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im not bashing phil lesh

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by GlennCarbon, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. Like really, has Phil lesh really done anything all that cool. Recently I had to learn 'China Cat" by the Dead and I was left wondering just what he was doing? He always sounds like he is "warming up". What is up with that. Some people told me to check out stuff off of dark star, and that song "the other one". Once again it sounded like he was just practicing scales. I understand hat he is a music school student or what ever, but was he really all that brilliant. His timing seems sloppy and his lines sound like busy noodling. Im not throwing stones but am I missing something, maybe l.s.d?
  2. Hapa


    Apr 21, 2011
    Tustin, CA
    Maybe LSD... that's funny.
  3. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    He's not a pocket player, no, but give it a good listen: those lines are crazy interesting.
  4. GM60466


    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    did you like the Beatles White Album????
  5. radioface


    May 2, 2013
    I could never understand what the fuss over Phil Lesh was all about. I saw him perform with the Dead and have one of their albums and, there is nothing, to me, impressive about his playing.
  6. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    The Dead are a jam band.

    IMO if you're trying to "learn" his lines you've missed the point, since I can guarantee you he never did.
  7. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Phil plays in a pretty unique way, and played in a pretty unique setting in which that not only worked, but was just about ideal.
    I can see a lot of people not getting him. Some people don't get Jaco. Some don't get JPJ. Or whomever.
    When I was a kid I followed the Dead, and I thought Phil was awesome. I also didn't understand what he was doing (I was just beginning to play music), beyond his ability to flow with very extensive improvisation and to read, respond to, and put up cues as to where the music would go.
    As I came to understand more about music, his stuff impressed me more and more.

    Your mileage may vary.
  8. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    As soon as I read “not bashing” I knew it would be and opened this up anyway. Let me say I don’t care for Phil’s tone in most recordings and his approach is nothing like I would do but all that being said I have attended more than 100 Dead shows and the rhythm section has always blown me away.
    This was taken from one of his Bio’s on line…he no dummy!

    At age eight, Phil Lesh began playing the violin and joined the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra in Berkeley, California playing classics from Beethoven to Wagner. At age 14, he switched to trumpet. In his sophomore year he transferred from El Cerrito High School to Berkeley High School for music courses in harmony. During this time he developed a keen interest in avant-garde classical music and free jazz. Phil Lesh credits school music programs with his success in music.
    In 1958, Phil Lesh enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley as a music-major, but was quickly disenchanted with the restrictive music curricula. He transferred to Mills College in Oakland, California, and enrolled in Luciano Berio's modernist music class. There he learned the mechanics of music theory and wrote several compositions. However, he found it difficult to get his pieces performed as he was not an established composer.
  9. I would be interested in hearing his "pieces". One way I look at him is that he was a pioneer of the style, so his playing may be a bit more un-refined for our modern tastes, then I liesten to live cuts on youtube and his style doesn't seem to change much over the decades. I can get jaco and I can get j.p.j. Is Phil lesh like an eggplant... something that isn't all that great but you keep eating it and you tell people that eggplant is really good but really you know your just saying that.
  10. esa372

    esa372 Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Jerry once said that he didn't understand Phil's playing at all, until he heard a few tracks played back at double speed. It was then that he began to see how Phil's lines play through the entire song, not just sections.

    Try it out...
  11. G-MonRV5


    Apr 29, 2008
    Phil's playing never really did anything for me, either. I'm willing to concede that he is a very talented musician and that there might be substance to the bass work, but it certainly isn't my cup of tea.
  12. Some people need structure, some don't... If you like jam style bands, you do, if you don't you don't. I always thought the best Lesh stuff was in the jams BETWEEN songs, leading from one to another.... lots of tension and release, good stuff.
  13. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Yep... one of the original jam bands. His playing suits the band perfectly and could be quite interesting if you could pay close attention to it during a 33 minute live rendition of one of their 3:45 album tracks...
  14. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I have never been a fan of the Dead or any other jam band. To me, it just seems like self indulgent nonsense. I understand why some people like though.
  15. I'm in a "jam" band and that's why I kinda have to listen to the Dead. Don't get me wrong the Dead are a good band to learn or steal from but I cant sit down and listen to the live tracks. I know some people who can......those people who can gerneraly smoke a lot of pot. My singer/rythem guitar player lives by them, he keeps pushing the songs on the rest of us and we push it off. We did a gig in Easton P.a at a place called Pearly Bakers, I guess it refers to one the their songs. He preached about the place like it was Mecca and he was like "we gotta learn a bunch of Dead songs for this place". When we got there he asked the manager about how well Dead songs go over at the place. The manager looked at him like w.t.f are you talking about. I laughed and laughed about it for weeks. The place was not a haven for deadheads.
  16. Bassmanmike1

    Bassmanmike1 Sittin' In Limbo Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2011
    Cool, CA
    Ha! You almost had me. :D
  17. Im surprised your friend wants to play them that bad if hes the only one that wants to. Its tough to play their songs when no one else in your band has that mindset IME.

    Im a huge dead fan and phil fan. I can totally agree that he doesn't seem like anything that special (or the dead for that matter) and frankly I dont think I have a true idea of what phil is trying to do when he plays. His background and musical interests are certainly part of why he plays the way he does. I do however much more enjoy his playing than really any other bassist. Nothing is more boring than the same bass line over and over (why would anyone want to even play bass?). Music that makes you think or is tough to understand is many times really the most enjoyable music.

    I think he really settled into his style probably around the mid 80s. His more agressive playing in the earlier years (68-74) can be ****ing awesome. You wont get that from any other bassist. Slap bass? metal? funk? blues? jazz? You'll find plenty of players who sound, play and approach the instrument the same.

    Ultimately its phils approach to the instrument and him being an essential component of a great american band as to why he gets praise. He was also certainly ahead of his time when it came to modifying guitars and sound with respect to bassists.
  18. Phil plays "Lead Bass". Definitely not a pocket player.

    Anytime you start a post with "I'm not bashing".....You are probably bashing.
  19. Like I said earlier, I get some things about him and I understand that he was a pioneer in the genre. I rarely play the same line twice. I think that music should be like a joke or conversation, something that is never said the same twice or as something you had to be there for to really get. Call me a snob. I also would like to state that no one has been hashed here yet! So points for us! GO TEAM!!!!!! High fives!
  20. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Phil is a good musician, and his style is not easy to cop. He also sometimes has a very cool tone. But... No ostinato. Part of what many of us these days love about bass is the hypnotic effect caused by a repeating line with variations. The repeating quality draws attention to the small variations, creating a nice balance. Phil doesn't do that, and it drives me crazy. I like an improvised line, but even if you playe the song differently each time, I want to hear some consistency within one play of the song... He sounds totally ADD to me, but hey, it fits the band I guess.