I love to listen to great drummers, especially their isolated tracks. Joey Kramer from Aerosmith is always overlooked when it comes to skill, but just a quick listen to this isolated track from the band’s “Walk This Way” really proves why he’s one of the best. Here’s what to listen for.
1. Listen to how solid the drum track is. Kramer doesn’t drift from in tempo the entire song. He sets the groove and it feels great.
2. The drums play behind the beat. The track feels relaxed yet not lazy, which just goes to show that you don’t need to play frantically or up-tempo to create excitement.
3. The sound of the drums is great. There’s a nice long delayed plate on the snare, but listen to how clean the cymbals are. The balance between the drums and cymbals is also excellent, but I suspect that’s mostly because of the player and not the miking or mix balance. The snare is pretty bright, and the kick a little boxy compared to what we like today, but they work well in context with the mix.
4. The part is a little backwards, but that’s what makes it interesting. The open hi-hat is on beat one and the whole feel is fairly open and laid back during the guitar riff, and he plays hard 8ths on the open hat during the first verse and the ride cymbal on the second and third. He then goes to the bell and crashes during the choruses, which is a little more standard.
5. You can hear leakage from the rhythm guitar and occasionally something loud leaking through the reverb (a vocal scream?), but that’s what recording was like back in 1975.
This is only one of many hits by Aerosmith through the years, but don’t forget that it was also a hit by Run-DMC and it helped revive the band’s career. There’s a good story about how the song was written here.