Wednesday, August 13, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Back In The USSR

BACK IN THE USSR
PMCPP Analysis #11
Key: A Major
Rhythm Used: Chunk

We're back in the PMCPP! Welcome to a wonderful installment of PMCPP where the last P stands for both Piano and Percussion! (Thanks for the term, Dakota. Heh.) As we all know, Paul played both his keys and Ringo's set for this one, so we may be in for a long tedious ride. Although I suppose you deserve it for having to wait a month between me writing these. Whoops.

THE PIANO: As you'd probably expect by now, this piano part is nothing new to us. 3 or 4 note chunks in root position, mostly in eighth notes throughout the song. On rare occasion, he does do a bit of a 16th note trill with his chords, but nothing besides the note value changes there.

The piano actually starts up straight after the jet noise intro and the vamping on the V chord. It's not hard to hear at all, it's quite high in the mix. And that loud banging he's doing on it would probably be audible even if the fader was mostly turned off - it'd only be loud crunching noises at that point, but my point still stands. DYNAMICS, MACCA DO YOU SPEAK IT.

Every verse contains the same basic pianic (that's totally a word, shut up) structure with the piano blasting those eighth notes endlessly throughout. Never does the piano stop, but as the verses get later on in the song, he does occasional bursts of those trills I was talking about earlier. There seems to be no rhyme or reasoning for when he does them, but whatever. The refrains contain no difference.

The bridges see him switch to a different method of SYNCOPATED chunking on off beats. Even when different jazzy additions are made to the underlying chord, his piano stays pretty much the same throughout, not that we'd expect anything else from him. Adding dominant 7ths to the chord requires all that work, after all.

THE PERCUSSION: Being a drummer myself, listening to this makes my poor ears bleed. As you probably know, all 3 of the non-Ringo Beatles played drums on this one, and Paul's version was considered "best." (lol let's see who gets that pun) All I have to say is that George and John must've played some of the worst drumming in the history of the universe to do worse than what Paul came up with.

The rhythm he uses is the old standard "I've been a drummer in a rock band for about 2 days and this is the easiest thing to play so I'll do it for every song" drum riff. For those of you unfamiliar with it, just hit the hi-hat on every eighth note with bass drum on 1&3 and snare on 2&4. There you have it, the entire song. However, Paul even manages to screw THAT up.

Listening closely to the song you may notice that near the beginning Paul is draggin' like an old monkey's balls. He eventually catches up, but not before missing the snare drum twice. Paul, the snare drum is like a foot across at least, how the hell can you miss it so much? Seriously, the first time I ever played the drum set in my life I did better than this. And I was playing JAZZ for Christ's sake!

The drum fills he uses are elementary and all similar. Find one instance in the song where he doesn't just do "and 2 and a 3 e and a 4 e and one" or "and 2 and 3 and 4" as his fill. (So far the only instance I could find was around the end where I think he missed the tom on one of the hits) Even worse is the fact that in the whole song his fills take place on the snare or on the topmost tom. No floor tom excepting the intro is used, and he doesn't even use more than one crash cymbal! Jeez, did Ringo take half his set with him when he walked out? I KNOW he has at least 2 toms and cymbals. Variety is the spice of life, Paul! TAKE NOTES.

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: All right, this one is easy. The chords used here are the old standard rock set of I IV V and flat-III. Nothing else is ever used, and the V chord only winds up being seen during the intro and the very tail end of the bridge. Basically he spends 3/4 of the song doing the same progression between I-IV-flatIII-IV-I. Nice and symmetrical, but also eventually a bit boring.

The guitar riff that punctuates most of the song isn't all that difficult of a riff, going in downward chromatics in the various 3 chords you've already seen. Thankfully it does provide some semblance of movement in the otherwise fairly melodically static song. Even the vocal part doesn't move around much outside a small range.

I'd also like to point out that this is yet another example of Paul sticking C chords (the flat-III) into stuff written in A. It's like he needs a fix of C every time he writes in A, just to get himself comfortable. I'm just glad he didn't do a full blown key change this time.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Uh... the awesome jet noises? The blatant Beach Boy references? I don't know. I guess it's just some KICK ASS ROCK 'N ROLL AMIRITE?

All right, so this wasn't my best analysis, but I'm getting into the swing of things again, dammit!

5 comments:

Cameron said...

i wish I wasn't in a rush. I'm a pianist who can play such jazz pieces as Monk's "Ruby, My Dear." With that in mind, greatness doesn't necessarily lay in complexity.
Macca at his best has a gift of timeless melody - tunes that sound like they've "always been around" - and often they only require rudimentary chord-progressions. There can be beauty in simplicity.

Sorry i've picked this specific song's forum to discuss general matters, but also McCartney was also a pioneering bass player - knew when to keep it simple, knew when to make it complex. He also knew how to balance melodic considerations with the need for a satisfying foundation for a given chord (like say, deciding to have a d# underneath a B chord). So his bass-playing was musical horizontally AND vertically at key points, if that makes sense.

UZ said...

I do enjoy Macca's bass playing, I consider him a virtuoso in the matter of Rock Bass Guitar. In fact, some of the more boring Beatles songs often get saved by his interesting bass parts. (Old Brown Shoe comes to mind.)

I realize there can be beauty in simplicity but this blog is more pointed toward people who think Macca is the greatest Pianist of all time (Trust me, those people are out there.)

And you must remember, this blog is a satire ;)

Cameron said...

Well, then, I enjoy the satire (which has the underlying reasonable points, of course), and look forward to more entries.

UZ said...

Well, now that I know someone is reading, I'll certainly find time for some more.

Glad that you came with actual points, you'd be surprised how many raging mad Macca fans flame my ass because they didn't see the satire disclaimer at the bottom of the page.

George said...

Wow, are you basically just a pompous ass with nothing better to do than "show off" your self proclaimed expertise by belittling others? It's an effing rock and roll song--what is your level of expectation here? None of the Beatles are great or virtuoso musicians and would have ever claimed to be. They are writers but with a lot more instrumental and vocal abilities than most other writers; so, they perform their own music, up to the level of their competence, which, by the way, is MORE than adequate for popular music--and, yes, that goes for Paul's piano playing and drumming as well. If you're that fastidious about musicianship, pick on classical performers. I fail to see how McCartney's playing is appreciably worse than that of other rock "piano men." Elton John can be quite sloppy and Billy Joel, while competent, could not manage it proficiently on a classical level by any means and he himself would say so. So, all that said, it leaves me with this one simple question?--what is the point of (as they say) hating on McCartney--I mean, other than jealously over what you perceive to be ignorant attention and adoration you feel he may be receiving. If that is the only reason, you probably might just want to get over it. Life is too short to be such a pedantic piece of shit. ta ta!

NOTE:

This series and blog is totally tongue in cheek. I really do love Paul McCartney.