Dennis Dunaway appreciation thread...

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Muddslide, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. Muddslide


    Feb 23, 2007
    Mobile, Alabama
    Okay, I've mentioned him a couple of times, but he doesn't seem to get as much love as a lot of other well-thought-of bass players from the era.

    For those who don't know, Mr. Dunaway played bass on the early Alice Cooper albums (Pretties For You through Muscle Of Love.) Back when Alice Cooper were a band and not just a psuedonym for Vincent Furnier. Furnier had his name legally changed to Alice Cooper and became a celeb in his own right, ultimately ditching the band that he came up with.

    I've been listening to those first several Alice Cooper (band) albums alot lately and I'm not sure that I wouldn't hail them as THE finest American rock and roll band of the first half of the 1970s. They cover everything from early shock-rock to Beatles-esque melodic goodness to trippy psych to bluesy Stones-ish stuff to something akin to what I can only call "garage-prog" or mini-rock operas, and they did it all with great skill.

    Really the whole band is hot. Love It To Death, Killer and Billion Dollar Babies are just phenomenal albums, but their second (criminally out of print, I believe) second album, Easy Action is also top notch.

    Dennis Dunaway is just a killer player who, IMO, deserves more recognition. His lines are perfecto. Interesting, inventive, but rarely flash in favor of laying down the goods solidly in the pocket. Apparently, Dunaway was also responsible for a lot of the early Cooper stage show shenanigans and had a massive role in the development of the theatrical aspects of the live show.

    He's always been a huge influence on me. I've learned most of the lines form those early Alice Cooper albums, but rather than trying to ape his style, what inspires me about Dunaway is just his approach to playing and making music. He's a prime example of a bass player both filling the traditional role while also stepping out and stretching out, defining new territory as part of a tight group of musicians.

    Richaf66 likes this.
  2. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Early on in my playing, I wrecked my brain trying to figure out how to play Gutter Cats Vs The Jets. I love his playing. The Alice Cooper band made some of my favorite rock ever, such a great band all around.
    Richaf66 and Pdaddy1978 like this.
  3. lowend1


    Feb 15, 2005
    I stopped into this forum with the intent of looking for something on DD. This thread was at the top of the list. What I loved about his playing is that just when you thought you knew where he was going next, he threw you a curveball. There is always a non-obvious note or line - like in "I'm Eighteen", where he descends while evrybody else is clibing. That kind of stuff happens in almost every song. Genius.
  4. pbass2

    pbass2 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    LOVE Dennis Dunaway! Incredibly under-appreciated player.
    One of the first albums I went out and bought with my own money when I was a lad was Love it to Death. Aside from his killer melodicism and bass lines, what about his TONE! I think most of the time his tone really gets to me it was probably his Jazz, but maybe it was the EB "Frog" bass--either way, great player, great tone, great bass parts.
  5. ShirazBop


    Sep 29, 2006
    Greensboro, NC
    Was just thinking about "Billion Dollar Babies" the other day...Agree with the posts on this Kat being a FORCE. Very influential to me in the 70's...
  6. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I learned that one early on too! We played that one is high school. It wasn't too tough but sounded cool. I still remember how to play it.
  7. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    Count me in! And I also learned the riffs to "Gutter Cats vs. The Jets" early on. I'm also fond of the way Dunaway walks around the song, and not necessarily in step with the guitars. I think what he did on School's Out was some of his best work. I've always loved the sound and groove he did on "Blue Turk".
    I bought a copy of Bones from the Yard, and sent him a message on myspace. He responded, and the guy is very humble. I told him that he influenced me as much as Squire, Bruce, etc. He told me that I was putting him in some pretty lofty company.
    Richaf66 likes this.
  8. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    Played a lot of Alice Cooper songs at CYO dances when I first started playing. I saw that band a lot too, they came through the NYC area a lot back then. Alice should have kept that band together, he was never as good after that. IMHO
  9. Yvon


    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    Dennis Dunnaway is one of my favorite player, in fact I am transcribing I'm eighteen right now. I haven't transcribe in years and I thought it would be a good song to start again!
  10. lowend1


    Feb 15, 2005
    Public Animal #9 - Love that groove - hey hey hey...
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Being able to play the intro to "Gutter Cats vs. the Jets" actually got me into a couple bands in the 80's. Thanks, Dennis!

