mercredi 19 novembre 2014

21 GOOD ROCK RECORDS FOR A DRUM BEGINNER



  So you've bought a brand new drum kit because you want to make this dream come true. You want to be a drummer for real this time, you've enough to play with your fingers on the desktop all day long. Welcome brother, welcome sister in the great drumming family.

 I personnally never was fascinated by the drums as a kid, it all came naturally and gradually. I first listened to a lot of old english rock or pop records my parents bought back in the days and then only I started to make some beats with my fingers on a table at the age of 12, much like a retard (the splash cymbal was the neary heater, you got the picture...), but I thought then it won't go any further some day. Things suddenly fell into place for me in a land far from any blasphematory rock filth and fury.
  I was in the Sahara desert, not so far from the morrocan/western sahari border and I was with some folks who wanted to meet black people from the Drâa Valley. Those people are the descendants of former slaves brought from the South by their muslims owners. They converted to islam, and at some point, I dunno anymore, they got freed. But while losing their original animist beliefs they never gave up playing their music and they became famous in the French colonial Morocco.
So I met some of them, and they played traditional songs of their own, like they do in order to earn some money from the white weirdos coming in those remoted places. They invited me to play with them, because I had long hair back then, much like a cliché metalhead. I suppose, I still don't really know why they chose me. They might have wanted to make some fun of me I guess. But fact is I wasn't as shitty as they expected and they soon started to teach me some things about rythms. When we left one of them told me in French I had to continue once at home because "I had potential".

 Only a month later I played on my first drum kit in a remoted garage lost in the middle of fir forests with a good friend of mine who learned the bass guitar and since then I've never stopped. If the first song I could play right was 'My Sharona' by the Knacks, that guy and I soon started to search more stuff and so began my music nerd career. I will never be Mario Duplantier, Hellhammer or another random drum star. I'm just me and that's fine because I've worked on what I liked the most and on what I enjoy drumming, that's all that really matters in the end. Now that I'm way older I still see the progresses I made and I have to admit the records below have a special place in my record collection.
  From time to time I meet people who are interested in drums, and although I'm not a genius at all, they usually ask me one or two good records to learn the drums basics. I thought it could be somewhat useful, so here are finally the 20 records I recommend to you all, new drummers.


PART ONE : BASICS

 

01. High Voltage - AC/DC (1979)


 Basically everything I play outside punk and jazz-influenced stuff has its roots in AC/DC. When I was in Morocco, AC/DC was my favourite band and I listened to them over and over. I already knew all their songs by heart and I couldn't help but kick on the ground along with Phil Rudd. I've always loved the way Rudd plays because it's very simple and at the same time effective. AC/DC is great for a beginner because they're slow but not too slow like the doom bands. They got the right tempo, and they are always playing four sound rythms with Rudd. As a european who grew up on the continent with mainly schlagers/volksmusik influenced music, I've always felt three sound rythms weird. They're complicated, they're disturbing. It took me a long time to realize that one of the main reasons I dsiliked the Motown sound, Iron Maiden, jazz or hip-hop was three sound rythms.
  With AC/DC you'll never have this kind of problem, they go straight to the point the good old way the 50s blues rock forefathers did. But don't get me wrong this record and the others from the Bon Scott era contain everything you need to learn. Breaks, crescendos, decrescendos, right use of  the bass drum, the snare and the hanging toms, everything is here. Rudd's work is generally underrated because it is repetitive and relatively easy to play but what many musicians miss is his awesome use of cymbals. I read when I was younger that he didn't really thought about his drum skills except for the cymbals. He managed to play in such a way they'll slowly stun the listener. How many technical bands are mising this point, forgetting to use correctly their cymbals I can't tell... If you want to be effective and gain a lot of power without double kick or blast beats, use the cymbals !
 No matter what people say about this band, about his stupid lyrics or the fact they're too nice or too horrible according to the asshole you're talking with, AC/DC are still living gods because they were able to talk to every dirty white loser like me and because they shaped the way half of the rock to come without betraying the true roots of rock'n'roll. They took 50s blues rock and made it a little bit more agressive, making it full of energy, something we should all be grateful for.





