Metallica Fridays (no. 18): Better Drumming… Undenied!

i can’t say anything more than what Lars Ulrich (and other musicians) has said: A good song writes itself. Perhaps i will be able to write that great song some day. Until then i will appreciate those who do write them.

Whether it’s their covering and honoring (more obscure- especially at the time) NWOBHM and punk bands over the years (actually taking up most of their live sets in the early days), doing doodles (recognizing local artist from whatever city or country they’re performing in), just taking outright cues for inspiration, or advocating for vinyl; Metallica have always been a band that loves music, regardless of where it comes from. From what i can see, the greatest artists have a diverse interest in music, and will be inspired by sounds they do not primarily perform. Johnny Marr was inspired by Nile Rogers, John Legend’s second album was inspired by Pet Sounds… and even though many took inspiration from James Brown (including Mick Jagger), Mr. Brown himself arguably straight up jacked David Bowie. That said, Carlos Alomar DID play the riff on both songs, and it was said that the riff was constructed during his time with the JB’s (prior to his work with Bowie). So was it a straight jack? This is a debate that will probably go on until the end of time.

Metallica have not only sent clear nods to Sabbath, Budgie, Queen and Motorhead; they also were inspired by bands and artists such as Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Tom Waits. Sonically they’ve also collectively looked to country, Motown (if you can call that a genre), blues, jazz and punk.

One band they haven’t seem to look to was the Kinks.

The Kinks are one of my favorite groups of all time. As major as they are, they still have fallen under the radar of the pantheon of great bands, in comparison to how many mention, in particular, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The lyrics were a combination of stream of consciousness, self-awareness, straight-ahead cultural musings, class analysis, satire and biting sociopolitical commentary, giving them a bit more relatability than other pop contemporaries at the time.

James Hetfield (before introducing Ray Davies to the stage at Madison Square Garden in 2009) acknowledged that the band “got completely schooled… on early, early riff rock.” He called the Kinks “one of the original punks.” Interestingly… despite being a punk kid, my favorite stuff from the Kinks is the post-‘riff rock/punk’ stuff. They have great albums like Muswell Hillbillies, Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of the British Empire), Village Green Preservation Society, Something Else, Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, and more.

(Side note: i actually met Ray Davies back in 1998 when he was making appearances for his album The Storyteller. i approached him, and he said, “Hi Sweetheart, how are you?” A lot of people had so much to say to him, asking about specific shows, songs or riffs. i was very shy, and there was a limited amount of time we could talk, so i just wrote down a few questions on a paper and handed it to him, then left. i have no idea if he ever read the questions, or if he thought the questions were any good. He may have just laughed at them.)

In 2010 Davies released See My Friends (obviously titled after a Kinks song), a collaborative effort covering his music. It featured Alex Chilton, Lucinda Williams, Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and more… including a collaboration with Metallica- ‘You Really Got Me’.

Which is what i do here. It’s very clear Metallica took more of the Van Halen approach when they covered the song. However, despite knowing that version and hearing it a whole bunch of times over the years i am much more familiar with the OG…. so i did make the drums less ‘metal’ than Lars.

i have been vegan for over half my life (28 years) and i absolutely love ‘Of Wolf And Man’. It’s probably as simple as being a song about a dude who turns into a werewolf; on a deeper level (because that’s just what i do) i do think it’s a continuation that was had on the Justice album (if not directly) in regards to how humans mess things up, and how we should regard the ‘natural world’ as being part of ourselves. The Earth is a gift (as is mentioned in the song); let’s stop disrespecting her.

My favorite part of the song though: NOSE TO THE WIND. i don’t even care. It always makes me think of nose boops.

i did my attempt at honoring Lars by doing some take on the great ‘Wolf And Man’ fill he does. it’s one of my favorite fills on The Black Album. i still don’t understand the Lars hate, man.

And finally, we have what is one of my favorite Metallica songs of all time, ‘Lords Of Summer’. It’s one of a handful of songs where they reference themselves (‘King Nothing’, ‘Unforgiven II’ and ‘St. Anger’ being three top ones); it’s also a song, like ‘Death Is Not The End’ or ‘Vulturous’, where they’ve worked on in various incarnations. However, unlike those two it actually got an official release. As much as it would have been an excellent addition to the (also excellent) Hardwired… To Self-Destruct; i think it would have taken away from the somber theme of the album. Having this be an extra track on the CD edition (and side E on the vinyl edition) was to me, a wise choice.

Imagine hearing this song for the first time- which is what happened in Bogotá, Colombia on March 16, 2014. It was the unfinished version, but it was no less powerful.

While i’m still my own biggest critic (and while i make a few obvious mistakes here) i KNOW i’m getting better at drumming, because i actually got through this song. i tried this song a few months ago, and couldn’t even get through the first verse. Also, i know the song would sound better with double kick, but you already know…

There are a lot of songs that make me think of animals. A lot of Metallica songs make me think of cats (which is probably why i love the band so much). This song though, makes me think of seals. i’m not sure why, but it’s definitely okay with me. i absolutely love seals.

(Also, if you don’t know what e-drums sound like to people not playing them, you can see at the beginning. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…)

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