Tag Archives: bass

Week 11 – TBT 2017 – Johnny Was

Tomorrow night, St Patrick’s Day, I’ll be in Glasgow watching Stiff Little Fingers (SLF) play their 26th consecutive year at the same venue on the same night. I was there last year for their 25th, and am making the journey again this year as it’s part of their 40th Anniversary tour. It stands to reason that this week’s choice should be the first of their songs I ever heard, from the first album of theirs I ever heard: the band was 3 years old by then, and have been my favourite ever since. 

Johnny Was is actually a Bob Marley track, and this version comes from the live album Hanx! To my mind, this is probably still the best live album, by any band, ever. At the time I listened to it, I wanted to be a drummer. This track was the first on Side 2 of the cassette (remember them?), which I’d borrowed from a classmate as I was going to see this band at only my second ever gig. Turn the volume up, dim the lights, and see if you can figure out why a wannabe drummer would love this, and why a fully fledged bass player would still rank this as one of his favourite tracks ever. 

Johnny Was – Stiff Little Fingers

Week 7 – TBT 2017 – Stockholm Syndrome

As you know I’m a bass player, I’ll bet that some of you are a little surprised at this choice. Surely I’d have gone for something like Hysteria by Muse, with its awesome, hand mangling bass line? This track is relatively simple, though as I don’t use a pick it’s quite tough to play at full speed all the way through. All the fancy stuff is being done by the guitar, but it’s underpinned and supported by the bass and drums. It’s a classic bit of understated bass playing, though I love the guitar riff too. 

Headphone on – or wind the volume up if you can – and rejoice in how good a three piece band can be. 

Stockholm Syndrome – Muse

Too many basses – not!

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Is it ever possible to have too many basses?  I don’t think so!  This is my current collection, all together for the first time ever.  The one at the back is a Traben Phoenix, which is my most recent purchase.  I found it on Gumtree back in March or April, and it had never been in the same room as all the rest of them!  It has a lovely sound, and looks fabulous.

Let me introduce you to my collection.  From right to left, they’re an Ibanez Soundgear SRX590, an Ibanez Soundgear SRX500, an Ibanez Soundgear SR305, a Squier by Fender Jazz Bass and the aforementioned Traben.

The SRX500 was my second ever bass – I won’t count one I had back in my teens when I really wanted to be a drummer – I traded in a Jim Deacon starter bass for this one.  It’s a lovely red colour with sort of black tiger stripes,  and a custom handmade bone nut.  That was a result of having it professionally set up by a luthier (that’s the name of someone who makes and repairs guitars).  I’ve had it for the best part of 12 years I think – and I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it.

The SR305 is the odd one out in many respects.  It’s black, and has five strings: you can probably guess from the numbering that it’s a slightly cheaper model than the other Ibanez’ in my collection.  I bought it on eBay, just to see whether I could play it, particularly as I was playing in a heavy rock band at the time.  Here’s a big secret rarely spoken – 5 string basses only give you 5 notes more than a 4 string.  They’re all lower notes, and sound awesome.  I find that my fingers get confused with the extra string so it tends to sit on the rack and doesn’t get played much.

The SRX590 was another eBay find: it was nearly new and had never been gigged.  I drove something like a 300 mile round trip to pick it up, probably 4 or 5 years ago.  It’s mostly green with the same sort of black striped pattern as the SRX500, and a pearlescent edge.  The only complaint I have with it is that the fret markers on the side of the neck are white, on a pearlescent background: this makes it difficult to see when on stage.  It’s a minor complaint though – it’s a lovely looking instrument and I love playing it!

I bought the Squier Fender at the end of last year because I’d just joined a rock and roll covers band, and wanted something that wouldn’t look too out of place in the 60s and 70s.  It’s a bit heavier than the others, and the neck is slightly wider, but it still has a great sound.  It has fewer frets, which means I have a longer stretch towards the headstock, and my hands tend to hurt a bit when I’ve been playing it for a while. I even bought a tweed case to go with this one, so it totally looks the part,

I do have my eyes on at least one other bass, but won’t buy it for a while. And if I do, I’ll probably let the 5 string go as part of the deal.

