Re: Neil Peart
Here are a couple of reasons I admire, and enjoy, Neil Peart's drumming. To start with, it touches in me a place where good music (a subjective term I know) is supposed to touch you. Many of Rush's songs communicate to me on an emotional level like very few pieces of music do. I started listening to Rush before I knew who Rush was let alone who Neil Peart was. I fell it love w/it because I thought it was great, not because I had people telling me I'm supposed to think it's great. I think Neil, and Rush over all, has a very good balance between emotional and technical playing. As a whole it's technical enough to make you go, "wow", emotional enough to keep it from being "cold", and, most importantly, they play to serve the song.
I like Neil's solos (The Rhythm Method is still the best incarnation, IMO) because it feels like there is cohesive thread running thru the whole solo. A point, like he is trying to communicate something, tell a story, during his solo. If the story had a name I think it would be "A Brief History of Drumming in around 9 minutes." ;) Many of the other drum solos I've listened to feel hollow (like a visually stunning movie w/a lackluster plot). Neil's goal when building his drum solo was to make an homage, basically, to drumming. Parts of his solo are inspired by his many bicycle trips in Africa, his own version of "The Drum also Waltzes" is a tribute to Max Roach, and the swing section at the end is for the drummers he grew up listening to, like Buddy Rich. I think that personalization is what gives his solo the emotional undertone many others lack.
And about Neil's expression, that's just his "work face." Jordan stuck out his tongue, Namath wore a fur coat, Neil looks intense (which only helps cement "The Professor" as an appropriate nick name for him).