Pick Withers ON RECORD Key al­bums you must hear

Rhythm - - INTERVIEW - To his ‘in the mo­ment’ feel and con­fi­dent pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

THE ROCK­FIELD FILES 1971 to 1978

Spring

Spring (1971)

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

Bob Dy­lan

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

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

Com­mu­nique (1979)

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.

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