This track has always blown my mind...
And, I'll give you a good answer for a trivia question. Namely: Who played drums on this marvelous slab of wax?
Answer: ALAN WHITE of YES. No Shit.
The sonic glue that holds this whole thing together is the sloppy-ass, very groovy shuffle beat played by Mister White. One of the proggiest of prog-rock outfits (progressive rock, for all you "abbreviation-challenged" readers), YES was noted for odd time signatures and sonic experimentation on a grand scale, not soulful grooving.
So, it was with some surprise that I found out who played on this great piece of rock n roll history. Recorded on January 26, 1970, released as a single, and available as the third song on the SHAVED FISH record, "Instant Karma" is 3 minutes and 16 seconds of pure bliss. And it gels like a motherfucker. (Can I say that in mixed company?)
Alan White performed two of the songs on the record (actually, Shaved Fish is a "best of", and the other song in this collection that Alan played on was "Imagine"), and the rest of the songs were split between Ringo and Jim Keltner, so all in all, I'd have to say this was a watershed record in drumgroove history.
"Instant Karma" also happens to be produced by none other than Phil (Wall-of-Sound) Spector, and that's no surprise to me. Bathed in copious amounts of reverb and echo, (and whatever else the mad genius threw into his "secret production sauce"), the track pulses and grooves like hell, punctuated by wonderful accents and fills that slap you upside the head when you least expect them. And check out that relaxed feel! It sounds like Alan's droppin' them sticks on the heads, and I mean that in a most complimentary way. This is WAY back in the pocket.
It's one of my all-time favorite drum performances, and has been since the minute I first heard it blasting out of an AM radio, back in the day when 45 rpm singles ruled, and records were mixed in mono so they would sound good coming out of any cheesy little transistor radio speaker, or car speaker, no matter how crappy. Sounded great then, sounds great now. This is a CLASSIC single, and I don't use that term lightly. Go to your collection and pull it out RIGHT NOW!!! And, if you don't own it, GO BUY IT IMMEDIATELY!!!