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Best and worst sounding bass songs/albums

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by jaywa, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Criteria being not necessarily the performance or the song(s), but tone and being appropriately high in the mix. No particular order.


    - David Bowie, Let's Dance (this album is over 20 years old and STILL sounds awesome)
    - U2, Unforgettable Fire
    - Metallica, "Black Album" (1st album of theirs you can actually hear the bass)
    - Lisa Loeb "I Do" (leadoff track from her album Firecracker, bassist is Lee Sklar and the part and the tone both just KILL)
    - RHCP, Blood Sugar Sex Magik (one of the best sounding albums in total of all time)
    - Bryan Adams, Reckless


    - Any Metallica album before the Black Album (And Justice for All being the worst offender and one of the worst mixed records of all time)
    - Thin Lizzy, Jailbreak (another really bad overall mix)
    - Van Halen, OU812 and 5150 (no bass, and truly awful drum sounds besides)
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I always thought Niacin's High Bias was a good example of how NOT to record an EB.

    IMO, anything produced by Gary Katz had a nice bass sound.
  3. To this day, I just don't get this. I NEVER had a problem hearing Cliff Burton on those recordings.
    RickyT likes this.
  4. NOLA Bass

    NOLA Bass Mr. Worst Case Scenario Man Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2005
    New Orleans LA
    One of the best recorded bass tones was Eddie Jackson of Queensryche on Operation Mindcrime and Empire. Just killer Spector tone!!! More killer bass tone on just about any King's X record (the new one is great).

    One of the worst was Metallica's St. Anger, just awful tone on the bass and drums imo.
    gebass6 likes this.
  5. There's too many to note but here's some of my fav's and losers.

    Favorite albums
    "Preminintion" by Survivor (1981?) The P-Bass tone is awesome
    "Brother" by Cry of Love (1989?) Awesome!
    Anything by Iron Maiden (1980-) nuff said
    Anything by Triumph (1978-1986) Cool Jazz bass tone
    Anything by Yes Rick-o-matic!

    Least favorites
    I'll Second the early Metallica releases, horrible mix
    Motorhead - yick
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I think all Led Zeppelin bass lies perfectly in the mix. Always loved the punchy bass sound in all the Chic recordings too. First 2 that came to mind... there are so many more.

    Only song where the bass ever completely annoyed the crap out of me was Live's "Pain Lies on the Riverside."
  7. Warpeg


    Jun 20, 2005
    -RATM's Self-titled album: I think this album is one of the best and earliest examples of a "burpy" hard rock bass tone.
    -Primus, Pork Soda: Love it or hate it, it had a wide variety of interesting tones that were balanced well with the drums.
    -Rush, "Tom Sawyer": I just love the lightly overdriven bass tone and how well it stands on it's own in the mix, without standing out.

    -About half of the 1980's rock: Guitar was king and bass was just not as important. Bass tones were hard to hear on many album mixes.
    -Nirvana: just...ugh...either the bass was too loud, too quiet, or had a nasty tone.

    just my $.02
  8. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    Recently I noticed how great the bass on Sonic Youth's "Dirty" sounded, it's laced with a hefty dose of distortion/overdrive in pretty much every song and it sounds great in the context of the music. There must've been a bit of trickery involved to get that sound.

    I also like the bass on sound on Faith No More's "Angel Dust", the album has a wide variety of bass tones and they're all great.

    I used to be a pretty big REM fan and still like the bass tone on "Green" and "Automatic for the People", I really dig the "P bass with a pick and a decent dose of treble" sound Mike has going on most of the time.

