Monday, January 28, 2013

This Friday I'll be appearing with Peter Hook at the Skylight bookstore in Los Feliz, LA, to discuss his Joy Division memoir Unknown Pleasures.

Time: 7.30 pm
Date: Friday, February 1st
Address: Skylight Books,  1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Telephone: 323 660 1175
Admission: free

more info

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Further to Flo Rida as space-filler, I think this is probably the first rap song I heard purely as a sample-delivery machine, the MC as padding...

For the longest time that sublime Bobby Caldwell hook was what I waited for, the only reason I stuck around....

And yet without Common, it doesn't quite work.

Judge for yourself --  the instrumental version of "The Light" (almost Common-free - the love-poesy is stripped right out but there's a few scraps of MC-ish blather left in) 

Here's the original Caldwell song "Open Your Eyes', from the album Cat in the Hat - lovely if a little goo-ey.  That is one wide tie he's wearing  on the cover.

Love those guitar fills in the outro - played by Caldwell himself?

Friday, January 18, 2013

the return of....

Sample Spotting Saddo

this (from around 2.10 minutes in)

is woven into this (from about 1.02 minutes in)

Hey, wait a minute, wait a minute - there was supposed to be a super-deluxe expanded 10th Anniversary Reissue Edition of Since I Left You coming out, logically, in 2011... contents including "unreleased early b-sides, demo tracks and other such rarities" + remixes from the original album campaign + new reworks by other artists + Avalanches own remixes of other artists +... What happened?  Did I miss it or did it just get delayed, in classic Avalanches style?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

drummage (slightest of returns)

tiny bit more on Drummers Who Are Characters

Andrew Parker on the battle for #1 :

Ringo Starr vs. Keith Moon drum battle:

I don't know quite what to make of it all.
Did Keith Moon play on Abbey Road or just get inspired by it? 

Our God Is Speed reminds us that Robert Wyatt is both an excellent drummer and a Character. 

That reminded me of a couple more ommissions:

Mick Fleetwood (whose buffoonery was touched upon in the very first drumstuff post

And Bun E Carlos of Cheap Trick

His regular-schmoe, cig-hanging-off-lip, tie-undone, office-slob shtick very evident in this promo for "Dream Police." As is his non-flashy excellence as a drummer

I knew it was only a matter of time before this stuff took on a certain remote-in-time allure -  at Nightvision blog here's Moon Wiring Club with "Midnight in Europe" - a mix of 90s ambient techno  -  names like Beaumont Hannant, Bandulu, Microglobe, Woob, Reload...

As Ian Hodgson writes, "there’s a uniformity here that dates the music, a pre-laptop sound. Large boxes and keyboards are being squeezed together. Some of these tracks are almost twenty years old (and getting older). However, as time passes by, many of them also retain a curious freshness, a quality that happily places them outside of time…"

Also at Nightvision, a conversation with Ian H

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Flo Rida's sole role is spacing -- he's the gap filler you wait through patiently for the Good Bit to come around again.

So it was with Etta James on "Good Feeling" and so it is again with Brenda Russell on "I Cry"


Because you can't just repeat the Good Bit over and over...  it would get wearing to be blissed, euphoria-wracked without a break.... A climax only makes sense if there's a plateau between it and the next peak.

It's not an ignoble function in pop life, Flo Rida's. It's like being the layer of sponge in a cake. Nobody would want to eat a cake entirely make of the frosting.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tomorrow it will be exactly ten years since Matthew Ingram launched the first of several blogs,  That Was A Naughty Bit of Crap.

This week Matt has published an e-book collection of his best bloggage: The Big Book of Woe. It contains classic posts from TWANBOC, Woebot, woebotnik, Cybore, plus reviews and features for FACT, The Wire, Loops, and various other bits and bobs like sleeve notes Blogging and writing you can't find online because Matt, the canny bugger, took it all down.

The Big Book of Woe is lavishly illustrated and runs to 829 pages.

I wrote the preface.

