Oct 252011

The wisdom of The Hall continues to amaze me. For as many knowledgeable individuals who dazzle with their rock knowledge, it is the collective wisdom of our participants that I find most dazzling.

It is in this spirit that I want to allow for further amazement—not only for the people but by the people. Rather than turn this into my own original post, maybe even do a few minutes of research on the Web, I thought better of it. Instead, I’d like to pose a question on behalf of a fellow Townsperson to the collective wisdom of The Orockle.

Townsman trigmogigmo has a question he’d like to pose—and one that he hopes will inspire other questions we’d like to have asked when we had more time to find the answers ourselves. Read on, please. Continue reading »

Oct 212011

Listen, Max Weinberg wouldn’t crack my Top 100 drummers list, but what so bad about his work with The Boss? I know he’s a bit stiff, maybe to say the least, but doesn’t he offset some of his stiffness with powerful kick and snare work and some fierce martial rolls at all the big points The Boss needs ’em? Was it when he dropped his stick at that big concert? Do any Springsteen fans prefer him to the orginal E-Street drummer, David Sancious Vinnie Mad Dog Lopez? Are his limitations magnified because of the large stage he plays?

Is there a drummer in the house (our a would-be drummer)? What’s so bad about Max Weinberg?

May 102011

Did you know the Pollard Syndrum, the first electronic drum, was invented by a former studio drummer for The Beach Boys and The Grass Roots? I did not know that. That said, I propose that the Syndrum is the lamest instrument ever.

Has the Syndrum ever made a positive, essential contribution to any recording? The Cars‘ “Good Times Roll” is cited as a well-known example of the Syndrum in practice, but would you call that little tom-tom ping positive or essential? Would anyone call that noise both positive and essential? The good times are rolling just fine without it in this 1982 live performance of the song.

Furthermore, why did someone have to invent a synth that’s controlled by a drum pad? Why couldn’t Cars’ keyboardist Greg Hawkes have used his index finger to hit that blip on the downbeat of David Robinson’s tom-tom? Hell, he could have done it on a keytar, putting to rest any arguments that that lame instrument is more lame than the Syndrum.

Can you name one positive and essential recording driven by a Syndrum? Thinking of what that instrument did to the already lame Clash song “Ivan Meets GI Joe,” would you want to let the Syndrum off the hook by indentifying a lamer instrument?

Can you name an instrument more lame than the Syndrum? And don’t give me the Ovation Roundback acoustic guitar, because despite its aesthetic shortcomings thousands of hours on The Road have been logged playing perfectly fine music for The People.

(More about the Syndrum player in this post’s introductory video…after the jump!) Continue reading »

May 062011

This thread will probably make the likes of down-to-earth garage-punkers like Townsman Bobby Bittman throw up. I apologize if you’re reading this, Bobby, shortly after eating. This topic is just a part of how I roll.

I love Stiff Little Fingers‘ “Suspect Device” even more than the band’s supercharged “Alternative Ulster.” The blistering, jumpy chord riffs and stop-start chorus are a needed sock in the gut. Jake Burns displays less vocal dynamics than one of those modern-day, overcompressed records our old friend homefrontradio used to complain about—in a good way! (And whatever became of the Hall’s Original Thunder Down Under, not to mention our more recent Aussie contributor, the delightful mikeydread? Be well and stay in touch, my friends.) It’s one of the most PUNK songs ever, and I know a lot of you think that should take a band off the hook for the pipe-tamping point of view I’m about to raise, but really, we’re talkin’ about music. Just because something’s “punk” doesn’t mean it can’t be improved another notch, does it? I would like to investigate ways in which “Suspect Device” could be improved, focusing on the drums, the one aspect of the song that I’ve always found lacking in excellence.

At last night’s Phillies game, seeing the supreme Roy Halladay live for the first time in 2011, I was reminded not only of his mojo-inducing pregame warm-up throw music, Led Zeppelin‘s “Moby Dick,” but his walk-up music, the opening line of Zep’s “Good Times, Bad Times.” Now that song is a balled-up fist of the highest magnitude, and think about how amazing drummer John Bonham‘s contributions are to the song’s rock ‘n roll phalanx. 

