bowie's ashes to ashes

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by air_leech, Nov 29, 2000.

  1. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000

    anyone has a clue whats the equipment used by the bassist? is it an envelope follower?

    btw, is it just me or he always gets a great band when he plays live?(beat club preformance for instance).
  2. Niels Keijzer

    Niels Keijzer Guest

    Nov 27, 2000
    Do people know that one of those teenage chicks, Samantha Mumba or so, has a song out which completely rips of Ashes to Ashes, only rewriting the lyrics to exclude the disturbing parts?
    I bet the youth doesn't know.

    As for the tone on Ashes to Ashes, the original is being played by George Murray, and I don't think that there are any effects on it, perhaps some compression. It's a great bassline.
    The live version on Bowie at the Beeb is different though, almost completely slapped with what I think are chorus and flanging effects, and Gail Ann Dorsey plays completely tight with the drummer. I was totally amazed by her playing, especially at the point in the song where she, all of a sudden, doubled Bowie's vocal line, it's such a great song!
    She was featured in bassplayer some weeks ago, but I do not buy such lecture, it only distracts you from what's truly important about bassplaying.

    Hope I answered your question, by the way.
  3. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    thanks Niels

    thats a great slap tone I can't belive it's a clean signal, how can I get that sound? is the ripped off cover has a great bass tone too or is it one of those covers which take a song and sample everything but the singer's voice?

    also I saw on VH-1 a live gig from the beat club from '79 (thats before Ashes to Ashes got out) and he had a super funky bassist and also he had a lead guitarist that used a beat up Strat and some of the songs were extended in 3-4 minutes, focusing on his soloing, I mean he tapped, on a bowie song and it was '79! who ran 32nd notes sweeps in the 70's? quite surprising since most of Bowie's studio work is very simple on guitars and bass.

    also seen a video from '97, he had a guitarist playing a Parker Fly, he smoked too, probably the same guy, he was doing great stuff.

    btw, did you notice Gaill Ann Dorsey shares an exeptional resemblens to Skin from Skunk Anansie?
  4. Niels Keijzer

    Niels Keijzer Guest

    Nov 27, 2000
    Hi again,

    Now that you've said it...she does have something from Skin, but I think her face is more open...Skin always looks a bit, well, angry or so.
    And about the tone: I think it's the chorus-stuff, but with some kind of compression on it, like it fades and then returns all the time. Now I think of it, have you ever tried a phaser like one of those boss pedals? I think it's that sound. (or indeed, an envelope filter)

    Let's go and ask her...

    And that video from '79, the guy is Reeves Gabrels, I think he's that bald, kind of sick looking guy. He can surely play, he also played on Earthling, and that album is very guitar-heavy.
    I think in 79, he had the same bassist as on Ashes to Ashes, he is really funky (you know the song "Sound and Vision", love that bassline), very disco. Too bad that disco sucks, because the bass really shines in that music style.
  5. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000

    Thats one hell of a guitarist, I tought he probably used him all these years (actually I think he took Stevie Ray for one record if I'm not mistaken)for his great choping licks.

    Sound and Vision is indeed very Disco-ish, but it's a nice song although overall I agree that disco sucks big time. Fashion is strange too but not as Disco sounding.

    btw, Earthling if I'm not mistaken was the first David Bowie album to feature drum machines.
  6. Niels Keijzer

    Niels Keijzer Guest

    Nov 27, 2000
    I think you are...I have a bowie album on mp3, called "1. Outside", which has some songs on it that have drum machines on it.
    But Earthling was indeed Bowie's Drum and Bass album.

    And on that song "fashion", there is some really weird (read: dissonant) guitar from Robert Fripp, from King Crimson, also a really cool guitarist. He sure knows where to find them...
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I saw Bowie playing a live set on Television in the UK recently and Gail Ann Dorsey was playing MTD basses (nice sound) throughout and doing backing vocals as mentioned. However, when it came to "Ashes to Ashes", one of the guitarists in the band strapped on a Musicman and played the famous slapped bass line on this.

    I remember it particularly, as this really surprised me at the time, as I thought Gail was highly regarded as a session player and the line is pretty easy - I could do a very convincing "soundalike" on the Fender RB5 - straight no effects! Maybe she just refuses to slap on principle, but of course everybody expects to hear this song so the guitarist does it!?

    Anybody know any more about this?
  8. Niels Keijzer

    Niels Keijzer Guest

    Nov 27, 2000
    I think that the guitarist where you were talking about was Mark Plati...he produced bowies last two albums, plays guitar on it, but started on bass. He also played fretless bass on bowies new album.

    I thought Gail Ann did the song, but I guess it's fairly easy to see when someone else is holding the bass...well then. Maybe she just had a sore thumb...
    Maybe then she never learned to slap, but if that's true, she used the time to learn plenty other fine skills on bass.