The Big Book of Woe is a fantastic document of an era of internet discourse that it is hard not to view in "golden age" terms. A great pleasure to sift through and reread for Matt's insights into music, for his good humour and supremely characterful voice, The Big Book of Woe was also a poignant experience for me. A flashback to the early blog scene's sense of community: amiable, sometimes fractious, always spirited and exuberant. 

You can buy The Big Book of Woe here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

drummage, #9

A short and incomplete survey of Drummers Who Are Characters

Stewart Copeland

On account of the videos. Although as a musical voice he certainly asserts himself. I suppose by definition a power trio must have a good drummer because otherwise the whole thing topples, there's no compensating for a subpar limb when the animal is three-legged. And The Police are a power trio, far more related to Jimi Hendrix Experience or Cream than to Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Copeland also had a solo career, during the Police (as Klark Kent) and afterwards, doing soundtracks and what not. This is one that drummers and technique experts cite admiringly.

I'd happily never hear it again. Drummers, even Character Drummers, are best in their proper context.

Jet Black

Mainly because he's so much older than the rest of the band (c.f. Saxa in the Beat). He sticks out while also completing the group's baleful image, what with his resemblance to a big brown rat.  And he's named himself after the group's favourite colour. I enjoy also the fact that he drove an ice cream van. (Or did he just get hold of a second-hand one and repurpose it as the Stranglers tour bus? I prefer to imagine him tinkling round the neighbourhood, selling Double 99s  with a snarl to snotnose kids). As a drummer I was thinking he was merely proficient... then considered the zip he brings to the sexist-but-undeniable "London Lady", the off-kilter reggaematic funk of the sexist-but-undeniable "Peaches", the mechano-disko feel of "Nice N' Sleazy", all the waltz-time oddities the Stranglers did like "Outside Tokyo" here...

 Jet and Hugh Cornwell wrote and presented this mini-doc/video-essay on the colour black

What an old codger he is...

Charlie Watts

Whenabouts did Charlie get into that thing of seeming apart and disdainful-yet-amused by the antics of the frontline Stones? First time I remember noticing it is "Start Me Up" but I'm sure he must have adopted it much earlier. 

Ginger Baker

I'd almost go with the Saint Etienne view of Cream (orrible unpop) except that they did do two or three singles that managed to be both pop and heavy.  Apart from those, though, Cream do seem to be a band trapped in its era more so than almost anything else from that era (except perhaps for Big Brother and the Holding Company). Still there's no doubt who was the personality in that band (I just read a short story by Vanessa Veselka in which a character is described thus: "He has a face like Eric Clapton's. You'd never recognize him without context") and it's Ginger, and what do you know,  there's actually a documentary on Baker's turbulent life just coming out.

As for the after-Cream discography... I vaguely recall listening to something he made in Africa that Celluloid released... it was enough to discourage further exploration.

Dearie me... 

Then again, there's PiL's Album.

Baker, Ryuichi Sakomoto, Steve Vai and Johnny Rotten on one track.  As with Golden Palominos, the supergroup retooled for a postpunk world.

I enjoyed also "T.U.S.A" -- Ginger's vocal turn on the Masters of Reality album, in which he utters God's truth about American inability to make a decent cup of tea. (It's improved a lot since then - 1992 - but it's still amazing how often here you'll be presented with a cup of hot water and a unopened teabag on the saucer).

Keith Moon

Obviously. Goes without saying. #2 Drummer-as-Character of All Time and then only narrowed pipped for #1.

That James Wood New Yorker piece from a few years back on Moon - "The Fun Stuff", which subsequently became the title track of his recent essay collection - is terrific. But one thing that surprised me is that he thinks Moon was at his best between 1970-1976. Perhaps that's a drummer's perspective (Wood is a drummer. believe it or not). Lacking technical understanding, I can't divorce my response to the drumming from my response to the rest of the music. I vastly prefer the Sixties Who, and Moon in that music seems more explosive than his later self because the music as a whole seems more explosive.

Talking of divorce: I uploaded this "isolated Moon drum track" before listening to it. As impressive and characterful as it is as playing, it's infinitely more enjoyable inside the track itself.  This trend to for "isolated" parts on YouTube is a bit like eating the constituents of a sandwich separately.