    BTW, I totally agree that he's an awesome bassist. All you have to do for proof is listen to "School's Out."
  12. You guys have said it all

    +100 :bassist:
  13. lowend1


    Feb 15, 2005
    As much as I am a fan, I think that title would have to go to Grand Funk Railroad.
  14. RickC


    Jun 9, 2005
    Dennis was hugely influential for me. I think "Love It To Death" is overflowing with great, classic, rock bass playing. I stole more ideas from that record than I can count.

    As has been mentioned, he is solid *AND* inventive. A bass player's bass player.

  15. Muddslide


    Feb 23, 2007
    Mobile, Alabama
    I respect your opinion, however misguided and incorrect it may be.

    Pauly 4001 likes this.
  16. Sneckumhaw


    Apr 26, 2006
    This thread, much like Dennis Dunaway, has my appreciation.
  17. Michael Vee

    Michael Vee Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    Another big DD fan here. I was fortunate enough to hear the Alice albums when they came out. I started playing bass in '73, and immediately tried to play along with the AC albums. I got some of it, but most of it went right over my head for a long time until I started playing with a pick.

    Loved all the AC albums, from the first one through Billion Dollar Babies.

    On Dennis Dunaway's official site, he mentions that he used Fenders, mainly Jazzes, Fender Bassmans, Ampeg B-15s, and nylon picks in the studio. Also, there is the Dennis Dunaway Project site, featuring Bones in the Yard. That album looks great, and after reading good comments about it earlier in this thread, I think I'll have to pick that one up. Here's a good interview page.

    Dennis played with such fire and intensity on those early AC albums. The bass tone was assertive and sharp-edged, and you could really hear it in the mix. It had that tube grittiness and overdrive that really complimented the pick style. Plus, he played those elaborate, well-thought-out lines that made those increasingly theatrical songs that AC was doing really memorable.

    I'm so glad to see Dennis healthy again and active in music. I wish him many more years of great bass playing!

    Thanks to Muddslide for starting this thread about one of the true kings of American rock bass playing.
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Just the other day, someone was scrolling through my iPod and said "Alice Cooper"?!?! there with all that Jazz is a lot of the Cooper band's stuff.
    School's Out, IMO, is their best.
    The title track, "Luney Tune", "Gutter Cat", "Blue Turk", & "Public Animal"...still sound good to me.

    "Dead Babies" & "Gutter Cat" were good for learning that drone-effect thing he did.
    "Long Way To Go" (from Love It To Death) has some nice bass breaks/fills.
    "Crazy Little Child" (from Muscle Of Love) is cool, too.

    In Mike Bruce's book, No More Mr. Nice Guy, he mentions that DD was the 'leader' of the early, early incarnations (The Earwigs, The Nazz) that would later become Alice Cooper.

    Some day, Bass Player should give DD a full-on feature...and before it's too late.
    One thing, though...on the records, the band sounded very polished. Live? They pretty much sounded raw (almost garage band-ish). Bob Ezrin's production or what?
  19. lowend1


    Feb 15, 2005
    Agreed. They finally got around to Peter Cetera - DD shouldn't be far behind, especially with a new album out.
    Ezrin had a huge effect on the band's sound in the studio. I read somewhere that part of his gig was to help Dennis refine his playing. If that's true, Bob certainly brought out the best in him.
  20. jazzbo58

    jazzbo58 Bassist for My Man Godbey

    Apr 21, 2001
    New Orleans, LA USA
    I have to say Dennis was an early influence on my playing. The first album I ever purchased was AC's Killer, back in 1972.