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The Band's Rick Danko

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Youngspanion, Apr 1, 2009.


  1. Youngspanion

    Youngspanion Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    How would you classify this man as bass players go? Very average or hell of a bass player?
     
  2. thombo

    thombo Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Denver, CO
    perfect for The Band! he had a unique, slanky way of playing... it may have been the drugs, but it worked.
    the band are a great example of a group that is greater than the sum of their parts, making it is hard to compare to the musicians to other musicians.
    my answer, one hell of a player in the context of The Band.
     
  3. Godfather

    Godfather

    Feb 4, 2001
    what does that mean?:help::help::help:



    anyway, Danko certainly is a hell of a bass player, not to mention singer !
     
  4. GM60466

    GM60466

    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    It would have taken a shoehorn and goose grease to fit him in any other band.

    G
     
  5. thombo

    thombo Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Denver, CO
    +1 on hell of a bass player, hell of a singer.

    as for my confusing comment...
    i think he had an original way of playing that worked perfectly in the band. i don't know if his style would be as successful in other settings, but i also don't think that other players would hold it down with The Band as perfectly he did. don't think i can fairly compare him to other players.

    i feel this way about a lot of players who have spent their career playing primarily with one band.
     
  6. loendmaestro

    loendmaestro

    Jan 15, 2004
    Vienna VA
    I think that is an excellent description actually....
     
  7. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    You really can't compare him to anyone else. I played steel guitar in an "Alt/country" band with a bass player who fancied himself a Danko follower. In his case it meant he never really settled down to anything resembling a part and refused to play anything that would be considered style-appropriate. I think the reason Danko sounded so good with The Band is that their stuff was pretty well thought out and rehearsed to the point that it sounded loose. Try covering any Band tune; learn Danko's part; it won't sound right unless everyone else has learned the original parts as well. Ya gotta practice a lot to sound that sloppy.
     
  8. funkytoe

    funkytoe Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2008
    Northern California
    I love Rick Danko. He is a great musician. But probably only an average bassist if you focus on technique.

    This is an important distinction in my mind. Danko, like many of the bassists in the 1960's and 1970's, really thought about harmony, melody and counter-melody. It shows in his playing. He understands that sometimes its better NOT to play. Other times, he pulls way back to allow other instruments to take the lead. He can play behind the beat or right on top of it. I always found his choices to be really excellent ones for the song. I actually wish more bass players thought about performing this way.

    This is not an indictment, but in a post Stanley, Jaco, Victor, Marcus, Flea world, young bassists think that they need to slap faster or master harmonics and tapping to be a GREAT bassist. I've seen (and taught) a number of 14 year olds who can out slap,tap and pop many of the bassists you see in BP and on stadium stages. But, put them in an ensemble, and they simply fall flat. They can drive a small 3 piece (ala Claypool) but can't hold down the groove for a 7 or 9 piece with horns.

    This is where a bassist like Rick Danko deserves a lot of respect. For him, its not about pyrotechnics. His playing suits the song and the band.

    So, yes. In my opinion Rick Danko is a great bass player. He's just not "great" in the same way as Stanley.
     
  9. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Lest there be confusion, Danko IS one of my favorite bassists, for the reasons stated in my previous post.
     
  10. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I've always loved his playing and singing. They might not be chop-meisters, but back when they were recording they were always admired by the top musicians of the day. They will always be one of the bands at the top of my list of best bands ever.
     
  11. iamthebassman

    iamthebassman

    Feb 24, 2004
    Austin,Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    Love Rick's playing, got this because of him.
    eastwood002.
     
  12. Deluge Of Sound

    Deluge Of Sound Banned

    Nov 8, 2007
    Maine/Vermont
    I'm with this guy.

    Not to mention his singing was pretty fantastic, too.


    But, really, all you've got to do to prove it is throw on The Last Waltz (The film or the album).
     
