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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.

13 comments:

  1. Sorry David, you're just wrong in your concluding premise. As I argue to friends, foes and naysayers ad nauseam, Avalon is a GREAT Roxy Music album - markedly different in style to the albums Thompson plays on, of course, but unimpeachably great.

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  2. I remember NME always referred to him as "the great Paul Thompson".

    I also think if Roxy Music came on the scene for the first time now they would still sound pretty special.

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  3. Are you sure about the Angelic Upstarts?

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  4. Yes. He plays on their 1983 album "The Reason Why".

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  5. Tony Mccarrol is Oasis.

    Discuss.

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  6. "While he was away Roxy Music had a few hits but did nothing that was great."

    Equally true of Eno…

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. Similarly, Max Weinberg *is* The E Street Band.

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  9. Mick Burt *is* Chas 'n Dave.

    That's enough now, you had your fun:)

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  10. You're spot on David and if you listen to the Avalon era Roxy played live now with Paul on drums it is MUCH better.

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  11. I love Paul Thompson! I have review on Amazon where I extol the impact of P.T.( on Viva ) And, I spelled his last name wrong! Still, I had seen and heard enough. Top notch drummer! But, the more music I hear, I realize how much there still is to learn! Gus--I exist!!!!

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  12. I have seen Ferry live in recent years and he also referred to PT as "the great Paul Thompson" - so it's official

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  13. Big fan of his work. Those flat thuds thumping through the coda of Remake/Remodel. The giddy gallop of Ladytron and stoic shuffle of If There is Something. Although his moment really arrives on Out of The Blue. Especially live..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qQV8t-E460

    Paul Cook's tub-thumping on NMTB has the fru-fru free backbone and beat, that to me, seems shaded by the Hand of Thompson

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