Sunday, October 20, 2019

nine inch nails’ pretty hate machine is 30

nine inch nails released their debut album, pretty hate machine, 30 years ago today, October 20, 1989.

Rolling Stone reported a few months later:

Nine Inch Nails’ sound is dominated by clanging synths and sardonic, shrieking vocals. But Reznor stretches that industrial-strength noise over a pop framework, and his harrowing but catchy music has taken the college charts by storm.
The conventional wisdom might be that the downward spiral is the magnum opus of NIИ. But for me, their greatest has always been pretty hate machine — the original expression of NIИ in its most raw purity. (“i gave you my purity...”)

Today I listened to the remastered version of the whole album with headphones. NIИ sing about how there’s “nothing quite like the feel of something new,” but there’s also nothing quite like returning to something that hasn’t been new for a long time but still has the capacity to shock and invigorate.

head like a hole” starts the album by signaling from the first words that this song and this album are going to be about power and control: “god money, i’ll do anything for you. god money, just tell me what you want me to...” The song later seems to become more political, with lines like: “god money, let’s go dancing on the backs of the bruised...”

That song ends with a disorienting segue to the next song, “terrible lie,” which has been a powerful opener to NIИ’s famously great live shows. The singer’s obsessively dependent refrain is: “don’t take it away from me, i need someone to hold on to...” (the equivalent to the downward spiral’s “nothing can stop me now, ‘cause i don’t care anymore.”)

down in it” has trent reznor (who the liner notes helpfully tell us “is” nine inch nails) rapping over eerily atmospheric samples. To be a NIИ fan is to know the lyrics to this by heart. (“kind of like a cloud...”)

sanctified” is one of many songs in which reznor grapples with religion. (“heaven’s just a rumor she’ll dispel, as she walks me through the nicest parts of hell...”)

something i can never have” is the “hurt” of pretty hate machine, and possibly even more hauntingly beautiful. A quintessentially self-effacing NIИ line: “grey would be the color ... if i had a heart.”

sin” is an anthem of power and control. The song keeps coming back to a “shah” sound that bounces back and forth between the left and right speakers, as if to beg us to listen with headphones. The song reaches some of the most intense moments of the album after the second chorus, when the instruments steadily build up to a heavy synth riff over a wall of guitars.

the only time” reveals a funkier and more comical side of NIИ. (“my moral standing is lying down...”)

Some of the other, poppier songs on the album are less memorable, but they remind us that while we might think of nine inch nails as ‘90s alternative music, NIИ started in the ‘80s.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Live-blogging the biggest presidential debate ever

And I'm not exaggerating — CNN tells us this will be "the largest [debate] in modern history." I'm not sure I'll be able to take a whole 12 candidates on the stage at the same time, but I'll do any-live blogging in this post. Keep reloading for more updates.

[ADDED: You can watch the whole debate here, after it's aired. And here's the transcript.]

(I'll be writing down quotes on the fly, so they might not be perfect, but I'll try to keep them reasonably accurate.)

8:02 - Anderson Cooper points out that all the candidates support an impeachment inquiry, but asks why we shouldn't wait just one more year for the voters to decide whether Donald Trump should stay president. Elizabeth Warren responds: "Sometimes there are issues that are bigger than politics.… Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences."

8:03 - Bernie Sanders says: "Trump is the most corrupt president in history."

8:05 - Joe Biden says the Trump administration is obstructing justice, and Congress has "no choice but to move."

8:06 - Kamala Harris quotes Maya Angelou: "Listen to somebody when they tell you who they are the first time." She also says impeaching Trump "won't take very long": "As a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it!"

8:09 - Amy Klobuchar: "I'm still waiting to find out from [Trump] how making that call to Ukraine … makes America great again. I'm waiting to hear how leaving the Kurds for slaughter … makes America great again."

8:11 - Pete Buttigieg: "A president 10 years, or 100 years from now will look back at this moment and conclude either that no one is above the law, or that the president can get away with anything."

8:12 - Tulsi Gabbard sounds the most skeptical of anyone about impeachment. She emphasizes that she supports an "impeachment inquiry" specifically into the Ukraine call, but complains about those who wanted to impeach Trump from day 1.

8:14 - Tom Steyer starts his first debate by saying: "Every candidate here is more decent and patriotic than the criminal in the White House."

