Portnoy had an amazing ability to completely muck up a groove with some random over the top fill. It was mind blowing how he felt the song deserved that particular fill and let it go to print.Listen to a John Bonham shuffle on any song, then listen to Mike Portnoys shuffles on Chris and Kevins excellent adventure (from Liquid Tension Experiment). It sounds great until Portnoy ruins it with all this double bass and stacks stuff that just sounds awful. Are you seriously going to say that sounds great over anything Bonham has done which has served the song completely?
At the same time MP had an amazing ability to also know when he is repeating himself in a particular song. He would intentionally change the way a chorus section was played because he played the first chorus section one way, and now the new chorus is in a different mindset/place from where the first one was, so it gets different drums. He would intentionally take straight 4/4 timing and syncopate over it with odd timing signatures, while maintaining the 4/4 groove with accents spattered throughout the odd signature. To me, thats fun playing. Playing a modified Roxanna shuffle for 4 minutes does not entertain me. Can I play a shuffle like Bonham? Dont know, I have never tried. It doesnt speak to me. Just like speed metal at 300 bpm, electrinic/DnB, or jazz doesnt speak to me. Fusion speaks to me. Weckl's playing speaks very much to me. Can I play it? I wish.