Drummage Seventies 1 of 2

Apparently I am more interesting when drunk, and since this state is an inevitable byproduct of the industry in which I work (fuck am I really 32!? I wake up hungover and alone in the morning and my whole body aches from lack of human contact; my job is to pleasure others), here's some more inebriated comments on thwacking... rock side...

Black Fucking Sabbath "War Pigs" Bill Fucking Ward

The late 60s and early 70s are generally regarded as the peak of recording technology. Sure, for those of us who love Trevor Horn, Juan Atkins and Maurizio, the idea that progress stopped way before the seminal recordings made by the aforementioned artists were even envisioned is ludicrous, and yet, if we are talking solely of the recording of guitars, bass and drums captured through microphones, the era of Neve, API, Telefunken and Ampex is a classic one. Ironic, then, that one of the more important bands of this era, a band that is considered a pioneer in heavy metal (heavy as in full, as in replete), sounds so positively feeble on record (at least in comparison to their reputation). Finally hearing this live version of "War Pigs" was a revelation for me. Here is the real sound that led so many to make "unfashionable" decisions so long ago. Bill Ward hits, and hits hard, because this is the real shit (and there's jazz in this too - listen to the Billy Higgins performance from a few posts ago and then this again, meditate on the word "anticipation" or even, minus the "corporate self-help book found in airport bookstores" connotation, the word "synergy"), and you can't fuck with it. Is it me, or is Black Sabbath one of the first rap/hip-hop artists, too?

Led Zeppelin "Immigrant Song" Mr. John Bonham

"Levee" is classic and "Fool In The Rain", otherwise a bland, AOR cop-out, is revered by drummers just because it is really, really, really, fucking hard to play, but, again, Zeppelin benefits as much from well-mastered live recordings as Sabbath. Listen to the album version, and then try the one above again. It's not so much that Bonham plays differently; it's that the live versions gets closer to what we all imagine Bonham to actually sound like. I could have picked any of a hundred or a thousand recordings to convey this man's (and this band's) music, but, after another night of pleasing others, this is all that pleases me.

AC/DC "You Shook Me All Night Long" Phil Rudd

Seventies part two will be funky. But this song, actually from 1980, but, I think, correctly placed in this entry, serves as a nice bridge. Rudd, like Al Jackson Jr., is a master of playing things that anyone else can play but in an inimitable style. The real hook, the real attitude, in this guitar-driven, gravely-voiced, meat and potatoes and jiggly genitals record, is the way Rudd plays his hi-hats between the guitar riff. For those that understand the basics, Rudd is playing straight 8th notes on the hats, but not really. Start from the beginning: boom (bass drum): thwack (snare drum): tss-TSS-TSS (hats between guitars): boom: thwack. In my mind, it's the "tss-TSS-TSS" that really pushes the verses forward, and if those moments weren't accented, if they were played like virtually every other drummer ever would have played them, I swear, I really do, you might not shake it as much to the chorus as you do when you, being of open mind and desirous body, hear this at your local after a few... or maybe it's just me... I'm not smart, after all, just more capable of over-analysis than most.

Will you be my girl?



Drummage 1960s 2 of 2

What I love about blogs if the conflict between the liminal and definitive.  Drunk, I am, and yet, here is part 2 of 2.  While I extolled the virtues of "playing for the song" in my first post, I must admit that, as a drummer, I love the florid as much as the reserved. So while the first post demonstrated the virtues of the latter here is the decadence of the former...

Santana "Soul Sacrifice" Michael Shrieve
It's really freaky to think the entirety of pop music discourse fits within the lifespan of people who are still alive.  If the Beatles are the beginning and Burial is the end, well, Ringo and Paul can listen to Burial. Youknowhatimean?

Anyways, I still believe in the 60s and here is what makes me believe. Santana is criminally underrated. The Rolling Stones are literally pedophiles. So much for "the revolution". Michael Shrieve feels ecstasy before it is even synthesized (ok not really true)! Drugs can only help a person achieve a state of mind that music should be able to do naturally (ok not really true but it would be nice)...

Jimi Hendrix Experience "Hey Joe" Mitch Mitchell

Excuse my perversion, but if Jimi's solos are orgasmic, who warmed him up? In this track, the answer is obvious. The guitar solo would be nothing without the tension to-be-released, provided by the rest of the band generally, and Mitch's frenetic fills specifically...

