Album Reviews

Simon Phillips

Protocol III

Artist:     Simon Phillips

Album:     Protocol III

Label:     Phantom Recordings

Release Date:     5/15/2015


Simon Phillips soars high in the ranks of contemporary drummers. He’s worked twenty years behind Toto and has kept time with Jagger, Jack Bruce, Jeff Beck, Stanley Clarke, Gabriel, Roxy Music, the Who and most recently, an equal third of pianist extraordinaire Hiromi Uehara’s intrinsically telepathic Trio Project.

This taut and fiery collection often recalls the fusion heyday of the Jeff Beck’s explosive explorations Blow by Blow (1975) and Wired (1976). You haven’t heard playing like that (or this) in a long, long time. Fusion had its pratfalls (barren stretches of masturbatory noodling, flash over inspiration, spaciness over creation) but you won’t find any of that on the eight Phillips’ compositions that make Protocol III a complete whole.

As composer, player and producer, Protocol III is Phillips’ baby, but guitarist Andy Simmons’ searing lyricism and melodic combustion have got to get their share of the headlines. His voice sets the tone on many of these concise constructions, notably the insane crunch of “Outlaw,” the percussion driven “Narmada” and the dreamy, “Imaginary Ways.”

– Mike Jurkovic

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