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Simon Phillips

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1 Simon Phillips on Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:28 am

I don't think he quite gets the recognition he deserves.
The ONLY drummer I have ever seen that can legitimately
play from both sides. He did a great job on this.

And his drums always sound killer!

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2 Re: Simon Phillips on Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:19 am

At one time Simon was huge, and had the accolades of both sides of the pond.

Perhaps it is the career choices he made, some of which took him out of the drumming limelight? I don't know. He's one of the few big names who has stayed with one drum company, which is solid. So many bounce around.

Some might say Simon has a small vocabulary, meaning he kind of plays the same stuff all the time. As cool and well put together as his solos are they tend to contain the same licks and moves for decades. Of course, that can be observed in all drummers. We find our voice and speak our language. Doesn't matter what drummer, we all tend to find a certain vocabulary and it stays with us for life. Doesn't matter what genre or combination thereof.

Simon is a very clean, articulate player, and has some great chops and power. I enjoy watching his precision.

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3 Re: Simon Phillips on Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:50 pm

Some might say Simon has a small vocabulary, meaning he kind of plays the same stuff all the time. As cool and well put together as his solos are they tend to contain the same licks and moves for decades.

I agree with this, Asaph and that may very well be the reason
he's never been singled out as one of the big time greats.

Yes, he was hot at one time but I think that was because he was
this young new kid on the block playing the stuff he did on Stanley
Clark's "Rocks pebbles and sand." But over the years I have to say
that I never heard the growth spurts like I did with say Dave Weckl,
Vinnie Colaiuta or Even Virgil Donati... You heard distinct growth and
development with those players but not so much with Simon.
From Space Boogie till today, he sounds pretty much the same.

But the guy is so spot on and his ability to switch sides and not lose a
single ghost note is unlike any drummer I've ever witnessed before.

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4 Re: Simon Phillips on Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:24 pm


I have to disagree, Simon is more than recognized as one of the greats in the drumming world.

The work he has been getting over the last 10 years has slowed down, but that just comes with the times.
Stanley Clarke, Jeff Beck & Pete Townshend don't use Simon anymore, but that's just because they have changed.
The market for Toto is pretty slim as well, but you have to give to Simon for staying busy and keeping active.

By the way, that whole video is available from Audiophile Imports for the price of $29.99.
I got a copy a few months ago and it is just awesome!

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5 Re: Simon Phillips on Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:26 pm

drumman, I sorta agree with you and I sorta don't.

Simon doesn't have the same impact as a Billy, Weckl
Vinnie, Gadd, etc. One thing he just hasn't played with
enough of the legends these others have and he surely
doesn't have the drumming diversity that they do.

These guys have covered music from jazz to funk, latin,
r&b pop, smooth jazz, and the list goes on. Simon is a
great drummer in his own right but he just doesn't belong
in the same league with these guys. He's not among the
great of the greats. And like Asaph pointed out, his playing
is pretty predictable. Sure everyone has their calling card
but there's never any surprises from Simon. Once you've
heard him, you've heard him....

I love what he does though... But he never takes me anyplace
new! He's definitely not a box of chocolates. Surprised

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6 Re: Simon Phillips on Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:58 am

Gee, I don't know, Don. Simon has quite a discography, is still getting invited to drum festivals, and PSP continues to sell well in its genre, for top dollar, too. He has played in pop, rock, fusion, big band, and does latin stuff in his own compositions. In interviews that is the area he has wanted to improve in - composing.

White it is true his style hasn't changed perhaps his voice is so good/broad he keeps working in various genres that can use it. He's a master of odd time. He has played the same set configuration for decades and that can be a mixed blessing. Habits form. But he obviously commands it when he plays. He may not surprise me, but neither does Vinnie, or Weckl, or anyone else that has been around for years. When Weckle plays or solos, or Vinnie, or Virgil or anyone who has been around awhile, I know what I am going to see and hear. Virgil added those two high toms and came up with moves on them. Weckle added some hand percussion. Vinnie dabbles in electronics to his left, but basically they say the same things all the time. I believe just like character and personality are engrained at a very young age, drumming character and personality gets engrained, too. We all learn new words and new things, and certainly, from our perspective, spiritual conversion changes us, but basically we carry on with the same vocabulary. It's the same for artists, photographers, athletes ... everybody, no? When McGlaughlin plays, or Holdsworth, or Beck play I know what I am going to hear. That's just humanity and its limitations. Just how many drumming entrepreneurs are there? Steve Smith is about the only one I can think of. He has made a career out of personal advancement and marketing it. Bruford constantly sought new ideas, but he still played mostly basic single and double stroke rolls on everything. Billy is very adventurous, but I know what I will see and hear when he plays all his various set ups over the years.

