Ideas and phrases in bass lines... they used to be common.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by NCD, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    You beat me to the point :D
  2. NCD


    Mar 19, 2011
    I know I was pushing the R&B angle but there are bands in other genres that used the melodic bass with a hook to great success.

    The first one that comes to my mind is Supertramp.

    "Take the Long Way Home", "Goodbye Stranger" and many of their other tunes were, at the time, considered "popular music". Hell, so were Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, etc.

    But my real point isn't to knock popular music, it's an annoyance with the businesses that promote music because of the way they push the simplistic stuff over more creative, artistic work. People ARE playing more melodic bass lines... somewhere. The trouble is that the record business shoves so much money into marketing the simplistic stuff that that's all you hear when you turn on the radio.

    Someone complained that a person they knew hadn't turned on a radio in years... there's a reason they haven't.

    Just for the fun of it, go play around with the bass line to Supertramp's "You're Bloody Well Right". Now there's a great bass line with tons of creativity, great hooks and something that gets stuck in your head. And for those who don't want to do R&B, it's got nothing to do with R&B.

    But the basic idea that in better music the bass can be far more than just support for the chords and melody still holds true.
  3. NCD


    Mar 19, 2011
    P-oddz wrote:

    It's really easy to find new music, and there is a lot of GOOD music to be found. You just have to look.

    I will agree that there is lots of good music to be found but I don't agree at all that it's "easy" to find. This is exactly my point when I wrote that the record business shoves the simplistic stuff forward so much that it buries the good music.

    I tried looking... and got "search overload" when I was crushed under an avalanche of returns that were not what I was looking for.

    So where are you looking that you're finding others who play with creativity?
  4. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Hey avvie, you hit it on the head about older musicians not listening to new stuff. I'm guilty, I admit it. If I saw today's Top 40 I probably would not recognize one song. Yes, I'm stuck on playing and listening old music. Why? Well, because when something new came out, I didn't like it.

    LOL, it's not always that way, of course, and I concede that there is also good new music (I just can't name any, right off, lol). I might not find it on the radio, but it's out there somewhere. I enjoy some of the latest country stuff, like Zack Brown (sp.-?). There's other stuff.

    Hey, whoever of you is young, know that you, too, will be an old player one day, and find that you haven't kept up with it all, not all the time, all the way through the ages.
  5. Russell,
    I think you're right. It's really not possible to stay in constant contact with all the changes over time because life is busy and we get busy. Heck, even the kids are constantly in the know. The kids who listen to Rap probably don't know who's on the Country charts and vice versa.

    When I was 14, I vowed that I wouldn't let myself "get old" like all the stiff, uptight, religious adults I had around me all the time. I'm happy that roughly 25 years later, I've kept my promise to myself. I make a point to listen to the Top 40 radio stations, modern Rock stations, the Country stations, etc. I daily rotate my radio listening to see what's out there. I've reached the point that I actualy prefer the new music to the old. I don't want to live in yesterday--yesterday's gone. I'm alive today.
  6. NCD


    Mar 19, 2011
    Something that occurred to me when I stepped away for a few minutes is that what you hear on the radio is completely dependent on where you are when you turn it on.

    When I was in Phoenix around 01-02 the radio was full of great new stuff that was creative and different. That music was coming out of Seattle and other places northwest and it was really great to listen to.

    Then I moved back east and when I turned on the radio I was stunned. Other than Urban music, I could find nothing being played that was later than about 94-95. This was in 02. It was as if time had been stopped and it was worst on the rock stations, which were still playing Free Bird and Stairway to Heaven twelve times per day, each.

    People around me had no idea about anything that was going on out west. They were just starting to get some play time for Matchbox 20 and Creed.

    It was kind of creepy.

    So if you happen to have good music on your radio, remember that we all don't have the same stations to choose from. Around Washington DC I'd have expected a LOT better but it's a bunch of Classic Rock, 80's pop, Urban and what's left has kiddie pop mixed in there all over the place so you might get one song you like and then three or four you can't stand.

    The best I can find around here is Jack... out of Baltimore. But that station isn't playing anything new.
  7. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    Finding new music couldn't be simpler these days. You've got a computer apparently, so now you've overcome your biggest hinderance. :D

    Here's just a couple of ways to find new music: - Listen to free music with internet radio and the largest music catalogue online
    (you can build a profile if you like and it will start recommending bands that you might like, or if you don't even want to do that, just enter a band you like in the search and look at the "similar artists").

    Pandora Radio - Listen to Free Internet Radio, Find New Music
    (enter a band, and it plays a "radio station" of similar tunes. You can advance if you dislike any of them).

    Apple - iTunes - Everything you need to be entertained
    Get yourself iTunes if you don't have it (Mac or PC). The Genius function will constantly recommend you artists that were also purchased by people who like or purchased what you are listening to. If you start an iTunes account, they personally recommend albums/artists based on your purchase history. They practically force-feed you music.

