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December 02, 2015

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Thanks for that.

Ringo, best air fills ever, among his other innovative drumming attributes. "A Day In The Life" is the prime example.

Random stuff:

One of the drummers -- was that Springsteen's -- mentioned "Ticket To Ride". Actually, McCartney came up with that drum sequence for the song and suggested it to Ringo. Paul also played lead guitar in that song, as he did, spectacularly, for George's "Taxman".

By the way, one of the drummers, Abe Laborile (sp?) featured in the vid, has been McCartney's drummer for 15 years.

The Starr-McCartney drumming competition was a source of some friction through the years. If Ringo wasn't in the studio, Paul didn't hesitate to lay down a drum track now and again. For example, that's him drumming on "Back In The USSR".

To this day, the two of them jab each other about it. Ringo, who never lets an opportunity go by to poke George Martin in the eye about the latter's decision to hire a session drummer over Ringo (who played tambourine on the song) on "Love Me Do", is always pointing to the camera in his interviews and winking "Right, Paul?", when the subject of Ringo's drumming preeminence comes up.

I just saw a very recent (last year) session featuring Paul and Klaus Voorman (fascinating life interwoven with the Beatles: he "discovered" the Beatles in Hamburg, Stu Sutcliffe stole his girlfriend Astrid Kirchkerr - who herself came up with the iconic Beatles haircut - then he designed the classic cover art for "Revolver", among other records, and THEN became a fine bass player himself and recorded on solo albums with Lennon and Harrison) coming up with a cover version of an old R&B classic and after Paul and Klaus worked the song out and had some provisional bass, guitar and vocal takes down, Paul looked into the camera and said to Klaus, "I really want and ought to lay down a drum a track while I'm at it .... just to piss off Richie" ... who was showing up the next day or two to do that very thing himself for the song.

Hey, things could have been worse.

Think how Pete Best feels.


I should add, there are versions of "Love Me Do" with Ringo on drums, but Andy White is there on the original release.

Here's a vid of Voorman recording with Paul and Ringo and lots of company in 2008, actually, at the sessions I mentioned above:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELwfVR7yKCg

Some of the ancients who show up are bearing canes. Jeez. I need to go over to the sports/baseball thread.

Same session, but more Voorman and Paul alone, in the vid mentioned above:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhZZiMOy334

Voorman was the bass player for Mannfred Mann in the last 1960s, just yesterday.

that's bonnie bramlett with the cane, and she still lights up the room when she walks in.

it's less common than it used to be, but for a long time it was almost a rite of passage for young drummers to put down ringo. he plays too simple, he's sloppy, he has no chops.

all of this demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the role of the drummer in popular music. which is to say, the role of the drummer, full stop, because the drum set as an instrument is a creature of popular music.

what makes ringo ineffable is that you can't point at any one thing he does and say, "there, that is the magic".

the simplicity of the specific parts he plays is part of it, because he plays just enough to make the song work, and no more. that leaves room for everything else to happen, without leaving any other part unsupported.

his "sloppiness", which is to say the non-robotic imprecision of his execution, is also part of it, because that is how inflection is expressed in rhythm, and inflection is the source of meaning and subtlety in any musical expression. or, really, any human expression. ringo's "sloppiness" is not accidental, it is chosen, and is chosen specifically to support the particular needs of a particular song. he can play on top of the beat, behind the beat, right in the middle of the beat, and any combination thereof, as needed.

His choices of what to play - what rhythm pattern or beat, what fills to use to articulate the structure of the song and set up changes between song sections, when to bring the energy level up or settle it back down - are all perfect for their context.

It's really impossible to imagine the Beatles catalog without Ringo on the drums. They wouldn't be the same songs.

What I always say about Ringo is that if you don't like Ringo, you don't like music. He's a brilliant musician who happened to choose the drums as his instrument.

I steal everything I can from him, any time the opportunity arises.

He's also the coolest, nicest, most chill guy on the planet. He's a big part of why the Beatles survived until 1970.

It's nice when nice guys finish first.

thanks for letting me get my drum nerd on, lj!

I like the use of "falling down the stairs" to describe Ringo's sound. It's wacky fun.

One thing that jumps out is hearing the drums from the intro to "Come Together" all by themselves. I never realized how much of an iconic riff that was until I heard the drums isolated from the rest of the instruments. It's immediately recognizable and makes your ears perk right up.

compared to today's pop songs, most music pre-1980-ish is 'sloppy', because it's the sound of actual people playing music together, reacting to each other being human.

today's music is a collage of sounds aligned to microsecond precision by a guy with a computer. and this obsession with perfect time and perfect pitch is deeply inhuman and off-putting, IMO.

Excellent comments; many thanks to the Count and russell, in no particular order.

I thought for a long time that Ringo was a lightweight drummer, but a lot of people who actually know drumming (russell most persuasively) have told me otherwise. I'm starting to budge off that position.

Jim Keltner and Stewart Copeland also have a wee bit of credibility that is moving me, ever so slowly; possibly in time for the next election.

He said, wryly.

compared to today's pop songs, most music pre-1980-ish is 'sloppy', because it's the sound of actual people playing music together, reacting to each other being human.

What cleek said.

I thought for a long time that Ringo was a lightweight drummer...

Same here.

There are a lot of people who get too hung up on pure technical ability. As a fan of metal, I see it a lot among a certain strain of metalheads, many of whom are themselves musicians. I went through a phase of that, myself.

I still enjoy seeing and hearing super-proficient musicians play what would seem to be inhumanly difficult stuff to pull off on whatever instrument(s). It's just not the be-all, end-all of music that some people seem to think it is.

I like a little Yngwie Malmsteen once in a while, but I could listen to early AC/DC kind of a lot. If it rocks (or does whatever it is that blows your skirt up), does it really matter how hard it is to play from a technical standpoint?

It's not a fncking contest.

Oh, yeah.

Autotune. I turn off the radio immediately when I can hear it, which is way too often. Fortunately I don't listen to mainstream-pop radio, or it'd never be on longer than the station break.

Maybe others can't hear it like I do. Or maybe it doesn't annoy others the way it does me.

Russel @ 9:26 Re playing just enough to make the song work, an artist friend of mine once said that knowing when to stop - doing the right amount and no more - is what makes a true artist.

I know a lot of people like to say Ringo is a hack, but I'm sitting here listening to Revolver and um, yeah, absolutely fricking no.

And honestly, even if he is a hack, so the f*ck what? The Beatles wouldn't have been The Beatles without him and we'd all be much the poorer for the lack.

i like to think that Paul and John would've kicked Ringo out if they thought he wasn't up to the task. it's not like they wouldn't have had their pick of drummers at any point in the Beatles' existence.

and, if he was good enough for those two, he's good enough for me.

As a fan of metal, I see it a lot among a certain strain of metalheads

Metal has become something of a virtuoso genre over the last 20 years or so.

Some of the stuff the metal cats do is hard to even understand, let alone execute.

It's not a world I live in as a player, but I have a lot of respect for what they do. A lot of it is really freaking hard.

because it's the sound of actual people playing music together, reacting to each other being human.

Or muppets.

In Speed Metal, Fastest Drummers Take a Beating

When new technologies arrived, metal drumming standards entered the realm of the physically impossible. Today, many bands write songs using computers without even rehearsing them. When an English band recently came to Mr. Mynett's studio, "none of the musicians could play the parts they'd written," he said. The band's bass-drum tracks—the foundation of metal songs—had to be digitally constructed.

Some bands say they like the cold, inhuman quality of machine sounds. But the trend raises hackles among purists, because metal aficionados put a premium on authenticity and virtuosity, and sometimes don't know that they are being duped. Paradoxically, to make drum tracks sound more human, metal producers deliberately introduce mistakes into their own programming. "They cover it up," Mr. Mynett says. "The idea is to make people think the virtuoso is real."

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304591604579288531126033944

Russel @ 9:26 Re playing just enough to make the song work, an artist friend of mine once said that knowing when to stop - doing the right amount and no more - is what makes a true artist.

This is why I have always considered Clapton the best rock guitar player. He can do awesome stuff, but seems to always do just what the song needs.

As a kid, of maybe 10 or so, I aspired to do the opposite of just enough musically. I always gravitated toward the louder, harder music that was available, mostly via FM radio. As one would expect, there were songs that I considered among my favorites. There were, in turn, parts to those songs that were my favorites, usually involving a drum or guitar solo or whatever it was that took the song up a notch.

In my 10-year-old mind, I thought I would someday be in a band, and that band would play songs that were like my favorite parts of my favorite songs all the time. (I mean, it's so obvious. Why wasn't everyone doing that already?) It would be the craziest, rockin'-est stuff anyone ever heard, and everyone would love it because it would be so much cooler than everything else - a non-stop musical climax, like Neal Peart and Eddie Van Halen going bananas, both at the same time, from beginning to end.