I'd say Simon Phillips is one of the "great greats" in drumming history. I don't know that he "invented" any moves which shocked the drumming world, like Billy did, but his voice and sound is very recognizable. He stays on the map and continues to impress young players. That says a lot. His vocabulary may be a tad more thin than some, but hey, not every guy makes it into the Hall of Fame with records and stunning stats. I believe Simon is in the Hall. Matter of fact, I think he is in MD's HoF. That is what readers think of his career. Hard to argue with that.

I guess in some ways he is an enigma.

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7 Re: Simon Phillips on Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:55 am

me too, drumman! i love that DVD soooo much! Simon has always been an inspiration to me.

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8 Re: Simon Phillips on Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:01 pm

"The ONLY drummer I have ever seen that can legitimately
play from both sides." DSlam

That alone should place him with the great greats. Tremendous facility. He does some nice jazz work in that vid, too.

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9 Re: Simon Phillips on Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:49 pm

I'm not talking about Simon's popularity, Asaph. Which is
what you seem to be describing. Simon is well known and
well respected by his peers and fans alike and deservedly so.

Again, I still don't think he gets the recognition he deserves.
But I cannot put him in the same catagory as a Billy and some
others I've named. His musical pallet's just not wide enough.

Even Virgil, He does some amazing things behind the kit but
he hasn't really been sought after by the established legendary
players. Simon actually has to some degree but he's seemed to
have hit the proverbial brick wall when it come to "great drummers
we look to when it comes to drumming inspiration. You just don't
see his name that much....

I really like Simon but what you said earlier carries a lot of weight I
believe. He does what he does very well, but again, once you've
heard him, you've heard him... I don't mean that as a dis. That's
just the way it is. For me, Simon Phillips is a guy with great control
and ability. He has the best dexterity from either side than any
drummer I've ever seen and I thorougly enjoy watcing him work.
However, that "WOW" factor was never there for me when it
comes to him.

Whether or not that makes him less great is debatable. In my view
there's just something about what he says behind the drums that
just doesn't move me like that. Yet, I find him more than interesting
to listen to.... Go figure. Hence, the enigma. scratch



Last edited by D. Slam on Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:33 pm; edited 1 time in total

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10 Re: Simon Phillips on Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:12 pm

Yeah, like I said, he's an enigma. One of the things I find difficult in watching him is his reaching for things. Maybe he's a tiny guy, I don't know, but I find it uncomfortable watching him because he doesn't seem comfortable when he plays. He kind of has this scare crow movement-thing going on. But he plays quick and clean doing it.

I will honestly say, something that I believe hurt him were the obvious comparisons to Billy when he hit the scene.

I suppose if we talk about drummers having an actual artistry impact on the drumming world there are few of those in history who inspired major emulation and thievery. I would agree Simon has not had that kind of impact. I wonder if anyone can have that kind of impact again.

Although I must say Virgil had as great an impact on how players develop foot technique, as any drummer in history with any impact on other aspects of drumming.

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11 Re: Simon Phillips on Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:51 pm

I agree on almost all front's here, Aspah!

It's funny that you mentioned about his reaching.
I've wondered the same thing and even asked about
it... Then I read a Q & A article some years ago and the
reason he sets up that way is for miking. He doesn't like
cymbal bleed into his drum mics so he sets his cymbals high.

I'm not so sure the Billy comparison hurt him that much and
the reason for that is he really didn't stay there that long. I
do remember the comparisons but other than the drum setup
he began to develop his own style not too long after this buzz
began.

Yeah, well the thing about Virgil is he does things that no one
else has even dared attempt to date. It's the kind of thind where
drummers are pretty intimidated when having to trade with him.
I heard something once where Steve Smith had the fortunate (or
unfortunate depending on how you look at it) opportunity to do
this and wound up throwing his hands in the air and saying:

"What do you do after that?"

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12 Re: Simon Phillips on Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:34 pm

I think to this day people associate Simon with Billy because of the left hand lead and the big set-up and all. But he certainly honed his abilities over the decades.