    Beyond this, it's all up to you. If you are looking for music that does exactly what you heard in the 70s, chances are you're not going to find exactly that - there was a reason that time and place had a sound. But if you write off anything new as no good, you'll be cheating yourself not only of some really good music, but also an opportunity for growth as a musician (despite age, I'm sure we can all agree on this statement, that you should never stop growing).
  8. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    It's true, we should keep growing. I am, in some ways, but I can't let go of playing Berry Oakley licks either. Or Jamerson, or...

    Funny how ya feel at age 61. You can't help but want to play stuff you played when you were young. I tell yas (and this is from experience) getting old ain't exactly like you think it's gonna be. Many surprises, some good, some bad, some horrific. My hair grew down my back again at age 53. I'm still riding Harleys. I still rock on bass and guitar. And then, I look out the window and realize it really isn't 1970 anymore, and the future doesn't stretch before me out of sight, and that feeling of having what seems like forever to do all that I want to do disappears. Be warned, all you young cats, do it all now before the time passes and all ability and desire fade. And, when you get old, try not to lose anything, because if you do, you can't get it back like when you were young.

    I've heard all that kind of talk from old folks all my life, but it never hit me until one day, all of a sudden, I'm 61. To be in the reality, and know now that there are so many things that I'll never get done, important things, things I thought I'd always do. No, now it's almost panic to try to get what I can get done before it's too late. Remember, time doesn't stop. And it WILL run out.

    Oh well, now that everyone's all bummed out, LOL, lemme see, anyone wanna play Living Loving Maid?
  9. Ursus Tyrannus

    Ursus Tyrannus

    Oct 9, 2010
    In the early 90's my brother who played drums used to ruefully tell the joke "how many drummers does it take to change a light bulb? None, they have machines for that now."
    Maybe that joke can now apply to bass too?

  10. NCD


    Mar 19, 2011

    Thanks for the reply but those sites are how I got overloaded in the first place. To someone who is new to them, the choices are overwhelming and the brain seizes.

    Let me put it this way:

    I've said many times that my issue is with what the recording companies are pushing in people's faces, not that there isn't any good new music. The problem is that all the junk pushed at us makes it very hard to find the better new music.

    What do I consider to be the characteristics of "good" music? Heart, attention to detail and real effort that results in a finely crafted tune rather than something that sounds like a rubber stamped clone of the thousands of tunes produces according to a formula.

    Kansas: "The Wall", "Heart of the Tempest", "He Knew", "Song for America".

    Meatloaf: The entire Rock Opera approach was awesome. When Queen picked up on it others should have gotten the hint and followed. Sadly, most didn't and it's all but died out.

    Motown: Two separate reasons. The complex work such as the many examples we all know plus even in the simple things the Funk Brothers knew how to lock a tempo and get everyone in perfect sync to it in a way that, as Don Was said in the movie, had a subliminal effect.

    Queen: See Meatloaf above.

    With all these new genres that have come out in the last 20 years, I've yet to find one that is used to describe well crafted, intricate music that is the equivalent of "anti-bubble gum".

    Well, other than Jazz. lol

    Did I miss a genre somewhere? I actually hope so... it'd make it a lot easier to find new music with the characteristics that I love.
  11. NCD


    Mar 19, 2011
    After posting the above I threw on Kansas "Song for America" just because I hadn't heard it in years. About a third of the way through it really hit me that this is exactly the kind of approach I was referring to. The bass is not just a layer others build on but, rather, is just as prominent as anything else, just as crucial to the way the song sounds and yet it never gets in the way of the other instruments.

    I only miss music like this because I haven't yet found new music that embraces that kind of approach. But I am open to looking...

    Edit... I replayed it and looked out of curiosity. The intro runs, at a guestimate, for the first 2:50 of the song. Yea they used a different approach back then. By the time the first word of the song is sung, you already know that what you're listening to is epic.
  12. masterFlash


    Jul 6, 2009
    In todays music there is as much excellence and diversity as 100 years ago. There is as much recycled simplicity as well. I think of simplistic catchy music as a feeder program. It catches the attention of the masses and gets them interested in music. It trains their ears to listen for lyrics, arrangements, etc. Then they can (not that they will) move on to more complicated stuff.

    As far as Bass Playing excellence in popular music is concerned, we have Flea and Les opening eyes and ears every day. And have you listened to Cee Lo Green? Sweet stuff.
  13. NCD


    Mar 19, 2011
    I've been stuck in an area where the radio only plays 25 year old rock or older, urban and bubble gum so I haven't heard them yet.

    But now I have an idea what to search for, thanks!
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I disagree.

    In another thread, I posted the top ALBUM sales for 1970...the list was topped by Simon & Garfunkel (I never bought anything by them)...but the rest was filled with The Beatles, Stones, Traffic, Black Sabbath, Chicago, BS&T, Sly, Hendrix, Motown, Stax, etc.
    How many are even buying the albums of current "Pop" stars anymore?

    "Yummy Yummy Yummy" & other schmaltz would get their day on the Top 20 charts...I doubt the Ohio Express album did so well.
    How about "Scorpio"? I just looked, it peaked at #6 on the 1971 POP Chart.
    Coming home from a road trip the other night, we stumbled across Jimmy Castor's "Troglodyte"...I haven't heard that in about 40 years &, man, it kicked ass. Then again, maybe it's a tune that some would put in the schmaltz category of yesteryear.
  15. avvie


    Oct 12, 2010
    Maui, HI
    True dat. I have the good fortune of being able to hear a great radio show at work on one of the very last DJ-driven FM radio stations... it's kinda like pirate radio, though the genre changes with each dj.