  13. kelleysdad

    kelleysdad

    Dec 12, 2007
    He was a very skilled musician. I believe he would have sounded as good with any group.He played with an excellent drummer in Levon Helm and they really cooked together. Anyone who does not feel this way really needs to check out the Last Waltz dvd. I did recently and was very impressed by the way he played and sounded (great tone). On a side note, that dvd contains what must be the worst playing Clapton ever did.
     
  14. bluesbass99

    bluesbass99

    Jun 14, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    [I think the reason Danko sounded so good with The Band is that their stuff was pretty well thought out and rehearsed to the point that it sounded loose. Try covering any Band tune; learn Danko's part; it won't sound right unless everyone else has learned the original parts as well. Ya gotta practice a lot to sound that sloppy.

    I could not agree more. He was very unique and he really served the song and the band. If you put a "clean" discernible bass lines on some of the songs, it just wouldn't work. Just listen the bass lines on "The Weight". I doubt if any other bass player would have played it the way he did. I think he was great in that he had a great gut-feel for the song, but was probably very limited when it came to music theory. Given the two, I would take the gift of gut-feel over a head full of music theory anyday.
     
  15. bluesbass99

    bluesbass99

    Jun 14, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    I think the reason Danko sounded so good with The Band is that their stuff was pretty well thought out and rehearsed to the point that it sounded loose. Try covering any Band tune; learn Danko's part; it won't sound right unless everyone else has learned the original parts as well. Ya gotta practice a lot to sound that sloppy.

    I could not agree more. He was very unique and he really served the song and the band. If you put a "clean" discernible bass lines on some of the songs, it just wouldn't work. Just listen the bass lines on "The Weight". I doubt if any other bass player would have played it the way he did. I think he was great in that he had a great gut-feel for the song, but was probably very limited when it came to music theory. Given the two, I would take the gift of gut-feel over a head full of music theory anyday.
     
  16. kingbee

    kingbee

    Apr 18, 2006
    Rick Danko is an amazing bassist and singer. Definitely one of my favorites.

    Those of you who doubt that he could branch out from The Band's arrangements should check out the instructional tape he did for Homespun. He plays The Weight and King Harvest with just him and a drummer and he carries both off beautifully without sticking straight to the recorded versions.
     
  17. thombo

    thombo Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Denver, CO
    i have no doubt that he could have branched out from The Band had he wanted too, but i am not aware of too many situations where he did. he had his solo albums, which i am not all that familiar with: from what i heard of them, he seems far more focused on songwriting than bass playing, and there in lies why i love Danko's playing... it was always song serving. when that is added the the chemistry of The Band's members, i feel that Danko's bass playing is bumped up, without having much to do with his chops.

    basically, i was trying to give Rick his due w/out quantizing his playing. it is far easier to compare session cats like jameson to duck dunn, or will lee to chuck rainey; or comparing players who play out front a bit more, like geddy, to chirs squire, or jack bruce. I see RD more as a musician who happened to play bass well in his band, as opposed to a musician who communicates as a bassist.
     
  18. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    Almost everything in Last Waltz was heavily overdubbed, especially Rick's playing. They probably couldn't get Eric back in to redo his parts. Great movie anyway!
     
  19. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    Re: Eric Clapton's performance on The Last Waltz

    Uh, can we say "too many chemicals"?

    I love the large ensemble performance where his guitar strap falls off just as he launches into a solo. There are several other guitarists on stage at the time, but who picks up the solo for him? Bob Dylan!

    And I heartily agree with everything expressed so far about Rick Danko. He was a superb musician, but not necessarily a technically excellent bassist. In his case feeling and emotion (and "gut feel") counted for a lot more than technique. I can't imagine the sound of The Band with any other bassist.
     
  20. Youngs-
    Gotta love Rick Danko.
    If you haven't done so, get the remastered DVD of the Last Waltz and spend some time with it. I've got a whole new and elevated appreciation for Rick Danko and the Band. Spent the whole weekend watching the concert, and the directors cuts.
    Shows what playing with the same guys for 20 years can do.
     

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