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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Paul Thompson *is* Roxy Music

Last night I walked through the rain in Islington listening to early Roxy Music (I do recommend this) and realised that when developing my theory that drummers are the truly irreplaceable heart of all great bands I hadn't taken Paul Thompson into consideration.

I think of Thompson's style as being somehow on the military wing of funk. He's the one who kept Love Is The Drug and Do The Strand rattling along but he also sounded as if he would be completely comfortable supplying the percussion noises that accompany court martial scenes in movies. There's something round, hard and stirring about the way he plays, something dry and stern about his fills. If you were going to be led out to be hanged you'd like to think Paul Thompson would be playing.

Thompson was working on a building site when Roxy Music went in to do their first sessions for John Peel and he never fitted comfortably into the group's visual scheme.
In fact this picture of the early line-up shows how much of a sore thumb he could be. He's the one far left looking like a "before" picture in a body building ad. This particular shot is a "do I have to wear this, boss?" classic.

Thompson was edged out when the group made their early 80s albums, to be replaced, not entirely satisfactorily, by session players and drum machines. He then played with everyone from Blondie to the Angelic Upstarts. He was called back to the line-up in 2001. It was like an errant footballer going back to the wife who had borne his children. While he was away Roxy Music had a few hits but did nothing that was great. That could be because Paul Thompson is Roxy Music.