Wow! Great musician discussion. Before i add my comments, i would just say i have no real anymosity towards the Who, I really dig most of Who's next, and i didnt even think Who By Numbers was too bad (and why does everybody bash "Squeeze Box"? Sure it has dumb lyrics, but so did most of Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast) but i would not put them in the same category as the Beatles or Zeppelin. They're better than the extensively overrated Stones, though, thats for sure!
As for Entwhistle vs. Steve Harris, they're both great. Entwhistle was just as important to the Who, and people just dont understand how great he was. Sure, sometimes its hard to hear him like you pointed out, with that incredibly crappy drummer Keith Moon obliterating any sembalnce (sp?) of continuity and rhythm, and Pete's extremely overdriven guitar lines, but if you're good at following basslines, you can tell there is a lot of interesting movement going on. Harris, IMHO, tends to get a little bit overrated as a bassist, and underrated as a songwriter. He tended to do a little too much of that 'galloping' bassline for his career. But theres no doubting the man's songwriting abilities.
Finally Keith Moon. Man, this guy was terrible. The really funny thing is, as much as he overplayed, Dave Lombardo or Paul Bostaph (two very very good drummers, but i dont think i'd put them as all time greats) could play faster, harder, more complex patterns and STILL keep the rhythm of the song. Keith made no such attempt in most of the songs he played in. It almost seemed like he got bored with keeping with the rest of the band and said "Hey! Why don't i pull this drum roll out of my ass and splice it right here?". Now, don't get me wrong, i enjoy extra drum parts rather than snare/kick/snare/kick/etc, but you HAVE to stay with the band otherwise you destroy the song, and make an otherwise great bassist fade into obscurity. Just my $.02.
I would just like to say...Pat D.....WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!!!!! You are just going to say that Keith Moon is bad because he did some crazy stuff and could tear it up? Why don't you get a copy of Happy Jack or The Ox. Keith Moon was thee most powerful drummer of that time, next to Bonham.
Pat D. (pd6941.albany.edu)
I would just like to say to Johnny 8----most compentent drummers CAN 'tear it up'. Knowing when to tear it up is what makes a drummer great, and Mr. Moon was sorely lacking in that regard. He never shower one ounce of restraint in his entire career, IMHO. By the way--- to point out how Mr. Moon was not all that adept at 'tearing it up', at at Pearl Jam concert over the summer, Matt Cameron (a decent drummer, but not an all time great) played every one of Mr. Moon's drum parts to a T in Baba O Reily and even ADDED extra fills here and there. Of course, this was of no great enjoyment to me because i believe that there already is too much drum interplay in that song. My point is that Moon was not some technically great drum player, and he had very iffy ideas on the rhythmic drive of a drumkit in a band. Of course this is all just my opinion, but i'm not the only one in the history of mankind to slag Keith for not having a clue in a lot of cases.
By the way, I like John Bonham a lot. He knew how to show restraint AND 'tear it up' which is not something i can remotely say about Moon.
George Starostin (gstarst.yahoo.com)
I feel it necessary to intervene here because some things need to be clared up. Both Pat D. and John are right about Keith Moon within their own paradigms. Before we rip out each other's throats over quarrelling about who's the best drummer of all time, let's try and define "best".
The way I see it, there are three main ways in which people assault their drumkits:
1) Minimalistic approach. You pound out the rhythm (kick-snare kick-snare) and maybe add just a few extra fills here and there, like cream roses on a cake. This approach, of course, has its own subtypes: you can make your drumming loud, cymbal-heavy (like Ringo Starr) or quiet and concise (like Charlie Watts) or horrifyingly robotic (like Jaki Liebezeit of Can).
2) Technically impressive approach. Loads of extra fills, ability to keep up a real complex rhythm at lightning speed, etc., etc. This category is where most of the professional prog rock drummers (Bruford, Collins, Palmer, etc.) and most of the professional metal drummers (see Pat D.'s examples) reside.
3) CREATIVE approach. You use your drum kit not to pound out the rhythm, but to carry forward a melody of its own, which can at times result in a superficial sensation of chaos, but eventually turns out to be actually embellishing the song (or not). This is Keith Moon. To a minor degree, I could also put such an ace drummer as Stewart Copeland (Police) in this category.
