Tag Archives: Keith Moon

Five Drummers That ROCK

What makes a great drummer absolutely legendary?

Is it rock-solid timing? Is it stick twirls and flashy licks? Is it the ability to string together a sick solo or add that driving edge to a song? Isolating what makes these guys special is difficult, but they each stand out in their own special way.

First at bat is Keith Moon of The Who, whose volatile drumming style was only matched by his personality and the hi-jinks he got himself into. Early on in his career he scrapped most typical rock beatss, trading them in for waves of fills and double bass. “Moon the Loon”, as he was sometimes called always sprinkled in a little dose of crazy into whatever he did. At the time he died, he was banned from multiple hotel chains – mostly for exploding toilets with dynamite. True story. Check out this performance of “Baba O’Riely”:

Watching the video, you can get little glimpses into Moon’s wild energy. For instance, if you watch him in the dark before the drums come in you can see him filling madly in the background – furious 16th notes all around the kit. This whirlwind leads directly into that first cymbal hit, almost shocking that he comes in on time.

Now here’s Keith Moon a slightly different environment, and mood. In this video, The Who is covering The Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” with Keith manning that ear-piercing falsetto. Wearing what looks like a 1920’s bathing suit he really lets loose for some hard rocking out with guitarist Pete Townshend. Take a look:

Next, taking out the bass drum and a few others pieces from Keith Moon’s kit, we’re left with what Violent Femmes drummer, Victor DeLorenzo, played on in the band’s ground breaking debut album Violent Femmes. Using a standing, Tito Puente style of playing, he rocked out on a snare drum harder than anyone ever had before. He was also a genius in creating great hooks, most notably those two eighth note hits throughout the Violent Femmes’ most famous song, “Blister in the Sun”:

In the innovation department, we have Roy Wooten a.k.a. Future Man, Victor Wooten’s older brother and fellow member of the fusion band Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. He’s the only drummer on this list to invent the instrument he plays – dubbed by him the “Drumitar”. Underneath a mass of drum machines and samplers, the Drumitar is Metallica singer James Hetfield’s SynthAxe. This isn’t the only instrument he’s created, however, he’s also credited for constructing the “RoyEl”, which as far as I can tell is something like a piano but it plays funkier notes.

Here’s Future Man soloing using some samples of African folk songs. And surprise! – There are some real drums in front of him, too:

Finally we get back to the heavy arsenal. First, Mr. Neil Peart of the progressive rock band Rush. First inspired by The Who, Peart is a drumming god in terms of face-meltingness, mind-blowingness, and other made up adjectives that can only hope to capture the extent of his technical ability. He would take the songs composed by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, and then sit at his desk and write the extensive drum parts to complement the crazy time signatures that the band came to be known for. Peart’s solo in this performance of “YYZ” (the canadian version of the Morse “SOS”) says it all. The bell melody Peart plays at the beginning of the solo has become widely known and quoted.

And at long last we have come to my personal favorite, John Bonham, who with bassist John Paul Jones formed the backbone for Led Zeppelin. From his quick-footed bass drum work (he never used a double bass) like on “Good Times, Bad Times”, to his powerful, demanding beats (“When the Levee Breaks”); from his psycho-noise breakdowns (“Whole Lotta Love” and “Dazed and Confused”) to his original ideas and rhythms (“Fool in the Rain”) he played with an extremely varied style. But like YYZ, nothing speaks to his talents better than his solos – and there is none more famous than his 20 minute “Moby Dick”. Here’s a clip of him performing (less than half of) it live:

For the die-hard fans, here’s the original recorded solo in its entirety:

You can’t rock harder than that. All of these videos really make me wish I had a drum set in my dorm room, but with floors 1 and 2 below me, and 4 and 5 above, I’d probably irritate the whole building. WWKMD?

What would Keith Moon do? Somehow I think I’m going to stick with tapping the hell out of my desk for the time being, and let the kids who walk past my door think what they will. Oh is that my neighbor knocking on the wall, imploring me to stop? TOO BAD.

Rock on.

~Josh

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PEAK KEYWORD: FACEMELTINGEST

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Attack of the Supergroups!

While actress Milla Jovovich may be trying to draw in your attention with talk of extraterrestrial owls and an imminent fear of the fourth kind, there’s a phenomenon that has been slowly gaining momentum in the music world….

Bands and musicians have been switching members and pairing up like Xenon Octa-Flouride (XeF8) would, if it ever is going to be invented (thanks Wikipedia!). In layman’s terms, we’ve been getting a lot of new supergroups, side projects, and collaborations – some that could have been foreseen, and others that seem to have appeared out of nowhere.

