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April 24, 2012 5:02 AM   Subscribe

If you want to hear the rock solidest, rock steadiest, rock of Gibralterist rock drumming that's ever been rocked in the history of rock, then you want to hear this.
posted by flapjax at midnite (57 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy shit this is amazing.
posted by dfriedman at 5:11 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


So you're saying Led Zeppelin really invented disco?
posted by notmtwain at 5:15 AM on April 24, 2012


So, for someone who is not especially conversant in musical terminology, what exactly is it about this that is so amazing? I mean, I get that it is amazing, etc., but why?
posted by dfriedman at 5:15 AM on April 24, 2012


Also know for many years before, as The Purdie Shuffle.
posted by timsteil at 5:29 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't get why its so amazing either. I'm not a drummer though. but I have spent many hours programming drum machines.
posted by mary8nne at 5:29 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not getting it.

Is the amazing part that you get to hear Bonzo all by himself? Like that Karen Carpenter post a while back?

I mean, the man can groove, obviously. But we sorta knew that.
posted by Trurl at 5:32 AM on April 24, 2012


Yeah, timsteil, Purdie is a monster, for sure. One of the groovingest men in the history of the drum kit, no doubt. Here's a mefi post I made on him a couple of years ago.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:32 AM on April 24, 2012


Previously.
posted by misteraitch at 5:37 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


mary8nne: "I don't get why its so amazing either. I'm not a drummer though. but I have spent many hours programming drum machines."

That might be my favorite Metafilter comment ever. "What's the big deal? I can program a computer to simulate that."
posted by octothorpe at 5:38 AM on April 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


It kicks ass because you might think of Bonham being this huge bombastic "ROCK" drummer but there's so much subtlety and finesse. It's huge and tasteful at the same time. And it's much harder to play than it sounds. And speaking of the Purdie shuffle and Fool in the Rain, this Jeff Porcaro video is worth watching.
posted by petri at 5:46 AM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Thanks petri, if I'd known about that Porcaro clip you linked to I think I might've included it after the jump, or at least in a comment, for its educational value. So glad you added it to the thread.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:51 AM on April 24, 2012


From timsteil's link above I found Purdie's joyful retelling of the shuffle's development, as sampled by Kutiman.
posted by cogat at 6:09 AM on April 24, 2012


Can't shit in a drum thread without challenging the premise with a little Neil Peart isolation drum tracks or his appearence on Letterman
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:10 AM on April 24, 2012


Neil Peart isolation drum tracks or his appearence on Letterman

You know, there are drummer children in China with no toms. This is sort of insensitive.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:18 AM on April 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


I thought for sure this post would be about Klaus Dinger. I'm not sure why I thought that.
posted by item at 6:19 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


um I thought those Neil Peart isolation drum tracks sounded pretty bad actually. I mean sure he can do a fast tom fill but the groove is like a lead weight. stodgy frumpy horrible.
posted by mary8nne at 6:25 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Damn damn damn! This is awesome, but it cuts off after the 'latin' section, and the second fill after that section is just NUTS, and I would love to hear it isolated! Grar! So many of my Zeppelin receptors are long ago worn out from overuse, but Fool in the Rain still gets me good.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:26 AM on April 24, 2012


You like drumming? You like Neil Peart? Well, maybe you'd like a website devoted to nothing but the minutia of his drumsticks.
posted by davebush at 6:34 AM on April 24, 2012


For rockingest, rock-steady beats I prefer Madness.
posted by TheProudAardvark at 6:41 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jaki Liebezeit is where it's at, y'all.
posted by swift at 6:43 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, there are drummer children in China with no toms. This is sort of insensitive.

Heh heh! Good one!

But if true, it's ironic as well! For it was Chinese tack head tom toms that were ubiquitous in the modern drum kit since its inception early in the 20th century up through the 30s and into the 40s. See here, for example.

Guess they stopped making tom toms over in China in favor of iPods, which I hear there's a greater demand for...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:56 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every time I put on a Zeppelin album I'm reminded of just how much amazingness rock lost when he died. I love a shit ton of music - I'm an includer, not an excluder, but very very very very few rock drummers have carried Bonzo's torch. Like someone said above...he was huge but subtle simultaneously.
posted by spicynuts at 6:58 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing with playing drums is that it is waaay, waaay more difficult than most people think.

