Low End Theory

As I said, Jeff, your list of the top three from the previous post is pretty durned tight. I’m struck by a couple of things, though. First, you ignore Geddy Lee—are you afraid of what Alex would do? Also, two of the three you mentioned, and the sample you've provided, demonstrate what I think might be an anomaly in rock bass playing. What Is And What Should Never Be features a way-out-in-front fluid melodic line…sorta like McCartney’s work on Something. I’m not convinced that bassists get that sorta line, that sorta prominence often. What’s pretty nice about Aston Barrett is his rock(-steady)-solid holding down of the band, selfless musicianship so tasty you don’t even notice it most of the time. You don’t listen to the bass playing with the Family Man…you groove to the song—like the band is one big instrument. That’s the quality I like in a lot of bassists—Cachao, countless anonymous township jive players, among others. So I’m posting a song that bridges those two possibilities in bass playing—the selfless anchor and the surprising flash usually reserved for guitarists.

Mike Mills…oh, how should I begin singing your praises? For the harmonies, for the Nudie suits, for not quitting the band to run a farm (NOT rock-n-roll), for never confusing yourself with Bono, for holding your liquor on transatlantic flights, for writing (Don’t Go Back to) Rockville but not taking credit…for rocking that muthafunkin’ Rickenbacker! For all of these things, I’d have to place Mike Mills—and bass players of his ethos—among the top.

Bassists that I resisted talking about in my snarky way:
That guy from Trout Fishing In America
That guy on “Duke of Earl”
Bernie Worrell’s left hand
Stevie Wonder’s left hand
Britta Phillips (HOT)
Sid Vicious
Keith Richards (see, cuz Bill Wyman was, y'know, like, [ahem] still in the band...and that’s funny…[insert nervous tugging at shirt collar])

Bassists so annoying that they are beyond snark:
Tony Levin
Ray Manzarek’s left hand (you're welcome, Alex)
Jack Casady (for Jefferson Airplane)
Jack Casady (for Jefferson Starship)
Jack Casady (for Starship)
Bruce Thomas (for slamming Mr. Macmanus in a book)


Anonymous JB said...

Hooray for bass guitar!

I personally feel that Macca and Familyman are two sides of the same coin.

Both perform the basic job of bassist with aplomb. No song will lack rhythm where they are employed.

Both further distinguish themselves by applying their own inimitable style and musicality to the tunes. Both will often leave you humming the bass part to the tune you were just listening to.

Where they differ, and they differ greatly here, is tone.

Familyman works with a plate tectonics vibe that moves you so fundamentally, that you often don't realize that the melody he's playing is literally the main hook of the song.

Paul runs a tone so lovely and shiny that your attention immediately leaps out to grab and hold and treasure it. His phenomenal hooks grab you by the frontal lobes from the outset.

They are my two favorite bassists.

As far as John Paul Jones, I dig him the most, but if I only had one slot on my team for a classic hard rock bassist, I'd pass him over in favor of The Ox. Entwistle was an unstoppable force of nature. God rest his soul.

Mike Mills is a stone cold badass.

Geddy Lee can eat a bag of dicks.

Bill Wyman. *cough* Uh. Yeah.

My favorite bassist who has done great work recently: Joe Lally of Fugazi.

My favorite bassist I just found out about recently because Joel is so awesome: The dude from Cymande.

Favorite anonymous sideman bassists: Carl Radle and Tim Drummond.

Least favorite bass guitar controversy: Gilmour supposedly played all the recorded bass parts in Pink Floyd.

Only bassist who should have ever worn leather pants: Phil Lynott

Easiest way to get my spouting off a ton of nonsense: A bassist blog post

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Geddy said...


12:28 PM  

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