Have you ever carefully learned a song for a gig, and then experienced an on-stage train wreck? Your band may have suffered 'version confusion' — where each band member learns a different version of a particular song.
Popular songs are commonly re-edited for radio, video clips, compilation albums, etc. — often to reduce the overall duration of the song. While sometimes shortened versions only differ from the original with a faded outro, other times the editor will take to the tape with a knife, cutting guitar solos, dropping verses, and even cutting a few measures here and there to slim the track down.
To illustrate this point, we will examine three versions of Whitesnake's classic hit Here I Go Again. Unlike remastered or re-edited versions, Here I Go Again was actually recorded three times with different musicians in the '80s — and all versions remain fairly equally popular today. As you can see on Whitesnake’s Spotify page (below), three of the band's most popular hits are different versions of the song!
It is interesting to compare how three different drummers: Ian Paice, Aynsley Dunbar, and Denny Carmassi interpreted the same song. For the sake of example, we will compare just three measures: the fill leading into the first chorus and the first two measures of the first chorus. The video clips are cued to play one measure before the notation begins.
Original version (5:08) from the Saints and Sinners album (1982) features Ian Paice on drums (Cozy Powell appears in the video clip). In this original version, Ian Paice plays a drum fill to match the rhythm of the guitar before settling into a relaxed groove. The snare is played on the back beats while swing-sixteenth notes are peppered on the bass drum to spice things up.
Re-recorded version #1 (4:30) from the band's self-titled album (1987) features Aynsley Dunbar on drums (Tommy Aldridge appears in the video clip). In this version, Dunbar re-orchestrates Paice's original fill using just the snare, bass and crash cymbals. In the chorus, he plays a driving groove with the snare on all beats, and the bass drum punctuates the 'e' of beats 2 and 4.
USA radio-mix (3:52) features Denny Carmassi on drums (also 1987). In this version/arrangement, the drums are heard with the band from the beginning of the song. The fill preceding the chorus uses a different rhythm than the previous versions, with two sixteenth-note hits heard on beats 3 and 4. The chorus groove features the same driving snare of the previous version, but this time the bass drum accentuates the 'a' of beats 2 and 4.
At Online Drummer, accuracy is our top priority when creating drum sheet music, which is why we reference the specific song version on every transcription. We generally prefer to transcribe the album version of a given song, but occasionally refer to the single version if it happens to be the more popular one.
Before you start learning a song, make sure that you are listening to the same version as indicated on the sheet music — which can be found on the top right of the sheet or in the sheet music's description on OnlineDrummer.com. And, if you are learning a song for public performance, make sure everyone in the band is on the same page!