And often for the better. Dig this remastered blast from the past. Rare Earth was the first all -white group to have a hit on the Motown label. This album cut goes on for nearly 22 minutes, as did many anthemic and iconic tunes did back in 1969 and ’70.
These are blue-eyed soul brothers if there ever were any, to borrow a phrase from the late, great Don Cornelius. You can cite this tune as proof if you care to make the argument that music was better three, four, five, or six decades ago. Which seems a fool’s errand as far as I’m concerned.
This track has a drum solo that goes on for — get this — more than three minutes. Hell, plenty of rock ‘n roll era songs lasted just three minutes in toto.
Here’s a confession: I detested drum solos. In fact, when I stopped going to big, arena-rock concerts sometime around 1975, one of my main reasons was the fear that I’d climb the rafters and jump off to my certain death if I was subjected to yet another drum solo.
Neil Peart Bangs Away
I ask you, my loyal readers who are old enough to remember big shows at the International Amphitheater or the Chicago Stadium or Market Square Arena in Indy or Freedom Hall in Louisville, what was the purpose of the drum solo? Did you enjoy hearing them? Why?
Honestly, I want to know. Because I always felt they drained the life out of any concert. I recall always starting to look around the arena in a state of sheer boredom when the drummer got going. I could never understand why the people around me went apeshit at some point during the drum solo.
Anyway, I assume there aren’t drum solos anymore, which seems a huge mark in favor of today’s concert-goers.
I await your comments.
My last arena-rock concert was Paul McCartney & Wings at the Stadium in 1975. McCartney was my least favorite Beatle and by the mid-70s his music was unlistenable. By the ’80s, when he pushed treacle like “The Girl Is Mine” and “Say Say Say” with Michael Jackson and “Ebony and Ivory” with Stevie Wonder, he should have been brought before the World Court for crimes against humanity’s ears.
Still, a guy I knew was scalping tix to see McCartney and I felt compelled to buy them for the then-princely sum of $25 the pair because of the history of the thing. Within a year and a half I’d made the full transition to punk music and more intimate venues like the Aragon Ballroom and Tut’s.
In fact, somewhere in my box of keepsakes I still have the tickets for the Sex Pistols New Year’s Eve show at the Ivanhoe Theater, one of four stops they had to cancel because they couldn’t get visas in time. They only played seven dates on their American tour, the highlights of which being Sid Vicious carving the words “Gimme a fix” in his chest and Johnny Rotten coughing up blood due to the flu.
I get the feeling that some arena-rock aficionados and drum solo lovers might call me out on this one but I’m not claiming the Sex Pistols were anything more than a sensational middle finger directed at the pretentious prog rock of the day. As long as they helped bury Kansas, the Pistols’ll be okay by me. Suffice it to say I’ve seldom, if ever, listened to them on iTunes.
Court & Spark
Right now my money’s teetering between conviction on a much lesser charge and a complete acquittal for King Doofus George Zimmerman in Florida.
Book it: He ain’t gonna fry for a 2nd degree rap. He was getting the bejesus kicked out of him by Trayvon Martin (not that I blame the kid) and any reasonable jury has to nix the murder call.
I don’t think the jury really wants to let the pudgy Guardian of the Neighborhood walk but they may have to. And if they do, what’s the reaction on the streets going to be? Are we in for a reprise of LA 1992?
The Thick Blue Line
Back twenty years ago after the Rodney King verdict came down South Central LA residents tore up the town, leading to 53 deaths and a billion dollars-worth of damage. But that was well before the election of Barack Obama and the resultant sense among the lower primate orders of the American electorate that “outsiders” and “aliens” (read the N-word here) were taking over their holy land. If dark-skinned folks take to the streets after a potential Zimmerman pass, are the armed-to-the-teeth Ted Nugent wannabes of America going to wade into the fray?
It could happen.
Then the Prez might be pressured to send in federal troops and once that happens, the militias and tinfoil-hat gangs will really take the gloves off.
I’ve got a bad feeling about this whole thing.
The drum solo: every other band member got a solo and often many of them. So to be fair and keep peace in the house, this is the obligatory opportunity for this particular band member to have their three minutes in the spotlight. Give the poor guy a break. When you look at a house, you look at the colors and layout and finishes and everything on the surface. But everyone takes the foundation and structure for granted and gives nary a thought to it. So goes the poor drummer: every tune has to have a beat, so give a nod to the musical foundation of the band.
Why do the crowds like them? Because it is expected and part of the experience and they have given themselves to the mass delusion that everything that comes out of the speakers is God’s gift to (fill in the blank) music for that night.
Also, I think it’s because the drum is the most primal of instruments and almost certainly the first one every used. Think of Grok expressing his joy and bragging to everyone about his hunting chops after feasting on the beasty of the day that he tracked down and killed by beating a ryhthmic tattoo on the noggin of said ex-beasty of the day.
Think of all the pop/rap/dance/tunes that ever hit the charts. A lot of their popularity has nothing to do with their brilliant lyrics, social import or engaging interplay of sonic layers: it’s the beat man! Bump, bump, bump. It’s hard to not automatically start head bobbing or moving when there’s a good beat.
My father, who has been a professional musician for 73 years relates this telling joke about the lowly drummers: “How do you make up a quartet? Put together three musicians and a drummer.” Ouch.
The drum solo angered me because it interrupted the flow and mood and enjoyment of the concert. It was bathroom break time. Have a drink, light ’em if you got ’em, whatever. But for that reason, I would also often join the cheering throng just to keep the buzz going and to celebrate the occasional unbridled, anamalistic frenzy of barely controlled flying sticks on skins.
But I’m with you: enough’s enough. Five, maybe ten seconds of a good riff is plenty. It adds to the experience, doesn’t throw cold water on it. A little goes a long, long way.
And you are right, no matter what happens with Georgey Porgey (“I got the shit kicked out of me because I was paranoid and stupid”) Zimmerman, the tinder is bone fry on both sides of the forest and the verdict is a match that will light something. Let’s hope it’s it doesn’t turn into a forest fire.
Keep up the good work on the Pencil, Big Mike. Always a pleasure.
Of all the drum solos I’ve heard only the one John Bonham did at Market Square Arena was tolerable. Regarding G. Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin; it seems to me that a request from a neighborhood watch guy when you are in a unfamiliar neighborhood is not unreasonable. If Trayvon had been taught to respect his elders perhaps this incident would not have happened. I don’t like the idea of regular citizens walking around armed but I also don’t like the idea that you have to back down from an aggressor. A tough situation, but Zimmerman is certainly not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
I saw Rare Earth at, of all places, Arie Crown Theater. There WAS a drum solo, though on what song I don’t remember now. Drum solos irritate me, but I don’t let them drive me mad — it’s piss break time!