How the Drum Machine Changed Pop Music

Enjoyed William Weir’s perspective on There’s a Riot Goin’ On (in Slate), specifically in regards to how critical the employment of (newly emerging) automated rhythm tracks were to that album’s overall aesthetic.

Groundbreaking though it was, the drum machine’s emergence in the early 1970s didn’t make a lot of waves — largely because listeners didn’t know what they were hearing. To modern ears, these early machines sound crude; it’s hard to believe anyone could mistake them with flesh-and-blood drumming. But as JJ Cale told Mojo magazine: “The deal is, in those days people didn’t know about it, so they didn’t realize what it was.”

Why is every thing ultimately at its most interesting before it becomes a “thing”? (cf. McLuhan’s idea of “effects preceding causes.”)


2 thoughts on “How the Drum Machine Changed Pop Music

  1. Thanks for these, Steve — for both the Bangs and the Marcus reviews. Enjoyed reading them both, even though Bangs’s critique feels a little perfunctory to me (I should go back and read his Black and Blue teardown in Creem, which I have a feeling is a much sharper, funnier piece).

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