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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Led Zeppelin "Whole Lotta Love" Isolated Percussion Track

The percussion track is an often overlooked element in a hit song, but don't underestimate its importance, since it's often responsible for a sense of movement and motion. There are numerous hits that would sound completely different if their percussion tracks were muted.

Here's the percussion track on a song that you probably thought didn't have one - Led Zeppelin's seminal hit "Whole Lotta Love." Here are some things to listen for (it doesn't start until 1:20 into the song):

1. John Bonham is certainly one of the most influential rock drummers ever, but that doesn't mean he was a great percussionist. His conga playing leaves a little to be desired as he searches for a groove throughout the song.

2. At 3:31 coming out of the guitar break in the bridge, Bonham switches to tambourine, which feels much more in the groove.

3. On the outro at 4:40, he returns to the congas and this time they groove a bit better as he plays to the end.

4. Listen at 5:43 as Bonzo sings along with the track for a couple of seconds.

This song is a prefect illustration that being a drummer does not automatically mean you're a percussionist as well. They are two different skills. Although some drummers can do both well (my good buddy Ronnie Ciago comes to mind), sometimes it's better for the song to get a specialist for each (although the percussion track didn't hurt this song much in the end).


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Anonymous said...

I don't think Bonzo's the only one on these tracks, it sounds like more than two hands on those congas and there's definately a shaker playing along with the tambourine.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating, thanks for sharing! Perhaps two conga players; if two were playing one conga you would likely hear the tension on the head change.

Frantic playing for sure, but it does fit the intensity of the moment in the song.

Unknown said...

Around my house He is referred to as Saint John Henry Bonham but I can't believe how bad the percussion track is by itself. It certainly works in the final mix. What a dilemma for even the best Led Zeppelin
tribute band (GTLO).


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