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I’m still neck deep in my return to Happy Apple as my favorite music to listen to, but I’ve also continued to dig through all the tunes that John Hammond pointed me to a few weeks ago. I’ve been focusing mainly on tracks featuring Jeff Porcaro, whose reputation as a studio player perhaps exceeds that of any other drummer in history.
Porcaro rules so hard. His groove, his feel, his pocket, his time… whatever term you want to use to describe a drummer’s role in a band… Jeff NAILS it.
My iTunes library has about a dozen records that Porcaro plays on, but a little Youtube searching will reveal almost all of his incredible discography.
A few recommendations/observations:
1) Michael Jackson, Thriller… Though Porcaro is regularly cited as the drummer on this record, he actually only played on 4 tracks: “The Girl Is Mine,” “Beat It,” “Human Nature,” and “The Lady In My Life.” Ndugu Chanceler played the rest of the tunes.
2) Steely Dan, Katy Lied… Jeff plays on all tracks for this record except “Any World” (Hal Blaine on that one). Super cool versatility in these tracks.
3) Toto, Toto IV… A legendary record from the legendary band that Porcaro co-founded. Perhaps even more legendary than the band itself is Jeff’s signature swung 16th hihat “shuffle” groove, heard on “Rosanna.” This same groove can also be heard on Airplay’s “Nothin You Can Do About It” and Al Jarreau’s “Breakin Away” (note the awesome and hilarious 80’s absence of the “g” in the “ing” suffix in BOTH of those last two tracks… haha).
4) Also regarding Toto, check out this live clip of Georgy Porgy. I’ve posted it before, but it’s worth posting again. #pocket #danggurl
5) Lastly, and most interestingly, I came across a Q&A page with guitarist/producer Jay Graydon (who worked Porcaro a lot). Check this out! Porcaro didn’t like the click! I mean, the era of his playing makes sense regarding no click, but it makes his consistent time/tempo (displayed on ALL the above-linked tracks) all the more impressive. I underlined the quotes that really stood out to me…
I know that you had a chance to record and play with Jeff Porcaro. What are your comments about Jeff as a musician and person. The music world really misses him!
Love your work! Rod St.Denis
Jeff was a drummers drummer! His “feel” was incredible regarding so many “grooves”. He did not consider himself a good “shuffle player” meaning the groove on “NOTHIN YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT” (AIRPLAY), BREAKIN AWAY or MORNIN (Jarreau albums). There are other “shuffle grooves” but these mentioned song grooves fall into a category called “funk-a-shuffle”. Jeff thought he was not that good in this situation. Man, was he wrong! He plays this groove better than anyone ever!
Jeff did not play with a “click” like most studio drummers. He did not totally respect the click and would “float” around it. This is good and bad depending on the band. If the players are top notch, they listen to the drummer first and the click is subliminal. This is most important to keep the feel happening. Drummers like JR and Mike Baird can lock with the click and still feel great. When playing with Jeff, better not to use a click since he played inside the cracks and his time float is what made him great.
Jeff, as a person, was totally unique. Very unpredictable and almost like he was on another planet most of the time. He had no regard for business in general. He did not go to a record date like most players meaning always a good attitude. If the session was boring musically, Jeff did not have patience and would get bugged if the producer would keep making take after take hour after hour. Jeff’s 2nd or 3rd take was his best. He learned the songs on the first run down and rarely got lost.
Yes, Jeff is missed on the planet earth. The good news is that he was here for best “musical rock/pop era” of all time! The best news is that he played on so many great recordings that will be around as long as the planet survives.
Does everybody know how killing this band is? Jeff Porcaro has so much groove. The whole band… they are unreal. Rhythm sections like this are just so few and far between.
PS. Also few and far between… the perc player with no shirt and rainbow suspenders.