02. Ramones - Rocket to Russia (1977)


 I was never into the Ramone stuff that much, I started my punk record collection with the Damned, the Buzzcocks and the Pistols, but while thinking about good albums for a beginner, the Ramones obviously emerged as the ideal band to start with because Tommy Ramone drummed some of the easiest rock songs ever. His style is quite close to Phil Rudd's but the new-yorker was a little bit faster and even more minimalist than the australian. The early Ramones albums are a little of boring if you already have some level, but for a beginner it will be the perfect introduction to energic and somewhat more nervous rythms. Some years later the Brits made this proto-punk rock'n'roll angrier and harder introducing what we call now  D-beat, THE punk rythm, but that's another story and if you're into punk you'll find many interesting records later.




03.   Exile on main street - The Rolling Stones (1972)


  Back in the rock history, almost everything started with the 50s rock who melted black blues music from the Southern States and folk music of the white immigrants from Europe, a popular perpetuation of old stuff from ancient times. Then came the 60s and the first international superstars for the Baby Boom generation : the Beatles, the Stones and the Beach Boys. Among those three bands, every kind Apple-user seem to worship the Beatles, a band I absolutely hate : they were soft, they were whinnies, they took bad drug habits in India, my leftist/retard teachers liked them. Burn in Hell, Beatles. The Rolling Stones weren't of the same kind, and they do deserve their cult status, even if they are the very rock stars punk later criticized. Most of what we hear in the nasty rock realm has its roots in the Stones who catalyzed much of what was latent in blues. Violence, hate towards establishment, despair,  even satanism have their roots in the blues but the Stones brought it to a larger scale. Concerning the drums, there's nothing hard to play in the Stones' repertoire and this makes theirs songs a very good sarting point for any drum beginner. If you want to learn to learn something, start with the basics, they're all in this band.




04. All summer long - The Beach Boys (1967)


  Alright you just read the Stones were the ideal starting point for someone interested in drums but the fact is I never liked a whole record from them like I liked my old Beach Boys records. On this blog, I often say that american music is stupid and only about merchandising, but sometimes you'll have to be fair, without the american bands we would still have to hear Edith Piaf or Georges Brassens every fucking day and not to "real" rock (uh, wait, it happens everyday in my shitty country !). What the Boys introduced into rock'n'roll was a huge work on complex polyphonic vocals and that happy, sweet vibe you can only associate with surf music. They later influenced to death bands like the Ramones or remoted punk acts, but they don't receive very often gratefulness. Although drummers of both bands remained faithful to the old blues rock style, I always found that "surf beat" be it slow or fast more satisfying than the standard, boring blues beat. This sweet happy beat was used to death during the 60s and many now forgotten bands played it the way hipster bands of today are using the D-beat. If you wanna play some hard stuff later, I recommend you to know how to play some 60s stuff because the basics are roughly the same, only the tempo changes. And finally I'd like to add that during the 60s there's a lot of good French songs that mimicked the Beach Boys' ones, some are really worth to dig (this might actually be the only good era for french pop music !).





05. The Doors - The Doors (1967)


 While talking about very old records, it's impossible not to talk about the Doors. The american quartet might have been one of the very best rock bands ever. Ever m'kay ?. Everybody praise Morrisson's vocals, Manzarek's keyboards or less often Krieger's guitar parts but only a few really hear to Densmond's drumming. Although it seems unoriginal and quite boring on a first listen, you'll find a very good way to introduce yourself to the pyschedelic stuff here. Starting from a regular blues rock or waltz basis, you can feel it goes in a then-new direction full of LSD, terrible corlourful nightmares and dirty hippies. Those long, quite sad light songs are a must to work on for those willing to go in anything psychedelic or yeah even for the doom metal wannabes before they get even slower and darker in their despair.