Here's a trick to test your potential for becoming a drummer. First do that thing where you tap on top of your head with one hand, and at the same time make circles on your chest with the other. Difficult? No? Well, now tap one of your legs, and make circles with the other, at the same time while doing the thing with the hands. How 'bout now? This is what drummers do most of the time while playing.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 6:59 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


From timsteil's link above I found Purdie's joyful retelling of the shuffle's development,

Thanks, cogat, that was wonderful.
posted by straight at 7:07 AM on April 24, 2012


The thing with playing drums is that it is waaay, waaay more difficult than most people think.

I don't think it's easy to play any instrument well, drums included. All drummer OMGJOEKSLOL1! aside, I respect people who can play the fuck out of them. Anyone who has sat down at a kit for the first time just to mess around can surely attest to that.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:08 AM on April 24, 2012


But if true, it's ironic as well! For it was Chinese tack head tom toms that were ubiquitous in the modern drum kit since its inception early in the 20th century up through the 30s and into the 40s. See here, for example.

Wow, it's interesting to see what's more-or-less a modern kit, shape-wise, with those instead of modern toms. What do they sound like? I'm imagining a sort of thick-skinned deadness (which, actually, is how I like my toms).
posted by uncleozzy at 7:12 AM on April 24, 2012


I thought those Neil Peart isolation drum tracks sounded pretty bad actually.

Yeah, gotta say, same here. But I've never worshipped at the Altar of Peart. Comparing Bonzo's groove with Peart's, it's, well, at that point it's not like the word "groove" means the same thing. That linked isolated track, for example, man, the tempo's all over the place. He rushes (heh) like crazy. And those fills, while clearly meant to impress, just sound corny and ludicrous to me, and they in fact have no... finesse. No musicality.

Oh well, no accounting for taste. I know Peart is enormously popular (man, that Letterman clip has a million plus views, for a drum solo fer chrissakes) so, hey, more power to him, I guess. He seems to fill a musical need that a hella lotta people have.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:14 AM on April 24, 2012


What do they sound like? I'm imagining a sort of thick-skinned deadness

Yup. Very warm, even, round tone, very little ring. They sound great. Thing is, of course, they're not tunable, and they are often pitched rather higher than we think of as ideal for tom toms in the modern drum kit. They were great for little fills and such in early jazz, Dixieland and such, but they wouldn't really fit into much contemporary music.

I've got some myself, which I use from time to time. They still sound fabulous. And they look great too. I've got them documented in this Flickr set.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:21 AM on April 24, 2012


> You like drumming? You like Neil Peart? Well, maybe you'd like a website devoted to nothing but the minutia of his drumsticks.

I'm pretty sure a fifteen-year-old version of me runs that site.

Jesus Christ, I used to be able to remember some insanely specific shit about the setups of guys like Neil Peart and Stewart Copeland (and later, Vinnie and Weckl). And like every beginner, I was sure (so sure!) that knowing that stuff would make me a better player, just reading issue after issue of Modern Drummer. The worst part is that it seems that the space in my memory where I put a lot of that stuff has since been declared read-only. For the life of me, I seem to be incapable of forgetting that Stewart Copeland used to tour with Paiste cymbals (except for his splash cymbals, which were Zildjian). Bonham tuned his drums up high like a big-band drummer. Neil Peart played with his oak Pro-Mark 747s backwards because he used to break the tips of his sticks and couldn't afford new ones, so he flipped them around and liked the weight they had. Clem Burke is left-handed but plays a right-handed kit (like Ringo Starr), so he leads his fills with his left hand. Steve Gadd accidentally hit a microphone or something during the first section of his drum solo on Steely Dan's "Aja". The verses of Frank Zappa's "Keep it Greasy" are in 19/16 — Frank would indicate the time signature of the upcoming section using hand signals to the guys playing live in the booth. Oh, God. THIS INFORMATION IS USELESS AND I HAVE SO MUCH OF IT STUCK IN MY HEAD.

I'm sure I'm not the only one.
posted by scottjacksonx at 7:27 AM on April 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


...reading issue after issue of Modern Drummer.

God, I hated Modern Drummer magazine. But I do rather like Not So Modern Drummer magazine.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:33 AM on April 24, 2012


I came for the drumming.
I stayed for the mutton chops.
posted by GoingToShopping at 7:41 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Comparing Bonzo's groove with Peart's, it's, well, at that point it's not like the word "groove" means the same thing.

I've never been a Peart fan, either, and yeah, I gotta say, that track does nothing for me.

