Sunday, April 23, 2006

U.S. Drag (1982) – Missing Persons

(Part Two of the Mine Ears Have Heard The Glory of the Banging of the Drum tetralogy)

Future Duran Duran guitarist Warren Cuccurullo picks out a fidgety pattern on guitar. Together with drummer Terry Bozzio’s perplexing rhythmic puzzles, they obfuscate the meter in which the band is playing. Singer Dale Bozzio’s strung-out meanderings about the tedium and angst of life on tour serve as reminder that “U.S. Drag” is, at heart, a rock song, albeit one decked out in a funk/new wave fusion that boasts an unconventional time-signature. (Perhaps Terry and Warren concocted such an unusual rhythm to keep themselves occupied on the tour bus.) Key in on the hi-hat accents that occur on very odd off-beats, coordinated with the interplay of snare and kick drum, and the beat only becomes more baffling. As such, one’s awe of Bozzio’s drumming adeptness grows exponentially. As the fade out approaches, Bozzio somehow (assuming not by overdubbing) adds ride cymbal pings to the equation to elucidate that the song’s herky-jerkiness is anchored in 6/4 time. Like Radiohead’s “Myxomatosis” (4/4 time), stripped of the sleight of hand, the meter proves to be relatively straightforward, but the effect is alchemic.

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