John Coltrane Quartet "Afro Blue" Elvin Jones
There's four ways of playing music: try hard because you know no better, let go because you know no better, try hard because you know what is at stake, and let go because you know what is at stake. Elvin Jones ascends to the temple and demands beauty from his personal vision of God. Don't believe me? Listen as he hits harder than most in two time signatures simultaneously in anticipation of Coltrane's solo. The impatient anger of moral desire!

Pete La Roca "Sin Street" Pete "La Roca" Sims
Seriously unsung jazz player, Pete chose to drive a cab instead of play fusion in the 1970s, and no matter how many jazzfunk records I discover and come to love through my digging as a house DJ, I can't help but agree with Pete's decision. Sims was one of the first, if not the first, jazz drummer to introduce totally free playing in his solos. While his earliest innovations, in terms of temporal narrative, were created while he was sideman to Joe Henderson on a handful of Blue Note sessions in the early 1960s, my favorite work of his is on his second solo album, Turkish Women at the Bath, the title of which references an Ingres painting. Pre-scientology excellence from Chick Corea and top-of-his-game playing from Sun Ra sideman (and MASSIVE Coltrane influence) John Gilmore still impress after many years but Sims' free playing towards the end of this track inspires greatly. Sadly, the only clip available is cut off...

Grachan Moncur III "Evolution" Tony Williams

Elvin Jones is the only man ever to have lived that might be capable of walking up to Tony Williams and telling him he still has a lot to learn while being correct. Williams was still a teenager when he joined Miles Davis' band and not much older when he added his unique piece to the puzzle of Moncur's challenging yet evocative composition. There are a lot of songs I could pick to best exemplify Williams' drumming, and yet his comfort with the weird, not just his absolute mastery of the mainstream jazz idiom, is what makes Williams' drumming something perennial long after jazz has gone (stupidly) out of fashion...

killing it "normal"...


Drummage 1960s 1 of 2

This is not a definitive list, a history, or an argument. Just some favorites... and I'll let them speak for themselves, mostly...

In general, what I really like about drumming from this decade in the pop/rock realm is that most, if not all of the non-jazz players listed below most likely trained in jazz, which resulted, at least to my ears, in more swing, more groove, and more melodicism and sensitivity in the construction of parts than in any other decade. Yeah, that's a big claim, and there are plenty of great drummers whose foundation lies solely in rock who are able to do all that the following drummers can do and yet... there is something really special about this decade, isn't there?

Ronettes "Be My Baby" Hal Blaine
Classic riff, really nice fills. Even the singer agrees (see second video around 2:13)! It's rare for a drum part to be one of the predominant hooks of a song...

Martha & The Vandellas "Heatwave" Motown Drummer TBD
An astute fan of Motown's early 1960s records will note that a small handful of fills are utilized across multiple records. Each drummer that was part of the Motown band in the 1960s had their own fills and commonly used these fills to identify themselves. I used to have a magazine that featured a chart describing these fills and their respective owners, but I no longer do, so the performer on this record will have to remain anonymous for the time being. As for the performance... infectious swing/shuffle of a kind that slowly disappeared from most mainstream pop drumming to be replaced with straighter 8th and 16th note feels. 

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles "Tears of a Clown" Motown Drummer TBD
At the risk of giving two credits to the same drummer, given the paucity of information on who played what, here is another Motown classic. Good groove, good energy, great sound...

Otis Redding "Try a Little Tenderness" Al Jackson Jr.
Possibly my favorite drummer, Al Jackson Jr. specialized in the kind of straightforward yet irresistible parts that always served the song. For the most part, anything he played could be played easily by anyone who has spent even just a few months learning the instrument, and yet I don't actually think there is another drummer who could play the way he did, with the same attention to the small details, the same reserve, the same willingness to let the song speak (some of his most classic performances see him straying only once or twice from strict timekeeping). Oh, and he grooves like a motherfucker! This performance sees him leading the band from ballad tempo all the way to the possibility of death by hyperventilation for the horn section while staying funky the whole time...

