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Friday, March 20, 2009

ABF Friday:  YouTube edition!

Off to LSU tomorrow and then the U of Toledo next week, so I won’t be doing much blogging for a bit.  Bringing Jamie to LSU, going to Toledo solo.  Stop by if you’re in town!

For today’s Arbitrary exercise, I bring you two or three videos from YouTube, which I have cleverly “implanted” in this blog by sorcery.  The first involves a crucial correction to this ancient (but Arbitrary) post from 2006, in which I celebrated some of the little things that make life worth living.  One of those little things was the underappreciated kick-drum work on The Spiral Starecase’s one-and-only hit, “More Today than Yesterday.” Here’s a priceless (and very turtlenecky) reminder:

Ouch!  Anyway, one of the reasons that drumming is underappreciated, no doubt, is that the song came out in 1969, when people had AM radios and therefore never heard stuff on the low end, like bass drums.  Anyway, I don’t remember how this happened, but I identified the drummer as Joel Vincent, and in that I was badly mistaken.  I do remember searching and searching high and low in the intertubes for the name of The Spiral Starecase’s drummer, but I obviously didn’t search very well, because their Wikipedia page existed back then, and very clearly identifies the guy as Vinnie Parello.  Mr. Parello, I apologize.

But lo!  Back in November some YouTuber had the good sense to upload The Spiral Starecase doing the lip-sync thing on their one and only hit, and what do you know?  Some guy showed up two months ago and posted the following comment:

The bass and drums on this song are sweet. Listen to the bass drum fills...SWEET..this cheesy lip sync gives no justice. Who was the drummer?? Listen how he drops those triplet notes in and out of the verse, and eighth notes that keep the song marching right along...great idea!!! No other drummer would of played like that. That guys needs recognition.

A month later came the reply:

re:drummer’s kick!
From associate editor Billy Amendola, Modern Drummer Magazine:
“This was one of the first AM radio pop songs that the kick drum really popped out for me and made me realize I could do more with it without getting super-busy and in the way of the song. And it was my first shuffle groove—the horns made it sound almost big band but not quite—and it still rocked! I always thought it was a session drummer, but band member Vinnie Parello is credited with playing on the tune”

followed by

I went to this song on YouTube because it was in one of the feature articles in the March issue of Modern Drummer ... I didn’t appreciate this song when it came out (I was a teenager) because so much was lost in the AM transmission .. I never heard the kick drum until checking this video out .. amazing drumming for the era and very Bonham like .. incredible for this genre of music .. one of the coolest parts of YouTube

So there you have it—an actual discussion of the kick drum in “More Today than Yesterday,” in which Vinnie Parello finally gets his due.  I do love the internets sometimes.

And as another commenter in that thread points out, the other half of the rhythm section is notable as well: “Hey did you see the bass player . . . didn’t realize Larry Csonka was part of the group..he’s got great moves on and off the field.” No kidding!  That nifty shuffling makes the video rock extra extra hard.

By the way, if you check out their Wikipedia page you’ll discover that The Spiral Starecase started life as The Fydallions, which might be one of the worst ten band names ever.  It’s like they were the Ford Probe of pop.  But then, the group got

noticed by the A&R representative for Columbia Records, Gary Usher, while they were working in El Monte, California. Columbia signed the band, but insisted that they changed their name. “They loved our work” said [guitarist and lead singer Pat] Upton, “but they hated the name and they didn’t like the way we dressed. This was in the late sixties when all the musicians were wearing long hair. We looked very square!” The band was renamed after the movie The Spiral Staircase, but with a deliberate misspelling.

The deliberate misspelling is very rock and roll.  But at least there weren’t any umlauts, like in that other band Spinal Staircäse!  Anyway, guys, we still don’t like the way you dressed.  Prom night is over, dudes.  Great vocals, though.

As for the other video: here’s someone else who never quite got her due for a nice little piece of work.

Ah, it was a simpler time, before “rap” music came along and destroyed civilization.  Alternate version with better production values and the jangly guitar riff from the Spinners’ original:

See you all soon!  Til then, feel free to implant your favorite obscure YouTubes in comments by sorcery.

Posted by Michael on 03/20 at 12:38 PM
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