Now it all depends on which category is the most important to you. Some like the minimalistic approach (typical phrase: "A drummer should be a drummer and not stick out too much, that's the best kind of drumming"). Some like the technical approach (typical phrase: "The better, the faster, the more complicatedly he plays, the better it is"). Some like the creative approach.
Keith Moon is proclaimed as best drummer of all time because he is - hands down - the best drummer in that third category. Criticize Keith as you want, you can't argue with the fact that he is just about the only drummer in the rock world whose drumming has an independent beauty. Listen to Keith's drums on 'Cobwebs And Strange', for instance. It's a SONG - a real SONG - which has a DRUM MELODY. You can say you don't like it, but it's a real SONG with a DRUM MELODY. How many other songs are there with drum melodies? Like Johnny8 proposed above, listen to 'Happy Jack'. The mid-section instrumental parts are carried forward by DRUM MELODIES. I can HUM them if I wish. Listen to Keith bashing it out on 'Baby Don't You Do It' (the bonus track to the re-issue of 'Who's Next'). It's not a drum solo he plays out there, but it's not just a rhythm track, either. It's a real melody.
Even a song like 'I Can't Explain' has often been described as a breakthrough number where the guitar and the drums actually change place - Pete Townshend serves as the mighty rhythm-keeper, while Keith carries forward the melody.
I could go on for ever and ever, but I think that those who want to understand me have already done so, and those that don't, will never do so anyway. Don't get me wrong: I'm not calling Keith the greatest drummer EVER, because that would be doing injustice to, say, Phil Collins, who's obviously put a lot more effort into becoming the ace drummer he was (and is, I think), than Keith, or to Charlie Watts, who often contributes as much to the Stones' sound as Keith Richards himself... endless list.
But calling Keith a "crappy drummer" means that whoever does that simply doesn't care much for true creativity in the drum sphere, mistaking it for lack of professionalism and stupid bravado. Sorry, but this is akin to accusing Pablo Picasso of not knowing how to paint because he is obviously "worse" than Raphael.
Pat D. (pd6941.albany.edu)
Well, i must say that was a well thought out argument George--but i still disagree. See, there is no doubt that Moon was creative---i dont think i ever said he wasnt. But by and large a drummer MUST put limits on his creativity like say Neil Peart, who had some fantastic drum fills in his day, but he knew how to fit in the context of the song without meandering out of rhythm with the rest of the band. Of course, one might point out that if Keith never played, we may never have gotten the crop of drummers after him that incorporated his creativity and restraint, which ultimately made them, in my mind superior. A balance of temperment and creativity is what make someone talented. I mean, just look at Slayer's Kerry King. The guy had absoutely no control when it came to soloing, and in my opinion that makes him a poor soloist. I bet if you listen to them you'll agree.
There are actually a couple of Who songs where i do think Keith got it right, where he blended a good amount of technicality while still keeping the rhythm of a song (which i might point out is the drummers job, it is not an instrument in rock where you can go off and solo like a guitarist, it is a rhythm instrument). Most notable of these is "Wont get fooled again", although i must admit that one roll he does all the time really gets dull after a while.
Finally, i just would like to repeat that i have appreciation for the straight ahead drummers as well as the creative ones. I really dig Copeland's work with the police, because as much as he incorporated the reggae rhythms, so did the rest of the band which made his playing in step with what the band is playing. Like the awesome Igor Cavalera incorporating the complex tribal drumming into Sepultura. Maybe Keith was just playing in the wrong band. It just comes down to the fact that in my mind a lot of times he was not playing what the rest of the band was playing, and if you're doing that as a drummer, the song structure tends to dissipate.
Oh, and about that Picasso thing, thats akin to saying something like you cant say any piece of work by any artist is superior to any other piece of work by them or anyone else. This is something i dont agree with. Otherwise, there would be no foundation for degrading the Backstreet Boys. ;-)
George Starostin (gstarst.rinet.ru)
I feel that we're speaking slightly different languages here. First of all, about the Picasso thing: that analogy obviously wasn't supposed to mean that you can't compare anybody to anybody else. If the analogy is so unclear, I can replace it with "you can't compare Picasso to a bottle of Sprite". Maybe that makes more sense, I don't really care.
And look what happens! Pat says 'I don't deny Moon's creativity, but just look at Neil Peart', and he does it again, comparing two absolutely different drummers from absolutely different categories. He might as well have been comparing Keith Moon with Geddy Lee.