Lee Morgan "Search for the New Land" Billy Higgins
Further along the theme of understated funkiness, here is a classic performance by Billy Higgins. I really love the casual yet crisp approach Higgins has to timekeeping, and his comping style, which is here dominated by repeating figures instead of a wholly-improvised approach. Definitely one of those myriad figures in jazz unknown to the uninitiated but certainly important to the development of his art form and an inspiration to many players outside of it.

Drummage Pre

Going to take Simon up on his request for good drum performances. I used to play drums quite seriously. Don't know if I was any good but I sure did listen a lot. Most of my choices are fairly canonical. But the canons of popular music were assembled in a much more democratic way by people with greater levels of understanding than those of other arts. For better and worse.

I am going to be limiting myself to a maximum of ten performances per decade and one appearance per drummer (with maybe one or two exceptions). I won't be posting any decades prior to the 1960s and nothing from this century. While the drummers of the 1950s and before suffer my lack of recognition due to my ignorance (outside of a few handfuls of jazz records), contemporary drummers suffer my lack of recognition for the opposite reason. I am more likely to play air drums to a programmed Neptune production than to any indie or mainstream rock record that I am aware of*.

1960s to follow almost immediately
1970s and 1980s will take some time
1990s will be easy, but possibly shorter

* It's not as if everyone forgot to play drums... it's just...
There's a recording engineer who calls himself Mixerman who says that "if the song sucks, the mix is irrelevant". I figure, if the song sucks, the musician's performance is irrelevant. For some, this would seem a little backwards. Surely, if the musician's performance sucks, how can a song be good? But since, outside of wholly-improvised music, the song precedes the performance, if the song is no good, then a musician's skill, which is to bring the composition to its full musical impact, cannot be fully utilized.


There's a void where there should be ecstasy...

Possibly back to regular posting again soon... or not...
I really don't know what to say.
I think the move has been positive for me... I have a good job and am starting to pay off debts and get ahead. I might even take, like, a real vacation for the first time in years!
But I feel even further from that whole meaning thing, if that means anything to you.
I mean, it will never be this (see below) good again, will it (?) and I wasn't even there.



From an email to a friend...

Obviously I am out of practice as a writer right now but diction and syntax be dammed!

"I discuss music and society quite a bit with my roommate. We speculate quite often as to the what range of dates should constitute the 'golden era' of music and, more importantly, culture, in Western civilization, and, while we generally agree that things have been going downhill for about 15 years or so, and that the last five or six years have constituted the lowest ebb in what seems like forever, the starting date was, for a while, really hard to fix. Initially, it was placed somewhere in the 1960s, but jazz and all the innovations in classical music since Beethoven make that date problematic. Coming to that realization, however, provided the insight I was looking for. Beethoven is the great Romantic composer, the guy who took pre-existing forms that had been used to mostly write either paens to god or innocuous entertainment and reinvented those forms as vehicles for conveying deep feelings about life and the world around... it's really his era, the Romantic era, that is over. Music now has the function it did hundreds of years ago - entertainment for the wealthy where the inspired re-deployment of traditional forms is appreciated on an intellectual level (ie most of underground/critic music culture), or paens to new gods (consumerism, one-night stands, shapely asses). The desire for intense and direct communication is not really part of the audience's experience."


Reasons for being depressed

It's actually all pretty simple... life, even...

1. Life is actually pretty beautiful, and it really hurts to know that it will not last forever, and that each day, spent appeasing so many others, may be a day wasted. There is a lake, on top of the mountain, which has taken hours to climb, that is refreshing. God becomes necessary to explain the profound privilege of the soothing water.

2. The profound beauty is something that so many are willing to deny to so many others! What bullshit! The differences between political parties can be explained by who wants to deny this privilege to whom, and for what reason. That's it! That's pathetic! To be a Leftist, for all of the critique, for all of the vituperation, for all of the anger, for all of the frustration, is to actually believe, at the end of the day, that everyone should be able to climb the mountain and take their swim in the cool waters. The political mainstream is just a bunch of people arguing about who should be denied this possibility. Can you really pick a side?

It is true, I have had a few beers. But I don't get obnoxious when I am drunk, just inarticulate. There is more!



I truly am glad you still care

I am still getting page views here even though I haven't posted in a while. The transition has taken a lot of time, and my computer is broken, compelling me to log in sporadically. Thank you for your patience.

