Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Won't Get Fooled Again" -The Who Isolated Drums

Staying with our drum theme of the week, today we'll analyze the isolated drum track from The Who classic "Won't Get Fooled Again," off their seminal Who's Next album from 1971. Let's take a listen.

1) Keith Moon may have been the most unique rock drummer of all time. His style is so different that I don't think anyone has ever come close to duplicating it. But there is a method to the madness. As odd as the beat is, he is fairly disciplined at keeping it. Nonetheless, I don't believe there's a producer on the planet (or an A&R guy) that would stand for the style if he were just starting out today, which is a shame. How did he ever come up with that beat during the solo? And the one before the breakdown at about 5:30?

2) It's the fills that really set Moony apart. They often feel like a train wreck and are placed in odd places in the song, but it imparts an energy that's really at the heart of the sound of the Moon-era Who.

3) I'm not sure how the drums are miked but it seems like a departure for the time as they feel pretty close to the listener, especially the toms. It almost feels like the toms were close-miked as we do it today. I'll ask around as see if I can find the definitive answer. Actually, the picture on the video shows the toms individually miked, but I'm not sure what session that's from.

4) The tempo is pretty steady but that's because he was listening to the sequenced synth as a guide. Still, not many drummers were good at it back then. Occasionally he's on top of the beat a little but pulls it back after a bar or so.

5) At 1:20 he misses a drum hit and hits his stick instead. We'd replace that in a second today but it went right by and nobody noticed it back then (and even now when we listen to the final mix).

6) You can hear the other instruments and even the occasional vocal leaking into the drums, which is great. Who outlawed leakage anyway?



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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keith Moon's style is amazing. When I listen to it isolated, it almost seems like the entire drive of The Who rested on the drums.

As far as the mistakes, behind and in front of the beat. That human aspect it what is missing from so much music these days. In some ways I wish producers would juts not go in and fix stuff but concentrate on capturing the best performance possible with all the warts.

I kinda feel like we will come back to that again.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVb3gU0NoM4&feature=related

check this out, too
his yells are great

Bob Buontempo said...

Again, I get blown away by one of your soloed drum track posts!!

I LOVE leakage like the stuff on here. One thing I've always noticed about this song is how "sizzly" and transparent the cymbals sound. I think it's a combination of the older Zildjan's, the mics, the pre-amp/EQ (a Helios, if I'm not mistaken), and, mostly, the DRUMMER!! ;^ )

Derek said...

Holy crap. Rob Hirst from Midnight Oil drew a lot of inspiration from Moon, but this performance is something else. It's interesting how all the "flaws" in this track and Townshend's earlier isolated guitar track just disappear in the final mix. But the energy and pure weirdness of Moon here stand out. No one else would have thought to play like him.

Don D said...

This is phenomenal! I've heard this song 1000 times and I'll never hear it the same way again. Keep doing these analyses. (What is the plural of analysis?)

Anonymous said...

And that was in the studio where he was calm and under control. I remember reading somewhere that they had work at getting him to make the transition from stage to studio -"use your inside sticks Keith".

Anonymous said...

I found this blogpost from a friend on Facebook.
Yes, Moon was one of the greatest drummers to ever be recorded , IMO. As the years go by and nothing new seems to come forward, we are reminded how great these cultural RnR icons were ,sadly. At least we still have an incredible body of work to listen to.
Everyone please come join our page on Facebook : THE WHO or LED ZEPPELIN???? - all related posts,comments & pics are gladly accepted !!

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