And finally: what does the phrase 'a drummer must put limits on his creativity' mean? What limits? What creativity? If I accuse a drummer of not being able to keep up, that's understandable. That means lack of skill. But Keith IS able to keep up, as demonstrated on many songs. Otherwise, I just don't understand. I mean, I can understand how Keith's style can not be of particular appeal to somebody, but that's just somebody's personal problems.
I can say in all honesty, for instance, that there's not a single drummer in this world that actually offends me with his playing - unless he's playing show-offey dissonant solos that go on for fifteen minutes. And when I see Keith, I see a distinctive (definitely), unique (undoubtedly) and creative (most certainly) drummer with a funny eccentric personality and lots of charisma. If he can't play like Neil Peart or Bill Bruford, that's alright by me. He doesn't pretend to be playing like them. Did the Who ever cover '2112' or 'Close To The Edge'? Don't remember. Did they ever write any similar songs? Don't remember, either. If you want comparisons, compare heavy metal drummers with heavy metal drummers and prog drummers with prog drummers. Leave R'n'B drummers alone.
Pat D. (pd6941.albany.edu)
Sigh, Thats what i get for being civil to people. I get ridiculed.
What are you talking about you cant compare two drummers?
(author's note): For the record, I don't think that's what George said at all.
Especially since Neil Peart himself is quoted multiple times in magazines saying Keith was a huge influence on how his playing style developed. And if nothing else, you can compare how well a drummer fits 'in the pocket' to use a drumming cliche. It is my opinion that Keith was very poor at that no matter how creative he was. That can be compared with any drummer of any genre. Granted the standards of what 'fits' may be different, but how well the drummer conforms to those standards of playing and fits creativity in without straying way away from those standards
Its also nice to see that you think anybody who doesnt appreciate wild reckless abandonment of rhythm (ala Keith Moon) as 'personal problems'. Personally i think a drummer ought to be able to keep in touch with the rest of his band rather than selfishly going off on tangents just to hog the spotlight. Or maybe he wasnt trying to be selfish. I dont know the man. Maybe he just didnt realize what he was doing, or thought it sounded right.
Also, i might point out when i was comparing Dave Lombardo and Paul Bostaph to Keith i was responding to John's opinion that Keith was the greatest drummer of all time, not necessarily directly comparing playing styles.
George, i respect your opinions, you form and defend them well. And i enjoy a good debate. But please dont ridicule my reasoning. People doing that to other people usually ends up in a pointless flame war. I know because i used to do it on message boards all the time.
George Starostin (gstarst.rinet.ru)
I'm sorry if I got carried away - maybe I should have posted a disclaimer or something that I don't have anything against Pat personally and am perfectly able to understand his gripes (actually, I enjoy a lot of his reviews). I didn't mean any parts of that last messagqe to be ridiculing, not at all. If anything, it just saddened me that I probably couldn't express my ideas well enough for Pat to get a full understanding for some of them.
Which is actually manifested in the line "what are you talking about you can't compare two drummers". I never said that and there's no need to twist my words. "You can't compare ANY two drummers", yes. SOME are comparable, SOME are not. If Keith was a huge influence on Neil Peart, that doesn't mean they belong in the same category. Doo-wop was a huge influence on Frank Zappa, but you wouldn't want to compare Zappa with the Shirelles or anybody like that. (And by the way, Pat, if Neil himself says Keith was a huge influence on his style and treats him with that much respect, how can you say Keith was a crappy drummer? How can a great drummer be heavily influenced by a crappy drummer?).
About Keith 'staying out of touch' with the band. Excuse me, but if a band member stays so wildly out of touch with the band, the band usually fires him. That happens every now and then. On the contrary, both Pete and John were always happy with Keith and, creative and technical geniuses as they are, never saw any problem with his drumming. The standard notion is that, on the contrary, Keith's drums were an excellent complement to Pete's angry style (whereas it was John who always provided the band with a steady 'anchor'). I just want to say that this notion is really subjective. I, for one, never really had any huge problems with Keith from the very beginning. I suppose if Keith's "staying out of touch" was as obvious, unprofessional and ear-hurting as Pat says, we would probably all feel some kind of turbulence. No such thing - neither in my case, nor in John's, nor in the case of the legions of Who lovers.
