Here’s a list of my favourite bassists, a brief bit of info about each of them and a link to a page with more detailed info about each of them.
I didn’t get into Jamerson and his playing until the early 80s – my first two or three years with the bass were spent trying to cop licks from rock albums. But I started checking out soul in the early 80s – and this coincided with a great series of viny re-releases of all the original motown albums.
At the time I didn’t know who the bassist was, but I dug his lines. It wasn’t until the ‘Standing in the Shadows of Motown’ book came out that I could put a name to the bassist behind all the great lines – the one and only James Jamerson.
Even if you’re a rocker you should check Jamerson’s work out – the guy was a genius. Period.
Rush’s “All the world’s a stage” album is in my opinion the best live rock album there’s ever been. I wanted to play all the tunes – Anthem, Bastille Day, 2112, Working Man etc etc.
Unfortunately for me the teachers I had in my first years as a bassist weren’t really into rock and wanted to concentrate on other things – those dreaded scales! – and I was reduced to trying to figure stuff out from the vinyl (this was back in the day before CDs). I wore out two copies of Disc One of “All The World’s A Stage” trying to get everything down.
Those tunes still resonate for me now just as much as they ever did, and Geddy Lee’s playing still sounds amazing. I read somewhere someone refer to him as a cross between Jamerson (see above) and Chris Squire. Recently I started working on playing some of his more challenging lines (the ‘Free Will’ solo in particular) and that quote came back to me.
For me Geddy Lee is the James Jamerson of rock. I can’t pay anyone a higher compliment.
Pino Palladin is a great bassist, still making great music too. He’s credited with playing on over 250 albums.
One of the things I really like about Pino’s playing is that he has mastered the art of expressing himself, whilst propping up the song. Check out some of his 80s Paul Young classics (Playhouse, Wherever I Lay My Hat etc) – or check out some of his more recent work with D’Angelo or Erykah Badu.
Rocco – bassist with Tower of Power – is credited with influencing Jaco and Jeff Berlin. He’s a master of 16th note funk and the shuffle, some of his lines are burning. He also possesses one of the most unusual left hand techniques in bassdom which is responsible for his unique stuttering, highly percussive sound.
Tower of Power are coming up to their 40th year – if you get the chance go see them live whilst you still can. Whatever music you like I guarantee you’ll be blown away – it’s like seeing 10 class musicians with a telepathic midi link!
This Year’s Model was the first album that brought Bruce Thomas to my attention. I’ve followed his career since then, checking out his lines. He’s a bit like Pino in that he can express himself in almost any situation without compromising the songs he’s asked to play on.
6) Tommy Shannon
7) Tiran Porter