Why Do Legendary Bassists play such Cheesy Material???

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by jokerjkny, Feb 22, 2002.

  1. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    ok, I gotta rant...

    but i just finished (albeit, painfully...) listening to couple of live CD's that i thought would inspire my playing. But OMG, all i can say is, what a bunch of CRAP!

    Sure, the playing of Wooten, Pastorius, and Miller on these live albums are simply unreal and breathtaking, BUT the songwriting is the cheesiest, corniest, and almost comical stuff i've ever heard.... UGH!!!

    On Weather Report's live album 8:30, Jaco's playing like "Slang" is phenomenal, but PLEEEZ, the songs like "Black Market" and "Teen Town" are the cheesiest things this side of that smooth jazz crap i hear in my dentist's office. Jaco's debut it is NOT.

    I also got Woot's new Live album, but it too is pretty unbearable. the first track with Bootsy is a real treat, and his band of brothers is probably the tightest i've ever heard, but they're undermined by some pretty tired material that didnt move my booty at all and that was a far cry from anything that came out of the true "Mothership".

    Marcus Miller's Live 'N More has some equally inspired moments, but it too is hampered by some insipid material. it sounds worse than the lite smooth jazz on 106.1 fm.

    its great these guys have forums to showcase their unbelievable and undeniable talent, but OMG, someone get them so material to do them justice!!! It really was unbearable and painful to hear such awe inspiring talent wasted. I'm deeply saddened.

    Thankfully and fortuitiusly, i also managed to pick up a Brothers Johnson "Best of" which gave me a healthy does of the real FUNK, "Third Plane" where Ron Carter's groove is about as deep as a canyon, and Pat Metheny's "Bright Sized Life", where Jaco's gives some mighty tasty counterpoint to Metheny's fluid lines. But i'm a bit miffed by the fact that i cant find Gary Willis' albums anywhere. Even his website doesnt seem to sell them anymore. guess i'll just sit and listen to that little loop on Aguilar's site.

  2. I Get your point ..

    Just a comment, the first Jaco´s album I listened to was "Trio - Live in NY". Sincerely, i haven´t heard another album or fragment of an almbum of his more than once..

    But the song I still like the most , played by him is "I shot the Sheriff" (by Bob Marley) ...
  3. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    When you were talking about 8:30, did you think the synth was too cheesy? When i first heard Weather Report, i thought Zawinul's synths were pretty cheesy, too, but it has grown on me.
  4. it's nice to see someone step up and call it out..especially with wooten..that guy can play all day long (and play masterfully) but, he can't (imo )write a song to save his life.. i have always thought that vic wooten owed such an enormous debt to stanley clarke,who wasn't the most prolific songwriter either... it is very interesting to me why we put these players on such a pedestal... the day that some of them actually write a song with some guts and real emotion, i think i'll ......, anyway, thanks for bringing it up..it's a subject that i believe needs to be discussed.. everyone have a great day....
  5. Sometimes I've got to wonder, with this genre of music, if there's a "need to be there" factor.

    I've got a couple Victor Wooten albums and a couple Stanley Clarke albums and, while there are some great moments, the overall quality is a bit spotty. I've also seen both of these players live and came away with a "now I understand" kind of impression. I wonder if it's the style of music that is harder to translate to a recording and whether you really have to see these guys live in order to get the jist of what they're doing.
  6. Perhaps they focus too much on themselves and not on the band or the songs as a whole, perhaps cheesy music is a good spring board to show off. Personally I cant stand any of these bassists, personally i think there is a time and a place for wanking the fret board, and on a CD is not one of those places. Okay, set aside a few tracks where you can show off. But i dont think the overall quality of a band should suffer because of. Also, ablility at being able to play a instrument does not mean you can write good songs.

  7. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Three points. One, just because these bassists play well, doesn't necesarily mean they have the best TASTE in music or choosing music. Or maybe, to phrase it better, maybe they don't share the same taste as some of their listeners.

    Second point, maybe they like to "lighten up" and play a light, cheesy tune once in a while. Maybe they don't want to go "full out" all the time. Putting a few cheesy songs on their albums, gives them a chance to play...in the sense of being playful and lighthearted. I would liken this to an elite athlete who has hard and easy training days. No athlete can train at max every day.

    Third, maybe enough quality material just isn't there. In point of fact, it must be pretty hard to put together an album in which every single song is superior. Such albums do exist, but they are rare.

    Along that same line of thinking, some songs may be on the album as a favor to or a concession to someone, a friend or band member, or as a sop to the ego of someone, such as a financial backer, who has the stroke to get his song played on the CD, even against the better judgment of the others.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I like all the material on 08.30 and I think Jaco had great taste in music - some of Joe Zawinul's synth sounds are a bit "dated" now, but I think you can make allowances for this - like with poor recording quality from classic recordings. I think both Zawinul and Wayne Shorter always played and wrote exceptional tunes. Ok - there are always going to be some things you like more than others, but I tend to find that if I like a player I usually can get into what they're trying to do and get it eventually.

    I don't know much about Wooten - but I suppose I have to agree about Stanley Clarke - I really like some of his playing - especially on double bass. And I find some of his electric playing astounding and sensitive, but I just don't like the material and the distorted rock guitars. So I bought the Vertu album and his solos are great - but I couldn't listen to one tune all the way through for the horrible guitar playing.

