Tears for Fears- Curt Smith/ Ultravox- Christopher Cross

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by The Mock Turtle Regulator, Mar 21, 2002.

  1. 80's alt-pop stuff;

    okay, Pino Palladino played on later Tears for Fears stuff, but an interesting bassline I'm pretty sure Curt Smith played on is "Change"- I've seen live footage where he played it live (on a Warwick Thumb with a pick) while singing the lead vocal.
    interesting note choices and high register fill at the beginning, and chorused tone.
    makes me wonder why he didn't play more stuff like that....I'd have preferred that aggressive style to Palladino's radio-friendly fretless....

    Ultravox- great bassline (P bass with pick, I think)on "Reap the wild wind".
  2. Winston TK

    Winston TK Hairpiece Adventurer

    Oct 8, 2001
    Burnaby, BC Canada
    You are SO right. The bass tone on Ultarvox's "Reap" is really cool. Chris Cross did some cool stuff with that band. If you want REAL cool, though, try and dig up their debut album simply entiteld "Ultravox!" (Remember, the band back in the John Foxx era had the "!" at the end of the name.) The bass line for "Dangerous Rhythm" is absolutely KILLER. Simple, but beyond cool. Actually, the bass sounds on the entire disc are great. The perfect synthesis of Punk and New Wave.

    As far as Tears For Fears, I still really love the Pino work. His stuff is always incredible. But I agree that Curt Smith provided some excellent bass work on the earlier material. As you noted, "Change" is a classic example of this. "Mother's Talk" from their "Songs From The Big Chair" album features some tasty aggressive lines in the finale. I'm not entirely sure who is responsible for them, but if it's Curt, then there are some more points right there that have to be awarded.

    Great topic!


  4. Winston TK, I downloaded "Dangerous rhythm"- very interesting bassline- it's almost like a cross between Tim Butler (Psychedelic Furs) and Mick Karn (Japan)- and the overall sound of the John Foxx era Ultravox(!), which I hadn't heard before, sounds like a cross between those two bands as well IMHO.
    I'll have to check out that album.

    Tears for Fears, "Mother's talk" sounds like a sequenced bassline. (but "head over heels" sounds like real bass, and probably by Curt Smith)
    I suppose at that time in the 80's the trend on any album with a big recording budget was to use Fairlight samplers and keyboards/synthesisers to make the sound as smooth and tight as possible (as on Def Leppard's Hysteria).

    I checked out another TFF track "pale shelter" from the debut The Hurting album (on which are also "change" and "mad world"- I'll have to buy that album)- there's a quite funky alternating octave bassline in the middle that sounds like Curt Smith's playing too.- it's similar to the octave line in Eric Clapton's "Behind the mask" (by Nathan East?).

    the third TFF album Sowing the seeds of love I don't really like at all- commercial pressures seem to have squashed all the quirkiness and darkness of the previous albums- it's all too smooth, and bland IMHO.
    the use of a session bassist like Pino Palladino to me just underlines the commerciality of this album.
    apparently Curt Smith subsequently quit the band due to being sick of the commercial pressure.

    I like the post Curt Smith TFF (ie. Roland Orzabal plus session players) single "Break it down again"- it has a dark brooding tone to it.
    but the bass on it sounds bland and run-of-the-mill, though- it's by Guy Pratt (Pink Floyd member).

    there's a rumour about that Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal are collaborating again- I hope if they do another TFF album they don't use any session players on bass.....
  5. Winston TK

    Winston TK Hairpiece Adventurer

    Oct 8, 2001
    Burnaby, BC Canada
    Hey, Mock.

    Glad you enjoyed "Dangerous Rhythm". John Foxx era Ultravox! is amazing. Many people tend to forget just how different a band they were prior to the arrival of Mr. Ure. You might want to track down a CD entitled "Ultravox! The Island Years". Pretty much all the great cuts from the first three pre-Midge albums are on here. But, frankly, the best is still the very first. You might also enjoy "Wide Boys" and "I Want To Be A Machine". There is a certain rawness here that simply disappeared as time went on.

    I'm still a big fan of post Foxx 'Vox too, don't get me wrong. The pivotal album "Vienna", which announced the arrival of Midge Ure, was a MAJOR release. I still get shivers when I listen to that one. But, true fans really owe it to themselves to go right back to the very beginning.

    Great topic, by the way.
  6. RHFusillo

    RHFusillo Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Phoenix, AZ
    Now, there's a band I haven't thought of for a while. I saw Ultravox just after the US release of "Vienna." (Actually, I saw Ultravox and XTC on consecutive nights -- how good was that?) I forget what the bass player was playing. But I agree there was nothing like the early band. I loved songs like "My Sex" and "Rockwrock" ("F. like a dog, bite like a shark...").
  7. on a rerun of the old grey whistle test there was Ultravox with John Foxx, doing "Hiroshima mon amour".

    re. my comment about Christopher Cross' bassline on Dangerous rhythm, "it's almost like a cross between Tim Butler (Psychedelic Furs) and Mick Karn (Japan)"-
    funnily enough in the clip shown he was playing a fretless P bass with a pick (Tim Butler usually played a fretted P bass with a pick, Mick Karn a fretless Travis bean or Wal fingerstyle).
    there was a flanger and/or an envelope filter on the signal.