A drummer friend of mine was a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan in high school, and he really drilled himself on drumming "like" Jimmy Chamberlin, which is where and how I internalized a lot of how I think drumming should "work" in rock music. I don't know that Chamberlin was necessarily unique in the grunge era, but I do think that he was doing what he did--playing hard rock, with jazz-like flourishes and good feel--better than most of his contemporaries.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:50 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a copy of the original full band score from Aja. All it has is the bass drum, snare, and high hat parts.

However, the brother will do you a solid.
posted by timsteil at 8:33 AM on April 24, 2012


I love the samba beat in the end. I've got a soft spot for samba in classic rock.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:56 AM on April 24, 2012


Listening to this, I'm struck by how dead on fucking accurate to a metronome it is. I started really quickly to catch myself thinking 'this is a loop, right'?? But it's not. Damn that's good. Did they use click tracks back then? Cuz you could set your clock by that beat.
posted by spicynuts at 9:03 AM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Comparing Bonzo's groove with Peart's, it's, well, at that point it's not like the word "groove" means the same thing.

I think it was the liner notes of the big deal Led Zep box-set where they talked about how much Bonham and John Paul Jones loved James Brown, how while the other two were off doing whatever in the studio, Bonham and Jones would just be be grooving endlessly away, loving it. Ain't no funk in any Rush I've ever heard.

Also, Jaki Liebezeit, yeah! Great bit about 3:30 in here where he describes his moment of epiphany. And Halleluwah.
posted by philip-random at 9:17 AM on April 24, 2012


Having played guitar, piano and sax for decades, sometimes for money, then finally doing what I'd wanted to for years and getting a drum set, I can say that drums are a) SO MUCH harder to play well than they seem - no other instrument I know has such a looks-easy/is-hard distinction - and b) SO MUCH more fun to play than other instruments. It's a musical, stress-relieving physical workout.

I always wondered why so many male drummers looked, for lack of a better simile, like they were getting head while they played. Now I know.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:24 AM on April 24, 2012


scottjacksonx: "Clem Burke is left-handed but plays a right-handed kit (like Ringo Starr), so he leads his fills with his left hand."

Yes, but what we really want to know is about the difference in tom setup in this Top of the Pops performance of Dreaming v. this performance from 2003.

Which is to say—Clem's the drummer I most wish I could drum like, but there's no denying that John Bonham is the fucking man.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:26 AM on April 24, 2012


> However, the brother will do you a solid.

I always thought that going to a Steve Gadd clinic would be kinda boring. He always seems to get the same questions — "50 Ways", "Aja", "Late in the Evening", "Crazy Army", maybe a couple of six-stroke roll things, and we're outta there. It'd be cool to see the guy in person, but I wish he and the audience at the clinics would cover some new ground. It seems like all of his solos and fills in the past ten (twenty?) years are kind of like that, too. Lots of emphasis on those few Gaddisms that you've already heard.

As for the actual post: oh, boy. These are great. I remember putting these Bonham outtakes onto my iPod and trying to play along with them, especially the groove in the linked video. Great to hear these tracks again. This kid's going places. Thanks for bringing them up, flapjax.
posted by scottjacksonx at 10:36 AM on April 24, 2012


Sometime I forget, or get jaded about things. "Bonham, OMG, yada yada yada" yeah whatever, but then I listen to the clip (which I’ve heard before) and I’m again stunned at how great it is, even though I grew up with this song and didn’t particularly love it.

Similarly with that first Blondie clip. I liked them at the time, but wasn't a fanatic, and have gotten used to just hearing them as background music. Seeing that reminded me why they were so exciting back then.
posted by bongo_x at 10:36 AM on April 24, 2012


I've been re-listening to a lot of Zeppelin of late, and it just bears repeating how fucking good they were at every turn. Not that I necessarily love every note they ever played or that they were without their flaws, but as musicians each of them was just so incredibly good at their instruments, and at playing together as a group. I'm listening to the clip flapjax posted, and I'm keeping an ear cocked for some small subtle flaw, something equivalent to a singer drawing a deep breath before a verse or a guitarist moving up the neck rapidly and being off by a fraction of a second as he finds the right fret, and it just isn't there. Bonham is laying down this complex avalanche of beats and fills, simultaneously heavy and lilting, and he's spot on perfect the whole fucking time. He truly was in a class by himself.

