Looking for a specific description of John Bonham's drumming
February 11, 2013 6:41 PM   Subscribe

I once read a paragraph-or-so-long review of a Led Zeppelin song that I'm almost completely sure is "When The Levee Breaks" that talks about why it's so incredible from the very first drumbeat, how it has a heavy sound and comes in behind the beat. I'm trying to find it.

It is possible that if this was not an article, it may have been a post on the Straight Dope Message Board (though based on my googling I'm not so sure) or a comment here on Metafilter.
posted by capricorn to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Is it from this Chuck Klosterman essay about Zep?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:47 PM on February 11, 2013

not sure where it is, but I think I read the same one. I think they recorded the drums from inside a stairwell to get that unique sound, if that helps you find the article.
posted by reverend cuttle at 7:26 PM on February 11, 2013

Have you searched MeFi? I seem to recall someone on the blue making that observation a few years ago.
posted by davebush at 10:05 PM on February 11, 2013

Sounds familiar to me as well. I read a lot of Guitar World when I was a teenager.
posted by victory_laser at 1:12 AM on February 12, 2013

Page talks about it in It Might Get Loud.

I had always thought he was recorded in a long open corridor, but not so, according Page. They band rented an estate with a three or four story staircase in it, and assembled microphones all the way up. This accounts somewhat for the range of reverb that you're hearing in the final track.

The heaviness of it is just Bonzo's brute strength.
posted by psmealey at 1:18 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

That was a bit of a sloppy explanation. The estate had a round, central staircase going up 3 or 4 stories, that was capped by a rotunda. Bonham's kit was placed dead center on the ground floor, and microphones were placed at various vertical heights on the staircase all the way to the top of the rotunda. In this way, they could select the correct blend of reverb (attack/decay) they were looking for.

In term of the heaviness, this is more related to Bonzo's brute strength of his attack. That said, he is hitting the drums no harder in Levee, than he is an Kashmir, the Immigrant's Song or any number of Led Zeppelin's mid to up-tempo rockers. What makes it sound heavier and deeper is the novel way they went about getting the reverb they were looking for, and the way the microphones were positioned no doubt had an effect on the actual drum tone that was recorded as well (thought the individual drums and cymbals were probably mic'ed as they normally are in a studio).
posted by psmealey at 4:06 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

1. The article/essay/review was referring specifically to the recorded track.
2. I read this probably last year. It was definitely on the internet.
posted by capricorn at 10:20 AM on February 12, 2013

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