I was a slightly weird kid.

Maybe my mucic experience is just way too limited. But the thing that I recall being unusual about Ringo is that he was a drummer who actually sang. Not just the la-la-la that background singers do, but really sang. (Including singing lead sometimes.)

The only other drummer that I can recall noticing actually singing was Karen Carpenter. (Why saw herself was a drummer who sang, even though she was regarded as a singer who played drums.)

Don Henley and Phil Collins are the two big singing drummers.

plus, that guy from The Romantics.

Levon Helm, drummer and arguably lead singer

Some of the stuff the metal cats do is hard to even understand, let alone execute.

I went through a metal phase in my late teens/early twenties, and I was only in it for the technical aspects - well, okay, and I did like some "message metal" in the form of early (and unsurprisingly, very angry) feminist-influenced death metal. My only musical talent has ever been vocal, which isn't on display in a lot of the genre, but I could still very much appreciate the precision and execution of something like Carcass.

(I think I was going somewhere with that, but I lost my train of thought, so it'll have to stand as a vapid interjection.)

He can do awesome stuff, but seems to always do just what the song needs.

I like Jimmy Vaughn more then Stevie Ray, same reason.

Clearly I was right. My music experience is just way too limited. ;-)

so it'll have to stand as a vapid interjection.

Like the internet in general.

I just ate some turkey chili.

I just had some really good beef enchiladas. Really good.

leftover turkey tetrazinni, for me.

it's turkey week!

Turkey tetrazzini was always one of my favorites at the dining hall at Rutgers. That and the seafood Newburg. Yum!

This is why I have always considered Clapton the best rock guitar player. He can do awesome stuff, but seems to always do just what the song needs.

Dave Gilmour does more with timing than most people do with everything else, but I know about as much about guitar as I do about drumming.

Still, I like his playing a lot.

My teen music bent was Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Steppenwolf, Santana and even the James Gang moving on to The Who and Deep Purple. Then rock fractured into Folk, Glam, Punk, Metal and Pop. Metal never really made it for me except the occasional heavy metal ballad. Ozzie got tiresome. But then all that is definition.

Turkey soup finished off the turkey yesterday.

When people talk about metal drummers their thoughts usually drift towards the technical, but I have a real soft spot for musical, jazz influenced metal drummers on the prog end of metal. Sean Reinert of Cynic and Martin Axenrot of Opeth spring to mind. The latter just won some accolades for his playing on Opeth's latest.

YouTube -- Opeth - Eternal Rains Will Come

He's got the technical skill to play the really fast, intricate, double bass and blast beats for the brutal songs, but can switch in a heartbeat to play with taste and feel.

God, I haven't listened to Cynic in probably 15 years. I transitioned from growlly deathmetal to prog metal (to baroque classical to electronica), so I did spend a decent chunk of time listening to some of the less speed-obsessed metal. Good stuff, that.

*less speed-obsessed technical metal

Gilmour's timing, and his tone, are fantastic. i especially love when he's in his very restrained mode : ex. those long quiet stretches in Shine On You Crazy Diamond where he just sketches-in some simple lines now and then.

i really like Clapton's stuff with the Bluesbreakers and Cream: when he was trying to be a hotshot blues player. but the stuff after that - when he stepped back to play more rhythm in the service of more complex songs - doesn't hold my interest.

and speaking of understated Beatles: i just figured out how to play George Harrison's solo from Something. the song itself is a masterpiece, of course, but that solo has always been my favorite part. it's so simple and so concise but it has so much to say.

russell's 09.26 resonates with me.

I feel something similar abut this performance:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6pOfAv9gQzs

Though no one ever questioned Milstein's chops... and the constraints within which he's performing are rather tighter.

Nous, there was a point in the 90s when I was no longer aware of all metal traditions. My knowledge of newer stuff is fractured. I like some newer bands, but there are just so many bands and genres that I sort of gave up on having anything approaching the sort of comprehensive knowledge of what was going on like I had 20 years ago.

I know Opeth isn't all that new of a band, but I haven't really heard any of their stuff that I can recall and probably have been confusing them with Otep to boot.

Anyway, I really dug that track in a 70s prog-rock sort of way, reminiscent of King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, etc. I'll be digging deeper based on that introduction. Thanks!