    There are some really fine nuances in the song by the way, which require some skill to play. I'm going to pick the song out soon, as soon as my "friend" brings the cd back.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I know Fripp played some great stuff on "Heroes", but I thought Adrian Belew played the solo on Fashion? I just remember and interview where he explained that they wouldn't tell him what chords he was playing over..
  10. Niels Keijzer

    Niels Keijzer Guest

    Nov 27, 2000
    Did they really not tell him the chords to play his solo on? That's so cool...I love those unorthodox ways of recording.
    I read that on the album "Lodger"(the one after Heroes) they recorded three songs with the exact same chord structure, only one made it to the album.
    And on another album, they would play an old song of him backwards, and then writing a new song on that.

    You know the album "Low"? That's certainly my favourite, really great basslines on that one...I think that Belew also played on that one, but I don't know that much on guitarists. Should go and listen more to King Krimson I guess...
  11. SRV played on the "Let's Dance" doing solos; Nile Rogers/Rodgers (sp?) played rhythm gtr and I think produced it.
  12. I love many Bowie albums but the title track on "Station to Station" is killer...amonst many wonderful things Bowie did.
  13. Niels Keijzer

    Niels Keijzer Guest

    Nov 27, 2000
    I especially like that creepy part where he chants about the "return of the thin white duke", a great song that hasn't bored me in those ten minutes it takes. It was Bowie at his most drugged out period.
    And I like "Stay" on that same's rumoured that Ron Wood played rhythm guitar on that, but there are lots of rumours about that track.
  14. interesting about Gail Ann Dorsey not playing Ashes To Ashes live- I've seen her play slap on "The Heart's Filthy Lesson".
    I've always wondered how the doubled bassline on "Let's Dance" was done- an envelope filter alongside a clean bass signal, a bass synth tracking, or a keyboard bassline following the bass? great bassline on "Criminal World" by Carmine Rojas- has he done anything else of note?
  15. Niels Keijzer

    Niels Keijzer Guest

    Nov 27, 2000
    I got this information from, Mark Plati is the current producer, guitarist, bassist, etc for David Bowie at this moment: (I found this in the FAQ)

    ' the BBC gig, how come you swapped on 'Ashes to Ashes' with Ms. Dorsey (who is an amazing bassist)'

    Gail and I first decided to swap in Milan while we were doing one of those TV shows where you only get to play one song. We were playing 'Thursday's Child' for the umpteenth time, so we decided to make it interesting and switch off. We decided that we'd do it in concert after that, and we chose 'Ashes' as it has both a great guitar and bass part, and the band were then in the process of learning it. We later swapped on 'Seven', and also on 'London Boys' when Gail plays clarinet.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    So the answer is really that they get bored with playing the easy stuff like this, which allows no room for improvising? Although they like the parts, I suppose after the hundredth time on tour it can need something to keep your interest?

    As I said in my first post on this, I was suprised as this is one of the lines I can play very easily, but I suppose this is the answer - everybody expects to hear the line, but it gets boring knowing you can't vary it as it's so familiar.
  17. Niels Keijzer

    Niels Keijzer Guest

    Nov 27, 2000
    That's your conclusion, and entirely not shared by me.
    You interpreted the quotation as two musicians, almost falling asleep at playing the same lines of a famous song each night.

    Two remarks here:
    - The band was in the proces of learning Ashes to Ashes, so boredom was out of the question there, but concerned with another song, which Mark Plati already played in the studio, while recording it for DB's new album.
    I'd like to add that both Mark Plati and Gail Ann Dorsey are very skilled guitarplayers, (check out GAD's first solo album, featuring Nathan East as producer/bassist) so it's very likely that, in an artistically free environment, they would swap.
    - I disagree on that line being simple to play. I agree that the basic line, being slapped octaves, is not that hard. In the choruses though, the bassist adds a more complicated line, played fingerstyle, with some interesting nuances. Furthermore, there is a small bass-solo near the end of the song, and the drum-bass intertwining is real tight, so that should be learned also when playing this song.
    It still thrills me when I put it on.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I was just going on the following sentence from the quote you put up :

    "We were playing 'Thursday's Child' for the umpteenth time, so we decided to make it interesting and switch off"

    This to me sounds like they were bored with playing the same stuff over and over, so had to do something to make it interesting.

    I presume that as Mark and Gail already knew the stuff, it was even more boring when the rest of the band needed to go over the parts on rehearsal, so they switched instruments, in these "interminable" rehearsals to make it more interesting for themselves without putting the "newer" members of the band off.

    This is the sort of thing that "converted" me to Jazz - no matter how good a line is, there are times when you feel that you just can't play it again, one more time in the same way; but if you do start improvising, it throws the rest of the band off.

    Playing Jazz and improvising though, gets me enthusiastic about playing again and a lot of the time, I'd rather play a non-paying Jazz gig with little or no audience, than a well-paid high profile gig where you just have to trot out the same stuff, no matter how much I might like that material.
  19. Check out T.Heads "Remain in Light" and "Fear of Music"

    Although Bowie and Beliew are genius material you can't overlook the role of Brian Eno in those sessions. I don't think we would have the Bowie, Talking Heads, Adrian Beliew of today if it weren't for Eno's influence.

    I thought that Earl Slick played guitar on "Heros". I know he did a tour (Serious Moonlight?) with Bowie before SRV.
  20. I saw the Serious Moonlight tour which was for Let's Dance. SRV left Bowie and Slick filled in. He was fantastic!!!!