06. Definitely maybe - Oasis (1995)


  The 90s sucked. But even sucky times can give great records, and this one was one of those I listened the most during this decade. Although the atmosphere here is far from the sweaty and dirty places associated with AC/DC, I've always found the drum styles on both CDs quite close. Much like Rudd, Alan White plays here mostly lazy and unimaginative mid-tempos, even if with way less cymbals. Those rythms are here also a little bit subtler and smoother, being totally influenced by the standard old days blues rock performances, but that's not something negative. White didn't need useless fiorituras to give to Gallagher's melodies the right rythmical support. Every track on this record has a proper and unique beat, catchy and easy to play, who can be later used a master-beats, be it in  death metal or stupid US pop songs. If you follow White in his musical journey, you'll also learn a lot a transition tricks you'll be able to use everywhere later.





07. No need to argue - The Cranberries (1994)


While looking my old records I felt how days went by... Today it's all about extreme retro shit (death, thrash, doom, black, hardcore, deutschpunk, anarchopunk, you know the litany), but I started really slow with real soft rock records. According to the regular black metal fan standards songs played here are totally in the "gay" realm with their cheesy riffs, those christian punchlines and that introspective and somehow girly feeling, but that's not the point in this article. The Cranberries were in the 90s a band we assumed would be legendary some years later and it was very common to find their stuff. So like many kids I started to learn the basics with them (it could actually have been worse with all the Cure, R.E.M., Talking Head or Rembrandts albums I saw back then) and I found in those early days some songs great for training. The drum parts are easier than U2 ones but share with them similarities, making them an interesting second step for a beginner. Each toms are well used here in a quite subtle and not really offensive way. This makes the whole record a good introduction to a deeper work on the hanging toms along with the bass drum, something bands like Killing Joke brought to a higher level years before, what's forgotten by most of the great US modern rock/metal bands today. Those too nice songs also made me realize the importance of silences in order to be truely efficient and to create the right atmosphere. So leave technical ostentation behind, and never forget some of the hardest songs to play are sometimes those without too much drums. Oh and by the way did I mention the fact everything here is so fucking 90s ?




08. In Utero - Nirvana (1993)


 It could have been a Melvins' album if I had Internet earlier in my life, but since my rock knowledge was closely tied to what the closest record shop sold (the motherfucking FNAC, if you see what I mean) and to what I could see on TV, the first brutal record I played on my drum kit was 'In Utero'. I knew those songs since I was a kiddo but it was totally different to play them. While playing brutal stuff you realize that drumming can be very physical and that you have to adjust the way you hit to the way you want your sound to be. You'll need a little bit of physical condition and energy to perform brutal stuff properly.
For a beginner the most affordable "brutal" band might be Nirvana. No double-kick, repetitive rigid hooks, plain rock'n'roll rythms put into "extreme" forms and that's all. Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl had a deal : the drumming had to be efficient but not technical. And you can hear all along those bitter-sweet disturbed rock songs the result. 'In Utero' had many qualities, making it a better album than 'Bleach' and one with even more guts than 'Nevermind' or every Guns'n'Roses album. One of those qualities lied in the drums perfectly stressing the poppy soft rock/ depressed absurd hard rock alternation. With those songs you'll learn to play both, guaranteed. 'In Utero' might be Grohl's last great album as a drummer, the 'Foo Fighters' first release being quite disappointing on this point (too 70s soft rock influenced, too easy to play, too much snare, too predictable).





PART TWO : NOT SO BASIC STUFF



09. ZZ Top's first album - ZZ Top (1971)


Deep in the past, there were only blues rock you know it now. If rock had a skeleton, then its bones would be 50s rock records. This is why it is important IMO to be able to play some blues rock right and when it comes to great blues rock you can only hardly escape ZZ Top. The renowned Texans are playing on this record some of the best tracks I've listened to in the old rock style. Strictly applying the western music codes, you'll have here every kind of blues beats possible to play for a beginner. Needless to say more, just hear to this Old West vibe and apply.