Probably my favorite bit in Louie CK.

Ringo Starr


But he wasn't just a pretty face...

The title of that one came from Ringo too.

drummige cru, 7

Last lick of drum circle action....

Bloggers, first:

David Kasper on live drumming in hip hop

And in the mailbag, an inundation of Andrew Parker:

Drum pr0n

Slow motion footage of a cymbal being struck:

Slow motion footage of a snare drum being struck:

A lot of drums hit in nothing resembling slow motion (courtesy of Flo Mounier’s instructional video):
(He takes flight at ~ 2:50.)

Drum Battles

Buddy Rich vs. Animal (yes, from The Muppets):

Mike Portnoy vs. Billy Rhymer:

[Billy Rhymer’s (checked shirt) performance is worth watching]


Rowan Atkinson playing invisible drums (it/he is actually very good):

Re: Klaus Dinger

Daniel Fichelscher (Popol Vuh) is another German who moved effortlessly between guitar and drums.

Check out the ‘splashing’ cymbals on Popul Vuh’s King Minos:

Drummer who should have been nominated for your list (by me, if no-one else)

Dave Lombardo (Slayer) for his playing on Raining Blood:


Thanks to Andrew - and to everybody who contributed

See you in a year's time maybe, for the Great Bass Race....

Friday, January 04, 2013

drummage, #8

And for the penultimate post from me, a random selection of fave drumstuff...

Clem Burke here is both the stampede and the cowboys attempting to round up the herd

"A vicious beat like sharp gang boots clicking down the pavement" - Lester Bangs

Here, the rhythm section as a whole... that reverbed bass

Now, how often does this happen - a GREAT, for-the-ages, style-inventing drummer breaks away to start his own band, decides to chuck in the drums for the guitar, and ropes in his brother to take over the kit, who then turns out to be very nearly as great?

Talking of siblings in rock...

Nifty sticksmanship from Jim Macpherson

via Pixies to Throwing Muses

David Narcizo's churn on that tune always reminds a little of this...

Always, from the youngest age, thought the hook in this next one was Ringo's sssschluppeting, snake-hiss drum rolls

Could be anything from Cut, really

more Budgie love - the whole of Juju really, but i'll go with this because of the throw-them-down-stairs tumble toms

Banshees as Can ... Budgie as Jaki

The Doors - under rated as a pure groove band

Could have picked another dozen, easy (not bad for a band without a proper bassist)

Probably my favorite Bolan...  not especially deft, but Dionysian

The drumming and the bassing on Harmony of the Spheres is great throughout -- Richard Burgess and Billy Kristian respectively

... but particularly on  "Glittering Circles" (about 9-35 in) and "Fair Mirage" (from 16 mins or thereabouts - and big up also to John Martyn on rhythm guitar there in the song's home stretch)

The drums and the bass on that Neil Ardley record (which came out in 1978) and particularly on that second half of "Fair Mirage" remind me a bit of A Certain Ratio. Who for a moment in 1980 seemed like the ultimate in music to me, in large part because of the man behind the kit - Donald Johnson

Next and final - a look at Drummers Who Are Characters

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

drummige cru, 6

Carl Holmes:

"How about some love for Simon King? 'Silver Machine' an obvious clip but doesn't he look cool? More like a lead guitarist of the Michael Karoli school than a drummer.

"King also played on Eno's Here Come the Warm Jets, check out his minimal underpinning of' Driving Me Backwards'"

"More David Essex with Rock On -  bit of an Eno vibe about it dontcha think? 

                [as with 'Jump Into the Fire', I think bassman Herbie Flowers steals the show here but yeah drumstuff's great -                       Barry DeSouza again + percussion from Ray Cooper]
"Surprised The Fall haven't been mentioned yet. [think they have actually] Smith's always had good drummers behind him. Here's two, Karl Burns and Paul Hanley, on  Tempo House . Listen to that (those) snare(s)!

