Thursday, February 2, 2012

The 25 Most Iconic Basslines Of All Time

I'm a sucker for lists - all kinds of lists, from "to do" lists to grocery lists.  I especially like "best of/worst of" lists and am usually in heaven in December when they come out.  But really, I'll take lists any time of the year.

There are lots of reasons for my love of lists, and I'll spare you most of those reasons. But part of the charm of "best of/worst of" lists are that they spark either ire or strong agreement; they are almost never met with indifference.  People love their opinions.  

So it's with that in mind that I devised the "25 Most Iconic Basslines Of All Time" list.  Note that I didn't say "favorite basslines", or even "good basslines".  Hell, I don't even like some of the songs listed below.  Also note that these are bass lines, not bass solos.  That's why "My Generation" isn't on the list, for example.  My my rather informal criteria is as follows:
  • The bass parts had to have been done on a bass gutiar or upright bass.  Herbie Hancok's "Chameleon" almost made it on there, only the "iconic bass part" was done on a keyboard.
  • When you ask someone to hum/sing the song below, they will inevitably do the bass part, sometimes even before the vocal.  Try it - go ask someone to sing "Under Pressure" and I'll bet you a hunnert bucks they do the bass line.  
  • If the song had the bass line removed, it would render the song unrecognizable.  
  • Finally, they had to be songs that most folks would know.  To that last point I should say I purposely put in some controversial choices and left out others.  
What do you think?  Who should be booted off the list?  Who should be added?  Those who know me know that there are some shocking omissions on here.  (NO JOHN ENTWISTLE?)  But let's see what you come up with.

“London Calling” - Paul Simonon (The Clash)
“Money” - Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
“Once In A Lifetime” - Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads)
“Under Pressue” - John Deacon (Queen/David Bowie)
“Waiting Room” - Joe Lally (Fugazi)
“Haitian Fight Song” - Mingus
“Myage” - Tony Lombardo (the Descendents)
“Blister In The Sun” - Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes)
“Walk On The Wild Side” - Herbie Flowers (Lou Reed)
“Thank You For Lettin’ Me Be Myself” - Larry Graham (Sly and the Family Stone)
“Green Eyed Lady” - Bob Raymond (Sugarloaf)
Theme From Barney Miller - Jim Hughart
Theme From Night Court - ?
“Give It Away” - Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
“Express Yourself” - Melvin Dunlap (Charles White and the Watts 103 Street Rythmn Band)
“The Guns of Brixton” - Paul Simonon (The Clash)
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” - Peter Hook (Joy Division)
“Come Together” - Paul McCartney (the Beatles)
“Cannonball” - Mando Lopez (The Breeders)
“Pump It Up” - Bruce Thomas (Elvis Costello and the Attractions)
“Another One Bites The Dust” - John Deacon (Queen)
“Low Rider” - B.B Dickerson (War)
“The Joker” - Lonnie Turner (?) (Steve Miller)
“Bust A Move” - Flea (Young MC)
“Start” - Bruce Foxton (The Jam)


  1. I think "Running with the Devil" ought to be at the top of the list.

  2. you might be joking, but that song almost made the list. . . .

  3. uhm, "My Sharona"? You didn't leave that off just because the bass line was doubled by the guitars, so it would be recognizable without the bass, did you?

    I'm assuming by lack of Minutemen on this list, that you consider them too obscure, so you would put The Fall and the Butthole Surfers in this category as well.