Archive for June 2007

June 30th, 2007

My 10 Favorite (Studio-Recorded) Drum Fills of All Time, in No Particular Order

Ok, my music-geek readers, this one’s just for you. These aren’t solos or beats, mind you, just fills (short “breaks” that the percussionists have fit into the groove of the song). I’ve provided audio clips for each, with five seconds of the song before said fill, and five seconds after, to give some musical context…and also because if I offered any more than that I think these people could sue me.

Drummer: John Bonham
Instance: “Moby Dick”@ 4:05
Band: Led Zeppelin
Year: 1969
Notes: My fellow Zep-sperts have already recognized this as a track where Bonham takes a two-minute drum solo in the middle, and they are rushing to point out that I’m breaking my “no solos/beats” ground rule rather early on. Calm yourselves, my brethren, and take a listen. This portion isn’t from the drum solo, it’s from the end of the song, when Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones have rejoined him. Bonham was always at his best and most inventive when the band was playing together.

Drummer: Neil Peart
Instance: “Tom Sawyer”@2:32
Band: Rush
Year: 1981
Notes: I don’t like this song. Or Neil Peart. Or Rush in general. This “interlude” is something else though. He does a few big ones in a row, but, since I’m picking out single fills here, the first one — the super-fast roll across the toms, smacking a few cymbals along the way — is the coolest. It just sounds awesome…though keep in mind he plays a 63-piece kit. Just once, I’d like to see what he could do on a four-piece like most of these other dudes have.

Drummer: Glenn Kotche
Instance: “Hate It Here”@3:22
Band: Wilco
Year: 2007
Notes: This is the most easy-going, laid-back execution of a complicated fill I’ve ever heard. Kotche could play like this in his sleep. And he knows it.

Drummer: Patrick Wilson
Instance: “Getchoo”@ 2:25
Band: Weezer
Year: 1996
Notes: Years and years ago, when I was growing up, there was this great band called Weezer. They wrote amazing songs about being awkward and nerdy and accentuated this by making their recordings in a garage. Actually because of that, the drumming here is kind of hard to hear, but if you listen closely you can hear Wilson fly across his drum set, fitting a huge number of hits into about one second of time, before locking back in with the rest of the guys. Check it out, but before you do, be warned, you will want to hear more of this song immediately. If you don’t have it on your iPod or in your iTunes, I can’t be responsible for what happens to you next.

Drummer: Carter Beauford
Instance: “Ants Marching”@ 4:04
Band: The Dave Matthews Band
Year: 1994
Notes: I’ve never liked “Dave” as a songwriter (to me, his lyrics read like unstructured, unedited rambling) or a singer (the spastic, high note/low note thing gets on my nerves) and I harbor a special amount of loathing for that fiddle player, but I still own several of this band’s albums, because of Carter Beauford.

Drummer: Jimmy Chamberlain
Instance: “Muzzle”@0:59
Band: Smashing Pumpkins
Year: 1995
Notes: Probably my favorite living drummer. This one’s just a fast, long roll (Chamberlain is capable of more difficult maneuvers) but it’s done so powerfully and confidently. Quite a way to enter a song.

Drummer: Darren Jesse
Instance: “Steven’s Last Night in Town”@2:08
Band: Ben Folds Five
Year: 1997
Notes: Remember the brief return of swing music? I think that had something to do with this track. For this little slice of drumming-heaven, though, it was all worth it. Jesse has pulled a Dave Grohl and is fronting a band called Hotel Lights now, but during his time with Ben Folds Five he did some serious playing.

Drummer: Frank Beard
Instance: “La Grange”@1:09
Band: ZZ Top
Year: 1973
Notes: Pretty good, especially considering this song is a fast blues shuffle. Also, “Frank Beard” was the name of the drummer from ZZ Top? Do you think that’s his real name?

Drummer: Gary Mallaber
Instance: “Swingtown”@2:01
Band: The Steve Miller Band
Year: 1977
Notes: Yes, this is a cheesy song, but just listen to the drums here. This is an exciting and solid trip over the kit

Drummer: Mike Felumlee
Instance: “Writing a Letter”@0:54
Band: Smoking Popes
Year: 1993
Notes: You’ve probably never heard of this band, but you should check them out. Felumlee isn’t the best part of the group (a little too intense and busy for my tastes). Josh Carterer, the core of the band, is an incredible songwriter, singer, and lead guitarist. Still this is some ambitious, tight drumming, especially in such a hard, fast, punk-inspired track.

(Disclaimer 1: These don’t necessarily represent the most amazing things these drummers have ever played. They were all picked because, yes, they are impressive, but also because they work really well within their songs of origin. Don’t send me hate mail, fellow music-nerds.)

(Disclaimer 2: These are all from rock songs. I know there are a lot of awesome drummers — and therefore probably a lot of awesome drum fills — in other genres, but rock is what I listen to, so it’s where I can make these kinds of calls. Don’t send me death threats, metal and/or jazz fans.)

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June 26th, 2007

My Weekend in Smasheville

Look, that giant fetus is playing the guitar!

Kidding! I’m kidding people. That’s not a giant fetus; it’s Billy Corgan! In a picture I took this past weekend! The Smashing-Pumpkins-ticket saga I regaled you with last month, didn’t end up ending there. The Orange Peel held back a limited number of tickets, even after Ticketmaster reported all of the shows sold-out, and sent an email to their mailing list only, informing them that there would be one last opportunity to log-in and buy them. My coworker Mike is on this list and knew I wanted tickets, so he let me in on the secret. I got in at the designated time and got the tickets — for regular price — no problem.

A few days ago, we were in the audience for the band’s first US show in six years.

Of course you want to know how it was. I’m going to go with “good.” Billy and Jimmy and the scabs they’ve hired while James and D’arcy (or that other girl who replaced D’arcy) remain on strike are certainly all top-notch musicians and performers, but honestly, there were some things about the show that, from my place as a casual fan, I found kind of strange.

For one thing, they played a lot of new stuff. They made it known beforehand that this would be a major component of these “residency” shows, but we’re talking probably 60% of the set. To me, that’s too much in the live environment.

Also, Billy hardly talked to the audience at all. This struck me as odd, given his reputation as the guy who “runs the show” and the give-and-take relationship he seems to have cultivated with his fans. It was an hour into the show before he said anything. People were nearly insane with desire for some stage banter by then. After that he addressed us only once or twice more over the next two-and-a-half hours.

Yes, two-and-a-half hours. And that’s just how long Steph and I stayed. Word on the street the next day was that they played for another half
-an-hour after that. An impressive show of stamina, but The Orange Peel is standing room only, it was filled to capacity, and there was no A/C — just the North Carolina summer (aka the depths of Hades…with more humidity) circulating through the place. Listening to them turn a fourth unfamiliar song in a row into an extended 20-minute jam in those conditions was too much for us.

Of course it’s entirely possible that I’m on the defensive here, because Steph and I have never left a show early before, and I think we’re both a little worried that we’re turning into old people (aka lame-o’s).

I’m still trying to decide whether any of those points actually makes the concert a “let down” or if I just went in with unfair expectations. Either way, I got to spend the weekend in Asheville and witness all the indie-rock-hype, first-hand (aka I reallly shouldn’t complain).

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June 22nd, 2007

For Some Reason This Exchange Struck Me as Really Funny…Redux

Person behind me in line, buying a hotdog (to his friend): When food is “kosher” it’s been blessed, right?

Person behind me in line, buying a hotdog’s friend: Yeah.

(Long pause.)

Person behind me in line, buying a hotdog: So if you’re eating an all-kosher meal, do you have to say grace before you start?

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