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Posted June 29, 2007
This installment of the ¿Way They Play¿ series is a welcome addition to anyone¿s music library. The series uses the styles of original professional musicians to illustrate the techniques that made their drumming great. Accompanying the text is a CD of audio examples, a crucial tool in understanding their lessons. For this edition, the authors have chosen not only titans like John Bonham, Charlie Watts and Ringo Starr, but also iconoclasts like Keith Moon , Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell, and somewhat less well-known greats as Richie Heyward and Jeff Porcino, who tragically died when he was only 38. For this book, the historical context is provided by Ken Micallef, one of the great drum specialists in rock journalism. His breadth of knowledge and experience in drumming provides a detailed yet concise analysis of each drummer¿s bag of tricks. Using archival footage, official and bootleg recordings, and copious interviews (many of them conducted himself), Micallef covers their early influences, how they sat at the kit, tuning methods, equipment, style, how they evolved throughout their careers, and everything in between. Though clearly geared towards musicians, rock historians will not be disappointed in this book, as technical jargon is kept to a minimum and the wealth of biographical and musical information will keep even the casual reader interested. For instance, Micallef is able to draw interesting comparisons to drummers from all kinds of musical milieux, such as the identification of Gene Krupa as Keith Moon¿s principal forerunner as the ¿first drum maniac.¿ Also, he often exhibits a propensity for humorous turns of phrase, delivered deadpan, and forthright opinions, such as a passage about Charlie Watts, whose ¿crotchety feel and slack strokes¿ nonetheless produce ¿exquisite, slipping, sliding drum breaks.¿ This result is even more surprising, as Micallef points out that Watts ¿seems to miss rim shots, his timing is a little off, and he glances cymbals like a blind man.¿ The secret to Keith Moon¿s style is perhaps even more chimerical, as Micallef advises that the key to playing like him requires ¿the ability to become very excited, perhaps even traumatized, before you sit down at the kit.¿ The drum lessons are provided by Donnie Marshall, a well-known drummer who has worked with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Bonnie Bramlett. On the CD, he plays expertly in the styles of each example drummer, providing audio lessons that are easy to follow and a pleasure to listen to. Overall, this is a great package for anyone interested in rock drumming.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.