Saturday, August 14, 2010

Listening Post


I picked up my first set of drumsticks at age five and continue playing to this day. (In fact, I'm the proud new owner of a vintage Premier kit that's easily the best-sounding set of drums I've ever played.) Throughout my lifetime, I've had a steadily rotating list of favorite drummers -- at various points it's included Terry Bozzio, Elvin Jones, Neil Peart (of course), the great Buddy Rich, Dave Grohl, Jimmy Chamberlin, even Tommy Lee (for pure power and showmanship alone). But since I was maybe 15 years old, only one person has sat at the top of the list: Simon Phillips. Unless you're a drummer, you probably have no idea who the hell Simon Phillips is; if you are a drummer, I'll give you a minute to finish genuflecting.

Phillips is a British session performer who's played with more great bands and musicians than pretty much any man alive. He plays with an almost uncanny blend of technical proficience and raw passion. The guy makes the most astonishing drum work imaginable sound easy. And that's what makes him such a genius: you listen to him and you think to yourself, "That doesn't sound so tough," when in reality what he's doing is damn near impossible.

Here now, a perfect example of his style and skill. This is his playing on Nik Kershaw's terrific song, Violet to Blue.

14 comments:

Sheriff Bart said...

Pretty damn cool. Vanilla drumming though. I could do that. Easy.

Riles said...

Are you a Portnoy fan? His work on the new Avenged Sevenfold is incredible and drives the whole album. Of course, he rocks in Dream Theatre, but they are a little too 80's for me.

Janiece said...

I'm a Peart fan myself (of course), but for a live performance, I'm awfully fond of Abe Laboriel, Jr. He played with Clapton during the 2009 tour, and I don't think I've ever enjoyed watching a drummer more.

Disclaimer: I'm not a drummer myownself, but watching people doing what they so obviously love gives me a sense that all is right with the world.

Kevin Davis said...

You need to post your own recordings some day for the listening post. We won't take it as narcissism I promise :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the drums! //c

Medic said...

I can't help but notice you did not include another great drummer on your list...Frank Leira :)

Anonymous said...

So Keith Moon and Charlie Watts, strictly for the commoner? I've always loved both of them, and Buddy Rich, but I don't even know how to hold a stick!

Kevin Davis said...

and I know you were in a band somewhere down the road and I know there's probably recordings somewhere online!!

Anonymous said...

So what a do you call a guy hanging out with a bunch of musicians? the drummer

What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend? Homeless.

How do you know the stage is level? drool comes out both sides of the drummers mouth.

rimshot please!

Sorry couldn't resist, three of my all-time favorite drummer jokes

slouchmonkey said...

Photo, please, of the Premiere kit. Simon Phillips, nice. Thank you for including Tommy Lee. May I add Gene Krupa? And, Matt Cameron? Cheers!

dick_gozinia said...

The fact that you didn't include Dave Lombardo makes me sad.

Greatest. Drummer. Ever.

Jody said...

I've been a Rush junkie ever since 2112. Neil is the greatest, period. I really liked Simon Phillips on Pete Townshend's 'White City.' The double base line in 'Give Blood' is fantastic! While it might not be your cup of soup, give a listen to Niko McBrain of Iron Maiden....especially on the album 'Piece of Mind.' He is incredible!

Chez said...

You kidding? McBrain's one of the greatest metal drummers ever. Love, love, LOVE Maiden.

hamletta said...

Being an ancient music geek, I know who Simon Phillips is.

It's good to be in my shoes and hear Nik Kershaw, too.

If you ever get to Nashville, you'll have to hear Paulie Simmons.

The Simmons Brothers are legendary in these parts, and only Paulie could bring back the drum solo and not make you want to kill yourself.