Take Five: Pat Mastelotto

One of the most varied and versatile drummers in all of music, Pat Mastelotto celebrated his 67th birthday on September 10. Artists as varied as Hall & Oates, Al Jarreau, Eddie Money, Matthew Sweet and Kenny Loggins have availed themselves of his skills. His work spans many styles, but the unifying characteristic that ties it all together is sophistication. Here are five tracks featuring the peerless percussion of Pat Mastelotto.

Martin Briley – “The Salt in My Tears” (1983) from One Night with a Stranger
British guitarist and songwriter Martin Briley debuted on record with 1981’s Fear of the Unknown. But he’s best remembered for this song, the standout track (and single, and MTV hit) from his second LP. Featuring Pat Mastelotto’s propulsive drumming, this catchy exemplar of melodic power pop made it to #36 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 record chart.

Mr. Mister – “Kyrie” (1985) from Welcome to the Real World
A quartet with Mastelotto on drums, Los Angeles-based Mr. Mister followed a career path similar to Briley’s: their first album sold only modestly, but their sophomore release broke in a big way. The Grammy-nominated Welcome to the Real World was a smash thanks to its three hit singles: “Is It Love,” “Broken Wings” and this song. Both “Broken Wings” and “Kyrie” made it to the #1 spot on the Billboard singles chart.

XTC – “Mayor of Simpleton” (1989) from Oranges and Lemons
Art-pop band XTC followed a career arc similar to the Beatles: They started out as a live touring band, but eventually retired to the studio, where their music became more deeply textured and ornate. But they always remained melodic and accessible. The studio-era band didn’t have a permanent drummer, and for the band’s 11th studio album – including this delightful single – they enlisted the talents of Pat Mastelotto.

King Crimson – “Heroes” (2016) from Heroes – Live in Europe EP
King Crimson mainstay Robert Fripp lent his distinctive guitar work to the original recording of David Bowie’s “Heroes” in 1977, so it made sense that his group would pay tribute to the Thin White duke after his passing in 2016. The so-called “seven-headed beast” lineup – featuring Mastelotto as one of three drummers – recorded this performance in Berlin, the city where the song was first recorded.

Stick Men – “Danger in the Workplace” (2022) from Tentacles
The music of King Crimson – especially in the 21st century – was always challenging, powerful and foreboding. And for this side project, Mastelotto and Crimson bassist/Chapman stick player Tony Levin (joined by guitarist Markus Reuter) took things even further. Stick Men’s instrumental approach is sometimes called “prog noir,” which is as good a description as any.