Trying to gain some speed for the fun of it, song recommendations?

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by Hoyt, May 2, 2021.


  1. Hoyt

    Hoyt

    Jun 29, 2006
    Saint Charles, IL.
    So most of the stuff I play doesn’t require a whole lot of slapping speed (basic rockabilly, country, swing, etc.).

    However, I sort of feel like it’s something I need to work on just to have it in the tank. Plus I think it would help with endurance on longer gigs.

    I’ve never really had the desire to play super fast before, but today I decided to tackle a Reverend Horton Heat song and it totally whooped my butt.

    The album version was just ridiculous speed-wise, so I found a live version that the tempo was only slightly more manageable.

    The song is called Living on the Edge of Houston and here was my best attempt at the live version after about 90 minutes of trying to sort it all out.


    What other fast slapping type songs might you recommend for building up some real speed?
     
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  2. Keith Rawlings

    Keith Rawlings Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 3, 2019
    "Psychobilly Freakout" - Reverend Horton Heat
    "Big Sky" - Reverend Horton Heat (fast country I-V song)
    "Goofin' Around" - Bill Haley and His Comets
    "The Hucklebuck" - Lee Rocker and Big Blue (the bass solo in this song is killer!)
    "400 Bucks" - Reverend Horton Heat
    "Just Because" - Elvis Presley (Bill Black's double time during the guitar solo is one of my favorite slap bass lines of all time -- and it's fast and arduous)
    "Slappin' My Baby Around" - Hillbilly Hellcats (the bass solo runs are quick and challenging)
    "I Like Whiskey" - Hillbilly Hellcats (another fast country I-V feel here)
    "Scum of the Neighborhood" - Batmobile (I love Eric Haamers)

    Here is my list. These are all varied but they will help you build up the stamina you are looking for.

    "Psychobilly Freakout" is one of my all-time favorite songs. That I-III repetitive groove is so simple, yet can be so challenging to slap for a 3-5 minute long song. Many of my bands original songs use this combination because it just kicks a** and grooves like a mofo; plus these were the simplest slap lines I could play when I first started. Jimbo rocks the house down, but you already know that. "400 Bucks" is another great song he does with a repeated slap riff that will definitely help you build up your right arm.

    "Big Sky" and "I Like Whiskey" are fast country I-V songs; again these songs are very simple in form but a challenge to slap the entire song due to the speed and percussive attack necessary. Jimbo and Lance Romance are amazing bassists at playing these type of lines really fast. Anything they have recorded is a must listen to for rockabilly/psychobilly slap. I've included "Slappin' My Baby Around" because it's so much fun to play and it's challenging with its "My Generation-type" bass mini-solo breaks during the song. I love when upright bass is featured in this way!

    "Goofin' Around" has an amazing two-handed slap bass solo with Al Rex. This tune just absolutely rocks and if you can learn to solo like this it makes the crowd go nuts. Al was the longest tenured Comet bassist who gets very little credit as Marshal Lytle slapped on Rock Around the Clock and many of his biggest hits.

    Lee Rocker on "The Hucklebuck" is phenomenal. He is unbelievable on this tune and goes from a great up-tempo blues slap line into a tricked out slap solo that becomes a pizz/jazz-type run in a bar blues format. His work with Big Blue is some of my favorite stuff he's done. He is a great guy too and he doesn't get a lot of credit for making slap bass cool again with the late 70's/early 80's rockabilly revival the Stray Cats. We got to open up for him in 1998 and he was totally cool and down to earth. I almost died when he let me mess around on his bass after the show and I found out he was slapping steel strings on all those great records. There was no internet back then so I had no idea he used steels and magnetic pickups. I think it got to a point with many of today's slap players that it was "cool" to say that they weren't influenced by the Stray Cats but that's really a cop out. Nobody between the ages of 40 and 60 who slaps a bass isn't influenced by Lee Rocker. I don't care what they say.

    Bill Black - one of the OG's of rockabilly slap bass. He is rather underrated because he's not considered to be uber-fast or showy, but he held down the fort like no one else in Elvis' first trio and with D.J. Fontana when he came in to play drums. "Just Because" is my favorite song he plays on because he starts off in that fast I-V country rhythm then he goes double-time during the solo in a boogie-woogie/R&B influenced line. I like to do this to emphasize a certain part of a song -- like during a guitar solo or to color a verse. Bill Black does this extremely well in this song as well as in some other Elvis songs. Honorable mention is "Milk Cow Blues Boogie" which has a single note slap/pedal throughout the song but it's fast and groovin - I love Bill Black!

    "Scum of the Neighborhood" by Batmobile is a great, straightforward psychobilly tune. Eric Haamers is an excellent slap bass player who has speed like no other. He is also very underrated, which is a shame. Batmobile is huge in Europe and songs like this show you why. It's a a great fast boogie with an "in-your-face" slap attack that's very up front in the mix. I learned a lot from listening to his playing over the years and hope to someday get to see Batmobile if they ever make another American tour after Covid.

    I've also heard some cats use an ankle weight on their right wrist to practice with but I've never tried it. I've always felt that good repetition of your slap in measured doses goes a long way. Start with a metronome and work the speed up from super slow until your at a point that's as fast as you can go then back it off a few beats and work on getting strong from that point on; and move on accordingly. Use open strings at first then work into the country I-V thing then move into a boogie walk line. Time yourself for 30 seconds, then a minute, then a minute-and-a-half, and so on you'll get there. We play a 6 minute fast original called Rockabilly Express that has a pizzicato walk down halfway through along with glissando breaks twice in the song and I use those to recoup my strength to get ready to slap at full speed again. I hope this helps. I think every double bassist should have some slap chops in their arsenal of weapons to utilize on the bandstand.
     
