Pick Withers ON RECORD Key albums you must hear
THE ROCKFIELD FILES 1971 to 1978
The Leicester proggers still enjoy something of a cult status thanks to their first and only, self-titled, album. Spring is notable for its heavy use of Mellotron and great grooves, and Pick clearly relished being involved in the ‘conversation’ afforded to drummers in the new progressive rock movement. ‘Shipwrecked Sailor’ allowed him to revisit his drum corps background with military rolls, ‘The Prisoner’ has some fantastic fills. Recorded at the new Rockfield Studios, it began Pick’s long relationship with the studio as house drummer, one that saw him play on recordings with Del Shannon, Foghat, Brewer’s Droop and more.
SLOW TRAIN DRUMMING 1979
Slow Train Coming (1979)
After Dire Straits had recorded Communique with Muscle Shoals legends Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett, Wexler got Knopfler and Withers to Alabama to record Dylan’s first Christian album. With lush production, gospel voices and incredible grooves, it’s arguably one of Dylan’s best albums, in terms of fully orchestrated musicality at least. The majestic ‘Serve Somebody’ and gorgeous, bluesy devotional ‘I Believe In You’ are perfectly backed by Pick’s emotive style; the album track and ‘Do Right ■ To Me’ all have that classic Muscle Shoals sound, with Barry Beckett on keys and the Memphis Horns all filling out the sound in a truly inspired way.
GOING STRAITS 1978-1982
Dire Straits (1978)
Bluesy, swinging pub rock with brothers David and Mark Knopfler, John Illsley on bass and Pick Withers laying down some sweet grooves with real character on ‘Down To The Waterline’, and laid-back blues of ‘Water Of Love’. This album also gave the world the band’s first hit, the wonderful ‘Sultans Of Swing’, with ‘time bell’ paraddidle-type lick that by Pick’s own admission he nicked from Poco’s George Grantham. Dire Straits
The licks were more sophisticated, the blues ramped up to ■ 11, and the beginnings of the band’s later stadium pretensions were laid with second album Communique. Top of the bill is the reggae-influenced ■ ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’, with Mark Knopfler’s characterful voice and sublime guitar licks brilliantly backed by Pick’s tasteful but perfect playing, giving the tunes bounce and swing. Always one to stamp his style on recordings, Pick provided some beautiful drum fills and licks on ■ these tunes, and he attributes them Dire Straits
Making Movies (1980)
By this point the ■ band were on fire, hitting the start of a creative peak that would gift the world their most immortal recorded moments. ‘Tunnel Of Love’ has a driving swing punctuating the guitar licks with dynamic fills; ‘Romeo And Juliet’ is sheer perfection in song drumming, as one of the greatest love songs of all time is carried along with cross-stick subtlety and clever hi-hat licks, the song’s oh-so-important dynamic shifts powered by some wonderful fills and tom rolls. On ‘Skateaway’, Pick lays down a deep pocket groove on one of the band’s more upbeat pop songs. Dire Straits
Love Over Gold (1982)
For Pick, the strain may have been beginning to show ■ in the band’s relationships, but ■ the expanded palette provided by synths and piano gave the tunes a more ambitious feel. Just five tracks are found here (it was 20 minutes ■ a side back then), with the 14-minute epic ‘Telegraph Road’ kicking things ■ off and guided to its conclusion by some typically clever dynamic ■ shifts from Pick. ‘Industrial Disease’ has a boogie feel; ‘Love Over Gold’ contains yet more perfect song-playing from Pick, though it would prove to be his swansong ■ with the band.