Tag Archives: bass

Week 49 – TBT 2017 – Fields of Fire

We’ve just had St Andrews Day, so it makes sense that I choose a Scottish (sort of) band for this week’s entry. The reason I say “sort of” is because, although often referred to as Scottish, only Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson – the guitarists in the band – were Scots. Bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki were English. Listening to Tony and Mark had a big influence on me wanting to be a drummer or bassist.

I’ve chosen this track because it’s one of my favourites, and because the video shows the incredible energy that surged through the crowd at a Big Country gig. I love the interaction the band members have with each other and the way they feed off the crowd – and vice versa. This was recorded at Glasgow’s Barrowlands Ballroom – The Barras – which regular readers will know I enjoy as a venue. Watch the video, and try to imagine you’re near the front enjoying the show…

Fields of Fire – Big Country

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Week 46 – TBT 2017 – Tubular Bells

After last week’s trip down memory lane with an electronic classic, I couldn’t ignore this track / album. Known by many as the theme from The Exorcist, this is a vast, soaring piece of work. It’s remarkable for many reasons, not least of which are that this was Mike Oldfield’s first album, he was a teenager when he originally recorded it, and he played every instrument himself. That’s just exceptional, in my opinion.  

Where’s best to listen to this though? I used to have a B&O stereo in my car, and cranking the volume up – particularly with the bass guitar but especially with the church organ – was such a spine tingling time it made sitting in traffic a real pleasure! Perhaps best of all is to lie down in a darkened room and just let the sound wash over you. 

I’ve found it to be quite an emotional piece at times, especially when I’ve made a point of doing nothing other than just listening to and losing myself in the music. 

Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield

Week 43 – TBT 2017 – Run to the Hills

This is a bit of a classic from the 80s. With its distinctive riff and incredible vocals, it’s instantly recognisable. For me, Steve Harris doesn’t get as much recognition as he deserves as a song writer but also as a musician. His bass lines are brilliant, fluid and galloping. For someone who plays finger style, it’s unusual to use three fingers rather than two. That’s the secret to his sound, and I can’t recreate it as my ring finger won’t work independently!

I wasn’t really a metal fan when growing up, but I used to love this track, and still do. It’s great that the plight of Native Americans was being raised to the general public even in the UK back then. I think more can be done, but recognising that Westerners stole land and resources that wasn’t theirs is a good start. 

Iron Maiden – Run to the Hills

Week 33 – TBT 2017 – London Calling


Sticking with the punk theme from last week, I thought I’d share this classic track from The Clash.  Not just because the bassline is excellent, but because the photo that goes with it has become iconic in its own right.  

Paul Simenon is in the process of smashing his bass – presumably at the end of the gig – and I think the image has such powerful energy and makes a statement all on its own.  

I played this track with a covers band a few years back, and had it as my ringtone for ages (I now have an AC/DC tune, but that’s for another week!).  For all that the bassline is a classic, and is so much fun to play, I can also state from experience that if the guitarists don’t play with some attitude the song becomes a bit bland. The song is crying out to be played with passion, with a swagger, and if you don’t play it that way it loses a lot of its power.  

I should probably state for posterity that, for all I like(d) punk, I was never a massive fan of The Clash.  They just didn’t seem to “do it” for me in the same way that other bands – notably SLF, the Sex Pistols, The Damned or Siouxsie and the Banshees – did.  It’s almost heresy to admit that, according to some fans, but we all like what we like, right?  

Anyhow, here it is: enjoy! 

London Calling – The Clash

Week 32 – TBT 2017 – Nice ‘n Sleazy

One of the tunes I use when warming up prior to rehearsal or practice is this one. Only the intro, but it gets the fingers and hands moving well I think. The sound is unmistakably The Stranglers, and is a really dirty, grungy tone which I love. I’ve written before about how much I like JJ Burnel’s playing, and this is one of the classic examples that illustrate why. The first few notes are enough to give me goosebumps. I hope you enjoy it too!

Nice ‘n Sleazy – The Stranglers

Week 31 – TBT 2017 – When your heart stops beating

I can’t believe this song is 8 years old!  Where has all that time gone?  Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus from Blink 182 are the rhythm section of a band called +44, and this is arguably their only “big” hit.  I’m not sure why they named the band after the international dialling code for the UK, but it’s short and punchy, and I guess followed a bit of a trend back then for band names with numbers in them – or at least being called “The” something…

The song is pretty short but full of dynamic energy: the video shows Barker’s drumming power and complex rhythms really well.  I particularly like the break in the middle where the instruments each have a go, and a form of musical tension is built up.  This would be really interesting for a live band to play, as they’d need to be very tight to pull it off properly.  

Hope you’re ready for a good pogo and jump around – I am!  

+44 – When Your Heart Stops Beating

Week 30 – TBT 2017 – Mrs Robinson

It’s not lost on me that I seem to like cover versions of classic songs, and this is no different. The Simon and Garfunkel version is brilliant, and very of its time, whereas this version by The Lemonheads (what a great band name by the way) is marginally better I think. 

The difference – as if you’ve not guessed – is the bassline. It’s got a really nice hook which was played on guitar on the original but just sounds great here. I’m guessing that it’s played with a pick (plectrum) rather than with fingers.

Watching the video triggered a couple of thoughts:

  1. At one point, Dustin Hoffman is wearing shades and driving a red convertible. Is it just me, or was it a combo that Tom Cruise was seen in during Rainman, which also starred … Dustin Hoffman?
  2. Towards the end, in the church scene, I could almost hear Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) shouting “Cassandra” – guess I’ve watched Wayne’s World 2 too often, as this song was on the soundtrack.

I’ve wanted to play this in a band for a long time, and hopefully one day I’ll get my wish…

Lemonheads – Mrs Robinson