I'm not surprised Smith might say that about going at it with Virgil. He isn't a drummer with explosive stuff. He's a master technician. But I can think of plenty of drummers who would not mind being on the same stage with Virgil and sending up fireworks together.

I don't know if Simon has ever gone on stage with Virgil, but I expect he would not back down. Adrenalin can really pull some things off when it gets pumping. If it comes down to stick tricks with it all Simon would not have the goods. But there are plenty of drummers who would.

Now that you bring it up I'll have to check and see if youtube has any vids like that.

*****************

Didn't find any.

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13 Re: Simon Phillips on Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:49 pm

Here's one... Sounds kinda stupid though.

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14 Re: Simon Phillips on Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:40 pm

Here's a classic...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzY_ofk--50

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15 Re: Simon Phillips on Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:00 am

Ringo or Bonham are who they are not only because of their abilities as drummers but first of all because of the albums they appear on. The listener doesn't care what side of the drumset and with which hand the drummer plays the music s/he is listening to :-) what matters is if it sounds good! what Simon and Billy played during their careers places them both very high but where exactly depends on listener's personal taste.

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16 Re: Simon Phillips on Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:51 am

Igor, can't argue with that. It's not like there is some accepted standard as to what makes a drummer one of the greats.

I know Baby Dodds and Sid Catlett and Papa Jo receive accolades for being greats of the greats, who changed things, and of course, Krupa. After that the list of drummers making statements gets wider and wider. I'm not sure how one decides who is a great one. I don't know that Many of the "great jazz drummers actually changed the way people play the instrument. Max certainly did. Tony did. They still do.

Based on that money list I posted Ringo would be THE man if records sold, etc, counts for anything.

Don, Pridgen is one who I thought of immediately as being someone who would get on stage with anyone. I'd rather watch Steve Smith perform his drumming surgery, but Thomas certainly lays it down. He's a mite too wild for me. That whole Gospel chops crew would have no intimidation on stage with Virgil. The Berkley chops drummers, as well. I have to admit those two high toms create some excitement when Virgil is all over them. I love Dom Famularo. Fast, fast feet. Great hand moves, too. He's just a real trip to watch.

You mention Simon being unsung. I tend to think Marvin Smith is, as well. That BR festival was my first exposure to him. He hits some real numbers on the speedometer. Just kind of left the scene, though the Tonight Show is certainly a high profile gig. It is true that the gigs you get go a long way to placing you in stature categories, though from a purely technical viewpoint, hundreds and thousands of players now do more than all the greats of the yesteryears way back. It is as Steve Smith states - standing on the shoulders of giants.

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17 Re: Simon Phillips on Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:44 pm

Igor wrote:Ringo or Bonham are who they are not only because of their abilities as drummers but first of all because of the albums they appear on. The listener doesn't care what side of the drumset and with which hand the drummer plays the music s/he is listening to :-) what matters is if it sounds good! what Simon and Billy played during their careers places them both very high but where exactly depends on listener's personal taste.

I agree what you say about Ringo but that is definitely not true
about Bonham... He's the baddest heavy rock/funk drummer I've
ever heard! Bonham played some of the most awesome grooves
and he is an inspiration as well as an influence on many drummers
including myself. And it's based on what he did and not who he did
it with.

Ringo did a good job with the Beatles but his fame comes more from
who he played with more so than what he played. How many players
do you hear talking about being influenced by Ringo's drumming ability?

The listener doesn't care what side of the drumset and with which hand the drummer plays the music s/he is listening to :-) what matters is if it sounds good!

You're totally correct, Igor but I am a player as well as a listener.
Thus the technical aspect will appeal to me to a far greater degree.

Popularity is decided by the fans and the audience. True musical
"Greatness" is decided by one's peers... Those who understand
the inner and outter workings of a particular craft and what it takes
to get it done.

So what you're saying is really a matter of apples and oranges.

Don, Pridgen is one who I thought of immediately as being someone who would get on stage with anyone. I'd rather watch Steve Smith perform his drumming surgery, but Thomas certainly lays it down. He's a mite too wild for me. That whole Gospel chops crew would have no intimidation on stage with Virgil. The Berkley chops drummers, as well. I have to admit those two high toms create some excitement when Virgil is all over them. I love Dom Famularo. Fast, fast feet. Great hand moves, too. He's just a real trip to watch.