I don't know if you've heard of Zevious, but you might want to check them out, Nous, especially if you like jazz-oriented drumming.

Opeth has been drifting Prog-wards for a while now, much to the chagrin of the Trüe Kült Metal crowd. They've really got their own thing going on.

Metal is a lot like jazz in that the genre has diversified to the point that is bewildering to outsiders. Most of the metal I like is from Northern European bands that started in the late 80s/early 90s in the extreme metal scene but whose love of non-metal music had them stretching the genre to encompass bits and pieces of King Crimson, Floyd, Camel, Alan Holdsworth, early Scandinavian music, etc.. I don't spend much time listening to mainstream metal at all.

"i really like Clapton's stuff with the Bluesbreakers and Cream: when he was trying to be a hotshot blues player. but the stuff after that - when he stepped back to play more rhythm in the service of more complex songs - doesn't hold my interest."

I like some of the later songs, and his Tulsa sound guitar is simplistic, but I saw him live during the 409 Ocean Boulevard tour and he played a(at least) ten minute solo that ruined me. Just enough to impress while taking you somewhere, by himself, center stage, everyone else took a break. That is the kind of journey I expect from Pat Metheny's whole group.

As a Texas boy I am required to say Stevie Ray is unequalled, but truly he is often too much.

Ok 461. I'm old.

I had heard of Zevious, but had not checked them out. Will have to DL some and make an effort to match speeds. They seem, on first blush, to be the sort of band that takes a few listens to grok.

oh yeah i dig that Opeth tune.

glad to see the kids picking up where all the great 70s prog bands left off.

Thanks, Russell. I'm old enough to remember the Beatles conquest of the US and their appearance on Ed Sullivan. But I know nothing about the techniques of music. Thanks for the education.

I also remember when I moved into the freshman dorm and the roommate had a substantial record collection. I had none. So naturally, he asked what I liked, and I responded, "Jazz". To prove my case I went out and by pure happenstance purchased a Thelonious Monk album with "Lulu's Back In Town". You should have seen the look on my roomy's face when we played that one.

After than...went out and bought more Monk. Great stuff.

Still don't know crap about music.

russell -- why not clue us in from time to time about where/when you're playing?

actually, i'll be up at the dolphin striker in portsmouth nh tomorrow night (12/4) with a good cuban band. corner of bow and ceres streets, right downtown.

most of my gigs are bog standard bar music (not that there's anything wrong with that!) but the cuban band is actually pretty good and a hell of a lot of fun. we hit about 9:00.

if you're out and about in coastal NH or southern ME, stop by and say hi!

Ok 461. I'm old.

Not unless you are old enough to remember 409 as a song. You know, when "women in sports", surfing and drag racing in that case, meant being decorative around the edges while the guys did the actual athletics. ;-)

My favorite of Gilmour's work is Dogs, actually. Yes, it's a really long song at 17 minutes, but there's a lot of emotion there in the middle. Starting at about 3-4 minutes in. And then again at about 6 minutes in. Even the acoustic work is very cool. I doubt many people listen to it the way I do, though.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond is also fantastic. I am going to have to give that whole album another listen, which means I probably have to put it in my iTunes library.

That I love his work even though Gilmour is a self-professed liberal, a socialist, even, and that Dogs is about the human tragedy/trainwreck that comes from setting aside everything decent in yourself in the name of Getting Ahead is just part of the fractal, rotating set of contradictions that I get to live with as resident of my own skull.

I don't spend much time listening to mainstream metal at all.

I'm not even sure what counts as mainstream metal these days. Lamb of God, maybe? Or are they too whatever-core?

...the fractal, rotating set of contradictions that I get to live with as resident of my own skull.

You've got to be crazy.

^
That

iTunes charts seem to be pretty mainstream for everything else, so i assume they'd be mainstream for metal, too.

http://www.popvortex.com/music/charts/top-heavy-metal-albums.php

that means these bands are the top ten in mainstream metal:

Blueprints
Ice Nine Kills
The Contortionist
System Of A Down
In This Moment
Ghost BC
Pantera
Danzig
Slipknot
Beartooth

and that Pantera record is a best-of. Danzig? i saw him open for Metallica in 91. Slipknot are those guys in clown masks. that's all i know about mainstream metal.

I'm not even sure what counts as mainstream metal these days. Lamb of God, maybe? Or are they too whatever-core?

