Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Rush-The Spirit of radio

Continuing with drummer week, I wanted to take a song and look at what the drummer was doing. I am not a drummer so it will be very general rather than technical. Since I ranked Neil Peart as number one, I thought I should select a Rush song first so I selected The Spirit of radio which is the opening track off of Rush's 1980 album Permanent Waves. At first I considered picking a solo off of one of the live albums and although those are great, I think it's Peart's ability to shine while still laying down the backbone of a song that is his true strength. The spirit of radio could probably serve as a highlight for any of the three musicians in this band, but in concentrating on Peart you really hear what makes him great. If Rush are mentioned as a progressive rock band then it's normally as a light progressive band or as a major influence for progressive bands who sprung up later. However this song has a lot of pace changes for a song that is under five minutes. Neil Peart manages to change beats many times throughout the song as he lays down the beats for the various changes done by the other instruments, but what I truly love about what he is playing here is how subtle his changes are. A number of drummers would have to emphasize a pace change with a marked or more pronounced beat, but Peart does these changes with ease and therefore it sounds seamless. Perhaps it's the fact that he is able to make these transitions sound fluid that sometimes we forget how great he really is and that's because he makes it sound like it's easy even though it's not. I listened to this song three times in my car today. That would be twice to get an idea of what he was playing and one more time just because I realized how good he really was on this song.
Tomorrow I will pick a Black Sabbath song and try to concentrate on Bill Ward's drumming.


Blogger Bruce said...

Ya know, I had always thought that "Tom Sawyer" was the most representative of Neil's drumming, but yeah, you're right about "Spirit of Radio". It does show off his talent best.

9:45 AM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Great observations, Mark. I have always pointed to his work on earlier albums as th ebest, but you are correct to point out that this song does showcase his talent myriad ways in a short (for Rush) song.

-- david

10:59 AM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

Peart's seamless progressions are important to a three piece band. Anything less would really ruin the song. I am amazed by the amount of sound these guys generate much as I am amazed by the playing of Frank Beard although I have never heard you mention him or his band mates although they are not truly metal. But they are quite beloved here in their home state.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

fuzz- I do indeed like ZZ top, but I have mentioned them here because they are not metal although a few albums are close to hard rock.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Ben Heller said...

"Spirit Of Radio" was the first song I heard by them, and I still love it.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Bar Bar A said...

I don't know what to add...but just thinking of Neil and this song gets me a bit dazed. Thanks.

3:28 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

"Tom Sawyer" is an incredible song...and the drumming is pure art.

5:34 PM  
Blogger FredCQ said...

Neil Peart is still one of my favorite drummers. I was watching a video of him warming up before a show and it was mind blowing.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Fred...a few weeks ago, on Vh1 classic, they had an hour and a half of Rush. Most of it was from the 30th anniversary tour, and the closeups of Peart gave me chills; he was that amazing.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Perhaps I am the only fan of the short lived tv show Freaks and Geeks. There is an episode of it where a character who played the drums tries to play along to Rush in his basement. The funny part is that they play Rush for a few seconds, but then they play what this guy really sounds like playing and trying to sing along.

9:37 AM  

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