10 classic rock songs powered by drum machines

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“Drum machines might be reliable and stuff, but they can’t drink as much as I am,” (supposedly) Motorhead drummer Phil Taylor once said.

In fact, Taylor, who died in 2015 of liver failure, was a machine when he was behind a kit – a relentless rhythmic force on Motorhead proto-thrashers like “Ace of Spades” and “Overkill”.

You get the drift, however. Rock music has a complicated relationship with technology. Of that moron in the crowd who shouted “Judas!” to Bob Dylan when Dylan “went electric” in 1966, to the great philosopher Vince Neil assuming in 1992 to the rest of Motley Crue, “Those keyboards you put on the new album make us sound like (an expletive synonymous with” wimps “) . “

For rockers, drum machines are the trickiest. Probably because electronic beats are seen as a building block of pop, rap, and radio R&B, supposedly antitheses of “real music” like rock, made with “real instruments” like guitars, basses and guitars. real drum kits.

Fortunately, some now classic artists didn’t think of it that way. They used drum machines to help give the 10 songs below their distinctive atmosphere and sounds.

Please Note: Some of these songs feature human drummers in addition to electronic beats. And for this particular list, I focused on acts with traditional instrumentation and excluded bands, like Nine Inch Nails, whose all sound is built around machines.

“With or without you” U2 1987

Co-producer Daniel Lanois said Fender.com U2’s first US number one “wasn’t a group / hall performance, it was a control room concoction.”

Factoid: After initial sessions built on electric beats, The Edge’s hypnotic guitar, Adam Clayton’s steady bass, and Bono’s dramatic vocals, Larry Mullen, Jr.’s real drums were added later for more. power and dynamics.

“Faceless Eyes” Billy Idol 1983

An electronic LinnDrum creates a haunting atmosphere on this ballad from the former frontman of punk band Generation X.

Factoid: Producer Keith Forsey was a protégé of Giorgio Moroder, known for composing music for synthetic films and hit soundtracks, such as “Take My Breathe Away” from “Top Gun”.

“Don’t come here anymore” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 1985

A somewhat confrontational cut from a legendary – and normally very classical – singer / songwriter.

Factoid: Fleetwood Mac frontman Stevie Nicks forwarded the recording of this song, co-written by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, which took the hook of a love feud that Stewart overheard between guitarist Joe Walsh … and Nicks.

“Glass heart” Blondie 1978

A Roland CR-78 makes your heart beat on the smash dance of new wave fave.

Factoid: Blondie keyboardist Jimmy Destri brought his Roland to the recording sessions updating a remaining track from the band called “The Disco Song”, for a late addition to their album “Parallel Lines”.

“Within your reach” The replacements 1983

Boozy Midwestern ragamuffins and a Dr. Rhythm machine were an unlikely but inspired couple.

Factoid: From the amazing biography of Bob Mehr “Trouble Boys: The real story of the substitutes ”, “Mats drummer Chris Mars tried adding live drums to the track, it just didn’t click.

“The Boys of Summer” Don Henley

LinnDrum strikes again, and the beat seems to freeze time on this nostalgic MTV smash.

Factoid: Co-written / co-produced by Mike Campbell, guitarist with Tom Petty, who went on to cut the song herselfF. Henley’s iconic lyrics “Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac” were taken from an experience Henley had while driving on a California highway.

“Turbo lover” Judas Priest 1986

“I’m not one of those drummers who say, ‘Ah machines! Take them away, “Priest drummer Dave Holland told Modern Drummer in ’86.” It’s hard to believe people still feel threatened by them. When used correctly, they can maximize your sound, without robbing you of your work! “

Factoid: The band and Holland split up three years later.

“In the air tonight” Phil Collins 1981

Genesis ‘drummer solo success is known for Collins’ booming tam-tam roll at around 3:40 inches, but a brooding Roland CR-78 motif leads the way.

Factoid: The electronic rhythms of the main recording are home demos that Collins did to kill time after returning from tour to find her marriage over and her family gone.

“Photography” Def Leppard 1983

A Fairlight sampler almost joined the group, on the huge LP of British rockers.

Factoid: “There are no real drums,” sound engineer Mike Shipley said of the album “The Pyromania”, in a TapeOp maintenance. “The cymbals are played (by Rick Allen of Def Lep), but the bass drum, snare and toms are all machines.”

ZZ Top “Well Dressed Man” 1983

“I was in Frank’s living room when Frank (ZZ Top drummer Beard) found out that he had been replaced on the ‘Eliminator’ album by a drum machine,” wrote Linden Hudson, collaborator and engineer. pre-production on the LP. Reddit. “A close combat ensued, Frank was beyond anger, fists clenched:” Who is that drummer (expletive)? ” He shouted. It was a nasty scene, even Frank thought he was a real human drummer.

Factoid: Galyn Görg, an actress in the famous music video, continued to appear in “Twin Peaks” and RoboCop 2. ″

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