Finally, what's that about 'wild reckless abandonment of rhythm?'. Wild, yes. Reckless, yes. But "abandonment of rhythm"? I'm not a musician, yet I have a pretty good sense of rhythm, and I instantly feel it when a drummer is off rhythm. I don't want to say it never happens to Keith. There are some parts on some of the live shows where he is either getting too frantic or too tired and gets off the rhythm. On 'Heaven And Hell' on the 'Wight' album, for instance, a few times, yes. It hurts. But NEVER on a studio record, not a single time, have I actually heard the man get off the rhythm. Pay closer attention to the tunes I namechecked above and you'll see that. Seriously now, name me just one or two songs where Keith has this 'wild reckless abandonment of rhythm' - so far, the only example of a Who song in Pat's messages I saw was 'Baba O'Riley'. I don't remember any abandonment of rhythm on that song, either. 'Wild reckless abandonment of rhythm' is, say, Ginger Baker's solo on 'Toad'.
So there's no need for a flame war - like I said, we are INDEED speaking a slightly different language, which is perfectly understandable. And like I already said, I can't agree with John either, that Keith is necessarily "the greatest of all time", and I can see how that triggered your angry 'anti-hyped' response.
(author's note): For what it's worth, I'm not necessarily sure I agree with it anymore. Hey, this was my second page, what do you want from me?!
But he's definitely up there with the greatest in the "most creative" category, and I really don't see the need for slamming the man in such a cruel way. If you don't like Keith Moon, that's alright. But so far, I simply couldn't find any arguments that would be sufficient enough to dismiss Moon as an objectively worthless drummer.
Robert Grazer (xeernoflax.jack-the-ripper.com)
I'm not going to make this too long, but I want to say a few things about all of these drummer comments flying back and forth here. When comparing drummers there is only one way you can always compare any two drummers from any genre, and that is from the technical perspective. It's easy for anyone to see that Billy Cobham is better in this area than Moon (or Peart, or Bruford, or anyone else that comes to mind right now) and there is very little arguement to be brought up there. Every other category can be debated to some degree, and then you may end up with people like Ringo Starr being called the best ever and that just doesn't seem right.
I still think a lot of these arguements have to do with bias for or against the band in question. You're never going to hear George call Phil Ehart the greatest ever, or Pat do the same for Robin Goodridge, but if either of these drummers could play those extremely complex and fast parts done by someone like Peart or Portnoy, they would have to be praised in some way or another. So I think when you look at it like this the only way to come up with a solid choice for the best ever is to use that second approach George brought or else you could end up debating over it forever.
Pat D. (pd6941.albany.edu)
I'm going to end this argument simply by saying you are right, i shouldnt have said that Moon was a crappy drummer. What i should have said is "I dont like Keith Moon's playing at all". The other statement is inflammatory and i apologize for it.
Just one thing i would address-- Neil also has stated in those interviews that while Keith was a huge infulence on his style, he tempered it with other influences as well. That probably helped his precision control. I believe i said somewhere before that they reason i find subsequent drummers (to Keith) far superior is that they took the greatest element of the man (his creativity and ability to push rhtyhmic boundries) and tempered the bad elements of his drumming (in my opinion, the tendency to push the boundries too far). I wrote in an email to John that perhaps i was being too hard on the man, and that we may not have had these crops of great drummers had Keith never player. Or something to that effect.
As for discussions of specific Who songs, its probably not a good idea to get into that now, or poor John's Who page is going to get rather lengthy with mostly irrelevant rantings. If he gets a message board, that would be great and i'd be glad to debate specific songs with you.
Sorry if i offended you Who freaks. I have a tendency to do that to people. Usually they're Korn fans or something like that. ;-)
Fredrik Tydal (f_tydal.hotmail.com)
I think Pat's mistake here is refering to songs which are sub-standard for Keith Moon in the first place. "Who's Next" actually features some of Keith's least impressive drumming in the whole Who catalogue, with the possible exception for "Who Are You". No, no; it's certainly not bad - it's just sub-standard for Moon. My guess is this was the cause of Glyn Johns, who essentially put Keith in a strait-jacket. He was forced to lay down more conservative drum tracks and only use fills when necessary. There are even stories of Glyn Johns stealing some of Keith's cymbals and hiding them away... In short, Johns was trying to crush the very soul of the Who; Keith's idiosyncratic drumming. For Keith's best drumming, look up the early stuff, "Tommy", "Quadrophenia" and of course "Live At Leeds". "Baba O'Riley" isn't that great by Keith's standards, I think - no surprise that the Pearl Jam guy managed to re-produce it...
