The Jam – But I’m Different Now
Some of you many be aware of how much I think Rick Buckler held The Jam back from being a top-notch band. To me, no Buckler performance best illustrates how off the mark this guy could be. Is there a drummer in the house to explain the point of the drum beat he has chosen for “But I’m Different Now”? I’m not sure that the version supplied by Townswoman Sally C is the released version from Sound Affects, but that is the version that puzzles me. While you’re at it, is there a bandleader in the house to tell me how Weller tolerated all those swishy hi-hits in the middle of his slashing guitar rhythms? I look forward to your responses.
Actually my guess is that it was the song’s composer who asked for a different kind of drumming, trying to get Buckler out of his comfort zone. I remember that kind of hammering away on the hi-hat with fast triplets as popular during that era, one alternative to more traditional rock rhythms. The problem is that the song itself is a pretty conventional rock song.
Note that Buckler doesn’t play the drums the same way on every verse. On the third verse (after the first set of ay-ay-ay-ay’s starting at about 0:44) the snare is doing the standard two and four, and there’s only slightly too much hi-hat. The fast hi-hat triplets thing sounds perfect in the middle 8 (starting 0:59), where it acts as a contrast to the standard rhythm, illustrating one proper way to use it effectively.
The tomtom fill at 1:32 is heinous, but from about 1:39 till the end of the song, Buckler plays what I would characterize as his more typical approach to this type of song (leading with the snare). And it sounds fine. So I think this is a case where trying to be innovative failed, and I wish Buckler had “held them back.”
I think everyone is over-playing on this, and a slower tempo would have helped immensely.
i don’t find the fill at 1.32 as heinous as the way ricky rushes the crashes on the word “glad” right after that.
and they settled for this take!
i can never figure out why even drummers of exceptional talent are often unable to maintain meter when it’s time to do that. drives me nuts.
in fairness to rick, however:
along the same lines as what BigSteve has suggested, i always figured rick’s drum part on this song was at least a noble, if poorly executed, attempt to play a new way on a song that breaks very little new ground, and would’ve sounded at home on the first two jam albums. it’s throwaway material on an album that ventures into some tricky territory.
i also never thought he was quite the hack that the mod has suggested over the years, although i’ve never been enamored either. he does lots of clumsy, loping fills that go from snare to tom (to other tom) to floor tom in a way that most drummers master very early in their development. i also never really liked the SOUND of his drums, particularly his toms. the big snare is okay. and when he locks into a nice part (for example “when you’re young”) he can be more than just solid.
but this may be the worst example of drumming by him that i can think of.
there’s a doozy of a clutzy tv performance on the boxed set where he does a fill so poorly that the stick goes flying from his hand and they just end the song instead of trying to muck through it. i wonder if that was a somewhat regular occurence.
I think that this is the demo version from Extras, though it sounds almost exactly the same as the album version (just a little rougher). What’s weird is that in iTunes the tag says that it’s the Sound Affects one, but when you just put your cursor over the mp3 link above, it’ll say “Demo Song from Extras” here. I haven’t listened to Extras in years, though, so I can’t be sure here. Can anyone else unravel this mystery?
In any case, I have to be honest here. Since I’m not a musician, I’ve never listened to this song from that vantage point and while I recognized all of the tricks mentioned above, it doesn’t make me enjoy the song any less. The song’s melody, relatively simple but heartfelt lyrics, quick bridge (complete with what sounds like Weller double-tracking himself, which I love) and short length all make me not care one iota about Rick Buckler’s supposed flaws here.
No, the version I have of this is a vinyl transfer from the LP, and the performance is identical to the file posted here. I can’t vouch for what’s on the Sound Affects CD, but I think this track is clearly not a demo.
Btw, can The Hall dock The Jam a few points for three bad pun album titles in a row (All Mod Cons, Setting Sons, and Sound Affects)?
Why not This is the Modern Whirl?
I’ve always loved this tune, actually. Of all the tunes on this uneven record, it was my go-to Jam track for comps. Buckler’s drumming on it never really bothered me unlike on some other Jam songs. You guys know “Funeral Pyre,” right? I think the drumming on that one is excellent. Must’ve taken him a million takes to do, just like Love’s drummer on “7 and 7 Is.”