    I found a very interesting interview with Ultravox drummer Warren Cann, recalling the story of the band from the early days in the midst of the punk movement-
  8. tripwamsley


    Jan 31, 2002
    Sulphur La,
    Yo Mock! We have got to hook up sometime. I love Curt Smith. I have the live footage of "Change" that you speak of. I really loved his work at the end of "Mother's Talk." That was a mind-bender. "Memories Fade" is another great one.
    Cool thread!:D :D
  9. ...apart from the fact that he plays the note F instead of F# - yes! :D Ultravox were a cool band, so much better than Midge Ure solo.
    And the TFF debut album has some very good stuff on it, too...including nice lyrics such as "the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I ever had" *laughs*
  10. :confused:

    he plays an F#, maybe you mean it's the open E that sounds odd (under an F# major chord).
  11. Oops, sorry - I thought the first note was G...so yes, I meant "E instead of an F", of course. But I'm sure it'll grow on me *laughs* ;)
    One Small Day is a pretty cool U-Vox song too, in my opinion.
  12. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I've always thought that "Women in Chains" had a great bassline. It's definatley not up in your face, but there is so much tasty stuff going on there melodically and rythmically.
  13. I bought this today.
    (I'd downloaded a few tracks eg. My sex, I want to be a machine, Young savage).

    I'm pretty sure Frankie goes to hollywood/Trevor Horn ripped off "I want to be a machine"'s opening vocal and acoustic guitar for "the power of love".

    Chris Cross uses some sort of autowah on "Slip away".
    "Distant smile" is an ambitious track - the beginning sounds like the ambient moods piano piece from American Beauty (surprisingly contemporary for something recorded in 1978/79).

    Gary Numan says in the Kraftwerk special in this month's Record Collector that although heavily influenced by Kraftwerk, he looked to Ultravox's combination of conventional guitars and drums with electronics rather than the fully electronic instrumentation of Kraftwerk.
  14. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Let's not forget "Head Over Heels". That song ruled my world when I was 15 and made me look at librarians in a whole new way. what a great bass line.

    My ex bandmate, Fred Eltringham, who now plays in the Wallflowers, just recorded 12 tracks with the re-convened Tears For Fears and he says that they're all excellent songs.
  15. is Curt Smith playing all the bass on the album?

    re. Ultravox, here's a pic from 1978-
    Chris Cross playing a Gibson EB3,
    and guitarist Robin Simon playing a Musicman Stingray guitar-

  16. So it's not really a surprise his album "The Pleasure Principle" sounds quite similar to Ultravox's "Vienna" one. There were more bands with the same approach, like for example Visage (hit "Fade To Grey").

    By the way, in the beginning of their career, Kraftwerk actually used conventional instruments like drums and guitars, too!
  17. Ultravox keyboard/violin/viola player Billy Currie toured with Gary Numan-
    and wrote Visage's "Fade to grey" with the other Numan keyboardist Chris Payne
    (Midge Ure was also involved in Visage)

    Visage also included Magazine's Dave Formula, Barry Adamson and John McGeoch.

    I also bought "Modern art- the best of John Foxx" (£3.99 megastore clearout)-
    similar car fixations to Numan on his 1980 Metamatic album "underpass","no one driving", "burning car"-which has a Kraftwerk keyboard sound from "showroom dummies".
  18. Re. Visage: I reckon the songs in which Mr. Ure and his U-Vox friends were involved are by far better than their other ones! I didn't know that Barry Adamson was in that band - Thanks for the info! @ Mock
  19. I have "damned don't cry" a best of Visage (another clearout £3.99 special)-

    the bass on "Visage" sounds like Barry Adamson's Rick (the song sounds similar to Ultravox's "astradyne"- which "one small day" also resembles), also "tar".

    the songwriting credits are intriguing- some credit Strange/Ure/Currie/Formula/Egan/Adamson/McGeoch-

    hard to imagine that lot even playing on the same song let alone writing it together.
  20. Ah yes - I didn't realise it was "Barry Adamson" as the credits don't have the musician's first names (besides, names like Ure or Currie are rather unique ;) ).

    "Visage" is a cool song - very "Ultravox" indeed (e.g. the piano during the intro and the synthies in the chorus). The bass seems to have some sort of Phaser on it, and to me it actually sounds like a short scale one (just like in "Mind Of A Toy", which is another one of the "better" Visage songs I was talking about in my previous post).

    I can't remember the song "Tar", though. It's on my Visage CD too, but I left it in Germany when moving to NZ (there was just too much crap on it, like "The Steps" or "Blocks On Blocks").