8:15 - Andrew Yang dodges the impeachment question, and pivots to arguing that Ohio, the state they're in, voted for Trump by 8 percentage points because of manufacturing jobs disappearing.

8:18 - Biden is asked about the controversy swirling around his son Hunter. "I never discussed a single thing with my son about anything having to do with Ukraine." Biden adds that Trump "doesn't want me to be the candidate … because he knows that I will beat him like a drum."

[VIDEO of some of the candidates on impeachment.]

8:20 - Moving on from impeachment, Elizabeth Warren is asked if she'll raise taxes on the middle class to pay for her health care plan. She doesn't quite answer the question; she says that "costs" will go up for "the wealthy" and big corporations, but "costs" will go down for the middle class. Of course, "costs" and "taxes" are very different things.

8:23 - Buttigieg calls out Warren's failure to answer that question: "Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything — except this!" Then Buttigieg pivots to arguing for "Medicare for all who want it." Warren comes back that Buttigieg's plan is really "Medicare for all who can afford it."

8:26 - Bernie Sanders on his bill: "Premiums are gone! Copayments are gone! Deductibles are gone! … We're gonna do better than the Canadians do, and that is what they've managed to do.… I do think it's appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up." But he argues that most people's taxes will go up less than their premiums will go down.

8:27 - Amy Klobuchar chimes in: "At least Bernie's being honest here and saying that taxes are going to go up. And I'm sorry, Elizabeth, but you are not saying that." [VIDEO.]

8:30 - Without mentioning Buttigieg, Biden suggests that Buttigieg's health care plan is really "the Biden plan."

8:31 - There's some visible tension between Sanders and Biden: Biden is talking while physically putting his finger on Sanders's arm, and Sanders keeps raising his hand to respond to Biden.

8:32 - Kamala Harris makes a strong statement that the health care discussions in all the debates have been failing to include women's access to abortion.

8:34 - Andrew Yang is asked, since he wants to give $1,000 a month to all Americans, whether he supports Bernie Sanders's "federal jobs guarantee." No, Yang says: "Most Americans do not want to work for the federal government." Yang imagines the Sanders plan will lead to "failed retraining programs and jobs that no one wants," while Yang's plan of simply handing out money would empower individuals to make the best choices for them. [VIDEO of that answer, in the middle of a clip of "everything Yang said" at the debate.]

8:40 - Elizabeth Warren reaches out to Andrew Yang supporters by saying her plan to expand Social Security is similar to his $1,000 a month plan, and would help Yang's wife, who Yang mentioned earlier is taking care of their two sons full time.

8:41 - Tulsi Gabbard: "I agree with my friend Andrew Yang. I think universal basic income is a good idea."

8:43 - Cory Booker claims that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would give workers more money than giving everyone $1,000 a month.

8:45 - Bernie Sanders is asked about his statement that "billionaires should not exist." Does he want to "tax billionaires out of existence?" Sanders says: "We cannot afford a billionaire class whose greed and corruption has been at war with the working class for 45 years."

8:48 - A moderator points out that Steyer is the only billionaire on the stage. But Steyer says Bernie Sanders is right: "There have been 40 years when corporations have bought this government, and those 40 years have meant an attack on working people.… It's absolutely wrong."

8:50 - Biden goes meta: "These debates are kind of crazy, because everybody tries to squeeze everything into every answer!"

8:52 - Elizabeth Warren goes very negative about everyone else except Bernie Sanders, saying the rest of them won't support a wealth tax but want to protect billionaires. This gets a lot of pushback: Biden and Klobuchar both say none of them want to protect billionaires; Klobuchar adds that she's open to a wealth tax; and Buttigieg says: "I'm all for a wealth tax!"

8:57 - Yang says Warren's principles are right, and a wealth tax sounds good in theory — but numerous countries that have tried it (including Germany, France, and Sweden) have repealed it because it didn't work.

8:58 - Beto O'Rourke goes after Elizabeth Warren: "Sometimes I think that Senator Warren is more interested in being punitive and putting different parts of the country against each other than in coming up with solutions." (Not sure if I got the end of that quote right — I should go back later.) Warren responds: "I'm really shocked at the notion that anyone thinks I'm punitive!"