From Charles M. Young's Rolling Stone review of In Through the Out Door (1979):
Hearing John Bonham play the drums is the aural equivalent of watching Clint Eastwood club eight bad guys over the head with a two-by-four while driving a derailed locomotive through their hideout. Either you are horrified by all that blood on the floor, or you wish you could do it yourself. No one's ever going to accuse Bonham of subtlety, but everyone should give him credit for consistency. Even on Led Zeppelin's worst effort (Houses of the Holy), he flails with so much exuberance that I find myself hoping that thugs from strange foreign countries will attack me on the street so I can play "Moby Dick" on their strange foreign heads.
Yeah. It's like that.
posted by mosk at 10:37 AM on April 24, 2012


Dear Mr. Charles Young...I am hereby accusing Bonham of subtlety. Never say never, old chap.
posted by spicynuts at 12:55 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I’m not agreeing with the lack of subtlety, or Houses of the Holy being the worst record, it was probably my favorite when I was a kid.
posted by bongo_x at 1:23 PM on April 24, 2012


Ain't no funk in any Rush I've ever heard.

well, there is - for a little bit - then he fucks it up with an ill-timed fancy drum fill and can't really seem to settle on it through the rest of the song

it's alright when it's in the context of the song, i guess - at least i don't mind it - but it's kind of frustrating listening to him isolated get it for a couple of bars and then blow it off, repeatedly

john bonham didn't just have excellent groove, he had superb sound - you come to zeppelin for the guitar playing and singing - but eventually, it's the drumming and bass playing you keep going back for
posted by pyramid termite at 5:11 PM on April 24, 2012


pyramid termite: "you come to zeppelin for the guitar playing and singing"

Wait...people go to Zeppelin for the singing? I didn't used to like Zeppelin (though I do now), and everyone Zeppelin fan I talked to said the same thing, "Sure, the singing is grating at first, but the instrumentation itself is great, and you get used to his voice after a while". I've never heard anyone actually praise Zeppelin's vocals.
posted by Bugbread at 6:00 PM on April 24, 2012


Thanks for the great post flapjax! I'm a HUGE Bonzo fan and here's why...

1. Bonham's drums EMOTE. He was always more than just a drummer/percussionist/time keeper. He had a way of, while still keeping time, hesitating, and flattening out at points, coming back with a crush of percussion to emphasize phrases, notes, etc. (He knew his trade like few others.)

2. His singular voice. By sound alone he's probably the most recognizable drummer ever. (Aside from just a couple of others.)

3. CODA. Kinda dirty, not exactly intended for release, but Bonham and those other guys are nailing shit down tight.
posted by snsranch at 6:16 PM on April 24, 2012


I've never heard anyone actually praise Zeppelin's vocals.

Well, if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then Jack White has been praising Zeppelin's vocals every day for the last fifteen years.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:44 PM on April 24, 2012


Your favorite drummer sucks.
posted by bardic at 10:25 PM on April 24, 2012


Your favorite sucker drums.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:19 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I’m not agreeing with the lack of subtlety, or Houses of the Holy being the worst record

Regardless of how one ranks Houses of the Holy, calling it the worst is like calling #10 of the world's Top 10 billionaires the poorest.
posted by ersatz at 3:32 AM on April 25, 2012


I've never heard anyone actually praise Zeppelin's vocals.

You need to listen more. Ask any high-voiced vocalist in hard rock and heavy metal who influenced their style, and Robert's name comes up quite a bit, especially amongst artists from the 1970s, like Rob Halford, Geddy Lee, Steven Tyler, etc.

Freddie Mercury even said that "Robert Plant was always my favorite singer." How's that for praise?
posted by snottydick at 8:25 AM on April 25, 2012


Wow. Ok, I definitely stand corrected.
posted by Bugbread at 11:37 AM on April 25, 2012


There's plenty of room for both John Bonham and Keith Moon. Everyone else can go screw.
posted by whuppy at 5:54 PM on April 25, 2012


Everyone else can go screw.

Wait. Wait. You're saying Mitch Mitchell can go screw?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:47 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ummm, not gonna name names but I was thinking more of the folks with huge drum kits. Mitch Mitchell and Clyde Stubblefield can stay.
posted by whuppy at 5:50 AM on April 26, 2012


not gonna name names

Peart.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:12 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


But anyway, isn't it amazing how Bonzo and The Animal were pinnacles of their craft yet nothing alike?
posted by whuppy at 7:43 AM on April 26, 2012


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