best thing about the song is that the intensity of the bass is pretty noticeable the entire runtime, and it wraps up with the cymbals.
5. In the Air Tonight – Phil Collins
It’s safe to say that the general population has at some point, heard “In the Air Tonight.” And one of the biggest contributing factors to its popularity is the drum solo that blasts us with full force at the 3:15 minutes mark. The reason he was able to produce that unique sound is thanks to the reverse talkback option that the recording studio offered. Interestingly enough, that feature was accidentally discovered, but that was what helped establish Collins’ drum solo apart from the rest during those times. This song was originally made without the background drums you hear throughout the song, but were later added to give more definition to the drum solo.
6. YYZ by Rush – Neil Peart
This song is ideal for all the people who can appreciate a solo. The terrific guitar solo is cleverly placed in the middle of the song to draw your attention only to blow your socks off with the drum solo that follows. At the 3:23 minutes mark, Peart once again proves how he’s one of the greatest and starts his drum solo, automatically turning “YYZ” into a classic.
The solo stretches till the sixth minute of the song, and for the three and a half minutes you get to hear Peart, you will be awestruck by his superior skills and control over the drums. Till the end of the song, the drums can be heard clearly, but it doesn’t overshadow the other instruments. “YYZ” is a swell song on its own, but the solo is what makes it an easy entry into the list of best drum solo songs.
A nice drum solo is what stands between a standard song and a memorable one that will forever be etched onto the minds of its listeners. If there’s any song mentioned on our rundown for best drum solo songs you haven’t heard it, we highly recommend you do it right now!