Lamb of God is mainstream, sure, though on the extreme edge of it, what with Randy Blythe's growls.

Judging by brief forays into metal radio and streaming, however, I'd say that it's Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, Trivium, Halestorm, Slipknot/Stone Sour, Hellyeah, All That Remains, Disturbed, Godsmack, with Gojira and Mastodon on the edge of mainstream with Lamb of God.

Leaven that heavily with the bands of old metalheads' youth: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Pantera, Testament, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath/Ozzy, AC/DC, Guns 'n' Roses, with System of a Down on the modern end of gone-but-still-selling-like-new.

Tool probably fits in there, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that they are mainstream.

So, aside from the old stuff and some stuff on the extreme edge, I don't like any mainstream metal. It is, apparently, but for those exceptions, the stuff that sounds like metal but that gets on my fncking nerves (like the glam stuff did in the 80s).

(I like to use the word "stuff" a lot when discussing music.)

Pretty much.

Meanwhile, I'm listening to Opeth, Amorphis, Enslaved, Klone, Gojira, Paradise Lost, Sólstafir, Mastodon, Cult of Luna, Hamfer∂, Borknagar, Agalloch, Daylight Dies, Barren Earth, Swallow the Sun, Meshuggah.

Only two of that batch are from the US and only Mastodon gets any play on Modern Rock radio.

Back on the original topic, the iconic Come Together drum intro had me thinking about Bonham's When the Levee Breaks and Larry Mullen's intro's to Sunday Bloody Sunday and Bullet the Blue Sky.

I read somewhere that Lennon brought "Come Together" into the studio as an acoustic guitar piece with a conventional rhythm and arrangement in mind.

Until McCartney on bass (equally iconic) and Ringo on drums got hold of it and soaked it in that swampy sound that made it roomy in the hips and helped Lennon hear what he really wanted.

Then he could lay down that great vocal with lyrics only Lennon could conceive.

I don't know what the dynamic was in those sessions, but it could be said that Ringo and Paul were midwives to the birth of that song.

As Paul said during the previews of the Cirque du Soliel soundtrack for the Vegas show, "the Beatles were a great little band".

Back on the original topic, the iconic Come Together drum intro had me thinking about Bonham's When the Levee Breaks and Larry Mullen's intro's to Sunday Bloody Sunday and Bullet the Blue Sky.

How about McBrain on Where Eagles Dare?

Until McCartney on bass (equally iconic)...

That bass is what obscured for me how iconic the drums were until I heard the drums by themselves. When you vocalize the instrumental, you do the bass line (if you're me).

How about McBrain on Where Eagles Dare?

Yes, please.

And my 2¢ on the guitar side of the equation for those discussing Clapton and SRV... hanging with a bunch of Finnish metalheads online has introduced me to some great music, including the Finnish psychedelic blues legends, Kingston Wall:

YouTube -- Kingston Wall - Two of a Kind

And if you like them, check out The Vintage Caravan (from Iceland) as well.

Lennon's "shoot me" is also iconic.

Everything fits.

More fun facts:

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=191

Chuck Berry co-wrote.

Ringo speaks to his ineffability:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98_gMcma9hY

Lots of left-handed self-taught stuff going on in the Beatles.

We left-handers like to wing it autodidactic-wise.

Thanks for linking to the video. I'd seen it from other sources, but it's neat. There's an unmistakable flavor from more contemporary drummers of "Minimal kit; minimal electronics; produced drum licks that a billion people recognize a half-century later; do you have any idea how hard that is?"

I spent a lot of time working in a very different field, but have the same question aimed at contemporary developers about some of the software written in the 70s. Given the limitations of hardware at the time, do you have any idea how hard it was to accomplish a lot of that stuff? Do you think you could do as well?

I find I mostly listen to either Viking metal (Tyr, Turisas, Heidevolk) or symphonic black metal (mostly Summoning -- I just can't resist their writing songs about Middle-Earth . . . in Orcish!).

Have not seen any of these bands live, but I've seen Ensiferum, Moonsorrow, and Amon Amarth a few times. Excellent shows with excellent musicians. The audience, however, went completely insane in every case. I spent most of each show on the edge of huge pits trying to keep the muppets from flying into the rest of the crowd (or the railings) at ballistic speeds.

Late to the party, but in terms of restraint - what people were praising Clapton and Gilmour for - you don't get better than Portishead's Adrian Utley. A brilliant guitarist who half the time plays like three notes on the whole song.

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