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SIMON PHILLIPS

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Simon Phillips biography
SIMON PHILLIPS is an English drummer, songwriter and producer from London known for his studio and session work for various bands as well as being the drummer for TOTO from 1992 to 2014 after replacing the late Jeff PORCARO.

PHILLIPS began his profesional career as a player in his father's Dixieland band at the age of twelve and eventually got well established on the scene as a sought-after session player by the 80's, with his earlier performances on 801's live album with Phil MANZANERA and Brian ENO and 'Sin After Sin' record by JUDAS PRIEST being just some of the notable examples. Overall, PHILLIPS played or worked on engineering or various other duties with a great number of acts, for an example of a short list related to prog rock acts, FRANK ZAPPA, MIKE OLDFIELD, JON ANDERSON, CAMEL, ASIA, 10cc, THE WHO, JOHN WETTON, MIKE RUTHERFORD, TREVOR RABIN, JEFF BECK, JORDAN RUDESS and HIROMI UEHARA are some of the musicians which can be mentioned. In later years he is also active in the area of musical education, by the way of drumming lessons or engineering like participating in the 'Science of Sound Recording' video series by ALAN PARSONS.

PHILLIPS has maintained a steady solo career which began in the late 80's and has been releasing fusion studio albums both during his membership in TOTO and eventual retirement from the group to focus more on his solo work.

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SIMON PHILLIPS discography


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SIMON PHILLIPS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.92 | 5 ratings
Symbiosis
1995
3.39 | 5 ratings
Another Lifetime
1997
4.40 | 5 ratings
Protocol II
2013
4.17 | 6 ratings
Protocol III
2015
4.07 | 9 ratings
Protocol 4
2017

SIMON PHILLIPS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Out Of The Blue
1999

SIMON PHILLIPS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SIMON PHILLIPS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SIMON PHILLIPS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.23 | 3 ratings
Protocol
1988

SIMON PHILLIPS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Another Lifetime by PHILLIPS, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.39 | 5 ratings

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Another Lifetime
Simon Phillips Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I reluctantly gave his previous album "Symbiosis" 4 stars feeling it was a 3.5 star album but bumping it up. Can't do it with this one, in fact 3 stars seems right. We get the guitarist back from the previous record which is fine but I was hoping the sax player wasn't the other one. He was. He plays such a smooth style and the keyboards on here bug me unlike on "Symbiosis". Okay all this to justify my rating, but I'm happy with the rating, not so much the album. With the album cover and pictures of him in the liners I was thinking he might be hoping to get discovered or something. I mean the pose with him holding his chin is breathtaking. Hey we get Anthony Jackson on bass and he really impressed me, very upfront too in the sound. Can't really pick a favourite track. The nine tracks range from about 6 minutes to 8 minutes in length. Obviously well played but I'm just not digging this one.
 Symbiosis by PHILLIPS, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.92 | 5 ratings

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Symbiosis
Simon Phillips Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 3.5 stars. Simon Phillips like fellow drummer Steve Smith was playing in a popular band a the time but wanted to record a Jazz/Fusion album his first love. Simon was in TOTO when he recorded this back in 1995, while Steve was in JOURNEY when he recorded his first Jazz/Fusion album in 1983. Simon is from the UK and has played with so many well known bands and he was a high in demand session drummer too. He played with 801 and I'd mention that live one they did in 1976 as a recommendation. He played on JUDAS PRIEST's "Sin After Sin" in 1977, THE MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP's debut in 1980, joined TOTO in 1992 then recorded an album in this Jazz style while in a band called PROTOCOL which isn't as good as this one in my opinion. Ray Russell plays guitar on both.

Not surprisingly we get a couple of TOTO members helping out on bass and percussion. The latter played in an American band called NEW SUN. Shiela E. adds timbales on here and there are 9 musicians involved in total in the making of this record. I feel that this is a 3.5 star album but am rounding up because I so enjoy listening to Simon's drumming and the bass which sounds amazing and there are 3 bass players on here. The issues for me are the smooth sax, in fact I saw a smooth Jazz tag on this one from another site. I can get past it because there is so much that I like about this album but yeah 3.5 stars is right for me.

Top two would include the title track with Shiela E. opening with the timbales along with percussion for a cool sounding start. It ends this way too on this 9 minute opener. I like how the keyboardist creates atmosphere on here. Guitar is lighting it up after 4 1/2 minutes. Soprano sax is often the lead instrument here. I think "Isis" is my favourite though. The guitar, sax and atmosphere and it's a relaxed tune at over 8 minutes in length but it works for me. Again the bass and drums sound so good on this album along with the overall sound quality. "Biplane To Bermuda" is pretty cool at over 9 minutes with all the beats along with the bass. This is an album on the border but I'm welcoming it to my Jazz related section, congrats! Haha.

 Another Lifetime by PHILLIPS, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.39 | 5 ratings

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Another Lifetime
Simon Phillips Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Squire Jaco

4 stars It would seem as though peerless drummer Simon Phillips has played on just about EVERYBODY's album at some point over the past 5 decades. It's interesting that he only has about 5 solo albums , and I would probably rate them all pretty evenly at around 4 stars - all jazz fusion in the traditional 70's style.

He made "Another Lifetime" in 1997 in comeback fashion, as he had been recovering from an illness or back problems, no longer able to travel with TOTO (the band with which most people may most associate him). There is a LOT to like on this album aside from his phenomenal drumming throughout: guitars are handled by Ray Russell and the great Andy Timmons, Jeff Babko is on keyboards, and another icon Anthony Jackson plays bass. There is also a fair amount of saxophone, courtesy of a Wendell Brooks. Despite his immense talent, Phillips doesn't take any 2-minute drum solos here - he just shines with some extraordinary fills throughout.

