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Best Minimalist Basslines

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Bryan R. Tyler, Oct 8, 2002.

  1. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I tend to be a fan of more notey players (Bill Dickens, Jeff Berlin, Jaco, etc.), but there are some songs where the bassline is absolutely minimal and it's sooo much more meaningful then anything else that could be played. The two that come to mind are verse section of "Baby Hold On" by Eddie Money and the verse section of "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel, which has just a couple of notes but is incredibly powerful, particularly if you hear it on a good system. What other minimalist lines, whole songs or just sections, that you think go beyond just "doing the job" and become something more deep and powerful?
  2. personally, I think that Simon Gallup of the Cure is the master of minimalist alt. rock basslines- eg.
    Lullaby (unusual phrasing)
    Fascination street


    Talking heads, "once in a lifetime" (2 notes!)

    P.I.L. "public image limited" (4 notes, played by Jah Wobble)

    the most minimal effective bassline must be Daft Punk's "da funk" - just a thudding G quarter note throughout....
  3. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    The studio version of B.B. King's "Thrill is Gone".
  4. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    'Everyday People' Sly and The Family Stone... Larry Graham pumping Ab throughout!

  5. Colin Greenwoods line on Airbag.
  6. "Step into the Realm" the Roots (HUB is amazing)

    "Blitzkreig bop"- the Ramones
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I looked at your influences in your profile and I like the sophistication.

    This song, "Be Thankful for What You Got" has just a two-note bass bounce. Yet, when I play it in front of an audience, it is one of the most challenging songs for me to do well just because it is so simple and all too easy to rush and lose focus.

    Hopefully, you have some okay speakers on your PC because the bass tone is so gorgeous and luxurious, it makes me think, "Who the hell needs drugs?"

    It's by Massive Attack - (Mock, being in the UK I think you have a grip on these guys; they're woefully underappreciated in the USA :rolleyes: ).

    I GUARANTEE you won't be disappointed if you love a pure Marvin Gaye-type vibe. The bass tone is so good it almost hurts.

    Click on this link, (below) scroll down, and click on "4. Be Thankful for What You Got" to hear a small sample -
  8. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Thanks for the comment, rickbass (if it was aimed towards me, at least :)). That is a pretty groovy track. I've had Massive Attack's Mezzanine for a few years now; it's pretty dark, but it's a gorgeous album. Their offspring Tricky also has some great minimalist basslines. Most trip-hop stuff have very subtle, minimal lines, but they're great because they put so much FEEL into those few notes that it guides the song and sets the atmosphere.
  9. Stu L.

    Stu L.

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    Lotsa Pink Floyd come to mind. Roger Waters was good at just playing for the song. "Brick in the Wall pt.2" is very minimal, but works well.
  10. Tony Levin's line on King Crimson's "The Sheltering Sky" is pure poetry. So is Tina Weymouth's on Talking Heads' "Drugs."

    IMO, Levin, Weymouth, and Mr. Gordon Sumner are the absolute best at creating minimalist lines. Buying Discipline a month after I started playing was the best thing I could have done for myself as a player--it shifted my focus away from Geddy/Squire-wannabe to something more sophisticated and musical.
  11. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Of course it was "aimed" at you - you're hip to Massive Attack!!!

    When my bread n' butter band plays that song, all the women do the "double-clutch slow dance" thing with their men and it's soooooo nice to watch.
  12. TRU


    Apr 12, 2002
    Northern Europe
    I have to agree with that! Also as said before, Tony Levin has many great but simple lines. Red Rain comes to my mind.
  13. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    These are minimal lines, but they actually constitute the bulk of the song:

    Sting, "Walking on the Moon"

    Tony Levin, "Don't Give Up"
  14. slam

    slam Guest

    Mar 22, 2000
    The real rock riddim that has been used in hundreds of reggae songs, most famously in Willie William's "Armagideon Time", consists of two notes.
  15. Mark Sandman (Morphine) had a great minimalistic approach, using a fretless with only two strings and playing with a slide.
  16. mattzink


    Jun 21, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    i'll add my idea of great minimalist bass lines later (i have to practice!) but i wanted to make sure to mention this is far and away the most thought provoking thread/discussion posted in this portion of the website. way to go!
  17. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Wow, two compliments in one thread-you guys are gonna make me blush! I just noticed today another group that I've liked for years that gets maximum use out of minimal bass. Portishead, a really groovy, dark English group has some really powerful sparse basslines, particularly the songs "Undenied" and "Morning Air." Anyone who hasn't heard them should check them out.
  18. mattzink


    Jun 21, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    don't know a lot about portishead, but what i have heard i would concur with you opinion. i also think that the basswork on U2's "with or without you" is appropriate for the song. some stone roses basslines (specifically "fool's gold" and "shoot you down") aren't really minimalist in the sense of the number of notes played, but they are minimalist in that they are repetitive and don't change pace. they lay a great groove - i'll throw those thoughts in for now. i'm actually suprised at how much time and thought i've put into this question.
  19. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Well written.

    However I would add one Mr. Paul McCartney to that list, as well as Adam Clayton of U2.
  20. Listen to the Best of the Meters and pick one. George Porter Jr knows that less is more.

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