You mention Simon being unsung. I tend to think Marvin Smith is, as well. That BR festival was my first exposure to him. He hits some real numbers on the speedometer. Just kind of left the scene, though the Tonight Show is certainly a high profile gig. It is true that the gigs you get go a long way to placing you in stature categories, though from a purely technical viewpoint, hundreds and thousands of players now do more than all the greats of the yesteryears way back. It is as Steve Smith states - standing on the shoulders of giants.


Great observation on Pridgen, Asaph!

As to the techniclal viewpoints it's always been what's
done within the music that moves me... Heck man,
you have 12 year old monsters that can technically
play circles around many of the legends. But it all
comes to down to how one can converse musically
with his or her fellow players. That's the real test and
the real deal.

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18 Re: Simon Phillips on Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:04 am

At one time I was almost loathe to say Ringo influenced a lot of players, but after watching him closely on Beatles concerts I have to admit he had a style all his own, had pretty quick hands, and indeed, may have influenced more kids to pick up drum sticks (myself included) than any drummer in history.

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19 Re: Simon Phillips on Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:13 am

Well, if you liked the Beatles, and I did, Ringo was definitely a force.
But I also understand now that in hindsight, at least for me anyways
it was about the group or star first. In other words I was (am) a huge
James Brown fan. And I dug how tight his band was back in the day.
But it wasn't until I got older that I began to actually recognize who
those bad *ss drummers were laying down the snappy funk...

Jabbo Starks, Clyde Stubblefield and Melvin Parker. I've always dug what
these guys did but didn't care that much to look into who they were at the
time. They were in the James Brown band and that was enough for me.
Of course that outlook is much different today.

Correction to Igor:

Ringo or Bonham are who they are not only because of their abilities as drummers but first of all because of the albums they appear on.

I read this statement of yours wrong, Igor. I read it as saying that they
are the drummers they are ONLY because of the records they played
on... My apologizes for my mis interpretation.

However, I do beleve that the way I first understood what you said, is
the sole case for Ringo. Had he been with a less popular band, I believe
that what folks felt about his playing would have followed suit.

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20 Re: Simon Phillips on Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:37 am

"One thing he just hasn't played with
enough of the legends these others have..."

"Had he been with a less popular band, I believe
that what folks felt about his playing would have followed suit." DSlam

I don't know, Don. Few would argue John, Paul and George are considered among the greatest "hook" and melody writers of all time. If Simon is not one of the greats because he has not played with heavy-weights in instrumental music (which would garner disagreement by some), Ringo certainly played with humungo heavyweights in pop music and made the music swing.

If technique is a standard to use Simon has honed his craft, exceedingly, in a way few have. Being totally ambidextrous is a skill set you can place other drummers out there who have it in a pretty small basket. Ringo had fine technique for pop rock music. If the genre is not included, than Ringo was not one of the greats. But it is interesting because, of the Beatles tribute bands I have seen, I have not seen anyone cop Ringo's style with the same flair he had. I used to think he just "kept time," but that is not the case.

Many of the jazz greats had little schooled technique, and played sloppy at times. That's one of the things I find so great about Jo Jones. He had a finesse and charm in his stick use which was as graceful as a Gazelle, but he could whack a rim shot like a Brahma bull.

Look at Elvin. Watch any and all solos of Elvin on youtube. Triplet City. Played the same solo ideas his whole career. Simon would bury Elvin Jones on the same stage, but Elvin is considered one of the great greats. Elvin had an unmistakable voice. Art Blakey, the same. Simon has the technique and the voice. Would we doubt there are any jazz/fusion musicians on the planet he could not play with? I suppose some would say Elvin's use of triplets carved him a place in the Mt Rushmore of drummers. Was unique for its time. I don't know that Simon has any technique unique to him in this time, but certainly his ability to play from both sides equally well counts for a major chunk of drumming rock carved out.

LOL. I suppose if Simon tuned in he would say, "Surely you gentlemen have better things to discuss than me."

I would like to know, and this might better fit into the other thread about where drumming is going next, after Billy's impact on drum set artistry, the fact he had no "weaker hand," and used them both in astounding ways, who truly had an impact on the drumming world by throwing new things into the pot?