9:02 - Cory Booker worries about "how we talk about each other in this debate." He suggests that "tearing each other down because we have a different plan" will prevent them from making Trump a one-term president.

9:11 - Tulsi Gabbard is asked about Trump's movement of troops in Syria in a way that allowed Turkey to invade. "Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hands — but so do many politicians from both parties, who supported this regime-change war which started in 2011."

9:13 - Buttigieg says Gabbard is "dead wrong": "The slaughter in Syria is not a consequence of American presence." Buttigieg gets impassioned as he talks about being deployed to Afghanistan and knowing that the American flag on his uniform was keeping him safe because our friends and allies knew we kept our word, which Trump has undermined. "You might as well take away their body armor next."

9:20 - Kamala Harris says there are 4 winners from Trump's Syria policy: "Russia, Assad, Iran, and ISIS."

9:21 - Castro might have the line of the night: "Think about how absurd it is that Donald Trump is caging kids on the border, and effectively letting ISIS go free."

9:24 - Another touchy-feely moment between Biden and Sanders: Biden says Trump is saying comforting words to Vladimir Putin while pointing directly at Sanders, who says: "Are you saying I'm Putin?" Biden says, "No!" — and they hug each other.

9:31 - Anderson Cooper asks Beto how he'd enforce his promise from the last debate that he'll confiscate Americans' AR-15s and AK-47s, given that he's admitted the government isn't going to be "going door to door" looking for these guns. So … what's Beto's response? He'd ban guns and … hope everyone follows the law? Is that supposed to be based on the honor system or what? Buttigieg points out that Beto just admitted he doesn't know how his promise can be put into action. This leads to an extended, heated back and forth between Buttigieg and Beto. Buttigieg stares at Beto and tells him: "I don't need lessons from you on courage — political or personal." [VIDEO.]

9:38 - Klobuchar is asked why she supports a "voluntary buyback" instead of a "mandatory buyback." She brushes aside that question and speaks to the broader issue of guns: "The American people are with us.… Let's not mess this up!"

9:41 - Kamala Harris reruns a line she already used in an earlier debate: "I have looked at more autopsy photos than I care to tell you."

9:42 - Biden says he's the only person on the stage who's "taken on the NRA and won." This should be a good moment for him in the debate, but he goes on to mangle his words so much it's hard to listen to him.

9:44 - Castro argues that we shouldn't have a mandatory buyback because it would mean "police officers going door to door" and using violence against people in their own homes.

9:45 - Klobuchar quotes an email by a pharma company executive on opioids: "Keep pumping them out — they're eating them like Doritos!"

9:51 - Kamala Harris would criminally prosecute pharma executives who've sold opioids: "They are nothing more than some high-level dope dealers!"

9:55 - Moderator Erin Burnett asks Biden about the fact that he'll turn 80 in his first term if he's elected. "One of the reasons I'm running is because of my age and experience. With it comes wisdom.… I know what has to be done. I've done it before.… I will not need any on-the-job training."

9:57 - Similarly, Burnett points out that Elizabeth Warren would be the oldest president ever to take office. "I will out-work, out-organize, and outlast anyone — and that includes Donald Trump, Mike Pence, or whoever the Republicans get stuck with!" [VIDEO.]

9:59 - 38-year-old Tulsi Gabbard is asked about how she'd be the youngest president ever. She talks about her military experience and that she's on various foreign-policy-related House committees. Then she pivots to asking Elizabeth Warren about "her experience to serve as Commander-in-Chief," but the moderator cuts to a commercial. (My understanding is that candidates aren't usually allowed to ask each other direct questions in the debates.)

10:06 - Yang suggests that there are good reasons why certain tech companies are so dominant: "There's a reason no one's using Bing today. Sorry, Microsoft, it's true!"

10:09 - Beto says he'd treat social-media companies as "publishers" — but he won't call out a particular company to be broken up, as Trump has done.

10:13 - Kamala Harris calls for Twitter to ban Trump's account, and calls on Elizabeth Warren to join her on this. Warren: "No!" [VIDEO.]

10:18 - Yang says we should be getting money back for the data we give to companies like Facebook.

10:23 - Tulsi Gabbard sounds relatively conservative on abortion, endorsing the Clinton-era line that it should be "safe, legal, and rare," and saying it should be illegal in the third trimester "unless the life or severe health consequences of the woman are at risk."