    "School Days" is another great case in point - the bass solo he plays in the middle is sublime, one of my favourites ever - but the rest of it just sounds horrible to me, any time the guitar is playing - cheesy and overblown! ;)
  9. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Conventional music relegates bass to a simple background role. You don't have to be a technical wizard to play "great" music, and a lot of solid, respected bassists don't have much techique by today's standards (Charlie Haden, Duck Dunn). Even in the classical realm, most of the great works don't require players to travel into thumb territory.

    As a result, people who have nothing but flash to offer often gravitate towards cheesiness. Technique more easily holds the spotlight if the compositon has nothing to offer.

    Of course, contrary to what indie snobs might think, great composition and great technique aren't mutually exclusive. Many studio and touring guys can do everything Wooten can, but hold back for the sake of what they're paid to play.
  10. Stachio

    Stachio Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2002
    That's a good point Bruce.

    Is it just me or does guitar playing get easily dated (ie there's a huge difference between 70s guitar and 80s guitar) a lot more than bass or drums? I mean guiatr solos (especially from the 80s) can get old so quick, but I can listen to a bass solo or even a drum solo as long as it's good and not obnoxiously long. ;)

    On a side note: I personally don't find Jaco too cheesy. I think the visuals definitely have a lot to do with the appeal of Wooten and crew (anybody see the Flecktones on Direct TV Freeview?).

    Well that was my $0.02.
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Not to be critical...
    Dude, check out the real stuff.
    Sorry & this is my view, all those posthumous Jaco discs(EXCEPT the 30th Birthday Concert which IS prime Jaco) can be skipped. Granted, the vibe is loose & the tunes are cool(classic Jazz & R&B tunes)...Jaco is NOT in form on any of those Live In NYC cds.

    Back to the original post-
    I agree, though, I'm mostly with Bruce on his points.
    Those '70s synths were cheesy...I just picked up a Parliament album & BAM, now I recall why I didn't buy too much of their stuff back in the day.
    IMO, "Black Market" & "Teen Town", as tunes/compositions go, are not 'cheesy'. Smooth Jazz is not what I'm thinking of when I hear 8:30...Winelight, yes, 8:30, no. ;)

    BTW & FWIW, I didn't pick up Wooten's lastest disc...heard it before & I already have a lotta similiar stuff.

    Third Plane is a cool album...Hancock, Carter, & Tony! Not too many Hancock trio discs out there!
    Willis' solo discs(No Sweat & Bent) are must-haves...you can pass on the Uncle Moe's Space Ranch disc(IMO).
  12. Intrepid


    Oct 15, 2001
    Thats why I like Flea...its amazing and sounds good...not too many bass players can do that...first time I listened to all these legends, I was like wow, but what utter crap...
  13. I think that anybody who can't listen past the admittedly dated synths on Black Market isn't trying nearly hard enough. Blame Joe Zawinul, not Jaco. The compositions are almost all excellent; would anyone here label them as cheese if the synths were replaced with a 10-piece horn section?

    It's worth noting, though, that the most recent solo album by Tony Levin--a player known for having exquisite taste--is prog-metal cheese, replete with John Petrucci-wannabe guitar and synths straight out of 1988. I've listened to it twice and I don't know if I'll give it too many more chances. This puts a dent in the hypothesis that chops and taste are inversely related.
  14. oddentity


    Nov 20, 2000
    I can't agree more. The synth sounds on that album are cringe-inducing!! However, I found Pieces of the Sun less disappointing than his other solo album, Waters of Eden, which mostly sounded like elevator music to me, with the exception of a few tracks. Oh well.

    Have you heard From the Caves of the Iron Mountain? That album is brilliant.
  15. I hope you aren't bashing Petruccis song writing skills. I for one, think both his ability at playing and songwriting (at least writing instrumentals, he doesnt do many lyrics, except for Dream Theater. But many people dont like those lyrics).

    But I agree for the most part with what everyone has said. Their technique is great, but the majority of the songwriting just doesnt cut it.
  16. Actually, Petrucci is going to be my test case for another theory (brace yourselves): cheese factor is directly proportional to hair length.

    The only member of DT who still has hair down to his ass is James LaBrie, who doesn't play that big of a part in the songwriting process anyway (at least that's what the official Petrucci/Portnoy announcements seem to indicate). Not coincidentally, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence rocks harder and is simultaneously less cheesy than anything DT's done since Awake.
  17. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    I noticed that YYZ sounds so cheesy 80's.The bass playing is awesome in it,and the drum solo is very good,but it just sound so cheesy.

    Anyone else think so?
  18. Captain Awesome

    Captain Awesome

    Apr 2, 2001
    I guess it didn't work for Metallica. :D
  19. If I'm not mistaken, Metallica's hair was never bigger than in 1988, when the turgid ...And Justice For All was released. They began to show signs of teasing at that time, also.

    The model obviously needs to be revised every so often, or altered to account for changes in public perception. Perhaps it could be expectations-augmented, like a Phillips curve--as perceptions of what exactly is too damn much hair go up or down, the hair-cheese curve shifts accordingly.
  20. That I agree with. I really hated their long hair. Petrucci looks way more modern, and even *gasp* sexier than he did with his long flowing dark hair.
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