Providence is weird. It has been years since I have felt as valued as I do now. Even after only a month of part-time work at my current job, the level of appreciation of my effort is incredibly high. I get paid more now to do things I enjoy doing with people I enjoy working with than I did to do things I didn't like doing with and for people I mostly disliked.

Yet I still feel the pull... It's a small town... I already know half the people in my neighborhood... the dance music scene is small, if it exists at all...

I can't seem to help dreaming big... all the expanse... the space... the intensity... that was promised to me... by techno... by grand-view social theory and critique... by late-night foreign films... I dunno... I will be here another year... and then either I stay or... London... Berlin... Fuck... This sucks or doesn't... The tyranny of wanting everything versus the tyranny of wanting nothing... and the bars close damn early here...


It's Official

Back behind the stick...
Thoughts, feelings, ambiguities, joys, regrets... forthcoming.


Just a friendly reminder...

... to everyone in general (not you - I know you know!)

Please don't use the word "caves" in reference to the Obama administration. As evidenced quite clearly by   an obvious source such as the Frontline specials on both health care "reform" and the financial "crisis", the Obama administration doesn't see itself as having an adversarial relationship to big and/or corrupt businesses and industries (choice paraphrase of a statement by Obama to the leaders of the big banks documented by the latter program: "what we have here is a public relations crisis"). Compromise is the goal, not the end result of agreeing to gain some desire at the expense of another. Usually Obama seeks and gets nothing in in terms of actual policy save  the appearance of having tried to do so.


These New Blogger Features Are Overwhelming

Anyone else feeling it?

Anyhow, while over half of my views come from the USA, and another quarter from the UK, a surprising percentage of views come from Denmark. So... hello to you beautiful Danes out there. Thanks for putting up so many American jazz musicians in the 1950s...


A Bunch of Shizzle in:re "EDM"

mnml ssgs
typically unbearable RA thread
NYT follows tha ca$h

Which do you prefer? Mindless hedonism or the tedious connoisseurship of a rapidly-ossifying "underground"? I don't think there is an ethical answer to this question, just a preference for a certain self-image. I'm starting to think the former, if only because the girls are cuter, though, really, I guess I can't be a mindless hedonist if I continue to think "they look a bit young, don't they?". You think Guetta cares? Ugh. Let me hop back on Discogs and see if the new Convextion remix has shipped from the Netherlands yet. Only three hundred copies pressed. Grey marbled vinyl. I know one percent of the people worldwide who own it. Sadness, again.

Seriously though, I think the "underground" has always had two relationships with the "mainstream". At best, the underground is way ahead, at worst, though, in many cases, necessarily, the underground is purely reactive, defining itself negatively, by what it doesn't do in comparison. The most pernicious effect of the popularity of Guetta, et al, may be, as mnml writes, the de-legitimizing of the more underground strains of the music in the eyes of those disinterested folks on whom the scene's continued existence depends, but my greatest concern is that, in reacting to the overground success of certain artists, will retreat further into the polite, non-transcendent and non-transgressive, but still anti-intellectual, well-behaved hedonism that was the hallmark of virtually every event I went to in New York, a retreat now seemingly justified not only by "taste" but also by the negation of "newer" popular forms.

(also funny that one of the promoters interviewed in the Times article is worried about co-option by corporate money - as if he hadn't already done that himself - underground is really a nice mantle to claim for oneself - now that it doesn't stand for something oppositional, or anything at all really, anyone can claim themselves as being part of it - after all, there is always someone with more money! which brings me to "we are the 99%" - very nice of the middle class to express solidarity with the working class only when all of the strenuous and sycophantic effort they have expended to ensure they are never mistaken for anything else isn't paying off...)


OK and All That

Moved from BKNY to PVD. Still unpacking, getting organized, etc. Heading back to NYC to see Pulp, then it's time to find a job... and then, more records, more bitching about politics, the usual, etc. But relaxed. I think.



I'm Not Green

That's not to say I'm not an environmentalist, it's just that the above picture from a NYT article on the Occupy protest cracks me up. It really underscores what should be an obvious lesson from the last fifty or sixty years of civil rights and environmental legislation, which is that you can have anything you want as long as that desire can be reconciled with our current economic structure.


I've Read the New Houllebecq...