Keith Moon is such a special case that it's hard to compare him to others. It's like the clever comparision George Starostin did between Jimi Hendrix and Venice. Naples is a really cool city and everything, but Venice is such a special place that it cannot be compared to other Italian cities. I think it was something like that. However, both Keith and Jimi still are my absolute favourite players on their respective instruments (and I actually never cared much for Venice; too commercial).
I think Pat is a bit too conservative in his ideas of the drummer's function in a band. I don't mind the drums taking the lead or being brought to the front; it's not merely a rhythm instrument, I think. If we take the bass, for example, which also traditionally is just a rhythm instrument - how boring would it be if the bass just was in the background all the time? Think the pre-Beatles days, when a bass guitar really was *just* a part of the rhythm section. But thanks to people like Paul McCartney, John Entwistle and Jack Casady, the bass was brought to the front and its potentials realized. If Keith hadn't done the same thing with the drums, no way would we have heard stuff like "When The Levee Breaks"...
And if Pat wants to hear Keith in a different context than The Who, he might want to check out "Beck's Bolero" on the Jeff Beck Group's "Truth" album. Jeff Beck on lead, Jimmy Page on rhythm, J.P. Jones on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano and... Keith Moon on drums.
But I think Keith works really great in the context of The Who. Keith, John and Pete really connect musically on a almost telepathic level, which few bands do. In fact, the only other band that comes to mind is the Grateful Dead, whose members also had a striking way of tightly sticking together musically and anticipating each other's moves.
Rich Bunnell (richbunnell.home.com)
Keith Moon drums real good.
david tomany (dtomany1.maine.rr.com) (8/15/01)
Hey fellas,I am a latecomer to this discussion but must have my say nonetheless.What is up with comparing The Who with all these prog. rock bands?The Who were Rock and Roll,directly descendant soundwise of the 1950's,such as Eddie Cochran,or blues guys such as Mose Allison.These prog. bands are directly descendant of post 1967,"Sgt Peppers" when bands began incorporating jazz and classical influences into the recordings.The Who,unfortunately due to "Tommy",get stacked up against supertrained musicians.Come on,even Entwistle who was easily the most musical of the band would be more likely to recite the ingrediants of a bottle of brandy then to dissect a bass chart.The point being,The Who were Rock and Roll,these others,ELP,Crimson,Sepultara are Rock.Apples to oranges.Different genres entirely.As far as Pat D. my god are you a moron!Keith Moon the wrong guy for the job?Holy shit are you retarded.Straight outta Spinal Tap!You went right from the cradel to Judas Preist.Gotta learn your roots boy.As Glyn Johns said(famous producer,I know you never heard of him,Pat)"Keith Moon was not the best drummer in the world but he was the only drummer for The Who."Pat,you must be one of those mathematical egghead type of music fans.Always aware of the meter above the overall sound.Good god,please rent out "The Kids Are Alright",documentary of the group with Keith on drums.If that does not change your opinion of Moon's significance as contributor to The Who and overall madman,Rock and Roll(not Rock)drumming god,then there is no help for you.Please tell me you DON'T play in a band.If you do,careful with the spandex.Ha ha.
Pat D. (blppt.hotmail.com) (8/25/01)
Geez, even when i back off from my Keith Moon bashing, somebody just has to rub it in. BTW, I dont know where that spandex comment came from. If your referring to my comments with Paul Bostaph and Dave Lombardo, Slayer never even wore leather on album covers when Paul was in the band. And let me remind you that Robert Plant wore some pretty ridiculous clothing in Zeppelin's heyday, so if you're gonna hate bands for what they wear (which you must admit is even more troubling than what you accuse me of---listening to the meter instead of the overall sound, whatever that means), might as well add Zeppelin to your disliked bands list. Also, i've seen Pete Towshend and Keith Moon wearing some funny looking stuff, but other than the ridiculous hair bands of the 80s (who dressed bad AND had little talent), i dont have a problem with it. Why do you as long as the music is creative and satisfying?
