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Colin Hodgkinson

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Piccolo_Bass, Feb 22, 2000.

  1. Piccolo_Bass


    Feb 22, 2000
    Has anyone else heard of the British bass player Colin Hodgkinson? He was part of Back Door, a 70s jazz-rock trio, and is supposed to have taught Stanley Clarke how to slap when Back Door supported Return To Forever at a London gig in 1975.

    He has a solo album out called the Bottom Line, a blues covers record, which is solo bass with vocals by himself.

    Info on him is scarce to say the least.

    Anybody have copies of the Back Door albums?
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    PicBass-I haven't heard that story before about who taught Stanley the slap bit...Stanley's 2nd album was released in '75 & it shows him already with some serious slap/pop chops happenin'(in fact, the "Wooten" special, the open-hammer pluck, is already evident on tunes like "Lopsy Lu").
    Anyway, if CH instructed Clarke, then he's a heck of a teacher(&/or Clarke a fast learner).
    I'll delve into this a little further...I've read some interviews with Clarke & I don't seem to recall him mentioning Colin. Later...
  3. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    i've always loved colin's playing, i wish they would put the backdoor albums on cd.
    i recently got a live brian auger album with
    colin on it and he does some old back door stuff on it. but i was always under the impression that he played with a pick! but i could be wrong:)

    aloha, jerry
  4. Piccolo_Bass


    Feb 22, 2000
    I thought I'd update this forum with some of the info I do have about Colin...

    Colin appeared on the British music scene playing with Alexis Korner during the late sixties. Alexis used to introduce him onstage as "Frivolous Fancy Fingers"!

    He formed a jazz-rock trio, Back Door, in 1972, with drummer Tony Hicks and Ron Aspery on saxes and flute. They released an album, Back Door, on a local label, but it was then reissued when the group were signed by Warner Bros. They released another three albums, but despite the rave reviews, the group fell apart in 1979 due to poor sales.

    Colin went on to be one a top session player, as well as continuing to play with Alexis Korner during the early 80s as a duo.

    He released a solo album, the Bottom Line, on a German record label. There are a couple of clips on their website (www.in-akustik.com - the site is in German).

    These days, he mostly lives and works in Germany. He is also the bassist for the European version of the Spencer Davies Group.

    Also, rumour has it that Warner Bros are planning to reissue the first Back Door album in Spring 2000.

    [This message has been edited by Piccolo_Bass (edited April 02, 2000).]
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I used to have the 2nd Back Door album on vinyl and played it to death. I would always play the track : 24-30 Blues (I think that was the title)to other bass players and watch their jaws drop when you told them it was just Colin on his own!

    The albums weren't that great to listen to all the way through as there was rather too much sax on it for me and it was of the squeaky variety that can be quite unpleasant to listen to; so I'm not suprised that they didn't sell well.I always thought that I would much prefer a solo album by Colin.

    I have also heard the story that Back Door supported Return to Forever when Stanley Clarke was still mosty playing upright and that he sought out Colin and asked for advice on playing electric the way he did. It sounds to me that Stanley Clarke was impressed by Colin's playing,(which is quite believable, honestly!) but I don't know if that means that he can be seen as "teaching" him at all.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I just remembered that the album I had was called "8th Street Nights" and had a picture of somewhere in the US on the front - an attempt at breaking the US by the Back Door?

    [This message has been edited by Bruce Lindfield (edited March 10, 2000).]
  7. Piccolo_Bass


    Feb 22, 2000
    Actually, I must admit that I have not heard anything by Back Door, due to the great difficulty of tracking down their albums on vinyl, so I'll have to wait a bit longer until they're reissued on CD.

    The only Back Door song I do know is 'Roberta' from the '8th Street Nites' album, due to a transcription printed in Bassist last year. I've played the song at a few solo gigs, but I'd love to hear the original.

    Bruce - Did Colin sing on Back Door songs? I imagine them to sound a bit like Weather Report/Return To Forever. Am I close?
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yes Colin did sing on a couple of songs - mostly the Blues standards. As far as what they sounded like - about as far away from Weather Report as anyone can get I think! Firstly - no keyboards or chordal instrument and Colin's tone is quite abrasive and dark - we're talking Fender Precision so any chords he does play sound quite murky.

    As I mentioned, Ron Asperey's sax playing is what I would call an acquired taste and the overall sound was quite sparse in terms of anything to latch onto during the blowing. I can only compare it to some of the free Jazz wanderings of Soft Machine and the typical stuff wasn't what I would call commercial - so if you're expecting Birdland forget it - although it may be closer to stuff like that on "I Sing the Body Electric" (The middle of Unknown Soldier possibly) - if you've heard that, but even then Wayne Shorter's tone and melodic sense are a world away from Ron Asperey and there are no keyboards.

    But I really loved the solo spots where Colin just sings with his bass accompanying him. I liked his playing throughout, but it meant nothing to non-bass players I knew at the time and they would always tell me to take it off.
  9. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    hi bruce,
    i think 8th street nights was produced by
    felix pappalardi, if i remmeber correctly.
    it recorded in new york.

    aloha, jerry
  10. Piccolo_Bass


    Feb 22, 2000
    Bruce - Thanks for describing Back Door for me - I was pretty far off the mark!