    ...and where I moved from- greensboro, NC- has only had one rock station most of my adult life that plays the same 80 songs every day ad nauseum and the uneducated rednecks think it's the greatest thing ever and never get tired of it. They're just like dogs who still think that bowl of wheat chunks is still the finest of dining pleasures after eating it every day for their entire lives.

    Newsflash: Jack is a nationally syndicated new "genre", claiming to be 'playing what we want'... but do a Google search and you'll see it's in lots of major markets and available streaming. It's basically the answer to the pop overload of Kiss FM.
  16. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    I would submit however that the people making these "the old music was so much better than the new music" comments aren't hearing the S&G, Traffic, Beatles, Chicago, et. al. of today, but only the schmaltzy stuff of today. Just like a casual observer in '70 would have.

    BTW, my comment about pop music was tongue-in-cheek. I'd MUCH rather hear good honest pop music than pretentious self-conscious "important" music any time. Joni Mitchell had top 40 hits too!

  17. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I have not heard much like Traffic, Beatles, Chicago, et al on today's Pop Charts.
    Trust me, I go to the gym 4-5 times per week & I am bombarded by today's Top-40.

    Not saying they're not out there...bands I like today are considered "underground".
    IMO, they woulda been on the Pop Charts in a different time (again, something like "Scorpio" was a Top-10 hit).

    Personally, I always played in Top-40 bands...until the mid-'90s. Maybe this relates to the OP's premise: I agree, once upon a time, more LINES were played. More is FIGURES or vamps & not so much "improvised-sounding" bass POP!

    Just my .02.
  18. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI

    No problem. I could see how the searches can be overwhelming and perhaps fruitless, so I am making it my personal goal to give you some ideas.

    Regarding Rock Opera (there are a few bands that still do progressive or extensively crafted tunes in the vein of a modern Queen or Meatloaf) here are a few album suggestions:

    Mew: And the Glass Handed Kites
    Muse: The Resistance
    Coheed and Cambria: Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV...

    In the motown vein (admittedly I don't have a strong knowledge of the genre, but I would probably classify these at least as somewhat of a newer resurgence of motown-esque vibe (forgive me of my ignorance if I'm completely off-base here)):

    Cee Lo Green: The Lady Killer
    Some of Adele's new album: 21

    Jazz or Jazz influence:

    Melody Gardot: Worrisome Heart
    Fiona Apple: When the Pawn...

    Here are a few more of my faves from all around - mostly in the rock/blues/swagger categories.

    LoFi modern rock of Cold War Kids: Robbers & Cowards
    Folk/Americana of The Decemberists: The King Is Dead
    Folk/R&B/Soul of Iron & Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean
    Bluesy garage rock of Delta Spirit: Ode to Sunshine
    60s-70s reminiscent California rock of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes: Up From Below
    Southern Country rock of Kings of Leon: Youth and Young Manhood
    or of Band of Horses: Cease to Begin
    Dirty Blues of The Black Keys: Attack & Release
    Newer age classic rock supergroup Them Crooked Vultures: Them Crooked Vultures

    I've got ideas for days. :D
    Sorry for the long post (and I also had links posted originally, but apparently iTunes does not want that, so you will have to search these yourself). But maybe you'll find something in here that piques your interest. If not, I apologize to everyone for wasting their time, and I will leave you be from here on out. :D
  19. NCD


    Mar 19, 2011
    @P-oddz: Thanks! This is just the sort of "point me in a direction" I was hoping for. I figure once I find a few that I like, finding similar might not be so hard. It's finding that first few that can be a real bear.

    Another post with a separate point in a minute...
  20. NCD


    Mar 19, 2011
    First, I want to get away from the old vs new labeling because how old something is doesn't really mean anything at all. What does matter is how the way a song is created gets approached and that makes all the difference in the results.

    I was in the car for a couple of hours today and after scanning every station on the radio, and giving up, I tossed in a CD I haven't heard in far too long. As I listened, that's when it hit me that the bass and even the drums were far more... "involved" as part of the song when these tunes were done.

    If you're under 30 and not a Kansas devotee, be sure to take the time to check these out. Odds are that you may never have heard them in your life because they never got a lot of air time after about 1980 or so.

    The bassist hit a great balance with interesting lines that were still relatively simple, were a huge part of what made the song's overall sound and never got in the way of others.

    The drummer... well I'll just say that the drummer reminds me of why a drum machine will never be able to replace a live human being with heart, rhythm and talent.

    I really wanted to provide links to the songs in this reply but Youtube is going nuts and actually locked my browser window so I'm avoiding it until I can do a full virus and adware scan.

    The songs, all by the group Kansas:

    "What's on my mind."

    "People of the south wind."


    These songs are all fairly simple by Kansas standards but they all still have that magic feel.
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