The better drummer?

Clive Burr or Nicko Brain

  • Clive Burr

    Votes: 24 26.7%
  • Nicko Brain

    Votes: 66 73.3%

  • Total voters


Ancient Mariner
@Zare @Ruflux hope you don't mind I continue here.

Drumming technique wise, Clive is mediocre compared to Nicko. Blaze was mediocre in comparison to Bruce, too. Did he fit a particular era/material better? He did. Just like Clive.
Perhaps this fits better in a Clive vs Nicko topic, but every time I read such statements I wonder what someone's criteria are for drumming technique. I am not sure about it myself, but I don't do such is mediocre statements either between these two.

To compare Clive's technical capabilities with Blaze's is very absurd I think, when putting them on the same level, that's a huge underrating of what Clive has done.
Yeah I mean, Blaze had trouble being in key, even in the studio. I think saying Blaze vs Bruce is the same as Clive vs Nicko is an incredible insult at Clive. Clive certainly had a more groovy, down-to-earth and basics oriented style, but he executed it damn well and was honestly better at keeping time than Nicko ever has been. Which I'd say is a pretty comparable skill to a singer's ability to sing in key.
Nicko's right foot (double bass) technique is unmatched, and his ride cymbal playing is probably a bit better as well. But these are only two aspects.
Absolutely. And I honestly do agree with the general thought behind the statement of Nicko being a more technically accomplished drummer. It's just that technique isn't everything. And even still, Nicko had a propensity to overplaying sometimes in the 80s. He's not doing it any more, but there were times when he honestly went a bit too far with fills and changing patterns. Not really on the albums, but live? Definitely. Plus he also played certain songs way too fast, and as Adrian put it, it resulted in the band choking the life out of them.

Meanwhile, Clive never had that issue, but on the other hand the argument could be made that due to his groove-oriented playing style focusing on simple, repeating patterns, he actually ends up underplaying sometimes. But then again his tempos were always on point and he had incredibly fast hands. 16th notes on the hi-hat were no trouble for him, and on songs like Hallowed Be Thy Name, at the pace they played it at, it was a stunning display of skill, and yes, technique.

Long story short, it's not as simple as technique vs. feel either. They're two very different drummers, and I'd argue it comes down far more to preference that you'd think at first glance.

I do not mind the fast playing, I've always loved it and I also like his "relatively" busy work in the eighties. I love all the breaks he did, never felt any overplaying. Another major Nicko strength is the synergy between his drums and Steve's bass playing. While they do not always play the same accents, together it makes for one strong propulsing force.

Clive was incredibly tight. And it sounds very powerful. The way he hit his crash cymbals: with deadly precision. And I love his fast hi-hat work which indeed attributed to an awesome groove. So much feel, but yeah also technique. Not sure where one things ends and where the other starts.

Some favourite moments:

It's really a treat to listen to Nicko's drums on the whole SIT album. His performance, the sound, everything.
For the rest: the first two albums with Clive are really a pleasure to the ears. A lot of different moments on the debut album. Killers is probably Maiden's least melodic album, but for the rest it's a true rhythm feast. On Beast he does well too, but I find the patterns a bit less challenging, and within the songs he hardly varies his patterns. Still damn tight and way more interesting (and iconic) than Nicko's dull performance on VXI.

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son - esp. the couplets, but I also that hi-hat stuff in the calm atmospheric part.
To Tame A Land - the first part as soon as the rhythm starts, like with SSOASS: those 'toms' do the trick.
LOTLDR - amazing stuff, very intense, enduring staccato rhythms, I certainly can imagine the reason why this song didn't work out too well live.
Deja-Vu: Nicko's fluid playing here is remarkable. It sounds so dynamic and natural, you don't hear this stuff anymore in recent metal productions (from other bands). Sounds too produced, to linear.
TETMD (The 'A Real Live One Version' is amazing! Check out Nicko's bass drums!)
Transylvania - Clive's crash-cymbal accents are excellent, and fit the song structure perfectly. Clive really blends with the song.
Prowler - the fast part !
Purgatory: Nicko could never do this.
Genghis Khan (this kind of speed and explosivity -> Nicko can't do this either & the gear shift from fast --> slow part)