Formats: AUDIO / AKAI / PRO TOOLS
Although he's served time with vintage US rockers Aerosmith, there's more to Joey Kramer's playing than a 10-ton backbeat — "I started off playing like Mitch Mitchell", he says, "but went on to be heavily influenced by James Brown's drummer Clyde Stubblefield". That's some credible name-dropping.
The audio version contains over 63 minutes of energetic drumming, presented dry and wet on two CDs. Load any dry loop and you get a clean, beefy, in-your-face drum performance. Select the equivalent wet version and you get the same recording with added room mics, an ambient racket more akin to the drums on Addicted To Love. A nice option, but it gets better since the 24-bit eight-CD Pro Tools multitrack version enables custom drum kit mixing. The multitrack layout is: 1, kick; 2, snare; 3, hi-hat; 4+5, toms and overheads; 6+7, stereo room; 8, cowbell (where played). Truly a producer's dream. The Pro Tools set comes bundled with the two audio CDs for reference.
The loops are hard-hitting, full kit performances of four or more bars' duration, mainly in straight 4/4, but occasionally slipping into 12/8 or a 4/4 swung feel. Most loops have a generous number of variations for song construction, and there are tons of useful fills and a comprehensive (and highly useable) menu of 90 single hits. Tempos are listed from 71 to 149bpm, but as Kramer occasionally bursts into double time, the upper limit is actually way above 200bpm.
Timbrally, it's pretty much full-on, with one dynamic: deafening. The kick and snare rarely rest, and there are no solo hi-hat patterns, ride cymbal loops or toms-only performances. A nicely played cowbell substitutes for ride cymbal in a couple of spots, but that's pretty much the extent of the sonic variation. Stylistically, the menu consists of rock followed by more rock, lightly garnished with speed metal, some rock-blues and a small helping of rock-funk.
Despite these restrictions, the playing is accurate and polished, and the grooves certainly steam ahead. Joey Kramer's chief attribute may be explosive power, but he also has technique; the bass drum 16th notes in 'Prime Cut' are hammered out so precisely, they sound quantised. I enjoyed the nifty hi-hat on 'Grand Canyon Grooves #8', and appreciated the inclusion of some Motown on-beat snare patterns.
These drum loops are played with great spirit and whole-heartedness, and perfectly recorded with some terrific classic-sounding compression adding 'wallop and swoosh' without going over the top. Not a volume for sensitive, introspective types, but recommended to songwriters, producers and programmers looking for a fat, powerful, driving rock sound.
2-CD audio set £79.95; 2-CD-ROM Akai set £199; 10-CD Pro Tools version £330.
Time & Space +44 (0)1837 55200.