10. Love over gold - Dire Straits (1982)


This record might be the bluesy record I played the most, and especially the first song, 'The Telegraph road'. For a long time I searched the musical aggression and speed but as time went by I wanted to be able to play something else, something you can't only describe as "fast", "brootal" or "noisy". I wanted to be able to play something with a soul, and my then-guitarirst recommended to listen to old classical rock and pop music in order to do so. During those musical experiments, I found this dusty CD and because I had good memories of 'Brother in arms' I decided to learn how to play every drum part on it, because this album contains many emotions. You can feel the classical blues formation of Pick Withers but he went further and introduced a nearly jazz way to play his roots rock repertoire, what makes the record particulary alive. This is why I liked it, the drums are free here and are a good inspiration for those who seek to convey different emotional levels on their songs.






11. Boston - Boston (1976)


When I started to listen to music I wasn't exactly in the kind of stuff I talk all the time here, I used to listen a lot to Boston and the Eagles (!). Both bands are quite good  in their way to play soft rock, but I finally thought that Boston might be more suitable for a beginner, even if 'Hotel California' is one the best soft rock records I ever heard to. On the first release of the Massachussetts band you'll definitely find more energy, and this record is a interesting good way to get into metal or stoner rock later from a blues rock basis. Very melodic, this album is an excellent example of how the drummer always has to keep in mind to play along  the guitars, and has to never overdo (except if you want to play grindcore stuff of course). So give this old but gold soft rock monument a try, it might be instructive for you maybe.




12. Outlandos d'Amour - The Police (1978)


  According to many their best album. You'll find many great things on it, including a very innovative drumming style for this era. Some of the most reknown drummers play a lot of tricks you can find on those tracks. If you're looking to play in an energic and intuitive way, or if you can't stand double-kick sound walls in the modern metal albums, be sure to check this record ! Although still punk for the most, you'll find many connections with reggae, ska, or jazz beats and you'll find great work on the snare, an easy but efficient use of offbeats and rythmic transitions. Proof an excellent record doesn't need a brillant name to be a milestone in music history. 15 years later a german band, Wizo, showed the world a very similar kind of drumming on their 'Uuaaaarrrghhhh' album, only just a little bit refined, at the same time punk and technical. Eargasmic.




13. ABBA - ABBA (1975)


  One thing was clear from the very beginning of my musical consumption activity : I will always hate ABBA. They are fucking gross. Why ? Because of all the joy, all the love and the good intentions their music convey. Every time those fucking morons living in "my" country called music journalists are talking about "real" music they talk about ABBA and every stupid asshole will never miss to point how fantastic their music is. Even worse than the Beatles, the swedish quartet gives me diarrhea and because I rejected everything that's in their music I slowly got into punk, the anti-ABBA sound. But if you really wanna be a good drummer, you'll have to know the basics of many genres, not only those you like the most. You'll have to open your mind, even to the things you hate sincerely. Although I still find this band terrible, I can't deny those Swedes knew how to please their audience and make people buy their records. On this album you will find in a quite wide spectrum many of the drum basics of pop and disco, and also discreetly country and reggae influences. ABBA's drum part are easy to play and if you're able to perform the whole record on your kit, you'll be able to dig many musical styles later in your carreer, finding certainly later in your life a new interest for things you thought sucked when you didn't play music.




14. Homegrown - Dodgy (1994)


  If you thought you could avoid for your entire life three sounds rythms, you were really naive. Sooner or later, you'll meet someone who loves them and will tell you to play along some Maiden, Green Day or some other band and you'll have to face it : three sounds rythms are a part of music and you'll have to learn how to play them. I, personally, still feel very uncomfortable about them but I nonetheless tried to enhance my skills with this very record, coming right from the 90s UK in the wave of what we call now brit-pop. Every track on this record is an excellent way to begin with jazz-influenced rythms and if you follow the drum parts right, you'll be able to perform all those little jazz tricks and transitions that makes a drumming style effective (ask Tré Cool).




15. Invisible touch - Genesis (1986)


  When I started to play drums everyone talked about Travis Barker, Dave Lombardo or that dildo from Slipknot, but they were not that interesting and I never admired them. I neither admired Phil Collins but this guy had all my respect (and still does) even if I don't agree with everything he said or made. Most of the people focus on his singer carreer and forget he was after all at first just a drummer that happened to sing. If you're paying more attention to the rythms than to the now cheap eighties pop sounds, this whole record will appear to you very differently. Here uncle Phil managed to play some complex rythms on long progressive tracks in a very regular way, making those mechanical beats somehow close to the industrial ones (btw I assume Laibach dug this shit back in the 80s). I'm not saying it's all good, the B-side is pretty horrible we'll all agree,  but those tracks are very formative.