"Finally an honourable mention for Phil Calvert with Zoo Music Girl and Big Jesus Can"

Robert Dansby:

"I suppose we are overlooking Mr. Prog/Jazz -   Bill Bruford - work with early Yes was actually amazing ( particularly Fragile ) among his best unsung work was HQ with Roy Harper. Very NASTY precision, but also keen moments of rock-out-ness.

"Side 2 of Starless and Bible Black ( title track & Fracture) are live and almost entirely improvised. These tracks are some of the most complex and at the same time amazingly aggressive percussion I've ever heard… The signature snare drum sound sets him apart as well...  The work he did with Jamie Muir on Larks Tongue's in Aspic set up a psychological space that at the time was pretty ahead of it's time both technically and conceptually"

               [after years of taking for granted the punk position on Yes, based on barest acquaintance plus received prejudice, i                         was surprised -- finally giving them a fair and proper listen --   by how aggressive and fierce the  playing is on a                     lot of the stuff]

                                             [this thing of putting whole albums up on YouTube....]

[Re the Gap Band/snarethwack, Dansby notes: "that snare wasn't programmed - too early ( 82?) - but Bowie has already done treatments with tony V. & eno on snares along these lines circa 77 - 79. eventide, aphex and delays really changed how the snare operated in the mix."]

Ed Crooks:

"1) The instrumental (not exactly a solo) in Lynyrd Skynyrd 'Freebird' has always reminded me of a trance anthem, the way it cycles around ever-higher peaks towards the climactic summit.

What makes it explicit is the point when the drums rise up out of the mix, pushing the intensity way into the red.

Here, it kicks in at about 9'20".... It's not quite as obvious here as in the album version or the OGWT studio performance (also available on YouTube), but I like this one for the shots of the Knebworth '76 ravers getting into it, and out of it. Collective ecstasy or what?"

                                            [ooh gosh... in the long hot summer of 76, on the Wrong Side of History but gloriously so]                                            

2) We've had some Motörhead already, but this is my favourite bit: the seven-second bursts of syncopation in 'Ace of Spades', first heard here at 1'11":

Like everything in the song: concise, economical, and devastatingly effective.

The additional percussion effect is known to the band as "the tap-dancing bit", according to Fast Eddie Clarke. It sounds like it is played on the spoons, apparently because it is actually played on the spoons, by Philthy Animal Taylor.

3) We've also had Stephen Morris, but this is my favourite performance. He plays with such concentration and intensity that you can't take your eyes off him:

4) There hasn't been any discussion of drumming in the European Classical tradition so far, but if we can have jazz, then why not some of that as well? I wouldn't claim to be any kind of expert, but of the pre-20th century composers, Beethoven seems like the king of rhythm. There's a great moment where the drums come in at the start of the fourth movement of the Ninth symphony that always reminds me of Bonham's entry in 'Stairway to Heaven',

His greatest percussion moment, though, must be the first movement of the Seventh symphony where the interplay between the strings, reeds and drums on the main riff (sorry, "theme") is almost funky.

Check it out here, from about 4' 23":

Julian Bond:

"Bow Wow Wow - I Want Candy -- This is the finest 2m47s of pop single, evah, is it not? Clearly there are lots of elements here that define the sound but it wouldn't have worked as well without that tribal drum beat."

           [actually saw Bow Wow Wow this year, they were bottom of the bill of a 80s lineup at Hollywood Bowl headlined by the Go Go's, who were great. Bow Wow, which now comprises Annabella and Matthew the slapbassman + two hired hands,  tried gamely, and made for an endearing spectacle. But in the absence of half the original band -- and with original drummer Dave Barbarossa particularly missed -- you could say that Bow Wow Now most definitely ain't Got the Beat]

John Lydon (via Ashley Bodenham):


and a smatter of bloggage about drummage:

Aaron At Airport Through the Trees picks up again with more tipsy thoughts, part 1 of promised 2 on the Seventies 

Graham at Our God Is Speed with "some last tangential thoughts"
and some Teutonic Bohannon
Phil Zone with a provocation