... and it is good. For those who have been turned off by his unsubtle mixture of porn and polemic, those aspects are muted, even almost absent from The Map and the Territory. While this certainly makes the novel appear more mature, and a quick browsing of critical reviews confirms that the novel is being read in this way, this impression exists only in the context of a world where maturity is seen as resignation to a life where all that a human can achieve is all that can be achieved by a human. The novel is not so much anti-political as it is despairing of a society where politics is impossible as long as this vision of maturity persists.


For Nobody and Everybody...

... just a nice record.



I went to New England over the weekend to visit a friend. Of course, that meant that I had to go to my local record shop here in Brooklyn before leaving town to buy some records. I didn't anticipate, however, just how marvelously cheap record stores are North of here. So I bought more records. Many more! My only defense is that I would have paid a lot more just buying online or in NYC.

Pray for me!
Comsat Angels - Sleep No More (found literally at the back of a bin of 100 bad house records that was buried underneath 60 classical records)
DJ Dozia - Shapeshifter
Jean Carn - Happy To Be With You (new to me - time will reveal "the cut")
Mariah Carey - Make It Happen 12" (fuck what is the right mix of this again?)
Mariah Carey - Dreamlover 12" (replacing one warped copy so I can rock doubles with two!)
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto (premiere recording with Oistrakh - not depicted in video)

(not showing off just maybe some of this is new to you and you hear something you love and your day is just that much better - mine is, or was, until I saw the balance left in my account. whoops!)


90s and their persistence

I knew this back then but it's really only the persistent feeling that dance music, on purely cultural terms, ain't what it used to be (because "nothing is more revolting that the sight of the inheritors of the earth enjoying themselves"), that caused me to lose confidence and start reading Pitchfork almost a decade ago in the vain hope that there was something good I was missing. That's when the real dejection set in.

(Also - writing like what I linked to above used to be published! Just another...!)


Your Thoughts Please

Is there a cheap, major city with a legitimate arts scene in the United States?

This chapter might be over soon.


Homesick Again?!?!

I guess it's because it's 59 degrees in NYC on February 1st that I am thinking about DC again. I can't believe it's been six years since I used to come off my shift waiting tables on a weeknight, get a little stoned, and wander around downtown on one of the numerous beautiful spring evenings that are the real gift of DC weather listening to Souvlaki. Life is easier when you aren't trying.


...blue plaque above the place where I first heard "I Spy"...

So excited. Yeah I spent too much money on the ticket and ended up not getting a second one for a friend TBD but, you know, I have been waiting on this for a long time now, and I don't think anyone I know personally who currently lives in America, never mind New York, has been. In that respect, not much has changed in my life in the last 16 years or so.

I still remember seeing the posters in Olsson's way back when for the tour of America Pulp embarked upon after the release of Different Class. I remember feeling so daunted - how would I get there? Who would take me? I was young, mind. I never went.

It's funny to know now that Jarvis was into hard drugs at the time (or maybe a bit later?) as his was one of the first interviews I read that stood out for being about ideas instead of excess. That mattered to teenage me. Pulp was one of the first bands I encountered, even with the sexualized lyrics, whose vision of cool didn't seem to disinclude the bookish, the straight-edge, the friendless, the real freaks, not those who became millionaires playing freaks on TV.

Will I meet you there? Will something change?


I am not an "adult"

Pragmatism is the valuation of the body above the soul.

Past 20,000 Views...

... and temporarily in neutral. Maybe this will help:

Your thoughts? Feelings? Especially if you haven't left any before.

It's not navel-gazing. I am looking out and seeing a void. Fill it below.



I Love Corporate

I sometimes fixate on chain restaurants. Living in the world capital of boutique utopia, I've come to experience most places I go not as the opposite of "themed" restaurants like Planet Hollywood but rather much more finely-tuned versions of the same. The difference being that the aggressive "theme-ing" of Brooklyn restaurants is based in exclusion, whereas corporate themes are always inclusive.

I dream of West New York... New Jersey.

(I know I repeat myself I know)


High School Poem (ca 1996)

Love like longing,
laughter lost.
Oasis of oblivion;
obtuse obsession.
Vain, valiant valentine.
Voluntarily vexed.
Embark elongated embarrassment -
expected: elation.