 

 

PART THREE : METAL, LET'S FACE IT... 

 

 

16. Shout at the devil - Mötley Crüe (1983)


 Everybody told only a few years ago that all the hair bands deserved to die, that they were ridiculous and nearly killed metal. Well... This might be true, but I don't know, hair metal still seems to me very acceptable. Maybe because I listened to those bands a lot during my youth and that I learned those lazy heavy beats with them. Although slower than in AC/DC, you'll find the same vibe in most of the hair productions. Incredible I know, but bands the regular metalheads hold as " great metal precursors" and those classified as "80s fake metal for hookers" have a lot in common. One of the mystery key lies in the name of hair metal itself. In the US you called those bands "metal" while here in Europe we simply said then it was "hard rock", just like Motorhead, AC/DC or Judas Priest without searching the differences much. And that's what many people don't understand about hair metal : it's more rock than metal ! This explains you'll find everything a noobie could like. You have in every hair metal album those catchy and powerful songs, with those heavy and slow kicks in a four sounds fashion and at the same time those even slower soft songs about girls, girls, girls you could have fucked, girls you've fucked, drugs and girls with sperma stuck in their vaginas. Def Leppard, Skid Row and even Bon Jovi (!) gave hair metal its true significance, but without Mötley Crüe they could never have raffined their sound. This record defined what hard rock had to be for 5 years or so, and is also an excellent way to begin with the whole metal spectrum for a drummer wannabe.This should be enough to declare the day Nikki Sixx nearly died from overdosis in the same bed as Slash a new holiday, no ?





17.  Blackout - Scorpions (1982)

 

  In the same vein as Mötley Crüe, but most of the time less ridiculous, Scorpions can be a very effective way to go into the metal realms too. It's a common thing in Europe that people now in their 50s/60s bought all the stuff from this german band and played it with their kids around. So for many metalheads on the good old sinkin' Europe Scorpions has strong ties with childhood, much like Ozzy Osbourne for the US metalheads. But unlike the Crüe the Scorps also had the advantage to be without any stupid satanic imagery, so our moms could also like them. Musically speaking the germans are great for beginner because they'll set in your mind all the metal basics, be it with tempo, lengths, or the parsimonious use of cymbals. Faster than most of the old heavy or hard rock stuff Scorpions are definitely a great band to go from the rock field to the darker and harder metal ones. What you learned with the mainstream old rock bands is starting here to be what we understand now as metal. But there are also their famous ballads, a kind of song you'll probably have to know how to play some days if you're planning to play with other real people. And believe me, those dudes are the almighty masters of the ballad songs...





18. The Fourth Crusade - Bolt Thrower (1992)


When I was a kiddo I watched too much the swiss broadcasts. This is how I discovered bands like Slayer or Megadeth, in a time where hair metal ruled the world. Briefly before Nirvana appeared on my TV screen, I discovered a rather different sound I never forgot : the original early 90s death metal. The old bourgeoises hated it, because it was ugly and they thought it was something with some dangerous western militarist background (only some months after the Gulf War this sounded pretty stupid believe me), but I loved it. To the contrary of the american death metal who had their roots in thrash, the european ones had their roots in euro-hardcore punk, much more violent, morbid and darker than what nice white suburbean satanist yankees produced. This explains why the early european death metal sound is rawer, easier to play but had more ernegy than its american counterpart, among other things. If you want to learn the double kick along maybe with Burzum's 'Filosofem', or if you want to  get a foot in the really fucking heavy stuff with doom influences, then this is maybe the best old school album you could start with. Unlike our favorite crypto-nazi norwegian one-man band, this record is not too easy to play and not so repetitive, making it quite enjoyable to play, what will inspire you to progress. If your goal is to be heavy as fuck, believe me you can try this one, you'll get what you want.






