Bass players. The epitome of cool. There they are at the side or back of the stage thumping away on the strings and providing the rich deep groove of a song. I’ve never seen a bass guitarist get in a flap on stage. How can they be so relaxed? Is it because they only have 4 strings to worry about or that a bum note on a bass is so hard to notice?
These are my favourite bass riffs or should I say ones that have come to my mind in the past week when I thought about writing this article. There are so many fantastic bass grooves from the disco and funk era but I’ll stick exclusively to rock and pop as this list may never finish otherwise.
Aeroplane (1996) – Red Hot Chili Peppers. Bass player: Flea
I’m starting to do a u-turn back to the music of the RHCP. Their Sydney concert in 2005 sucked so badly that they’ve been off my playlist ever since. Its got a nice bass solo with the slapping bass style Flea is known for. A rock music video with synchronized swimming. Interesting.
Lido Shuffle (1977) – Boz Scaggs. Bass player: Dave Hungate
This song is perhaps the most overplayed song on Australian classic rock stations, but with good reason. Listen to that bass and drum intro. Honorable mention to the bass on their other track Lowdown. Yes its not rock but if anyone ever says white people can’t produce solid funk or disco show them that… or anything from KC & The Sunshine Band for that matter.
My Generation (1965). The Who. Bass Player: John Entwistle.
Go on, look at his face, he could be playing in his sleep. He rips the bass solo while scanning around the crowd for a suitable groupie for backstage. Like a boss.
Little Green Bag (1969). George Baker Selection. Bass Player: Jan Visser
This song was made famous again by the 1992 Tarantino film ‘Reservoir Dogs’. Tsk tsk if you hadn’t heard of it before then. It’s a classic, its from the best era of rock – the 60s. The film clip is erm, a little disturbing and don’t even ask what the significance of a little green bag is. It doesn’t make sense and just ruins the song if you think about it too much. So stop thinking about it already.
New Years Day (1983). U2. Bass Player: Adam Clayton
Despite people’s reservations of Clayton’s bass playing abilities this is a solid track. Even though the tempo is too fast in this video its special because back then The Edge had hair, Larry Mullins Jnr actually cracked a smile, Bono was skinny and Adam Clayton just looks too cool for school. Listen to the bass on this version, its positively thumping.
Seven Nation Army (2003). White Stripes. Bass Player: .. there isn’t one.
This is an unmistakable bass riff. The bass sound is achieved using a semi-acoustic guitar and an effect pedal. Sure, the White Stripes were overrated but they didn’t really need to make any further contribution after this song.
Peter, Bjorn and John (2006). Young Folks. Bass Player: Björn Yttling
This is bordering into the indie pop territory but its an awesome tune. Simple drum track with a sweet bass overlay. It wins the Roger Whittaker Award for ‘Excellence in Whistling in a song post 1970’s’. Representing for whistlers everywhere. The animated video for the film clip is also hot.