10:25 - Pete Buttigieg suggests various reforms to "depoliticize" the Supreme Court, including term limits, or adding judges who can be added only by the unanimous agreement of the existing 9.

10:30 - Biden makes a shocking statement: "I'm the only person on this stage who's gotten anything really big done!" Then he botches one of his examples when he starts to say, "I ended Roe…"

10:31 - The 3 top-polling candidates use up a lot of time talking amongst each other, maybe as a tactic to prevent lesser candidates from getting too much time. Biden decides that now is the time to go back to his disagreements with Sanders on health care (I thought that was hours ago!), and then Sanders brings up Biden's position on the Iraq War. Biden repeatedly jabs his hand at Warren and shouts at her: "I got you votes!" [VIDEO.]

10:35 - Buttigieg quips that if he had a dollar for every "argument like this" he's heard, he could pay for college for everyone. I guess he's referring to the bickering among the top 3 candidates, but I don't know if he's the best person to be calling out other candidates for fighting too much, after his tiffs with Warren, and Gabbard, and Beto…

10:45 - As the last question, Anderson Cooper asks every candidate to tell us about a friendship they had with someone surprisingly different from themselves. (This was prompted by Ellen DeGeneres defending her friendship with George W. Bush.) Amy Klobuchar says "it's John McCain, and I miss him every day." She remembers seeing McCain near the end of his life, when he could hardly speak, pointing to a written sentence: "There is nothing more liberating in life than fighting for a cause larger than yourself." What Klobuchar learned from this: "We need to not just change our policy, but change the way we talk to each other."

11:05 - Biden gives the last answer of the night, and he's the 3rd person to name John McCain as a friend he had strong differences with. Biden says he told McCain: "You never saw a war you didn't want to fight." McCain came back: "You never saw a problem you didn't want to solve."


• Was this the first debate where Biden didn't make some huge blunder? He still has trouble getting through an answer, but he's stopped cutting himself off mid-sentence or seeming to dismiss what he just said.

• Elizabeth Warren seemed weaker than in past debates; she was constantly under fire.

• Pete Buttigieg was getting into fights with everyone.

• I'm not a big fan of Kamala Harris, but I'd say it was her best debate. Amy Klobuchar was also strong.

• Bernie Sanders accomplished his main goal: convince us that he hasn't lost any energy after his heart attack.

• Andrew Yang often seemed to be in his own world focused on tech issues, and not interested in talking about the major topics like impeachment. But he was good at calling out some of the more questionable policies: Warren's wealth tax and Sanders's federal jobs guarantee.

• Tulsi Gabbard very much seemed to stand apart from the others, most obviously when she emphasized her support for some abortion restrictions.

• I'm not sure what Beto is still doing in this race; I usually tuned him out. Castro got very little time and largely seemed irrelevant, except for his one great line (see 9:21).

• Cory Booker mentioned being vegan almost as much as he usually mentions living in a lower-income neighborhood. Those are great things to talk about, but I think he'll need something more to give new life to his campaign.

UPDATE: CNN gave Elizabeth Warren far more time than any other candidate last night. Even with a dozen candidates on the stage, she spoke for about 23 minutes. If every candidate got that much, the debate could have lasted around 5 hours instead of 3 (with moderators taking some time to ask questions).

Tulsi Gabbard and Julián Castro each got about 8 and a half minutes. Those 2 candidates combined got about 6 minutes less than Warren. If CNN had limited everyone’s time so strictly, the debate could have taken more like 2 hours instead of 3.

UPDATE: After watching the debate, Daniel Henninger writes in the Wall Street Journal that "Joe Biden Isn't Going to Make It":

With Mr. Trump’s decision to pull American troops away from the Syrian Kurds, he opened one of the most significant political vulnerabilities of his presidency. It was an opportunity for Mr. Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to show some foreign-policy smarts and president-like leadership. Instead we got this:

“What I would do is I would be making it real clear to Assad that, in fact, where he’s going to have a problem—because Turkey is the real problem here. And I would be having a real lockdown conversation with Erdogan and letting him know that he’s going to pay a heavy price for what he has done now. Pay that price.”

It fell to Pete Buttigieg, the mayor from South Bend, to produce the night’s most stinging critique of President Trump: “What we were doing in Syria was keeping our word. Part of what makes it possible for the United States to get people to put their lives on the line to back us up is the idea that we will back them up, too.”