Yes, i guess i am an egghead when it comes to music, which is why i hate boring 2 chord crapfests all done in 4/4 time like a lot of todays pop and a lot of Limp Bizkit. I cant be any other way. Its not a conscious thing; I dont play a song and suddenly say "Hey i'm enjoying this too much, let me dissect it and find out its too simplistic so i can hate it". When i hear the music, i tend to follow the bassline and percussion a lot more than the average person, whom i think focuses mainly on the loudest thing in the mix, generally the guitar. I just admire something that is done a little differently (which yes, i will admit, not too many drummers ive ever heard sound like Keith) BUT doesnt stray from other parts of the song, which is my main problem with Keith.
To clarify my second problem with Keith, there are simply better technical drummers out now, that make Keith seem rather unimpressive. Ive mentioned names before. I guess thats what i was really trying to say at the start of this argument. Of course, whos to say if Keith never bashed his way through the Who catalog, whether we would have such playing nowadays.
I never really meant to compare say, Rush to the Who, that would be rather pointless. What i did do was compare the ability of two men behind the drumkit, and their abilities, and i believe also their ability to be creative and controlled. It is my belief that those things CAN be compared between two different stylistic drummers. And Rush isnt really even the most proggy band that ever existed; their later stuff was a lot of rock with prog elements added to it. And early in their careers they were accused of blatantly ripping off Zeppelin. ve mentioned names before. I guess thats what i was really trying to say at the start of this argument. Of course, whos to say if Keith never bashed his way through the Who catalog, whether we would have such playing nowadays.
Anyways, i'll end this before John runs out of webspace by saying, i probably deserved to be trashed since i didnt exactly go about criticizing Keith in the nicest way. But i like to think i raised some good points.
david tomany (dtomany1.maine.rr.com) (9/23/01)
Ha,ha,ha.The spandex thing was just a joke in reference to your complete lack of historical knowledge of Rock and Roll.In short,I'm willing to bet you would require some sort of text to name either five songs by Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley.Based on your comments,obviously you only have a passing interest in The Who.Bottom line,if you don't know what you are talking about,utilize tact or put a sock in it.
Pat D. (blppt.hotmail.com) (9/28/01)
(author's note): Didn't I get a message board for this sort of thing? *sigh*
Uhhhh, where exactly did i post anything that showed my lack of knowledge of musical history? And besides, how exactly does having or not having a voluminous knowledge of everything in rock history have ANYTHING to do about comparing the styles and playing abilities of two drummers? Its in listening to the actual MUSIC, bud. But of course you would know that if you bothered to read my last post (which you didnt).
Lets analyze your little argument here. So, lets say for the sake of argument that i've never actually heard a single Chuck Berry song. What on earth does that have to do with comparing two drummers??? Chuck Berry was a GUITARIST. BTW, before you now take joy in me saying ive never heard Chuck Berry, i have to a limited extent. I own the Chess Chuck Berry Great 28 collection. But i dont see how me listening to or not listening Chuck Berry has anything to do with Keith Moon's drumming prowess compared to the people i named.
Oh, and BTW, calling me to name 5 Chuck Berry songs is rather laughable considering that IF i had never ever listened to anything before the 80s, i could very easily hop over to Allmusic and cut and paste his entire catalogue here if i so wished. Why exactly, would you make a statement like that, when you couldnt possibly ever prove it? Another great tactic. Good job! :-)
So, history has absolutely nothing to do with it. If anything, you have proven YOUR lack of musical knowledge by failing to put up any kind of stable rebuttal other than making fun of clothing. AND, not even getting your "joke" accurate enough to be funny. Hmmm, that would seem to indicate that your musical knowledge is kinda limited wouldnt it?
Yes, i am not a big Who fan. A big reason i'm not more of a fan than i am is because of Keith's playing. Thats why i posted what i did. Oh, and please enlighten me on how somebody can be more accurate at analyzing a band by being a huge fan clouded by bias, than a not so big fan clouded by bias.
