Check SPEEDtv.com for the story of Patrick Morgan, the man behind these immaculate restorations. He has restored some of the fastest and most beautiful machines ever built, including Ayrton Senna's stunning John Player Special Lotus 98T from 1986. The end of the F1 turbo era meant 1,200 horsepower in qualifying!
Figured I'd change directions for an entry about something near and dear to my heart: drums. I was saddened but inspired by the recent passing of Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. There are hundreds of lists of the best guitarists and they seem predictable, but how about a list for the oft-overlooked backbone of any rock or R&B/soul act. As James Brown said "give the drummer some!"
Totally Subjective Parameters: I tend to prefer a rock solid time-keeper and tasteful musical chops (aka: knowing when to play and when to leave space). This means more than simply who can play the fastest or most pretentious drum fills, so while I'm sure I'll get angry responses, this eliminates guys like Neil Peart of Rush who are more athletic than musical on the skins and tend not to support the song or the melody. The best description I've seen was from John Mellencamp, who once described his super drummer Kenny Aronoff (now an in-demand session man who's recently played with acts like Smashing Pumpkins and Melissa Etheridge) saying, "playing with him is like riding on the highway with a racecar driver. You know he can go faster if needed, an you feel so safe because he's in total control."
As usual, I encourage alternate suggestions in the "comments" section.
You can go to iTunes or Amazon.com for samples of the songs I recommend or list below. In a somewhat random order:
John Bonham / Led Zeppelin: An absolute monster, Bonham (pictured left) played so loud he almost didn't need mics on the drums until Zeppelin reached the arena level. His beats packed a killer wallop and are perhaps the most copied and most sampled in rap/rock history. Minimal when necessary, but always right in the pocket. See: Fool in the Rain, Moby Dick/Bonzo's Montreaux, Misty Mountain Hop, D'yer Mak'er, The Ocean, Rock and Roll, and many more...
Keith Moon / The Who: Like Bonham, the mad boy genius Moon (pictured above) died way too young. His manic style played a vital role in the Who's raucous sound. It was as if his drums were the lead instrument or entire symphony of their own. Pure manic energy but somehow always supporting the vocal or melody. See: Won't Get Fooled Again, My Generation, The Real Me, Who Are You and many more.
Al Jackson / Booker T. & the MGs and many many others: Unknown and under-appreciated outside of R&B afficionados, Jackson was the house drummer for Stax Records in Memphis and the ultimate soul machine - locking into dead-on beats in countless hits for Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett and many more. Jackson, known as "The Human Timekeeper." was shot to death in his own home by intruders in 1975. See: Knock on Wood, Respect, In the Midnight Hour, Soul Man or Green Onions.
Jody Stephens / Big Star: Another Memphis drummer who is overlooked like Jackson, his pop style propelled Big Star - an obscure combo who influenced many of the top new wave/alternative bands in the 90s and 00s. See: September Gurls (covered by the Bangles), Back of a Car and In the Street (later re-recorded by Cheap Trick as the theme song for "That 70s Show").
Larry Mullen / U2: The flat-topped Mullen is military-like in his precision - providing the minimal but effective beats for the Irish lads. See: Bullet the Blue Sky, I Will Follow, and Vertigo.
Benny Benjamin and Richard Allen / Funk Brothers: Integral in the Motown Records house band called the Funk Brothers, the two often played together for the monster grooves in a huge number of Motown classics. See: Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Dancing in the Streets and Marvin Gaye classic tracks.
Mick Tucker / Sweet: "Are you ready Steve?... Mick?... Andy? Alright fellows... Let's GOOOOO!" The opening of Ballroom Blitz is classic power pop and super fine drumming. See: the drum fills on Love is Like Oxygen.
The list could go on and on: Ringo Starr (The Beatles), Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones), Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick), Tommy Aldridge (the man who perfected double-bass drum style with Pat Travers and Ozzy), Danny Carey (Tool), Roger Taylor (Queen, and the man who wrote I'm in Love with My Car ha!), Hal Blaine (thousands of pop sessions), Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience, see: Manic Depression), and on and on...
Add your faves below as I'm sure I've forgotten many fine drummers.
A Serious Question: I'm looking for sincere reasons people boo or don't like Jimmie Johnson. Leave your best shot in the comments section.
BAG IT: I don't always agree with David Poole, but he's dead-on in his call to save money for all and cancel the week of mindless activities in New York City. Does ANYONE really care about the banquet any longer? What benefits does it offer? Seriously - if you disagree, leave a comment with a compelling reason it should remain the same.
For most everyone involved, it is a gut-wrenching week of tedium while the banquet itself gets more boring and lifeless each season. Send the champion to New York to do the morning shows and the limited number of national media appearances and spare the rest of the sport the $500 per-night hotel rates for postage-stamp sized lodging.
They've already mercifully canceled the drive-through-the streets which infuriated New Yorkers who found their usual gridlock worsened - so why not nix the entire waste? (Note: see Junior pretending to have fun, left...)
Here's Poole's commentary:
NASCAR's Place in the Universe: It's humbling to see the race telecast pre-empted and moved to another channel by... "AFV?!" I assume it's "America's Fave Videos" or "America's Funniest Videos" or "America's Farting Videos." No matter the name, I'm quite confident it's a fine example of Lowest Common Denominator programming.
Is anyone surprised which NASCAR teams are without sponsorship and searching for a merger, a partner or buyer with little success?
No matter what racing series you follow, the teams with the best people and the best management are going to win almost every time. This applies to more than just the driver, crew and competition staff. It applies strongly to the business side of the sport. The teams with the best management at the top - which also means the best sales, sponsor service and media/public relations people are going to win the race for sponsorships as often as they win on track.
Money doesn't automatically buy you speed, but well-spent investments in the best people eventually will pay dividends.
I quote Seth Godin quite a lot here, and he's dead-on with his latest business blog, which he calls "The Sad Lie of Mediocrity:"
Motorsports crushes mediocrity.
Using Godin's argument, if a team is four percent below par at a race at Bristol, they finish the 500-lap race 20 LAPS behind the winner. Sure, each race has yellow flags which reset the field throughout the race (including many 'NASCAR yellows' if someone gains too much of a lead or the field is spread too thin), but no matter the number of resets, the top teams remain on top. A team which is four percent behind is almost always among the "go or go home" pack - and going home. This weekend at Phoenix, the best qualifying laps will be approximately 27 seconds flat. If a team is four percent off in qualifying, that's roughly 28.1 seconds, followed by a very long, early ride home. At the most recent Phoenix race, a lap slower than 27.59 sent teams home early... and that's only 2.223 percent slower than the pole winner.
Motorsports is very cyclical because of human nature: losing makes some people more motivated and forces them to work harder and smarter, while winning can occasionally make some folks complacent. However, over the long term, you'll find the same teams at the top (Hendrick, Ferrari, Penske- in open wheel, Force, Gibbs, McLaren, Roush) because of the people at the top. And that's no accident. Why? They do not accept 96 percent.
Because the stopwatch has no memory. It has no agenda. It plays no favorites. The stopwatch never lies. And it's running EVERY lap.
The film Idiocracy portrays the future as a world full of imbeciles who mock anyone showing the slightest glimpse of intelligence, decency or thoughtfulness. I hope for the sake of everyone's kids and grandkids that world doesn't come to be.
For the past eight years, we've been governed by incurious, incompetent leaders who mock intelligence as being only for the 'effeminate elite,' in favor of being stubborn and bellicose bullies. Now is the time to make a change.
The differences are clear: one party wants to extend their reign with more of the same: carrying a big stick yet forgetting to speak softly while dividing our ailing nation in a tiny group of "the haves" versus "the have-nots" (a category which grows daily). The other has selected a candidate which represents a new, unifying vision of the future.
Don't fall for attempts to incite fear and hate. As an example, here in North Carolina --suddenly a closely contested state -- Rep. Robin Hayes referred to liberals as those "who hate real Americans that work and accomplish and believe in God." Do you suspect he really believes that? Ask yourself: who is more qualified to inspire, uplift and UNIFY our nation in a time of great strife? I believe the choice is clear. And, as of this very morning, Junior Johnson thinks so too.
Barack Obama is a man who has worked tirelessly from a broken childhood to reach the U.S. Senate. Yes, his opponent is also a Senator - and a war hero - no arguments there. But do we want the man who crashed a seemingly endless number of planes and graduated 894th out of his class of 899? The Cardboard Maverick is a man of political steadiness equal to quicksand, whose highest-paid staffer last month was the hairstylist for his dullard VP candidate, and whose score on votes for women earned a score of ZERO.
Our globe is a mass of problems on a worldwide scale. Barack Obama is the only candidate which can unite our (former) allies around the world, while John McCain wants to continue the Bush doctrine of isolation. This policy weakens our already tattered state in an increasingly global world. Solutions to the economic crisis and the other challenges will only come from an united world- and a truly 'United' States.
Al Qaeda is stronger now than anytime since 2002, Guantanamo continues to haunt us, and an uneccessary war and torture are unacceptable. These are not ideals which Americans stand for. Obama has promised to end this tyranny, yet his opponents continue to scream that an end to war is a white flag of surrender. If that were truly the case, why do the troops favor Obama by a margin of 6 to 1?
The choice seems simple. A reasonable man. A steady hand. A smart man who ran the most organized and well-operated campaign in memory. A man who has united and energized so many millions in our country. Think of your kids. Think of your grandkids. Barack Obama is best suited to lead a solution to our problems.
Living in a southern state, I hear the racism. I hear people who spit hate with their entire being at Obama's racial mix. People who cannot fathom pulling the lever for a man who is half-black and half-white. But, David Allen Grier, the star of "In Living Color" and the brilliant new show, "Chocolate News" on Comedy Central, has some sage advice for those afraid to vote for a black man: "Vote for his white half!"
Vote for Barack Obama.
Jade Gurss: BEAST
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