  3. Hoyt

    Hoyt

    Jun 29, 2006
    Saint Charles, IL.
    Wow! Thanks Keith! That’s a heck of a list!
    Lee is one of the reasons I bought an upright in the first place. I saw him play at Schuba’s in Chicago. After the gig we were talking and he really encouraged me to get an upright, so I took out a loan and bought King Doublebass s/n 000014. Took me a lot longer to take it seriously though. Now I’ve been playing it for about 10 years or so.

    Speed is never really something I needed for slap stuff. Western swing, country, early rockabilly, etc. all seem to be manageable tempos for me.

    BUT, I definitely need to put some time in shredding, and that list will be a great start. Maybe I’ll make a YouTube playlist and see what feels good to start with.

    thanks again!
     
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  4. Keith Rawlings

    Keith Rawlings Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 3, 2019
    No problem. Lee was so down to earth. We even ended up partying with him at our hotel later that evening. He told us a joke: “what do you call an a**h*** with horns? Brian Setzer!” He was a bit put off by him around that time though because Brian wasn’t keen on a stray cats reunion until 2003 or so when they did that European tour. The power he has with steel strings is incredible!

    Speed isn’t all you need with slap, which it sounds like you’ve figured out but it’s nice to have. If you’ve seen Rev lately even they don’t play as fast as they used to. My band doesn’t make it a priority anymore to play fast like we did in the late 90’s. We gravitated more to the psychobilly/punk rock crowd though cause they liked the edge of the whole “neo-rockabilly thing.” We played shows at some venues that didn’t like that we played with a bit of distortion on the guitar or that we dabbled in instrumental surf, but that crowd was more concerned with what vintage clothing you were wearing and if it was authentic or not. Now all the older bands from those eras sport cowboy boots, hats and jeans and just get down with it all and jam. It’s definitely a different time now but I’m glad there’s still renewed interest in roots genres.
     
    Hoyt likes this.
  5. They're more swing than anything, but the original bassist from Hot Club of Cowtown (Jake Erwin) always leaves me with my jaw on the floor.
     
    Keith Rawlings, HateyMcAmp and Hoyt like this.
  6. Hoyt

    Hoyt

    Jun 29, 2006
    Saint Charles, IL.
    Oh, they’ve been a fave of mine for years. When I was playing with a Western swing band, we even covered a couple of their tunes.
     
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  7. Hoyt

    Hoyt

    Jun 29, 2006
    Saint Charles, IL.
    That’s fun to hear! He was fantastic the one night I met him and humble too.
    My old rockabilly band did a real wide variety of stuff. the Blasters, Imelda May, JD McPherson, etc. We even threw in a couple songs to mess with people like Zeppelins Good times, bad times, and Heart’s Barracuda.
    I’m not necessarily a stranger to fast playing, but it was never my staple. I’m mostly playing cowpunk stuff lately (punk country? I never know what to call it), so I guess I just want some good songs to get my speed up.
     
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  8. Keith Rawlings

    Keith Rawlings Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 3, 2019
    Awesome! You gotta love throwing in something to make the crowd freak out a bit. We still cover Big Balls and Whole Lotta Rosie from AC/DC and everyone seems to love them.
     
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  9. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    My recommendation is - more coffee! Seriously though, I think that part of stamina is physical fitness. As I work on strengthening my arms and shoulders, it helps me play with less effort, which should lead to the ability to increase speed. Footnote, at 65 yrs old, I’m not going anywhere fast.
     
  10. rknea

    rknea Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2007
    Boise, ID
    Ain't Got Rhythm!
     
    Hoyt likes this.
  11. Custard cat

    Custard cat

    Apr 1, 2018
    Great read and some bloody good advice,well done.
     
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  12. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    They regularly play in a small theater at College of DuPage. Someone who just plays fast, I can figure it out. Same w/ a lot of jaz/orch - I can't DO it, but I see what they are doing.

    But when I see these guys, I just have no idea how he's getting those sounds/rhythms outta his bass! :D
     
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  13. Hoyt

    Hoyt

    Jun 29, 2006
    Saint Charles, IL.
    I actually love the COD jazz station :)

    I live near St. Charles, so I’ll have to keep an eye out when they start touring again.
     
  14. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    I'm just E of you. Used to live 5 min from CoD - now just a tad further east.
     
    Hoyt likes this.
  15. There is a cool version Billy Lee Rileys - She's my baby which is pretty fast. I'm ready by the cochran brothers, is fast too.
    Maybe these songs are not super fast, but I love these songs because the bass has such a cool drive.
     
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  16. Keith Rawlings

    Keith Rawlings Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 3, 2019
    What record would you recommend to check Hot Club of Cowtown out? They have a lot of music on Apple Music to listen to and I’ve never really listened to them although I’ve heard great things.
     
  17. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    You Must, Must, Must check out Wayne Hancock. "Johnny Law" is a pretty quick one that incorporates an 8th note slap. Not a very typical part. It plays 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. No shuffle. Just straight eighths. Very fast for that rhythm.
     
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  18. h00v3r

    h00v3r

    Jun 10, 2014
    Philadelphia, PA
    At the risk of not answering the question you asked and sounding like one of the regular cranky geezers here on the DB forum: A metronome is gonna be your friend in this pursuit.

    That is all.

    Everybody on this thread: Please post some links of any of your recordings or shows you have out there on the internets. I wanna be a fan of anybody chopping away at this thing of ours.
     
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  19. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  20. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY


    Another one more recent. Same Trio. Now we added drums so we could sound like a regular band when we cover the Allmans and the Dead
     
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    Primary TB Assistant

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