People liked Gadd's use of rudiments, but he certainly was not the first to use them. He certainly plays the same style solo decade after decade. Vinnie began chopping up time, and Weckle, and the guys coming out of Boston. Virgil stunned the world with his feet and stick tricks more than anything. But others before him were doing all kinds of stick tricks. Perhaps it was the speed at which he did them. I mean, to be considered on of the greats what do you have to do? There are guys on that money list who are not "great" drummers, though drummers could be found who would disagree.

We discussed this at length earlier in the year. I don't know as any true standard can exist, save for the ears and eyes of the beholders.

Ted put up that thread about the Rascals. Some would not consider Dino Danelli one of the great greats, but to me, on all counts, being in a hugely popular band keeping great time; recording a 13 minute 4 pc. drum solo on a pop album, pulling off great licks at breakneck speeds, and even a brush work section? Man, Dino is one of the great greats. THERE is an unsung player if ever there was one.




Last edited by Asaph on Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:40 am; edited 1 time in total

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21 Re: Simon Phillips on Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:45 am

Don said:"How many players
do you hear talking about being influenced by Ringo's drumming ability?"
Don,
I think that generations of drummers were influenced by Ringo. You can find an interesting article in the Modern Drummer where many very well known and famous drummers talk about how did Ringo influence their drumming style, attitude to music and many other aspects ...

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22 Re: Simon Phillips on Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:15 pm

I think Simon is great in his own right. There's a particular circle or
number of circles that he's been pegged inside of. What I've noticed
is that the greats among the greats have not. OR,,,, They did what
they did to exception.

I understand that it's not just about the company one has kept when it comes
to weighing one's status with another's. I mean lets face it... In terms of style
of music, the bottom line is Buddy rich was a great BIG BAND drummer. But he
did it so exceptionally well and head and shoulders above everyone else, that
he is tagged as one of the all-time greats.... Arguably, the best to have ever
picked up a pair of drum sticks.

Simon has done a LOT of cool stuff. But in my view there are things about
what he does that just doesn't quite get him there... That along with those
he hasn't worked with only substanciates that for me. Now if you want to talk
popularity, then absolutely.... He probably belongs in the top ten.

As to Ringo.... I like him. But I strongly believe that his biggest influence is the
fact that he's a Beatle. I'm sure that if I were in a Beatle tribute band (with a
mop-top afro), I'd be studying what he did. But honestly, I hear nothing that
he's done that would benefit me in the general sense with what I do currently.

That's not taking anything from Ringo. That's just the way it is for me.

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23 Re: Simon Phillips on Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:46 pm

I can't argue with that. Ringo was a Beatle. If not, it is unlikely Richard Starky would be known in the drumming world. But, I wonder if the same things could not be said about many of the "greats" who caught breaks playing in a situation that led to big things for them?

Here's a thought. I don't know if Ringo still plays, but go back some years and MD has a festival and invites Ringo, and he decides to bring some players with him to play some Beatles songs the way it was done. Is that a draw? I'd have to say, given the Beatles constant place in modern music, yes, that would draw drummers not into Virgil, or Vinnie, or monsters like Gergo Borlai, etc. It would draw the 'less is more' drummers - those who see drumming and greatness in a different way.

Personally, less is less and more is more in my book, and I know that is a "heresy" in the last couple decades, but ... just the way I hear it.

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24 Re: Simon Phillips on Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:03 pm

Personally, less is less and more is more in my book, and I know that is a "heresy" in the last couple decades, but ... just the way I hear it.

Asaph, MARRY ME!!! :0) Billy and I once got
into a small debate over this very statement.

I have always believed it as you have stated it.

If less is more, when is more less? Less is Less
and it works when it's required. And if the former
statement is really the case, why all the toms and
double and triple bass and snare drums?! If you're
gonna play less then why not use less?

And if less is more, then what is more when more is
required?

That's in the same catagory for me as that darn timekeeper
stigma.

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25 Re: Simon Phillips on Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:43 pm

I guess people just phrase something philosophically to make a musical point about space in music, and it's catchy to say less is more. But, yeah, if less can be more, when can more be less. It obviously can't. No one would expect Billy to show up to a Tony Bennet concert with 10 drums and an arsenal of paradiddles and swiss triplets, nor would anyone expect Clayton Cameron to show up to a MO concert with a small 5pc and a big brush bag.

Less is less and more is more, logically. If the shoe fits ...

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