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Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Who "Who Are You" Isolated Drums

I just love listening to tracks from a hit song. It doesn't matter from which era, since each hit captures some kind of magic, and it's fun trying to sort out exactly what that magic is. Today we'll look at the drum track from a hit from The Who from 1978 called "Who Are You."

This was the last recording of drummer Keith Moon, as he died 20 days after the album was released. Moon was a one-of-a-kind drummer, especially when compared with the drummers of today, and you'll hear that his playing is almost garage-band like, although it was perfect for The Who at the time.

What's interesting was that the drums here were overdubbed, which is why all you hear is headphone leakage, and the leakage contains obvious overdubs. Here's what to listen for.

1. Listen to how dynamic the high-hat work is. Moony plays more than the beat, as the playing really breathes.

2. The sound of the drums is really the sound of the kit. This song used engineer Glyn Johns famous minimalist mic technique (as compared to today) so that the drums sound more like one instrument rather than what we hear today. Check out this video that will show you what he used.

3. The playing's not perfect, especially the kick. You can hear slight lags in timing in the kick, tom fills and the hat, although I'm sure that never bothered anyone listening to the record. Today we'd fix all that, most likely to the detriment of the song.

4. You can hear Moon singing and/or grunting at times throughout the song. Again, we'd probably fix that today.

5. At 3:30 you can hear a tympani overdub that isn't that obvious when listening to the entire mix.


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