The Almanac Singers... singing

The Almanac Singers seen here with Bess Hawes, Arthur Stern and Sis Cunningham

Now, the idea of a supergroup is not a recent innovation by any stretch of the imagination – the supergroup goes all the way back to the Almanac Singers – a combination of Millard Lampell, Lee Hayes, Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie that got its start in 1940. From the 60’s until today, we have been given plenty more supergroups, such as in 1969 which brought us both The Plastic Ono Band (which included the likes of Eric Clapton, both George Harrison and Ringo Starr, Keith Moon and Alan White – just to name a few) as well as Blind Faith (which also featured Mr. Clapton, but had Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech to boot). 1988 brought us the Traveling Wilburys, which was the tour de force of George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. And although they Wilburys only stuck together for about a year after Orbison’s death, that cosmic aligning is something that has not met it’s match… yet.

monsters-of-folk

The Monsters of Folk

Among the recent crop of supergroups is a group I mentioned last week – The Monsters of Folk, which consists of folk songsters Connor Oberst and  Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes, M. Ward of She & Him, and Jim James from My Morning Jacket. They’ve been associated under the Monsters name since 2004, but have all been so busy with their respective main attractions that they weren’t able to release their self-titled first album until this year. You’ve definitely heard their track “Say Please” on the Peak – and both M. Ward and Connor Oberst gave free concerts in NYC this summer!

Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar

Moving down the line from most folky to least, next up is the recent pairing of Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard with Jay Farrar, member of Uncle Tupelo and frontman for Son Volt, the two bands that he played with throughout the 90’s before he launched his solo career in 2001. Gibbard and Farrar first got together in 2007 to record the soundtrack for One Fast Move and I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur. Both the movie and the album came out on October 20th, the day before the 40th anniversary of the prolific author’s death. You can see the music video for “San Fransisco”, the last track on the album, here. And you can expect to see more from them in the future.

Taking a detour into the realm of electronica, at the end of September, Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, slipped this little surprise into his blog:

hi
in the past couple of weeks i’ve been getting a band together for fun to play the eraser stuff live and the new songs etc.. to see if it could work!
here’s a photo.. its me, joey waronker, mauro refosco, flea and nigel godrich.
at the beginning of october the 4th and 5th we are going to do a couple of shows at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles.
we don’t really have a name and the set will not be very long cuz ..well …we haven’t got that much material yet!
Thom Yorke and Flea at the Oprheum show on Oct. 5

Thom Yorke and Flea

Of course, those shows were sold out in 20 minutes. Flea, as you know, is the Red Hot Chili Peppers Bassist – and he seemed to be ecstatic to be on stage with Yorke, playing cuts from Yorke’s solo album The Eraser (2006). There hasn’t been a follow-up to the October concerts, but that’s something you should keep an eye out for as well.

Jack White and Alison Mosshart sharing the mike at Glastonbury this year

Next up come two really driving groups. First is The Dead Weather, whose song “Hang You Up From the Heavens” I featured in my first week of blog-writing. The Dead Weather was formed by Jack White who’s been extremely active – leaping from the White Stripes, to the Raconteurs, to the recent release of “It Might Get Loud” – a documentary featuring White, The Edge, and Jimmy Page. The band also features Alison Mosshart of the Kills on lead vocals, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and Jack Lawrence, who played with White in the Raconteurs. And to sweeten the deal, they just announced a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on November 17th! Tickets for that are going on Sale this friday, so get ’em quick.

them-crooked-vultures

The "Them Crooked Vultures" teaser photo from earlier this fall

And finally, we come to Them Crooked Vultures, or TCV as they call themselves. TCV is big news. On drums is Dave Grohl, from Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. On vocals and guitar is Josh Homme, from the Queens of the Stone Age. The kicker is that John Paul Jones comes soaring in on bass. They’ve got a really great sound, full and rocking, but what remains to be seen is whether TCV will be able to stay afloat once their star power has worn off. Their self-titled first record is due out on Sony in a week, which should be an insta-grab for all hard rock fans. But for now, check out the full album on the band’s website!

So, I apologize about all the name dropping – it’s not something I routinely do. If you think a supergroup has been left out, please let me know. Or if you feel the need to justify the Tinted Windows‘ existence, by all means, please try. But if you do, I’ll kindly remind you that their lead singer is from Hanson, and we’ll go our separate ways. Wikipedia to the rescue once again!

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Peak Keyword: MMBOP

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