You know i almost wish i was still getting attacked on all fronts like earlier. At least those people had some actual, valid points. This guy has yet to put up one. :-)
david tomany (dtomany1.maine.rr.com) (10/02/01)
Pat,I will let this thing die right now.The prob. was the author calling Keith Moon "the best drummer ever".This obviously caused you irritation,and rightfully so.My argument went beyond the original context of your points.My fault.I was upset to see Rock and Roll musicians compared to Prog. Rock musicians.However,admittedly that was a left turn from the original discussion.Again,my fault.Is Moon the greatest drummer of all time,period?No way.Was he arguably the greatest Rock and Roll drummer of all time?Yes indeed.
Pat D. (blppt.hotmail.com) (10/7/01)
Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion about their "greatest rock drummer who ever lived", which is basically what my huge number of posts above were about. Maybe i couldve been a little nicer about it, but as anybody who has ever read anything ive written, i dont like to gloss over things. Personally, i dont think Keith is the greatest rock drummer who ever lived. He didnt have the power of Bonham, the finesse of a Neil Peart or Mike Portnoy, the timing of a Charlie Watts, or the speed of a Paul Bostaph. Thats all ive been trying to say. IMHO, there is no real single greatest rock drummer who ever lived. Neil is my favorite, but he has his flaws. There were an awful lot of drummers that had a more powerful sound than he had. And most of the elite speed metal drummers could hit the double bass faster than he could (NOTE: Lars Ulrich is NOT an elite drummer).
Oh, and by the way, to all you angry who fans, I LIKE THE BAND for the most part. I am a huge fan of varied basslines, and John did not dissapoint. While he was no technical virtuoso, Pete knew how to do more with minimalist technique than anybody ive ever heard, and man, you gotta dig that tone. And Roger had one of the most powerful, charismatic voices in rock. But i just dont like Keith. Never have, and probably never will, unless i get that "Who revelation" that John speaks of. And unfortunately, since Keith liked to overplay ad nauseum, it ruins a lot of their catalog for me.
Now, is that such an irrational argument? Now, if some of you want to criticize Neil's playing, i'd like to think i wouldnt jump all over you.
And (much apologies to John) thats basically all i'm trying to say.
Tim Eimiller (ClashWho.aol.com) (1/08/02)
The best rock 'n' roll band I've heard yet. I've been wading through the history of the music for so long now, that I doubt I'll ever find a band that's better. I've been looking, boy, have I been looking. They had it all: the spirit, the musicianship, the personality, the songwriting, everything.
As for the lengthy discussion on Keith Moon, I think he's easily the greatest rock 'n' roll drummer of them all, as evidenced by The Who's sixties singles, the Tommy album, The Kids Are Alright video, and especially Live At Leeds. Who's the greatest non-genre specific drummer ever? The Billy Cobham fan's failure to mention Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa points up his limited knowledge in the area. Prog rock ain't the be-all and end-all of great drumming.
John Bonham was more powerful? Neil Peart had more finesse? Charlie Watts had better timing? Paul Bostaph is faster? Who cares? Who compares drummers based on any of those lone categories? You came up with a list of drummers who perhaps did one thing better than Keith Moon. Nobody ever said Keith Moon or anyone else was the ultimate in every single facet of drumming.
It's about the total package. Which Keith Moon promptly balled up and threw out of a 20th story hotel room window. He was a complete original. Totally idiosyncratic. None of those drummers had anything like Keith Moon's exhilarating, caterwauling, wheels-coming-off-the-hotrod, blistering rhythmic attack. That's why he's the greatest.
It ain't about who's faster or who had better timing. Sheesh. A machine would come out on top in that kind of contest. Rock 'n' roll is about passion, excitement and exuberance. That's what Keith Moon was all about.
Robert Grazer (xeernoflax.juno.com) (1/12/02)
I thought I could leave this debate be and just forget about it, but I guess not. I never claimed to be a jazz expert, so it should come as no surprise that I'm not familiar with every drummer in that field. I was bringing up Billy Cobham as an example of a drummer whose technically proficiency is far superior to Keith Moon's. And it is. That's inarguable, which is my point. If you want to bring up some subjective category dealing with the passion or feeling behind Moon's work, go for it. That's not what I was aiming at. When it comes to drummer's, I really don't expect too much. I'm not going to say that Moon does or does not his the drums with more passion that John Bonham. They both it the drums. They both sound the same. Good for them. I can count drummers that I like for something other than technique on one hand, and that's because in a drummer at the very least, I look for nothing else. Besides, if I'm listening to the Who I'm not looking for feeling, because, sincere or not, most of their angst and whatnot seems completely ridiculous to me. If I'm listening to the Who I'm looking for some catchy and melodic songs, nothing more. And that's all they deliver me.
