Friday, September 28, 2012

Fat Friday Feature: Daryl Hunt On The Pogues' "White City"

Along with the Fall and the Beastie Boys, I listened to the Pogues album "Peace and Love" every day driving to/from vocational school.  "White City" remains one of my all time favorite songs - I practically listened to it on a loop when my sister gave me that cassette.  Figuring out the bass line was a small triumph for me.  It's a favorite line to play for sure.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gig Photos: BABS Fund Raiser

I almost never remember to bring a camera to gigs; when I do, I'm usually too busy to snap any photos.  My wife was able to snap some photos from a small fund raiser I played earlier this month.  I thought I'd post some of them.

My camera can add 20 lbs - what can yours do?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fat Friday Feature: Chuck Rainey On "The Street Beater"

It's Friday - here's your smokin' bass part for today.  It doesn't even need an intro because it's so bad ass. Chuck Rainey, James Jamerson would be proud of this one.  

Greatest Hits Fan

AC/DC is great.  So is Jethro Tull.  So, in fact, are the Eagles.  But not really.  In their own special ways, all of these bands suck.  Oddly, all of these bands have plenty of songs I like - maybe one LP worth.  Thank God for greatest hits records.  Here is a short list of bands I've never felt compelled to check out beyond their greatest hits.

  1. AC/DC
  2. ZZ Top
  3. The Eagles (as previously mentioned, only "Greatest Hits, Vol. 1" - also, what the fuck is that on the cover?)
  4. Jethro Tull
  5. Steppenwolf
  6. The Cure
  7. Big Country*
  8. Chicago
  9. Fleetwood Mac
Also, have you noticed that there is a difference between "Best of" and "Greatest Hits" compilations?  It seems like the "Best of" collections are always a little bit better than "Greatest Hits".  I suppose the difference would be fan appeal (best of) and commercial success (greatest hits). 

* - Okay, I lied on this one.  I embarassingly deep in Big Country's catalog.

The Greatest Live Albums Of All Time

Here's a question for you:  in your opinion, what are the greatest (or THE greatest if you prefer) live albums of all time?  Any era, any genre, any artist - leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Defying Expectations

For some reason, I'd love to make fun of Paul Westerberg.  He went from this to writing a song about Sylvia Plath.  Maybe a rocking song ripping Ted Hughes a new asshole would've been better.  Westerberg even made an unplugged version of the same song* - even more fodder, right?

No - they're both pretty damn good.  The electric version is one I could listen to over and over.
* - Couldn't find the version I was talking about; the one below is close enough.

Friday, September 14, 2012

First Ever Fat Friday Feature REDO! (Featuring Joy Division's Peter Hook)

I have to confess:  there was something about today's "Fat Friday Feature" that doesn't quite work.  It feels like a lackluster effort.  Sure, the bass parts to those songs are fine; and yes, I like all of those songs well enough.  But I don't really feel as strongly about those tunes as I do all the other stuff I post.  I don't feel a real connection to them; they're not a part of my life in any significant way.  I felt the need for a "redo" featuring Peter Hook.

Here's the funny thing about Peter Hook:  in a way, I don't like his style of playing at all.  To me, he demphasizes everything I like about bass.  He plays in the upper registers of the instrument instead of the chest cavity-vibrating lower range.  Something about his lines feels more like melody instead of rhythm.  As a result, he makes the bass sound like simply another instrument in the mix.  He leaves me wanting for a bottom end.  Finally, he seems to have only one gear - he's always pumping in the same time, propelling songs forward as though he has a train he needs to catch.  There's not a lot of feeling or nuance to his playing.

And yet, it works.  I find Peter Hook's playing intriguing.  I wouldn't ever call it "acrobatic", but it's always active.  The added voice his bass gives to any given tune makes said tune quite unique.   And because of the originality of his style of playing, imitators sound just that much more horrible.  Take a listen to "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and see if you hear what I'm talking about.

Fat Friday Feature: First Ever TRIPLE SHOT!

You know the drill:  it's Friday.  That's the day I feature great bass players and bass lines.  For the first time ever, I'm going to feature three bass lines I really like.  One from a Chili Pepperless Flea, one from Fleetwood Mac's John McVie, and one from Fishbone's John Norwood Fisher.

I consider today's Fat Friday Feature somewhat of a departure from the others in that a.) all of these songs have pretty broad popular appeal/heavy radio air time, and b.) none of these players directly influenced my own bass playing.  Yet, I find the lines laid down on these tracks utterly irresistible.  Let's get started.

I will come out of the closet and say that I'm Fleetwood Mac fan.  In the interest of full disclosure, I'll also say that I'm a Fleetwood Mac fan in the same way I'm an Eagles fan - that is to say a "greatest hits" fan*.  I'm not deep into their catalog and I haven't seen any documentaries about the band or any of that crap.  I think I'd sum it up by saying I almost never change the station if I hear them on the radio.  Interestingly, in the case of Fleetwood Mac, I tend to zero in on the guitar playing before even the bass playing - I think Lindsay Buckingham is a great fucking player.  But I love how John McVie's playing colors this song (which is about a Welsh witch) with his playing.  He gives the tune just the right amount of mystery.  I love how it  lurks in the mix - remove the bass and the song is pretty boring, let's face it.


You should definitely check out this live version of the tune, when FM was at their coked-out best.  I decided not to use it because it's a little harder to focus on the bass in this version.

Like most kids who took an interest in bass in the 80s, I really liked Flea's playing.  In later years, I think I'd call it unnecessarily frenetic, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't idolize at least a little bit.  When I was in college - about the time that Young MC's "Bust A Move" was inescapable on radio, TV and in bars - I saw a fascinating interview with Flea.  The interviewer asked him what the biggest regrets of his career were.  Among the things he mentioned were that he laid down bass lines for "Bust A Move" and Alanis Morrisette's "You Oughta Know" without credit - he didn't collect a dime in royalties for either song.  He had no idea that they were going to "blow up" as they did.  Regardless of what you might think about either song, you have to admit that the bass line bobs around and binds the songs together nicely.  Take a listen.

At one point in my time with the Unexplained, the drummer was surprised I hadn't heard of Fishbone.  He promptly played "Bonin' In The Boneyard"; I was promptly impressed.  I don't ever thing I'll ever get the "slap and hook" technique down, but it's sure fun to listen someone who does have it down.


* - As far as the Eagles are concerned, I'm a "Greatest Hits, Vol. 1" fan.  Not so much for "Vol. 2".

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quoatable: Mike Watt

"You wanna know how I spell "flannel"?  F-O-G-E-R-T-Y.  Fogerty, baby."
- Mike Watt (performing with Firehose), sounding off
on the commercialization of the 
grunge movement.
The Patio Nightclub
Indianapolis, IN
Watt's right.  Check it, yo.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Too Close To Parr?

It slays me how well this:

Apes this:

I find myself wondering if John Parr watched "Boogie Nights" thinking "Holy crap I'd've given my arm to have written 'The Touch'."  I wanted to make sure to include a link to the lyrics for "Man In Motion" so you could see exactly how shitty the writing is.  There are so.  many.  cliches.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fat Friday Feature DOUBLE SHOT: Bruce Thomas On "Clubland" & "99.9 F"

Fridays here at History Lesson Pt. 2 are the days we focus on exceptional bass playing/bass parts.  Today, we're going to check out Bruce Thomas's playing on "Clubland" and "99.9 F".

I was going to take a moment to write about how Thomas's playing in general (not just on "Clubland" and "99.9 F") is "slithery".  It's hard to define exactly what that means; but for some reason, the adjective works.  I would also call it:
  • rich and smooth like syrup
  • busy
  • melodic
  • seamless
To me, these somehow seem like apt descriptions.  And though this blog is about my connections with the audio in my life, I did find myself wondering how other people might describe Bruce Thomas's playing.  I didn't have to look hard - I found this brilliant article.   I learned many things, specifically:
  • Elvis Costello and Bruce Thomas hate each others' guts.
  • Bruce Thomas played on a shit ton of records I really, really love, like Billy Bragg's Worker's Playtime and Suzanne Vegas 99.9 F.
  • The Imposters are The Attractions without Thomas.
Here's how the article's author (Justin Remer) describes Bruce Thomas's playing - I think it's pretty much on the money, so Imma include it:
 This rivalry begs the question: what’s so bad about Bruce Thomas? Well, in truth, absolutely nothing. In fact, I’ve often used him in arguments as an example of a bass player who does a hell of a lot more than fart out the root notes of every chord. His playing is excited and funky, like he forgot he’s supposed to be playing new-wave rock and instead thought maybe he was subbing in for James Jamerson on a Motown revival tour. He crafts catchy melodies, accentuated by rubbery slides down the neck of the bass, creating undeniably infectious grooves.
Hell.  Yes.  And if you ever doubt the importance of a player like Thomas in a given band, try to refute this statement, which was left in the comments section of the same article:
Fine summation of Bruce’s contribution. A great band is like a recipe that just works. When the singer/writer dumps the band, as they almost always do, something is lost. Even though he still writes great songs, I find post-Attractions EC records to be kind of boring, like the salt has been left out.
Couldn't agree more.  Thomas is a guy whose playing I'd love to emulate more.  Right now, it's a bit out of my reach.  But he just makes me want to dig in and woodshed a lot harder.  The great ones always do.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back To School Music

Back in the day, we started school this week (not early/mid-August).  This song always automatically popped into my head around Labor Day weekend.  It was very bittersweet to have this song in rotation:  bitter because summer was ending and school was starting (and I fucking hated school); sweet because I liked this song and the coming fall meant sweaters, cider, hay rides and bonfires.