Friday, December 10, 2010

50 Best Bass Lines of All Time: Part 5

Well, here it is.... the final installment of The 50 Best Bass Lines of All Time. 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. I should also mention that in order to make this list, I have to like the song too!  :)

Now, there are many songs that could have easily fit into the Top 50, and you may disagree with my choices. That's the cool thing about music - we all have different opinions of what makes something great.

The following ten songs are not in any particular order. Here are the other parts if you missed them: Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4. Scroll down to the bottom for a Spotify playlist featuring all of the track featured in this series.

Jimi Hendrix Experience - Fire
Bass Player:  Noel Redding
Album: Are You Experienced? (1967)
Why?: Noel Redding was often overshadowed by the guitar work of Hendrix. Take a listen to Redding's bass lines - he laid down some really cool parts on those first 3 Hendrix albums, including this one:

Marvin Gaye - Inner City Blues
Bass Player: Bob Babbitt
Album: What's Going On (1971)
Turn this one up loud and enjoy the groove.

Rush - Freewill
Bass Player: Geddy Lee
Album: Permanent Waves (1980)
My favorite Rush song.

Guns 'N Roses - Sweet Child o' Mine
Bass Player: Duff McKagan
Album: Appetite for Destruction (1987)
This is truly one of the greatest songs ever written. Duff McKagan's intro line is just perfect.

Jane's Addiction - Mountain Song
Bass Player: Eric Avery
Album: Nothing's Shocking (1988)
I usually bust this one out during soundcheck. A simple but powerful bass line. Eric Avery is the man.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Mellowship Slinky in B Major
Bass Player: Flea
Album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
Funky as hell with a great tone.

Metallica - Orion
Bass Player: Cliff Burton
Album: Master of Puppets (1986)
Cliff Burton's life came to a tragic end shortly after this album was released. Around the 4:00 mark the song takes a really cool turn, and Cliff's playing really shines.

Psi Com - Human Condition
Bass Player: Kelly Wheeler
Album: Psi Com EP (1985)
I'm guessing you don't know this song/band. Psi Com was Perry Farrell's (Jane's Addiction) first band. I just love the bass tone on this entire album. Pay attention to Kelly Wheeler's use of staccato (choppy) notes.

Rick James - Super Freak
Bass Player: Oscar Alston
Album: Street Songs (1981)
You all know this one. Super freaky cool bass line. Can't touch this.  :)

U2 - With or Without You
Bass Player: Adam Clayton
Album: The Joshua Tree (1987)
Only four notes and beautiful in its simplicity. It's the first bass line I ever learned, and has a special place in my heart.

Thanks for reading.  let me know what songs you think should've made the Top 50.  - Bret

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  1. For Metallica, I'd have chosen Anathesia for Burton (even though it's too popular). Twilight Zone (Golden Earring) and N.I.B. (Sabbath) would have been my choices, and Dragon Attack (Queen) and Nobody's Fault But Mine (Zeppelin). Believer (Ozzy) has a groovy bass to it, and one of my favorites is Cities On Flame.

  2. The Rush player is great with that sweet Rickenbacher (how appropriate), and his hands are super-ill spiders, like twin facehuggers...

  3. Almost forgot, my best Chili Peppers is Johnny Kick a Hole in the Sky.

  4. You know when a hyped college player gets invited to the NBA Draft only to spend the entire first round awkwardly milling in the VIP lounge?

    That's Crash Crew's "On The Radio."

  5. Good call, Afrobutterfly. That's a rad bassline. :)

  6. Am I hallucinating, or did you leave off probably THE greatest bass riff ever - "Good Times" by Chic?

    "The Magnificent Seven" by the Clash was also a glaring omission.

    "With Or With Out You" has one of the most generic chord patterns in rock history. Definitely not worthy of inclusion on a list like this.

  7. 'With Or Without You' may be just four notes repeated over and over, but simplicity does not exclude any musical idea from being great and memorable. It was the song that made me want to become a musician, therefore it's monumental to me.

  8. How about "is this it" by the strokes. the bass comes in at about 51 seconds. i think it is one of the best ever

  9. how bout Violent Femmes' bassline on "please do not go". Brian Ritchie's acoustic solo on this kicks ass.

  10. Good call on the Femmes. That guy is a super talented player. :)

  11. great tunes

    what about Bob Marley, "is his love" ? Hard to hear but worth the effort.
    Michael Franti and Spearhead "Oh My God"
    Jamiroquai "Canned Heat"
    Le Chic "freak out"


  12. I will add 'Disco Inferno' by the Tramps

  13. Lakeside-fantastic voyage

  14. You forgot Another One Bites The Dust or Good Times by Chic (which inspired Deacon to write the former). Also, listen to Madonna's Like A Prayer. The bassline played by Guy Pratt was insane, especially in the end. Another suggestion is Queen's Dragon Attact which can also be found on The Game album. John Deacon is really an Ace of Bass!