R.E.M. Disco?
December 24, 2016 11:01 AM   Subscribe

 
I heard that the record company tried to throw Berry out of R.E.M., or at least have a studio drummer play instead.
posted by thelonius at 11:08 AM on December 24, 2016


4-on-the-floor is just easier for a less seasoned drummer. Dropping the needle on a plate of beans all these years later is something you can do, I suppose.

That being said, I do enjoy reading music analysis. Thanks for sharing.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:27 AM on December 24, 2016


Link to the track.

The other part of the essential Berry sound is the open hi-hat on the 7 1/2 and 8 1/2 (ya know or something like that).
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:42 AM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Beanplating is right.

In Buck's defense, well meaning, but clueless folk often do give bad advice. It sounds like people were advising him to sound more like the background music from The Love Boat. Maybe with some Syndrum thrown in for good measure.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:01 PM on December 24, 2016


Really, it's less disco (there's always a bit of a shuffle in Berry's drumming) than (and the article almost gets here before immediately backing off again, perhaps in total ignorance) the stuff coming out of the English (post-)ska scene at the same time. As far as the drums are concerned, early R.E.M. = late Madness.

I do suspect though that a request for "disco drums," in the context of the studio in the 1980s, would be more about recording techniques (e.g. the Phil Collins gated reverb effect) and/or acoustic vs. electronic instruments.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:22 PM on December 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


Based on interviews Berry insisted on using the drum booth, which probably contributes to the dry disco-y drum sound. (and cool now I'm reading the Sound on Sound article on Radio Free Europe...)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:38 PM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm digging this. I love Bill Berry. And it does sound like Copeland at the beginning with the kick and fills.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:52 PM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Even moreso "Wolves, Lower" I would suggest.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:11 PM on December 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Early R.E.M. always sounds like a hug to me.
posted by epj at 3:16 PM on December 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm always shocked to discover that people like R.E.M but haven't listened to their early work. It was really a breath of fresh air and I think it holds up very well today.
posted by thelonius at 4:10 PM on December 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


I also heard Berry's drumming as a reggae/dub thing rather than a disco thing exactly, but I think the point is well taken. Wonderful mucisians are often musical omnivores, and Berry is surely both.
posted by ducky l'orange at 6:04 PM on December 24, 2016


I once heard an interview where Berry said he liked everything from Slim Whitman to Motley Crue.
posted by 4ster at 6:07 PM on December 24, 2016


Reggae and dub were pervasive influences on that era's music, particularly the drumming, and it's obvious once you're clued in, but it feels like a lost thread in the shall-we-call-it pop music of modern days. All sorts of other New Wave and suchlike quirks have survived, even flourished unto fetishization. I wonder if skin tone has anything to do with rocknroll fashion. I wonder...
posted by Zerowensboring at 6:24 PM on December 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


REM kind of lost me after..."Automatic," I guess. I still love "Murmur" and "Life's Rich Pageant" so much.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:35 PM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nowhere in that article, nor in the comments above, is a single mention of Mitch Easter.

Carry on.
posted by intermod at 9:58 PM on December 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I agree--those first few albums are sublime. I suppose the quality of the music is inversely proportionate to the clarity of the lyrics.
posted by persona au gratin at 10:48 PM on December 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


I love Bill Berry's drumming on the early R.E.M. stuff. It was one of the things that first drew me to the band. And R.E.M. without Bill Berry isn't R.E.M.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:12 PM on December 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I suppose the quality of the music is inversely proportionate to the clarity of the lyrics.

I can't have been the only person who wrote to them back then, asking for a copy of the lyrics. Or to fall even more head over heels when I got back a signed postcard with a single line: "There are no lyrics."
posted by progosk at 11:46 PM on December 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


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