19. We are French fukk you - Gronibard (2008)


 When you've enough of death metal you can begin to play grindcore, more chaotic, frantic, punkish but still technical. But things also work in the opposite direction because many regular death bands started to play as grind bands. Clear right ? Nevertheless I'm not a huge grindcore fan, it goes too far most of the time for me, both in the lyrics and in the music. But I always loved the french band Gronibard (meaning "Huge Boobs") since the day a teenager named "Michel from Angers" came in 2004 to a singing contest close to American idol and started to growl 'Vas faire la vaisselle sale teupu' ("Go do the washing-up you dirty whore"). This brief moment where the politically correct representants of the french good tasted elite had to face one of the worst act from the french undergound "true" metal scenes was like a third kind encounter. This became cult for stupid youngsters like me, it sounded like a little revenge against the musical french nomenklatura giving massive funds to untasty parisian folk singers or to hateful (most of the time of muslim background) rappers. Gronibard like many grind acts play short noisy pieces with mainly a very raw sound, influenced by D-beat and the early death metal. Although their lyrics are mostly about sodomy, violence towards "superficial girls" or dick sucking in the worst way possible, the music is great. On their third record they've softened a little their sound and if you want to improve what you learned with the previous metal records on this list, this might be a very effective album. Everything from the extreme scenes is on this record, but affordable even for a not-so-beginner. So guys, give this french fuckers a try, you probably won't understand their lyrics anyway.






20. Master of puppets - Metallica (1985)



   Yeah, 'Master of the fucking puppets' by those fucking Metallica losers.This record isn't easy at all to play. I'd rather say it ain't for beginners. But fact is that if you play in a band, there's about 80% of chance someday an asshole would come to you and talk about this shit. Back when I was a teenager I hated Metallica to death because they were heavy as hell, too slow and full of stupid teenage angst for retards. Did I needed Metallica to know that death is what determines every life, and that it's a terrible thing ? Hell, no !
 For years Metallica meant what almost every fucking metal band meant to me : nothing but shit. Anarchopunk was creepier, D-beat was more violent and old heavy like Rainbow was cheesier. But all my hatred didn't protected me, and some day I had to listen to the whole fucking record and to adapt myself, before finally learning to play the way the fucking Lars Ulrich played. I had no choice. At the beginning it was harsh, rude and I hated this band even more. Today I've played this record a thousand times, and sometimes I do want to play it. Because in the end, it is good to go out your comfort zone, and yeah sometimes play tunes you hate. Because in the end you'll never learn to play the classical thrash beat with another record, and because this record is an affordable step forward in your own career.





21. III : So long suckers - Reverend Bizarre (2005)


  Doom metal is very special to me. Unlike black metal, thrash metal, or death metal it ain't that technical nor fast. The fact is doom metal is an excellent way to control the slow tempos. Playing fast beats is hard for sure but it's way harder to play things real slow ! It requires a full concentration and will enhance your "sense of rythm". If you can't feel those beats, you can't play them and that's why doom metal bands are very interesting bands to enhance your skills. There are many more cult albums like those from Candlemass, Cathedral, Saint Vitus or even  Black Sabbath but Reverend Bizarre was the very first doom band I listened to. Personally my ultimate challenge, blast beats excepted, has been the doom tempo and I learned it with this very record from the frozen and cold Finland.



  So that's it fellow rock drummers ! I hope this list could have helped you somehow, or a least had entertained you the time you read it. Keep in mind that the drums world is wide open before you and that there's a lot of genres I didn't talked about, be it native musics, african or latino rythms, hip-hop beats or the good old regular schlager songs. For example one of the best records I've ever heard when it comes to drums is one of those Red Army records. Don't be too narrow-minded and find your own way, that's the most important thing. Don't listen those who are obsessed with technicity for the sake of technicity, they're just kids liking way too much masturbation. Remember Tommy Ramone made his own carrer with some of poorest beats ever, but those beats gave Ramones' songs their soul ! And if you have some favorite records who helped you learn the drums, please feel free to leave a comment trolololo.

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