Review: Count Me In

Posted on December 18, 2022

I did some traveling this week, so we’ll be ending the year on kind of a light note. But while flying, I finally got around to watching Netflix’s 2021 drumming documentary Count Me In, and I figured I would opine on it briefly. (Not that anyone cares at this point — the film has been out for over a year after all!) 

The 80–minute movie is basically driven by interviews with many different drummers, with a somewhat loose overarching narrative. There are probably over two dozen drummers featured in the doc, and the most famous (to me) include Stewart Copeland, Nicko McBrain, Nick Mason, Chad Smith, Topper Headon, Jim Keltner, Roger Taylor, Taylor Hawkins, Ian Paice, and Cindy Blackman–Santana.

To start, I’m not sure what kind of audience Count Me In is for. Unlike another documentary such as It Might Get Loud, I generally don’t think drumming as a subject matter has the same mainstream appeal. All the while, Count Me In isn’t especially informative to a seasoned drummer, at least not from a technical or historical point. Most of the appeal comes from hearing these different players talk about their own influences and experiences.

Stephen Perkins, for instance, says it was Gene Krupa who got him into drumming. For Nicko McBrian (who might be my favorite part of the documentary), it was Joe Morello. Unfortunately, Nicko’s mention of Joe is the closest the movie comes to a deep cut.

A good chunk of time is spent talking about guys like Ringo Starr, Charlie Watts, Keith Moon, John Bonham, and Ginger. These are all obviously great players, but there’s not much more to be said about them, least of all in Count Me In. Most of Keith Moon’s segment actually has Stephen Perkins playing along to “Who Are You”, which was kind of lame.

Like I said earlier, there is a somewhat cobbled–together assortment of chapters, but not much in the way of a strong narrative. Count Me In doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about the history of the drum set, and pays some frustratingly short lip service to the jazzers that basically created the discipline of kit playing. The entire legacy of jazz is basically distilled down to “well jazz goes ding-ding-da-ding while rock goes dut-dut-dut-dut”.

Aside from this segment, the only other memorable timeframe is a discussion of 80s music and the rise of drum machines. Despite the apparent bleak outlook for many drummers, the chapter just kind of ends with no real resolution as to how drummers have hung on — we simply move on to Nirvana and the 90s.

The documentary also feels very… honky. Blackman Santana is joined by several other females, which is great, but the only other drummer of color is Abe Laboriel Junior. Somehow the film feels narrow–minded but also a bit scatterbrained. 

I realize that I’m being a bit critical here, but I do hold my colleagues to a high standard. I’ll end with this: if you know nothing about drumming, this is a cute little movie. But for the rest of us, I wouldn’t set aside a whole lot of time for Count Me In the way you would for The Last Dance. Save it for when you have 90 minutes to spend on an airplane. 

I’ll be taking next week off for the holiday. See you next year!

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