Something I really love about subscription music services is the ability it affords to create and share compilations of unsung heroes, like the music producer. The producer is the person who puts it all together in the recording studio, gets the sound just right, and can transform mediocre tracks into things of beauty. It's hard to believe that it's been 13 years since the world lost the great Jimmy Miller, an American music producer who spent much of his career in England. He's arguably the best drum sound and percussion man to ever breathe oxygen. He's responsible for the greatest albums ever released by the Rolling Stones including Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Goats Head Soup and Exile on Main Street, as well as classic rock staples by Traffic, Blind Faith and The Spencer Davis Group.
Mr. Miller was able to capture music in a subtly powerful way. With a plentiful concoction of instruments, he crafted complex tapestries of sound, but the individual parts of his intricate overdubbings were always crystal clear. A Jimmy Miller recording surrounds you, sinks it's claws into your flesh and doesn't let you go.
Jimmy was known for his love of percussion and used it better than any producer of the era. He played the famous cowbell part on "Honky Tonk Women" by The Rolling Stones and is responsible for one of the greatest percussion-centric songs ever put to wax, the timeless Stones song "Sympathy For The Devil". Listen to it again, preferably with headphones on. Try to tune out Mick's vocals, listen to the rhythmic piano, but really concentrate on the percussion. It's pure genius. A cabassa or maraca lays the rhythmic foundation as congas interplay with drums and cowbell. The left channel is noticeably lower in the mix than the right channel, which gives the percussion another layer of depth. It all comes together like a perfect storm. There's no escape. You're going to be here for a while.
For another superb percussion track produced by Jimmy, make sure to check out "Movin' On Up" by Primal Scream from the album Screamadelica. This one also uses piano, congas, drums and other percussion to create an infectious groove, it's a second cousin to "Sympathy For The Devil", complete with screaming guitar solo. The real difference is the Gospel tinged vocals and background choir straight from a southern AME church. Perfect I tell you.
This list of Jimmy Miller produced songs also include a remix of "Gimme Some Lovin'" by The Spencer Davis group. The song includes added (you guessed it) percussion, provided by members of Traffic. The result is one of the best Rock remixes ever. Instantly recognizable, but never tiring. And did I mention the cowbell?
I could gush on and on about every single track in this list, but will just say that as you listen, pay special attention to the detail, the complexity, the production. When finished, tip your glass to the late great Jimmy Miller, an unsung hero of Rock & Roll. You'll come out of a better music fan, I guarantee it.
Produced By Jimmy Miller Playlist
12. Razor's Edge - The Blessing
14. Mayfair - Millie