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Ray Shulman of Gentle Giant

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Arthritic_Tom, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    My bass idol is Ray Shulman of Gentle Giant. He's the guy who opened doors for me in a way nobody else did.

    I got to interview him when I worked for Bass Player, but then the editor was changed, and the article was killed as "yesterday's news."

    When I wrote Ghosts and Ballyhoo, Shulman's gatekeepers never let me contact him. They thought I was an insane stalker.

    It was so strange that this musician who'd brought me such joy kept being associated with pain and failure. The two times I tried to incorporate him into my work, I was thwarted in the most brutal way possible.

    Nobody knows what goes on after we die, and nobody knows if there's any kind of intelligent force running the show. I believe there is, but that's only a belief. I never try to push my beliefs on anybody.

    Still, I like happy endings. Therefore, here's something that I hope you'll enjoy. It might mean something, or it might not.

    Either way, it's art.

  2. Thom, that is *way* beyond freaky, and so incredibly amazing.

    A circle can be a pattern, and this one must be quite meaningful to you. I hope it brings you a certain joy and closure.

    Be well. It sounds like you're doing all the right things.
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Whoa. Jimminy.
  4. Caustic Crunch

    Caustic Crunch

    Oct 26, 2013
    Holy poopiee. That is one incredible story.
    I have posted mentions of Ray Shulman here, as soon as I joined, because he and Giant are absolutely one of my all time favorites. I never tire of listening.
    Amazing that you got to meet the genius.
    I was lucky enough to meet Derek and Kerry Minnear in New York when they released the anniversary masters. What kind virtuosos!
    Thanks for posting this... it made my year.
    I happen to love Civilian, too, BTW!!
    Giant forever.
    Added you to my buddy list...
  5. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    Very interesting story. I have had similar type things happen in my life. I always believe that interconnections in our lives happen for reason. I have one happening right now with two musicians I might form a new band with them and the circumstantial history behind it is amazing.
  6. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Like you, I never tire of listening either. I can't pick a favorite album. It too forever, but I worked out "Mister Class and Quality?" Diabolic bass line. Shulman said all he did was following Minnear's left hand on the keyboard.

  7. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    If you want, PM me the story. As the forum's resident crank, I love weird post-Abrahamic pseudo-religious chatter about synchronicity and stuff. Especially "stuff." I can talk about "stuff" all day!

    Make sure your message contains hippy dippy necromancy stuff (Hey, my favorite topic again!) and other forms of "me me me." It'll be even better if you throw in a creepy obsession with Scott Thunes.
  8. Wow... Thanks for sharing Tom.
  9. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
  10. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    And now you know!

    If I entered a stadium with a million people, within fifteen minutes a guy would come up to me and say, "You're that freak who wrote all those books I bought, aren't you? I've read every single word you've ever written, and I just want to tell you how much I despise you."

    Two reviews of GHOSTS AND BALLYHOO reviewed me instead of the book. The second time I decided to use part of the review as a blurb.

    There are only four people on the planet whose opinion of me I care about. And as long as people keep reading, they can hate what they read as much as they want.
  11. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
  12. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    There's a link to an interview I did with him, and there are links to his music. Plus, you're free to make your own contributions.

    The best line he ever played, in my opinion, is on "The Moon is Down." It's pretty much a solo. For some reason he never repeated this approach on any other album, which is too bad.

    From what I gather talking to Ray and reading what he's said, he regarded the bass as strictly an ensemble instrument. His real love was violin.

    He's never really accepted that he was a genius on the bass. One reason may be that he holds the instrument in disdain. After Gentle giant, he never played again, so I think he was "assigned" the instrument, and then when he charted his own course, bass didn't play a part.
  13. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    All I have to add to this thread is that Kerry Minnear stayed at my house when I was a kid (and had never heard of Gentle Giant).
  14. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    This explains a lot about Civilian:

    "This album also marks the return to Columbia Records (the first album on this famous label since the 1972 release Octopus) in the U.S. and Canada. It was cut in the L.A. suburb of Van Nuys in 1979 with former Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick. At 32 minutes and 41 seconds, it is the shortest album the band has ever released."

    So Colombia took a band that had done songs like "Freehand" and "River" and tried to force it into the mold of a radio friendly rock ensemble, right around the time disco was dying out and New Wave was beginning.

    Colombia released the following albums while Gentle Giant was recording Civilian:

    Bruce Springsteen: The Darkness on the Edge of Town

    Billy joel: 52nd Street

    Neil Diamond: You Don't Bring Me Flowers

    Elvis Costello: Armed Forces

    Journey: Evolution

    James Taylor: Flag

    Wings: Back to the Egg

    Bob Dylan: Slow Train Coming

    Barbra Streisand: Wet

    The Clash: London Calling

    Poor Gentle Giant doesn't really fit in anywhere.
  15. Indiedog


    Aug 23, 2012
    Tucson, AZ
    A fascinating story!

    I too am a huge GG fan and I never cease to be amazed and inspired by their music...and yes, Ray is a bass genius.
    There, I SAID IT! It must be true!
  16. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    If YOU say it, then yes, it must be true.
  17. Indiedog


    Aug 23, 2012
    Tucson, AZ
    ...and Ray HAS to believe it!

    But seriously...I am often amazed at Chris Squire's bass lines, or the bass lines in Happy the Man, or Renaissance, or by the lines of many other bassists. But Ray's are just one-in-a-zillion. They are so tasty, so melodic yet rhythmic at the same time.
  18. Caustic Crunch

    Caustic Crunch

    Oct 26, 2013
    I have a GG bootleg, that is a sound check board mix, and Ray nails Mister Class and Quality as if it was the studio track.
    It took me weeks to learn the intro to that on bass.
    Stunningly brilliant.
  19. Caustic Crunch

    Caustic Crunch

    Oct 26, 2013
    BTW Tom,
    Did you ever do the photo shoot??
  20. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I'm a big fan of progressive rock, but never got into Gentle Giant. I have their "Three Friends" CD and just couldn't appreciate it, though I recognize their musicianship.

    I love the connection with the photo on the album cover. I'm not sure what it means, but it's interesting to think about. Thanks for sharing it :)