Top 20 Rock ‘n’ Roll Basslines

Posted in: Rock by Daniel Shaw on June 5th, 2008 | 1 Comment

A countdown spanning five decades and paying homage to the best players of the bass guitar in the wide tradition that is rock “n” roll.

20) Dazed and Confused – Led Zeppelin (John Paul-Jones)

An iconic bass intro for a song that loses little of its iconic status even on the record, where it is bereft of violin-bow antics. Jones later immaculately holds together Page’s solo sequence.

19) Trampled Underfoot- Led Zeppelin (John-Paul Jones)

Simple, and often obscured by the most persistent of Page riffs and Plant’s best sequence of wailed innuendos, but this simplicity is its genius.

18) I Saw Her Standing There – The Beatles (Paul McCartney )

Never mind the fact that it isn’t an original part, it walks at the perfect times for this song.

17) YYZ – Rush (Geddy Lee)

The first complex line on the list; Lee harmonises with Lifeson’s guitar with the crispest of bass sounds.

16) How Much Are They? – Jah Wobble (Jah Wobble)

With a sound thick enough for wallowing, as one would in mud, the Wobster provides both solidity and melody in a Krautrock-new wavey sort of way.

15) Hysteria – Muse (Chris Wolstenholme)

As melodic as it is fast, the bass intro kickstarts the song that arguably started Muse’s rise to their current status – a band that can and will sell out Wembley Stadium.

14) Velmwind – Ozric Tentacles (Vinni Shillito)

Keyboards shimmer and the guitar provides a simple, if unusual, sort of melody, but the driving bass gives a sense that the song is constantly moving forward – at speed, but also under complete control.

13) This Charming Man – The Smiths (Andy Rourke)

Following the rhythm of Marr’s superb guitar part, Rourke pounds out a bass melody that inspired a decade of musicians, and walks superbly as Morrissey explains that “he knows so much about these things….”

12) My Generation – The Who (John Entwhistle)

During the verses and chorus Entwhistle’s bass is insistent and has enough power to keep West London lit up for a great many years. During his solo sequence, it is flash and funky, before the power returns. Classic.

11) Drunkship of Lanterns – The Mars Volta (Flea)

Rarely does Omar Rodriguez-Lopez indulge in simple rhythms, but Flea finds a (relatively) simple path between the latinesque drums, fusion guitar and Cedric’s self-testing of the peaks of his vocal range.

10) Nowhere Fast – The Smiths (Andy Rourke)

The song is notable for all four parts, but the bass is constantly moving, and continues as such even when Marr’s part becomes more complex. The bass also provides half of the sound for the classic intro.

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One Response to “Top 20 Rock ‘n’ Roll Basslines”
  • Sean June 25th, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Where’s “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac? Billie Jean by Michael Jackson? Love Buzz by Shocking Blue? Money by Pink Floyd?

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