That was good. Joe Biden somehow couldn’t figure out how to say anything like it.

Then during the health-care segment, Mr. Biden said, “The plan we’re hearing discussed is the Biden plan.” Then he said, “The plan is going to cost at least $30 trillion over 10 years,” with no indication that now he was talking about Elizabeth Warren’s plan, not his.

Here’s a single Biden sentence from the debate: “I would eliminate the capital gains tax—I would raise the capital gains tax to the highest rate, of 39.5%.” …

Mr. Biden’s supporters say he did fine, but fine isn’t going to be good enough. With apologies, a sports metaphor is apt. Joe Biden looks like a pro in training camp—running at half speed, joshing with teammates, showing brief flashes of former skills. Democrats who think Mr. Biden will get better than this training-camp competence are deluding themselves.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Trump on the Kurds: "They didn't help us in the second World War"

President Donald Trump said that yesterday, even though more than 10,000 Kurds have died helping us fight ISIS.

It used to be that presidents and presidential candidates would argue for their policies by pointing out that "the Cold War is over" (for instance, George W. Bush and Obama have both said those exact words). Now, Trump doesn't want to admit that World War II is over.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

How we're getting more from less

Good news: "The Economy Keeps Growing, but Americans Are Using Less Steel, Paper, Fertilizer, and Energy."

That whole Reason article is worth reading, but here's an excerpt:

Both the weight of goods entering the [UK] economy and the amounts finally ending up as waste probably began to fall from sometime between 2001 and 2003.… [This] suggests that economic growth in a mature economy does not necessarily increase the pressure on the world's reserves of natural resources and on its physical environment. An advanced country may be able to decouple economic growth and increasing volumes of material goods consumed. A sustainable economy does not necessarily have to be a no-growth economy.…

Up to 1970, consumption of metals in America grew just about in lockstep with the overall economy. In the years since 1970, the economy has continued to grow pretty steadily, but consumption of metals has reversed course and is now decreasing. We're now getting more "economy" from less metal year after year. We'll see a similar great reversal in the use of many other resources.…

I was surprised to learn that total American energy use in 2017 was down almost 2 percent from its 2008 peak, especially since our economy grew by more than 15 percent between those two years. I had walked around with the unexamined assumption that growing economies must consume more energy year after year. This turns out not to be the case anymore—a profound change. Energy use went up in lockstep with economic growth in America for more than a century and a half, from 1800 to 1970. Then the increase in energy use slowed down, and then it turned negative—even as the economy kept growing. Over the last decade, we've gotten more economic output from less energy.

Greenhouse gas emissions have gone down even more quickly than has total energy use.…

Sunday, October 6, 2019

"The light's shining through on you," Ginger Baker

Ginger Baker, the drummer of Cream, has died. Now Eric Clapton is the only surviving member of the trio. Jack Bruce, the singer/bassist, died in 2014.

From Rolling Stone:

Ginger Baker, the wildly influential and innovative drummer who laid the groundwork for heavy metal and world music and played with everyone from Fela Kuti to John Lydon to Max Roach, died Sunday after a lengthy hospital stay. He was 80....

In 2016, Rolling Stone placed the Cream co-founder third on its list of the “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time,” writing, “Gifted with immense talent, and cursed with a temper to match, Ginger Baker combined jazz training with a powerful polyrhythmic style in the world’s first, and best, power trio … The London-born drummer introduced showmanship to the rock world with double-kick virtuosity and extended solos.”

One of the most cantankerous and volatile figures in rock history, Baker rarely lasted more than a couple of years with any single band. Cream, his most famous group, dissolved after barely two years. But they packed a lot into that brief period, recording classic songs like “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room,” and “Badge” that set the stage for nearly every hard-rock and heavy metal band that followed them into the 1970s.

“I’ve seen where Cream is sort of held responsible for the birth of heavy metal,” Baker said in a typically caustic 2015 interview. “Well, I would definitely go for aborting. I loathe and detest heavy metal.… A lot of these guys come up and say, ‘Man, you were my influence; the way you thrashed the drums.’ They don’t seem to understand I was thrashing in order to hear what I was playing. It was anger, not enjoyment — and painful. I suffered onstage.… I didn’t like it then, and like it even less now.”

