Friday, 11 July 2008

Top 5 Bassists

Week two of the Supergroup and it's time to find a bass player. This turned out to be almost as hard as drummers which doesn't bode well for finding a guitarist.

1. Mike Watt (Minutemen/Stooges) - I first discovered the Minutemen when they (well Watt and drummer George Hurley) supported Shellac at the Scala a few years back. At the time hearing their early 80's hardcore played on just bass and drums was an aural endurance test but I'm now a confirmed fan. Mike Watt's bass style is unlike anyone else I've ever seen and fits with the story that when starting out he didn't know bass guitars were different from guitars. Watt therefore removed two strings from a guitar and learnt to play with that. More recently he's taken on the role of bass player with The Stooges and seeing him perform their classic songs live took my appreciation of his skill to new levels.

2. Horace Panter (The Specials) - I've been going through a bit of a personnel Brit-ska revival this year and have played the first two Specials albums a lot over the last 6 months. More than a little excited about the prospect of a Specials reunion which I think will be more authentic than the usual in-it-for-the-money reformations.

3. John Entwistle (The Who) - I'm not muso enough to wax lyrical about the Ox's ability with a bass but he was definitely a bit special. Saw him live with The Who on one of their first reunion tours. He was good but I spent more time watching Pete Townsend to see if he was going to spear his hand with a tremolo arm again.

4. Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) - Much like Entwistle, I didn't truly appreciate Geezer's ability until I saw him live. Another reunion tour, this time in Birmingham with the four original Sabbath members. He was superb that night which made me wonder just how good he might have been in his heyday. Set the standard for all METAL bass players that followed.

5. Paul Simonon (The Clash) - Simonon could get in this list based solely on his ability to look very cool indeed. The shot of him smashing his bass on the cover of "London's Calling" says it all. I also like the fact that Mick Jones planned to teach Simonon guitar but when he found that was too difficult decided to teach him bass instead. I reckon at least 80% of bassists ended up playing the instrument for the same reason.

I'm not going to do a full list of everyone who missed out but special mentions must be made for Danny Thompson (Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated/Pentangle), Donald "Duck" Dunn (The Mar-Keys/Booker T and the MG's), Joe Lally (Fugazi) and Kim Deal (Pixies/Breeders).


Siphil said...

John Paul Jones is underrated !!

Chopper said...

True - not just as a bass player - I probably should have mentioned him.