Tag Archives: bassline

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

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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 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

Week 28 – TBT 2017 – Sweet Child O’ Mine


I guess it was fairly inevitable that this should end up on here at some point this year. It’s a massive rock classic, an iconic track. The bass intro alone (you can ignore Slash doing his guitar stuff, the true melody is in that bass line – but maybe I’m biased!) makes it worthy of inclusion.  

The reason I’ve shared it this week is quite fun I think.  The band I’m in were auditioning a new singer this week, and she’d prepared some songs, which we played and all was good. We then started talking about other numbers and she mentioned that she liked singing this one, so we said “OK, let’s give it a go”. 

What I hadn’t appreciated was that it’s been around 2 years since the band last played it.  What the band hadn’t appreciated was it’s probably twice that since I played it last. I’ve only ever played it twice in gigs, about 5 years apart, and only rehearsed it with any band a handful of times.  

To cut a long story short, I skipped the intro because I couldn’t remember it, but what ensued was a fantastic jam. We all got really into it, played it pretty well considering, and our potential new recruit did it real justice as its not an easy song to sing well. 

Guns ‘n’ Roses – Sweet Child o’ Mine

Week 25 – TBT 2017 – Waterfront

Simple Minds are another one of those bands that I didn’t like, then I liked for a while, then I didn’t like them again. Now I can listen to a couple of their songs at a time, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to hear a whole album, and I doubt I’d try to see them in conert again. I went once, but was at the very back of the SECC in Glasgow and couldn’t really see them. And it took longer to get out of the car park than the gig had gone on for!

Anyhow, I chose this track because it shows that bass lines don’t have to be complicated to be effective, and I don’t think you can get much simpler than playing one note over and over! 

I hope you enjoy this blast from the past: it doesn’t seem to get played on the radio as often as some of their other tracks but is very worthy. This is the only one of their singles I bought (on 12″) and I don’t think I’ve any of their albums on vinyl.

Simple Minds – Waterfront

Week 15 – TBT 2017 – Smooth Criminal

I think this is one cover version of a song which far surpasses the original. It doesn’t sound massively different, though it does have additional swagger, and there are so many references to Michael Jackson in the video.  I guess that each version means something different to each generation, but I think that this rockier version from Alien Ant Farm may prove to be more enduring than Jacko’s version. 

It’s a lot of fun to play this on bass – perhaps one reason why I like it – but I also enjoy the video. The band appear to be having fun making it: not many will have had the chance to appear alongside a chimpanzee. Their follow up single, Movies, had a great video too – check it out! 

Smooth Criminal – Alient Ant Farm

Week 14 – TBT 2017 – Ramble On

I heard that a few years ago Classic Rock magazine polled its readers to find out who they considered to be the best rock singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer of all time. When the votes were cast, it turned out that the band that was created already had a name – Led Zeppelin. 

I must confess that I hadn’t listened to them much before my 40s, to the extent that I’d heard Rolf Harris’ version of Stairway to Heaven long before I heard the original. That seems barely credible to me, but it’s true, 

I found a list of Top 40 bass lines ever, and of all the many possibles, this song was the Led Zeppelin one that made the list. And what a track it is! The bass burbles away in the background, while the lyrics include reference to Lord of the Rings. I’ve addded this to my bucket list of songs to be able to play, and from time to time I return to it. It’s getting easier to play parts of it, but I’ve not managed the whole thing at full speed. I know I’ll get there though, it’s just going to take time.

Ramble On – Led Zeppelin