Regardless of how Baker felt about his influence, countless hard-rock drummers consider him one of the greatest players in history. “His playing was revolutionary — extrovert, primal, and inventive,” Rush drummer Neil Peart told Rolling Stone in 2009. “He set the bar for what rock drumming could be. I certainly emulated Ginger’s approaches to rhythm — his hard, flat, percussive sound was very innovative. Everyone who came after built on that foundation. Every rock drummer since has been influenced in some way by Ginger — even if they don’t know it.”

Peter Edward Baker was born on August 19th, 1939, in London. As a child, he dreamed of making his name as a champion cyclist. But after an accident with a taxi left his bike crushed to pieces in 1956, he turned his attention to drums, where he quickly found he had incredible natural talent.

Before he was 18, Baker was a mainstay on the Soho jazz scene, playing in British Dixieland-revival groups and absorbing the influence of American bebop masters like Roach, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. By 1962, American R&B was sweeping England, and he got a job in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated with keyboardist Graham Bond and bassist Jack Bruce.

When it became clear the group was going nowhere, Baker, Bond, and Bruce left to form the spinoff band the Graham Bond Organization. The group earned a fiercely devoted following all over England, but internal tensions were tearing it apart. Bond was fighting a heroin addiction, and Baker and Bruce were often fighting each other, with their physical spats sometime breaking out midway through sets. Baker eventually fired Bruce, though fate and their undeniable chemistry would continue to bring them together time and time again.

In 1966, Eric Clapton, fresh out of the Yardbirds, teamed up with Baker and suggested they form a blues-rock trio and bring in Bruce, much to Baker’s chagrin. Considering themselves three of the best players in the British rock scene, they called the group Cream. They were rock’s first supergroup, giving them a huge audience from the get-go. Singles like “Sunshine of Your Love” and “White Room” were all over pop radio, but as the drummer, Baker didn’t receive songwriting credit.

“Cream was doomed three months after it started,” Baker said in 2009. “It was my band, and Jack tried to fire me! I didn’t get any of the writing credits. It will piss me off for the rest of my life.”

Despite his rock bona fides, Baker always insisted that Cream were a jazz band. “Oh, for God’s sake, I’ve never played rock,” he told in 2013. “Cream was two jazz players and a blues guitarist playing improvised music. We never played the same thing two nights running … It was jazz.”

Here's Cream in their 2005 reunion playing "Badge," which was written by Clapton and George Harrison:

More from the obit:
[Cream] called it quits after a pair of farewell shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1968; Clapton formed Blind Faith with Steve Winwood the following year. Clapton had little interest in working with Baker again, but the drummer showed up anyway at their first rehearsals. “Somehow he got wind of what we were doing and had tracked us,” Clapton wrote in his memoir. “Steve’s face lit up when he saw Ginger, while my heart sank.”

Baker’s drumming powered Blind Faith’s incendiary 1969 self-titled debut LP, though the band folded after a quick tour, partially due to Baker’s growing drug problems that were beginning to rub off on Clapton. “I took one look at his eyes and was sure he was back on it,” Clapton wrote. “I felt that I was stepping back into the nightmare that had been part of Cream.”

It took watching his good friend Jimi Hendrix die after a debauched night on the town together for Baker to finally kick hard drugs. Feeling he couldn’t pull that off in Europe, he packed up and traveled to Africa, teaming up with Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti for his classic 1971 LP, Live! (“He understands the African beat more than any other Westerner,” Afrobeat co-creator Tony Allen told RS in 2016.)

Baker developed a lifelong love of polo, but he was far removed from the rock scene — now a huge business thanks to groundbreaking groups like Cream — and he began slowly descending back into severe drug addiction, crippling his career....

This is from Blind Faith's first show. Ginger Baker's drumming added so much to this — it's hard to imagine it with a typical rock drummer:

Ginger Baker said (via my mom, Ann Althouse):
I was always banging on the desks at school. So all the kids kept saying, "Go on, go and play the drums," and I just sat down and I could play. It's a gift from God. You've either got it or you haven't. And I've got it: time. Natural time.
Here are some tributes from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Steve Winwood, and more. Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers says:
So much freedom in his playing. What a wildman. Rhythms we’ve heard all our lives he plucked them out of the sky.