Saturday, August 2, 2014

Going Mobile

My imaginary friend Chris is an interesting guy. When it comes to musical tastes, we have a lot of crossover, being huge fans of Elvis, the Beatles, R.E.M. and Übërsphïnctër, as well as various and sundry other artists. But we also diverge wildly in a lot of places, in no small part thanks to our earliest musical experiences. We both grew up listening to lots of Top 40 as little kids, but whereas I grew up thoroughly steeped in classic rock, thanks to the influence of my older siblings, my imaginary friend Chris shifted into punk at roughly the same time. So we can geek out over Revolver minutiae until the cows come home, or the glory that was the Captain & Tennille, but I can't really knowledgeably discuss, say, Minor Threat and he isn't really all that familiar with Lynyryd Skynyrd or Steve Miller or the J. Geils Band.

He's also an outstanding musician, playing all the major rock instruments, including being a great drummer, so when I found this, I thought, like me, he'd find it powerful interesting.

As usual, I was right. But to my semi-surprise and kind of delight...he'd never heard the song before. This song that I'm sure I've listened to at least 200 times was completely new to him. And his first exposure to was by listening to simply Keith Moon's incredible isolated drums.

Listening to it with my ears, ears that always know exactly where Moon is at any point, really emphasizes Roger Daltrey's assertion, of how Moon sounded chaotic but was actually playing along to the lyric. You can hear how weird some of his playing is, like when he kinda turns the beat around for eight bars, or how he'll occasionally abandon the cymbals entire (if briefly). You can marvel to just how tight his quick triplet rolls are, how often he syncopates his crashes, as well as how his spots of, let's be honest, slop are just on the right side of feel.  It's lovely and something of a revelation. And as my imaginary friend Chris perceptively noted, Moon's like a Dixieland instrumentalist, where he's soloing 95% of the time and yet rather than it causing everything to fall apart, it somehow actually holds everything together.

And then Chris listened to the drums in context. And he was amazed, never having guessed from the sound of Moon's drums what the final product would sound like. And he said that if you pulled out Moonie's drums, "Going Mobile" might just sound like an early 70s singer-songwriter tune that lopes along merrily.

Well, thanks to the magic of YouTube we can check out that assertion.

...and yeah. Until the guitar freakout starting almost exactly halfway through the song, it actually wouldn't have been terribly out of place as the uptempo track on an early 70s singer-songwriter LP. (Also, that's some asskickery being doled out to Pete's poor acoustic, and we are all the better for it.)

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