Rock epics of the month is a series of posts where I'll look back on classic examples of what I think is the greatest excess of rock and roll - the rock epic.
Get a few blokes drunk at a party, and inevitably the conversation will veer over to who is the greatest rock drummer going at the moment. I know this bloke who will maintain until his dying day that John Stanier (Helmet, The Mark Of Cain, Tomahawk, Battles) is "the hardest working drummer in rock and roll".
For me though, there really is only one choice: Danny Carey.
There is something truly amazing about this guy's precision. And unlike Stanier, the guy can swing a bit, too. Not swing, as in the genre, although I don't doubt for a moment that given half a go, he'd probably be able to have a crack at Gene Krupa's wildest work, but swing, as in fall off the beat and back on again in the blink of an eye.
Kinda like what a good jazz drummer is said to be able to do.
10,000 Days was Tool's fourth album, and in one of my rare album reviews, I wrote about being awestruck by not only Carey's stickswork, but by how well him and bassplayer Justin Chancellor work as a team. Tool's sound is very much built from the ground up, and you could probably release an album with just Carey and Chancellor on it - guitarist Adam Jones and vocalist Maynard James Keenan effectively become the flesh around Carey and Chancellor's bones.
I also wrote about being seriously blown away by this tune: I rightly described it as the "piece de resistance" of the whole CD.
Well, a year and several months later, and I'm no less over it. At 14:55, it's still an almighty bitch-slap of a tune, and anyone who says otherwise either hasn't got it, or hasn't listened the whole way through.
It's listed as two separate tunes on the CD, but they're really rammed together as one. "Lost Keys" starts with some eerie air raid guitar and a plaintive lament on Jones' guitar. Meanwhile, after about two and a half minutes, there's some trouble in ER:
Nurse: Excuse me Doctor? If you have a moment?
Doctor: A moment? What's the question?
Nurse: More of a situation. A gentleman in exam 3.
Doctor: What's the problem?
Nurse: That is the problem. We're not sure.
Doctor: Do you have the chart?
Nurse: Right here.
Doctor: Not much here, is there?
Nurse: No doctor. No obvious physical trauma. Vitals are stable.
Nurse: No sir.
Doctor: Did someone drop him off? Maybe we can speak to them. Let's get some background on this fellow.
Nurse: No ID. Nothing. And he won't speak to anyone.
Doctor: Well then. Let's say hello.
Doctor, to patient: Good morning, I'm Doctor Watson. How are you today?
Doctor, to patient: How are you today?
Doctor, to patient: Look son. You're in a safe place. We wanna help you in whatever way we can. But you need to talk to us, we can't help you otherwise. Now, what's happened? Tell me everything.
Which is where it segues into "Rosetta Stoned". And this is where the fun begins to truly heat up.
We now return you to the action in Act 2.
Edit 16/09/2008: As regular commenter Taj points out, this is not an official Tool video. Not surprising really - who would normally film a video to a fifteen minute rock epic? It's still good: