Friday, September 14, 2012

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".

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