And I love the SOUND on this record; in pursuit of a warmer and more natural sounding record, he decided to record 48 track analog/non dolby. (That's above my paygrade, but believe me, it WORKS!) Really nice balance and clarity on the whole record.

Nine longish tracks adorn this album, pretty much between 6 and 8 minutes each. Nice tempo and mood changes between the songs. The first track, Jungleyes, sets the pace for the album with great guitar and driving bass. My favorites are probably Kumi Na Moja (at 8:10, the longest track), and ESP with it's deep growly bass undertone and the cool overall melodic line. But they are ALL good! I'll make this one stand out from the others and go 4-1/2 stars.

 Protocol by PHILLIPS, SIMON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1988
2.23 | 3 ratings

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Protocol
Simon Phillips Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

2 stars For some reason I had Simon Phillips pegged as a "session man," a classic-rock skinspounder, and one of a small number of elite, virtuoso second-string drummers who could fill in for anybody. None of that's incorrect, but it's not really a fair characterization. Most of the drummers who have inspired him are fusion players like Billy Cobham; his non-drumming influences include John McLaughlin, Miles Davis, and Jeff Beck; "and then," he says, "there are groups like Chicago, Yes, Jethro Tull etc.," which he cites as influential on his musicianship.

So Simon Phillips is a bona fide "prog" artist. And Protocol was his first album. For this project, he's joined by... nobody. Protocol is 27 minutes of very good drumming with sequenced accompaniment. On half of the tunes here, Phillips also plays an electric guitar melody on a synthesizer (via samples). Spoiler alert, it doesn't sound like Jeff Beck, but the first time I heard the album I just assumed he was jamming with some pals from the studio and never gave any thought to the idea that there might not have been a dedicated guitarist.

Overall, the first half of Protocol is relaxed, late-1980s jazz/fusion, kind of the same feel as Grover Washington Jr., Lee Ritenour or Larry Carlton in places, but more electronic, and with the focus on the drumming, not guitar or sax. I'm also reminded in places of late-1990s instrumental AOR la Eric Johnson or Joe Satriani, although again, I'm talking about the atmosphere. However, the opener, "Streetwise," begins with a rhythmic sample that could have brought the song in the very different direction of Herbie Hancock's Future Shock. "Streetwise" is probably the catchiest tune here, although the chorus melody on the second cut, "Red Rocks," has a nice, jazzy, unexpected chord change.

But compositionally, a sameness settles in even before "Red Rocks" ends. Listening to the following songs ("Protocol" and "Slofunk"), I get the sense that the primary reason the record company released Protocol as a mini-album was that there just wasn't another ten or fifteen minutes of ideas, at least at the moment. The fifth and final conventional song, "V8," is a bit more energetic, and here the drumming is more complex.

The original issue of Protocol ends with "Wall St.," a four-minute drum solo recorded live in 1988, although on the reissue it's labeled "Wall St. part 1" and accompanied by parts 2 and 3, extending the piece to thirteen minutes of pretty amazing musicianship. It bears a little resemblance to Neil Peart's solo on All the World's a Stage. Since the tom-toms are the only tuned percussion Phillips uses, it's remarkable that "Wall St." Doesn't get boring much sooner. I'm someone who can appreciate "The Drum Also Waltzes," but I have my limit when it come to drum solos, and it's way before thirteen minutes!

If anyone needed proof in 1988, twelve years after 801 Live, of the talents of Simon Phillips as a consummate musician - - not just a as timekeeper - - Protocol was it. But as a late-1980s work of rock-based fusion, Protocol doesn't represent progress beyond late-1970s rock-based fusion like Romantic Warrior or Feels Good to Me. Given Phillips's influences, such progress might've been expected. But evidently Protocol was more of a drumming showcase than of jazz composition. In later years, Phillips would recruit musicians to take the Protocol concept in much more artistic directions.

P.S.: The reissue of Protocol also includes alternate mixes of "Streetwise" and "Protocol."

 Protocol 4 by PHILLIPS, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.07 | 9 ratings

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Protocol 4
Simon Phillips Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars SIMON PHILLIPS surely is one of the most demanded and respected jazz drummers ever. And even as a composer he's very successful. 'Protocol 4' stands for a series of albums which he initiated in 1988, where the last three exemplars came out fulfilling a two years interval exactly. Regarding the current one, released in 2017, he has gathered steady compagnion Ernest Tibbs again, also Greg Howe on guitar and keyboarder Dennis Hamm. This prolific crew offers prog fusion in best form, partially close to music provided by Billy Cobham, Tony Williams Lifetime, Brand X, Alan Holdsworth aso. Examplarily just take the energetic Azorez which is concluding the album.

What differs to the aforementioned acts is the somewhat nonchalant atmosphere they are creating more often, I'd say. What I mean, it seems to me a tad more controlled, not that wild and unrestrained as particularly known from the 1970's. Though virtuoso and entertaining all the way through without a doubt. Obviously born out of Simon's uncounted experiences Passage To Agra is carried by a fantastic rhythm featuring some exotic flair. Greg Howe's guitar playing frequently reminds me of Alan Holdsworth. The following Solitaire shines with a funky groove and stunning keyboard attendance. Superb album. At least jazz fusion aficionados shouldn't miss that.

Thanks to historian9 for the artist addition.

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