I’m going to leave you with a lyric from a band I’ve only recently discovered.  They’re called Clutch, and have been going for a long time.  This is from a track called Earth Rocker, and this line pretty much sums music up for me.

If you’re gonna do it

Do it live on stage, or don’t do it at all

If you’re gonna do it

You better take it to the stage, or don’t do it at all

 

When not Writing I…

…spend a lot of my time writing!

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My work means that I spend a lot of time on a keyboard, whether it’s in answering emails, writing documentation, reviewing someone else’s documents or other things like that.  I’m not a full time Writer, and what I do on this blog is entirely for my pleasure. I find it a way of managing my thoughts, of making order out of the myriad of things going on in my head, and in some cases even making sense of the world around me.  I don’t believe I’ll ever be a published author (because I don’t think I’ll ever try), and I’m never sure how many people actually read my blog anyway.

So, when I’m not writing for work, or Writing for pleasure, how do I fill the time and why?  Family takes up a lot of time, and I love spending my days and nights with them.  We like to go on day trips, road trips, afternoons out, to all sorts of places and for a number of different activities.  Dee and I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in bookshops, and are continually seeking out interesting volumes on a wide range of topics, though rarely fiction.  That’s because one of our other favourite pastimes is reading: we’ve always got several books on the go at once.

Other than those, my main distraction is generally music, whether listening to it or playing bass. That and walking I find helps clear my mind, to simply be, and they help me to return to every day life refreshed and full of new ideas.

If I had extra time, would I write more?  I don’t think so.  I enjoy the time I spend writing my blog articles, and I enjoy reading other people’s blogs, but I think if I had more time I’d find other ways of spending it.  My diverse ideas are finite and I wouldn’t want to get to the end of them too soon!  I’d like to spend that extra time becoming more adept at mindful meditation, and practicing mindfulness.  I’d like to be more thoughtful – or at least, less thoughtless. I’d probably try to complete a Tai Chi course we’ve been signed up for for ages, and I’d like to try yoga, though as a tall 50 year old slightly overweight bloke with very little flexibility, I think it would take me years even to be able to touch my toes without bending my knees!

Top bass players and bass lines

Dee and I have been making lists of all sorts of things which we’d like to do as a 30 day challenge.  (She’s just coming to the end of a month without refined sugar or sweeteners, and I’m about to embark on a month without coffee.)

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Though not a challenge, I thought I’d list a number of bass players and a separate list of tracks with great bass lines.  This is because, well, I’m a bass player and I like songs with kicking bass lines!  These lists are in no particular order, just go and check them out: at least some will make your hair stand on end if you concentrate on the bass line. Note, most are best played very loud!

Bass players

  • Paul McCartney (The Beatles)
  • John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
  • John Enwistle (The Who)
  • Tim Commerford (Rage Against The Machine)
  • Geddy Lee (Rush)
  • Donald “Duck” Dunn (Booker T and the MGs, Blues Brothers, Stax house band)
  • James Jamerson (Motown house band)
  • Flea (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
  • Jack Bruce (Cream)
  • Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix Experience)

Bass lines

  • Ramble On (Led Zeppelin)
  • Sweet Home Chicago (Blues Brothers)
  • I Wish (Stevie Wonder)
  • Crossroads (Cream)
  • Hysteria (Muse)
  • Money (Pink Floyd)
  • Pride and Joy (Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble)
  • Pump It Up (Elvis Costello and the Attractions)
  • Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (Ian Dury and the Blockheads)
  • Good Times (Chic)

There are so many to choose from, it’s really hard not to just keep adding players and songs!

 

Sounds good – Image #107

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Its been a good day today. Very lazy, but then sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed. I spent ages this morning putting new strings on my latest bass: that was mostly because I wanted to clean it really well since I’ve no idea who else has played it or what they’d done to it.

Of the pedals above, I don’t need the Babe Attractor, as I’ve already got one. The others though? I’ll leave others to judge!