Pat D. (pd6941.albany.edu) (2/09/02)
Tim, Keith did NOT have the total package IMHO. You may say that i have only come up with one thing each of those drummers were phenomenal at, but what was Keith in the elite class of? He doesnt have the timing of Charlie Watts (this is NOT the only thing Charlie does great, but he is undoubtedly one of the best ever in that area, which was my point), he doesnt have the control of Neil Peart (again, that is not the only thing this drummer does great), the speed and power of Paul Bostaph (same thing here), and so on and so on. These drummers i mentioned are NOT one dimensional; but they have a certain area or areas which they can honestly hold some place in history at being one of the very best.
So, this relates to Keith how? Well, he didnt do any single thing phenomenal enough to say he was one of the very best in that category, IMHO. And that goes with the fact that I believe him to have played completely out of control for most of his career, and sloppy. Thats the entire gist of my argument. I didnt bring it up to say that the drummers i mentioned are one dimensional (none of them are), but i merely gave an example of what you can listen to in a particular area that i thought Keith was lacking. I was not trying to say Keith is not as good as Paul Bostaph for only the reasons that Paul is faster and more powerful, but when i think of those two categories that i was saying Keith was deficient in, and what drummer is phenomenal at them, Paul Bostaph came to mind. There are other elements to Paul's playing that IMHO make him a better drummer than Keith was. Hell, i even think he's even better in every single one of the categories where i brought up different drummers as representing. Better feel for a song, better timing, more precise. But there have been people who have been known to represent those categories better than Paul, which is why i put the people who define those categories. For example, Charlie Watts in my opinion had probably the best sense of timing of any rock drummer, and that includes Paul and Neil, which is why i listed him instead of those two for that category. Thats all i meant there. :-)
Charlton David M Contr 95 ABW/CEV (David.Charlton.ctr.edwards.af.mil) (05/13/07)
I was a drummer for 10 years and quit playing when I went to grad school in 1978. Never played them again. I used to practice for 3 hours straight just to maintain stamina. It took over five years of daily practice to reach that point. I could play anything. I played in a band for years and played along on every record I every liked. To me there are two kinds of styles. Jazz based and rock and roll. Many great rock and roll drummers play in the jazz style ie like Rush drummer. Keith was my favorite rock and roll drummer. I would never compare jazz based with rock and roll based. Keith was small and very quick. I saw him many times over a long period of his career. He was always great. Early on he had two crash cymbals set very high off the ground and level (not at an angle) and would end songs by hitting both with a circular motion. I saw guitarists use this motion much later on. Not only was he faster than many he was also a great showman. He threw his drum sticks very high in the air and caught them oddly. He also twirled them in his fingers constantly. I had trouble duplicating just his sound without the showmanship I am not small and not quick.
Finally I think that most bands hate working with a drummer that plays like that. Most want a simple beat. That's what I experienced. In order for the rest of the members to put up with that is luck. In many ways everyone in the band members were competing with each other. As far as I am concerned Happy Jack is the only rock song in which the drums appeared to be playing a melody. This is completely different from a complicated jungle beat like I want Candy (strangeloves) or Zabadack (Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tisch).
Now when is Keith crap. When he sings on his own solo album. The drums on his "both (dark) sides" album were disappointing not even one song with good drums. His voice was a little weak for a solo album but were fine for the harmony parts with the other who members.
I naturally played like Keith I had a hard time copying equally talented drummers like Ginger Baker. It took me a long time to learn Flight of the Rat by Deep Purple. Another difficult one is Mother People by Zappa. The muddiness of the mix made it very difficult to pick out the drumming but it was very fast, very creative, and unique.
There is one thing I feel should be highlighted in your Keith debate, as it was a fallacy that Starostin made in a statement:
"But NEVER on a studio record, not a single time, have I actually heard the man get off the rhythm."
This is not true. Listen to "Bell Boy"... it's there, and you'll know it when you hear it (right after Keith says "always runnin' at someone's bleedin' heels"). Sure, this could be considered minor nitpicking, or whatever, but I really find fault in stating that he was a flawless studio musician. At least Bonham could maintain his chops, as powerful/loud as they may have been.