Let’s say you were in on the original arranging sessions of “Suspect Device.” The song is at the point of what was recorded and released. Are you satisfied with the choppy hi-hats and uninspired fills? Do you share my view that the hi-hats can’t keep up with the precision of the guitars? Doesn’t it sound like drummer Brian Faloon is simply having trouble keeping up with the song and doing anything of substance? Assuming the guy had it in him to do a little better, assuming he could have relied on a more economical approach to finding a groove within those machine-gun guitar rhythms, can we suggest some ideas for how this song could have been even better?

If you think I’m full of it and want to defend the drumming on this song, be my guest. I’m not a drummer, which is part of the reason I ask whether there is a drummer in the house.

(The live version posted at the top of this thread is fun, but in fairness the studio version follows so you can hear the song in its finished form.)

Continue reading »

Sep 072010

DOWNLOAD LINK: Rick Buckler Crash Cymbal Quotient Analysis, edited source material

I pass along a note I received today from RTH Labs’ Senior Music Engineer, Milo T. Frobisher:


FROM: Milo T. Frobisher, Senior Music Engineer, RTH Labs
TO: Townsman Hrrundivbakshi, Senior RTH Labs Liaison
RE: Rick Buckler’ Crash Cymbal Quotient/Numerical Crash Analysis, “Away From the Numbers”

Townsman Hrrundivbakshi, I send this quick note to summarize our recent research findings in re: Rick Buckler’s Crash Cymbal Quotient (CCQ), as found in “Away From the Numbers,” by the Jam.

Our methodology was simple, though far from easy: over the full four minutes (exactly) of this song, our junior engineers counted the exact number of times Rick Buckler deployed his crash cymbal for rhythmic emphasis. Please note that we did not undertake the low-frequency extraction from his snare as you requested, nor a pattern analysis of his tom fills to determine their similarity to, or substantive difference from, those of KISS’ Peter Criss, aka “Cat Man.”

I should warn you that by listening to the edited source material above, in which we replaced each instance of Buckler hitting his crash cymbal with a spoken word marker, you run a significant risk of never being able to listen to this song in the same fashion again. I should specifically point out that my nephew, James Frobisher — an intern in RTH Labs — needed to physically remove himself from the Laboratory premises after being asked to do the CCQ analysis in the instrumental break in the middle of this song, so profound was its effect on his young mind. You have been warned.

The results of our investigation are startling. Over the course of this four-minute song, Rick Buckler hits the crash cymbal — importantly, he seems to hit the same cymbal every time — a total of 137 times. By our base-60 calculations, that amounts to, roughly, one cymbal crash every 1.8 seconds. We leave it to you and your more contextual thinkers in the Hall to determine the subjective value of this datum.

Thank you for your time in this matter. I look forward to working with you further in the future.


Aug 262010

Jody Stephens (center), join the club!

Bev Bevan and Rick Buckler have been raked over the coals in this long-suspended series already. Today a Townsperson other then E. Pluribus Gergely finally called bullshit on the drumming of Big Star’s Jody Stephens. In honor of cdm‘s candidness, let’s open the floor to other drummers who suck* despite powering the rhythms of bands we love!

*A point of clarification: By “worst” or “suck” I’m not really asking for a list of the technically worst drummers in rock, if any of us are even capable of assessing that, but drummers whose playing you find necessary to overlook (overhear?) while listening to a favorite artist.

May 282009

Townsman Al passed along a New York Post story of former Billy Joel drummer Liberty DeVitto bringing suit against Joel for unpaid royalties. This is a cautionary tale for hard-working drummers who fuel the massive hits of their bandleaders.

“Everybody always assumes that you make a lot of money because you worked with Billy Joel,” DeVitto told The Post. “It didn’t happen that way.”

Although I can’t help but agree with the sentiment that kicked off Al’s message to our basement dwellers (ie, “I’m on the side of Liberty…”), for the following contribution to Joel’s recordings alone I am tempted to root against DeVitto in his suit against his former employer.

DeVitto doesn’t have a songwriter’s credit but insists he was a major part of a collaborative creative process between Joel and his musicians.

“If Billy sang ‘Only the Good Die Young’ like he wanted to, it would have been a reggae song,” DeVitto said.

See, I hate “Only the Good Die Young” as a song as much as I hate Joel as an artist. Without DeVitto’s musical guidance perhaps that song would have been buried as a deep cut that Joel haters would never have had to hear, and perhaps Joel’s career as a hitmaker would have petered out shortly after The Stranger.

In short, perhaps no one wins, but that DeVitto was a fine drummer on all those hideous hits!


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