John Wetton??

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Ric, Aug 5, 2002.

  1. Last time, I was listening to King Crimson's 'Fracture' and undoubtedly
    thought the bassist on the track
    was Tony Levin. But I just found out that it's
    the ex-member 'John Wetton' who played the bass on on that song. I was quite surprised. His thundering, yet melodic bass lines are one of the best off the genre (progressive rock, although many call 'em art-rock. nevermind) that I've heard.
    I guess he's underrated or somethin since I don't
    see his name that often. Maybe, never.-_-;
    Guys, tell me some more bout this guy.
  2. Dime-store bio:

    Wetton's career started to get big when he was in a Canterbury-style jazzy prog band called Family. He was asked to join King Crimson in 1971, before the recording of Islands, but Robert Fripp decided instead to teach singer Boz Burrell how to play bass (Fripp has said that he detests frontman-types). When the Islands band broke up, Wetton was retained as bassist and lead vocalist in the new King Crimson that featured ex-Yes drummer Bill Bruford, violinist/keyboardist David Cross, and (for one album) free jazz percussionist Jamie Muir. This lineup recorded Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, and Red before Fripp dissolved the band in late 1974.

    Wetton briefly joined Uriah Heep and Roxy Music before starting U.K. with Bruford, guitarist Allan Holdsworth, and violinist/keyboardist Eddie Jobson. (I'd like to pick up some U.K. stuff at some point.) After U.K. broke up in '78 or '79, Wetton briefly joined Wishbone Ash. After the breakup of the Yes/Buggles hybrid that recorded the sadly underrated Drama, Wetton, ex-ELP drummer Carl Palmer, and ex-Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes and guitarist Steve Howe formed the infamous Asia in late '81, giving us such delightfully dated FM staples as "Heat of the Moment" and "Sole Survivor." (Meanwhile, Robert Fripp had reformed King Crimson with fellow avant-art-rock stars Adrian Belew and Tony Levin, with Bruford returning on drums.)

    Wetton left Asia after their third album and has had a rather unproductive solo career. The last interesting project in which he was involved, to the best of my knowledge, was a band comprising himself, King Crimson alumnus Ian McDonald, former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, and drummer Chester Thompson (not the funk/fusion guy, I'm pretty sure).


    I like Wetton's tone and approach. With King Crimson, he dug in hard, he played excellent contrapuntal lines that added some serious meat to Fripp's fiddly, texture-heavy guitar work, and he had a pleasingly grainy voice that added some humanity to what might otherwise have been a very detached, clinical group sound. I think he did his finest work on Starless and Bible Black, particularly on the improvs and "Lament."
  3. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    Well, that about sums it up! :D About the only thing I could add was that he was influential in starting the trend towards natural wood finishes on Precisions.
  4. What album was "Fracture" on, anyway? I'm drawing a blank.

    Wetton's project with Hackett et al. was in connection with a Hackett Genesis tribute album. His most recent project was Qango, with drummer Carl Palmer and two others whose names escape me (John Young on keyboards maybe?)
  5. It was on Starless and Bible Black.
  6. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Peter, you want to buy the first U.K. album, simply called "U.K.". It's utterly brilliant and you will enjoy it a great deal; trust me.

    Wetton is a great player, I really enjoy his stuff.
  7. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I have always loved Wetton's playin with Crimson!
    Last year I treated my self to the Great Deciver box set.....four C.D.'s of live Wetton era Crimson....
    great jams!
  8. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Wetton is awesome. His studio album work is just the tip of the iceberg, at least with Crimson. The Great Deceiver is highly recommended. Big strong hands + P Bass + Fuzz/Wah + Cerwin Vega folded horn cab = joy. I think Robert described the Bruford+Wetton rhythm section as "terrifying" - both in terms of playing over and the sonic results.

  9. Thanx a lot Peter!!:p This is almost everything
    I expected :)
  10. Jontom


    Mar 11, 2002
    New York
    Its good to see my favorite Crimson lineup getting some "props"! My favorite Wetton-filled songs: Red, Great Deceiver, and Starless. Great Voice, Great Bass!
  11. Wait... I like Asia...

    whatzda problem?
  12. They're a band that necessitates the existence of the term "guilty pleasure," because any reasonable human being should detest them. :D
  13. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Wetton is an interesting bridge between the 60's British scene and the great Prog scare of the 70's and into AOR mainstream rock of the 80's. He's definitely got the voice counterpoint with bass lines thing down (great voice- he always sounds like he's singing something really soulful and deep- even when the lyrics are quite silly). I would concur that it might behoove you to check out some of his stuff with U.K.- not that I go for any of that prog rubbish, mind you. Well, OK, was a simpler time.

    Good to see his name here, though.
  14. I've never found any of the Wetton-era KC lyrics to be cheesy...well, OK, there's "One More Red Nightmare" and maybe "The Night Watch," but compared to virtually the entire output of the pens of Jon Anderson or Neil Peart?

    I wouldn't lump them in with Prog, either. That's ELP and Yes and Genesis.
  15. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2000
    I have UK's solo debut on vinyl, I like the album. It's not King Crimson, but then again what is. I really like John Wetton's contributions to the ELP tribute album as well.
  16. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I really like Wetton's work with KC; he's one of my greater influences.
  17. Well Peter you sure have all the right to hate Asia's music... I can see why people would be turned off...

    That was just me...

    BUT in my rock generation community from native Puerto Rico, bands considered superlame by Americans, like REO Speedwagon, Boston, Asia were AND are considered undeniable rock classics.

    If you told any of those fellow Puerto Rican Rockers "any reasonable human being should detest them (Asia)" that would be a major dis-out to them, dude...

    Note: I DON'T like Boston or REO mind you...

    Note2: I like Asia... but not like wow... it's just three or four songs actually.

    Note3: UK is very appreciated by Puerto Rican Rockers too...
  18. Speedwagon? Boston?

    Dude, I'm really sorry. You guys must have been seriously deprived down there. Don't tell me Styx is venerated, too...
  19. yea Styx is appreciated...

    Now in Europe I realize I missed out on The Jam, Joy Division (not musically good but really cool plus Hook gets crazy on the bass), and some others, too...

    From the land of "queso" music of Ricky and Chayanne...argh!
  20. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001