Wow… I am a total doofus. I have never stopped to contemplate the pun of “Setting Sons.” Never! Having said that, my life is distinctly un-enriched by my awareness of it, such is its stupid rock album title-ness. All I can think of is Spinal Tap’s “The Sun Never Sweats.”
Could have called the first one Art’s Cool. after a different song on there.
I’ve always had a soft spot for this song as it was the first Jam song I really got into. I love the guitar and vox on this one.
The drums are OK. The verse/chorus beats are fine enough there are some really bad tom fills though.
As Big Steve said (and I have said it many time too). Buckler is a fine snare/kick drum person. Where he get’s into trouble is on his tom-tom fills. If I were Weller I would hhave removed his 2nd rack tom and never allowed him to use it!
Great feedback. I love the song, but I think it took a heroic effort by Weller and the David Cassidy bassist to make it work so well.
A few points:
A. The Jam WERE a top class band, certainly in the UK where admittedly Blue Oyster Cult never took off..
B. Rick Buckler was/is the best drummer to emerge from the punk era. Very much a live band, The Jam’s drummer is cited by many as the driving force behind the trio’s success.
C.Swishy mis-hits and triple hats and tom tom fills? Is that something you Americans get up to in your weekends? Thank God The Jam never broke the U.S, you just don’t get do you?
D. David Cassidy bassist? Yeah that great American cultural icon. Jeeez 🙁
Welcome, jamster. Thanks for stopping in and sharing your thoughts. I’ll respond in kind. One thing you should know: I like The Jam a lot. I got into them in high school. Setting Sons is by far my favorite. I own all the albums but The Gift and that final, farewell ep. I love Weller’s lyrics and own most of his solo albums, but with the exception of the beefy Setting Sons and Sound Affects, the rhythm section left me feeling a little unsatisfied. Foxton is solid but unspectacular. Buckler is well suited for the 4-on-the-floor stuff, but I’ve found his fills stiff and lacking. I know a bit about music, I’m a lover of music. and I have my opinions about music. The occasional “Is There a Drummer in the House” series is meant to be nitpicky. We have fun here, so if you’re going to get your knickers in a bunch because I had the audacity to poke fun at a drummer in a tight-ass power trio that couldn’t swing, at least do so with a smile on your face. I can assure you that any tight-ass criticisms someone like myself will make here are done with a smile on my face. Here goes!
As a high school kid in the ’70s who couldn’t stand BOC and their ilk, I was thankful for The Jam and your country’s fine, energetic, fat-free bands. I did my part to make them as successful as they could be in the US.
We’ll agree to disagree here. I’ll take Topper Headon over Buckler any day of the week, even with Topper strung out on junk. The Buzzcocks’ guy (I’m blanking on his name; I brought him up in an earlier Is There a Drummer in the House piece), Steve Cook, Sham 69’s drummer (in a far inferior band), and others are more to my liking. My favorite drummer of all time is the Attractions’ Pete Thomas, so take that for what it’s worth. I rate Buckler ahead of The Undertones’ drummer (I’m blanking on his name at the moment too, Billy Doherty? – long day at work!). I REALLY love The Undertones, so don’t think I’m rating punk-era drummers like some Steely Dan fan might rate the likes of Steve Gadd and Jeff Pocaro of Toto:) Buckler was effective. He’s awesome on songs like “Going Underground.”
jamster, if you want to talk the talk, then deal with it. We’re talking MUSIC, man. MUSIC is made by musicians using instruments. There are techniques behind the making of the music. Some of us play music – whether any of us have done anything as noteworthy as The Jam is not an issue. We have an idea of how music is made, and we’re comfortable talking about it as friends. Try it sometime.
You seem to have come here making a lot of assumptions about us because I poked fun at one of your favorite musicians. I poke fun at lots of things and people I love. If I ever met Buckler, after he kicked my ass for all the cuts I’ve made about his drumming, I’d shake his hand and thank him for the inspiring music he made. I’m going to crank up Setting Sons this weekend and feel that power again.
Poke around the site, my man, I bet you’ll learn that a lot of us US music fans – real music lovers, not coffee-table farts with a lone Dave Matthews Band album among the collected works of Bob Seger – appreciate the Jam on a richer level than you presume.
Hey man, the shag was a Look worth looking back at in humor. I’m having a laugh.
Hope you check out what’s going on here in more depth, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. Talk to you later!