Today starts a new series here on Life On This Planet: The 50 Best Bass Lines of All Time: Part 1.
I have been playing bass for over 25 years now and I learned a long time ago that a great bass part does not have to be technically amazing and flashy (although sometimes it could be) - it just has to #1: be creative, #2: fit the song and #3: be memorable.
The following list is not in any particular order. I have lots of songs to go through, so stay tuned for Part 2 (now posted). Scroll down to the bottom for a Spotify playlist that collects the songs from this entire series.
Jane's Addiction - Three Days
Bass Player: Eric Avery
Album: Ritual De Lo Habitual (1990)
That intro bass part is my favorite bass riff of all time. Just beautiful.
Joy Division - She's Lost Control
Bass Player: Peter Hook
Album: Unknown Pleasures (1979)
Peter Hook took a whole new approach to bass playing - strumming melodies high up on the neck.
Fishbone - Bonin' in the Boneyard
Bass Player: Norwood Fisher
Album: Truth And Soul (1988)
Such a killer groove. It's super busy, but works so perfectly. And check out the bass solo!
Queen & David Bowie - Under Pressure
Bass Player: John Deacon
Album: Released as single (1981), then on Hot Space
One of the most recognizable bass lines ever.
Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
Bass Player: James Jamerson
Album: What's Going On (1971)
James Jamerson was amazing. His part on this song is super intricate and is just plain brilliant.
Yes - Heart of the Sunrise
Bass Player: Chris Squire
Album: Fragile (1972)
Intense. And it always makes me think of Buffalo 66.
Primus - Tommy the Cat
Bass Player: Les Claypool
Album: Sailing the Seas of Cheese (1991)
Try playing that one and then sing at the same time.
Tones on Tail - Go!
Bass Player: Glenn Campling
Album: Released as single (1984), later compiled on Everything
A killer, heavily-distorted, dance-friendly riff.
The Smiths - Barbarism Begins at Home
Bass Player: Andy Rourke
Album: Meat is Murder (1985)
Andy Rourke is completely overshadowed by guitarist Johnny Marr. This is just one of the many examples of his greatness on the bass guitar.
Rush - YYZ
Bass Player: Geddy Lee
Album: Moving Pictures (1981)