    I must admit that RHCP's "Californication" is a bit of a loser in my book, Flea sounds pretty strange in most of the songs, either he's too honky and middy or the notes he plays are hardly distinguishable. Looks like they hadn't really figured out how to mix the Flea Bass yet, it sounds a lot better on "By the Way". But then again, the overall mix of that record is pretty poor.
  9. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    Great selections on the best sounding. Lisa Loeb's "I Do" also has fantastic drummer John J.R. Robinson on it. Between Leland and J.R, I agree, it kills. Reckless sounds great too.
  10. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    Best Sounding Album:
    Level 42 "Guaranteed"
    James Taylor "October Road"
    REM "Out of Time"
    Bobo Stenson Trio "Serenity"
    Sting "Ten Summoner's Tales"

    Sorry- it is hard to disconnect the performance from the tone and mix, IMO. Sure there are probably albums which have more "present" bass, but these are some very different examples of what I think is good tone and mix. I think these are appropriate mixes. It is also hard for these to not be some of my favorite albums and look at this issue/question as subjectively as requested. Also compositionally songs with bass-centric lines tend, IMO, to need less differentiation than songs where the bass part is just playing the main guitar riff an octave lower. Again, IMO.

    Phil Collins "Both Sides"
    I don't think I can find a bass guitar on that album. And whatever was considered "the bass part" is so low in the mix as to ruin the impact and feel of what actually aren't bad songs... ...if you like pop music. Lee Sklar or Darryl Sturmer, or really anyone would have added nice warmth and humanity to these rather antiseptical proceedings.

    Steps Ahead "Modern Times" Eddie Gomez is great, and phenomenal talent. I think his recorded upright sound is sometimes quite brittle, and sometimes quite artificial sounding, despite the fact that the sound originated from a huge old piece of wood that probably sounds great minus any amplification. I'd say it occasionally sounds like an upright bass player mimicing an upright bass keyboard patch, which is itself mimicing an upright bass.

    Ok, I will stop here. No reason to dump on someone's favorites...
  11. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    Best sound, to me, is either Rush's Power Windows or Hold Your Fire. Geddy with the Wal is just fantastic IMO. Yes this was during their less-than-hard-rock phase, but the songs are still great and the bass tone is my favorite bar none.

    Dont really have a worst...although Im not fond of the Metallica bass on any of their records.
  12. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    YEAH! Such an amazing (bass) album!

    Best: John Entwistle - Live at Leeds

    Worst: Fieldy... had to do it.
  13. torkelboy


    Feb 24, 2008
    My favourite album bass-wise:
    Crash test dummies - God shuffled his feet
  14. PluckyThump

    PluckyThump Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    The Hammer

    Sublime, 40oz to Freedom and self-titled
    Cake, Comfort Eagle
    Elvis Costello, This Year's Model
    Joe Jackson, Look Sharp! and I'm The Man

    Not Good:

    The Cars' first record. This is full of great songs but the bass is buried in the mix, which is a shame because some of the lines are very interesting.
  15. Just about all Tool albums are pristine for hearing bass, especially the ones with Justin Chancellor (Aenima and later). This is largely due to his unique Wal sound, but boy is it pretty.
  16. Toronto Bassist

    Toronto Bassist

    Jan 9, 2008
    My all-time favourite fuzz tone bass is on, of all things, KISS's "Rock 'N' Roll Over". No seriously, give it a listen. Great fuzzy tone with a punchy bottom end, I love it.
  17. Very Good:
    Van Halen - Fair Warning and Women and Children first
    Tool - Lateralus and 10,000 days
    Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell
    Ozzy - No Rest for the Wicked
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I agree 100%.
  19. NS2A


    Apr 3, 2008
    That album probably has the best bass sound of any Kiss recording. I still think it sits a bit too back in the mix though. The worst is Crazy Nights circa 1987. The era of bass low in the mix and a producer who pulled the low end out of all the records he produced at the time to make them more commercial sounding.

    To me the ultimate bass tone album Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime.
  20. RHFusillo

    RHFusillo Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Phoenix, AZ
    A recording that has been bugging me all week is "Fascination" from David Bowie's Young Americans album. The bass player is probably Willie Weeks, so you would expect good things (he sounds good on the other songs), but they used some flange effect on the bass, which keeps pulling it out of tune. It's quite annoying.