    I've just ordered a copy of Colin's solo album from the Bass Centre here in Birmingham, but it won't arrive until Tuesday. I'll put another post on then to say if the full album is any good.
  11. Piccolo_Bass


    Feb 22, 2000
    Have just found an excellent Back Door biography at www.allmusic.com. The site also has reviews of the first two Back Door albums and Colin's solo album.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    The link doesn't work for me - I just get :

    The system cannot find the file specified.

    Any ideas?
  13. Piccolo_Bass


    Feb 22, 2000
    The link won't work for me either - I think you'll have to type in the address manually.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Got there eventually ...

    "8th Street Nites
    Artist Back Door
    Album Title 8th Street Nites
    Date of Release 1973 (approx.)
    AMG Rating (Best-of-Artist)
    Genre Jazz

    More bass-driven brilliance, produced by the late Felix Pappalardi, former producer of Cream. Though the album is less cohesive than their debut, it soars to even greater heights with its standout covers of Leadbelly and Robert Johnson. These blues numbers are largely played as unaccompanied bass and vocal pieces. There's something to this unadorned combination -- the inherent grittiness of the bass matched against his voice hearkens back to the raw power of Delta blues, where it's just a guy and his crappy old guitar. On "32-20 Blues," Hodgkinson sings an old Robert Johnson number while throttling away at the bass; on the opening "Laying Track," the whole band takes on Leadbelly in a sort of restrained funkiness, with the constant thrashing of a tambourine underlining the rhythm section's punches on the downbeat. -- Paul Collins, All Music Guide

    1973 Warner Brothers 2753

    Felix Pappalardi - Producer"

    This sound about right to me - the only things I can remember are the unaccompanied Blues songs - I think they're probably being kind about the rest by not mentioning it! Stunning bass playing - but not that much appeal to non-bassist, might be a fairer assessment.
  15. Piccolo_Bass


    Feb 22, 2000
    At last, my Colin Hodgkinson album finally arrived today!

    I've listened to it about five or six times all the way through now, and I can honestly say that I have never heard anything like it. I'm not a big blues fan, but Colin's playing is nothing short of mindblowing. Chords, melodies, basslines, solos - they're all there, and usually played at the same time!

    Clearly you can see how he has influenced players like Stanley Clarke - he has a very "hi-fi" tone, not unlike Stanley's fingerstyle playing, except he's managing it on a 38-year old Fender Precision instead of an Alembic!!! smile.

    Most of the 11 tracks are solo pieces, with vocals on three of them. The two remaining tracks are played as a bass/drums/keyboard trio.

    Bruce - I don't know if you have a copy of the album, but if not, you have got to get it!

  16. I have a feeling I saw Colin Hodgkinson playing 32-20 blues at the Reading festival at some time in the mid-late 70s...I was not in a legal state of mind at the time, so I may be mixing it up. But it was quite exceptional...

  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I got "The Bottom Line" today from the Bass Centre in London and it does remind me of the solo items on 8th St. Nites, although 32-30 Blues doesn't sounds as good to me - San Fransisco Bay reminds more of the sound and solos that Colin played on that album. A unique style of bass-playing - very bluesy, guitar influenced.

    [This message has been edited by Bruce Lindfield (edited March 22, 2000).]
  18. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    Andy - Your memory serves you correctly. Back Door played at the 1976 Reading Festival. They added a guitarist to their lineup for the appearance - a bass-led band might have been too much for the general public!

    Bruce - In the liner notes of 'The Bottom Line', Colin mentions a book of transcriptions - this was at the end of 1998. The article on him in Bassist last year also mentioned some kind of biography/transcriptions book being released by a German publisher.

    I have never seen or heard of this book. Any ideas?

    Also - I'm playing at a music festival in a couple of months, and am interested in playing one of Colin's pieces during my usual solo spot (my friends are getting sick of 'Continuum' and 'Slang'!).

    Any idea about how I might approach something like '32-20 Blues' or 'San Fransisco Bay'?

    David Benyahia (Formerly "Piccolo_Bass")

    [This message has been edited by David Benyahia (edited April 05, 2000).]
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Hmmm... this is not a style that I play - I never had any aspirations to being a solo artist and one of the main reasons I play bass is that I like playing with other people.

    It sounds to me that what is going on here, is a blues chord-progression and a bassline being played simultaneously on a 4-string bass. Now, the only other person I know who does this sort of thing apart from Colin is Michael Dimin, who hosts a section on this board under "Ask the Pros".

    You could ask him about this and he might recommend buying his book, which might be very helpful to you - part of this covers a chordal approach to playing a 12-bar blues.

    I did get a copy of the book and read through all this, but haven't really put it into practice - I did try a few of the chords in solos for effect, but in the situations in which I play there is always a keyboard player or guitarist playing the chords and I would just get in their way, if I played chords very much.

    I think if you followed Michael's book all the way through this might be a good start towards working out how to do what Colin Hodgkinson does.The only other sugestion I can think of, is to see if Colin gives lessons or to go along to one of his solo performances/workshops - I know he did one recently at the Bass Centre, which is why they have copies of his CD.
  20. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    There is a detailed biography of Colin Hodgkinson at: http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Palladium/9932/chodg_b.htm

    The page covers Colin's whole career, but strangely, his work with Back Door is very poorly documented. There are a few interesting pictures (Back Door at the 1976 Reading Festival, Colin's solo concert at the Bass Centre).

    It also contains a link to a similar page that lists some of Colin's many sessions.


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