by Jason Gubbels | July 26, 2014
The official name was Linn LM-2, but most musicians knew it (and even feared it) as the LinnDrum. Introduced in 1982 by Linn Electronics, the $3,000 drum machine served as a replacement for Linn's earlier LM-1 Drum Computer. Both models differed from the nearly concurrently released Roland TR-808 drum machine in that LinnDrums offered digital samples of acoustic drums, mostly recorded by Los Angeles studio musicians in the late 1970s (local lore has it that several members of Toto contributed to the LM-1's database of sounds). The result was a prototype that caught the attention of forward-looking artists like Peter Gabriel and Stevie Wonder, both of whom quickly got their hands on some of the first models available.
As far as differences between the LM-1 and the LM-2, the latter model offered fewer individual tuning options while retailing at a far more affordable rate than its predecessor. But both drum machines did basically the same thing, which is allow users to sequence and mix high-quality samples of rhythmic patterns. And it didn't take long for the sound of the LinnDrum to take over the pop charts. You might even say it partially defined the sound of the 1980s.
Hence our LinnDrum 101 playlist, which jumps back and forth between songs utilizing the LM-1 and the LM-2, from a-ha's monster hit "Take On Me" to Miami Sound Machine's Euro smash "Dr. Beat" and several cuts from LinnDrum enthusiast Prince. And although this collection rightly focuses on the drum machine's 1980-1986 heyday, you'll also come across a few more recent recordings from producers looking to channel that iconic sound, like Justin Timberlake's "Until The End of Time" or synth-sleaze outfit Chromeo's "Night By Night." So cue up the playlist and take a hint from LinnDrum fans Bronski Beat: "Hit That Perfect Beat."