Pleasure from da bass – memorable bass lines19 Apr 2006
Went to a DJ-set (Peaches @ Mirano/Dirty Dancing) yesterday and was not too impressed with the DJ skills of Peaches. Yes, she knew what kind of hard pumping electro the audience wanted to hear, but she couldn’t beatmix if her life depended on it. Lady Jane who played before her, now that’s a real DJ, and a cool chick too (as Ine and D&tC would probably agree).
We were standing at what turned out to be the exit of the subwoofers. Peaches seems to have issues hearing her lower frequencies, which she solves by turning the bass up. Way up. At one moment we almost got cardiac problems, when a merciless 120dB 20Hz bassline was amplified to what was probably the ‘eleven’ setting. On the way home, since I couldn’t hear anymore anyway, I was thinking about the power of basslines, and about the ones that made me start to play the bass guitar myself, the ones I found extremely catchy:
- Chic – Good Times
- probably the most copied bassline of all time: used e.g. in “Rapper’s Delight” (Sugarhill Gang), and in a simplified version in “Another one bites the dust” (Queen). Bass player: Bernard Edwards.
- Level 42 – Love Games
- more specifically the live version on “A Physical Presence” where Mark King starts with a bass solo that develops into the song. (And he can even sing while slapping and popping away. Respect!)
- Rod Stewart – Do ya think I’m sexy
- with impressive disco octaves – it was ’78 after all). The maxi version has this funky bass/drums solo in the middle. Bass player is Phil Chen.
- Queen – Under pressure
- Played and invented by John Deacon, although Freddie Mercury and David Bowie also had some influence in the process. Later the line was sampled by Vanilla Ice, although Vanilla prefers the term ‘inspired by‘
- The O’Jays – For the love of money
- Anthony Jackson is a giant of bass guitar history – in every way. If you see the guy’s hands, it is no surprise he invented the 6-string bass (with low B) in ’75.
- the Police – Walking on the moon
- The first bass tab book I ever bought was that of the Police, and I’ve got a lot of respect for the stuff Sting came up with. The whole Regatta de Blanc album is quite good, “Bring on the night” is also a fun song to play along with.
- Bob Marley – Natural Mystic
- The album “Exodus” was a real discovery for me. Almost each song is a classic. Bass-wise Natural Mystic and Exodus stick out, both with a hypnotizing bass groove. Bass player: Aston “Family Man” Barrett
- Stevie Wonder – I Wish
- From the best album I !ever! bought: Original Musiquarium. Stevie is my biggest musical hero, and no Woman in Red can change that. “I wish” starts with a funky walking bass riff that puts a smile on your face and stays in your head for ages. Bass player: Nathan Watts
- Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel – White Lines
- Freeze! Rock! Blow! Apparently the bassline was sampled from Cavern (Liquid Liquid) and the subsequent law suit bankrupted both 99 Records (Liquid Liquid) and Sugarhill Records (GF&MM). Bass Player: Richard McGuire
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away
- Flea is a phenomenal bass player and came up with the headbanging bass riff while jamming. And he knows how to wear a sock too.
And then I haven’t even mentioned Jaco Pastorius, Me’shell N’degeocello, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten.
Other bass riff lists: 100 greatest rock bass performances and Top 50 basslines of all time