My favorites are “Lido Shuffle” from Boz Skaggs’ Silk Degrees and “These Chains” from Toto’s The Seventh One. “Lido” is so fluid and energetic. “These Chains” is silky, smooth, and just feels beautiful. Porcaro always had a million bucks in every groove. It was so moving. He’s missed but never forgotten.
I love cuts like Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’,” Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” and Toto’s “Rosanna.” But one track that I adore is Leo Sayer’s “When I Need You.” It builds up from gentle hi-hat to a slow, bluesy groove with incredibly spacious, dynamic, and fat fills, and it features Porcaro’s stunning feel. Mark Youll
I’d say Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown,” especially in the middle section of the song. The phrasing between the [overdubbed] hi-hat and the ride is amazing. And his hi-hat control was unique and tasty. Alonso Solano Estrella
On “Jake to the Bone” off Toto’s Kingdom of Desire, Porcaro pushes the time ahead but never rushes. He handles the sections in 7/8 smoothly and showed us what fusion sounded like in his more-than-capable hands.
Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry.” Porcaro always sounded as though his only desire in life was to play those backbeats!
“Jake to the Bone” from Toto’s Kingdom of Desire. You can hear Porcaro’s epic groove, tasteful fills, fantastic 7/8 mid-section, and just brilliant pocket. He was a master.
“Take This Love” off Sérgio Mendes’ Brasil ’86. Porcaro’s playing here might sound easy, but it’s so difficult to execute and imitate his feel and fills.
Fernando Mendoza Jr.
Toto’s “Rosanna” blew my tiny drumming mind when I was fourteen.
Curtis Stigers’“Sleeping with the Lights On” has a simple, solid groove with Porcaro’s thumbprint all over it, and it could’ve been one of the last sessions he did.
I’d say Boz Scaggs’ “Look What You’ve Done to Me.” It’s a masterpiece in so many ways. Porcaro’s little press roll coming out of the first chorus is perfect. The powerful fill leading into the final chorus really stirs your emotions. The song is probably not among a lot of peoples’ favorites, but it’s one of mine.
Check out Porcaro’s playing on Michael Bolton’s “When a Man Loves a Woman.” The fill that brings the song back in after the vocal breakdown is the most beautiful thing. And don’t get me started on his rimclick sound and pocket!
“Mother” by Pink Floyd. There are some tricky time changes that Porcaro handles with grace. Better yet, his playing doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb compared to Nick Mason’s work on the rest of the album. It’s, in a word, seamless.
Steely Dan’s “Your Gold Teeth II” is a jazzy rework that showcases the finesse of Porcaro’s drumming prowess. It starts off with a driving intro and explosive hits before morphing into a jazz waltz, where Jeff’s drumming is subtle yet vital to drive the tune forward. His licks during the bridge are insane, as is his brief break right before the second half of the guitar solo. This song took me months to figure out, and I’m still trying to perfect it.
I play in a Steely Dan tribute band, and I always strive to capture the essence of each drummer. Porcaro is one of my all-time favorites—grooves galore and such finesse. He’s one of the greatest.
I’d say Boz Scaggs’ “Lido Shuffle.” It has a solid groove with a heavy shuffle that leads with the bass drum. Porcaro plays minimally but adds hugely complementary fills throughout.
Porcaro was always on point and playing exactly what the song needed. On top of that you can tell that he really locked in with other musicians. My personal favorites of his would be the Brothers Johnson’s “I Want You” and Elton John’s “Princess.”
Don Henley’s “New York Minute” is the example I use when explaining what playing “behind the beat” means. Try drumming along to that Don Henley classic during the chorus. Porcaro makes you wait forever for each backbeat.