Monday, February 29, 2016

Bass Bits #4 - Psychedelia

Catching up for a bit  now with my own copious bass back(b)log....

(but keep the suggestions coming if you got em)


Something about bass playing on records in the mid-Sixties... in the years just before the Heavy Period. (Excuse me).

Something to do with the state of art with effects, amplification, the studio? For the bass is usually quite a compact presence on records. Instead of being "wide" or thickly textured, the bass attracts attention through melody and mobility.

Hard to pick a specific track for Love so I'm plonking down the whole album. Ken Forssi.

But if you're a hurry then just give "You Set The Scene" a listen.

Tempting to plonk down the whole of Da Capo too - well, except for the execrable "Revelation" of course, which is the whole of side 2 - but here will limit myself just to "The Castle" for its wonderfully jaunty 'n' nimble, yet also poignant and mysterious, bass. Forssi, again.

Contradicting what I wrote above about compact presence - the exception that proves, okay? - just check the girth of the bass on this. The rumble of it.

Chris Hillman's playing for The Byrds elsewhere does, however, largely fit the clean, compact, agile thing I was talking about. 

Love the crispness of the sound overall on this track.

Sixties rock bass sound  probably has something to do with how engineers and producers mixed records in those days too - the bass less prominent and thrusting, the drums mixed down.  Something that later remasterings for box sets and and reissues has adapted - boosted - for the modern bass-sensitized, bass-greedy ear.  (The original technicians were mixing and mastering for vinyl, too, whereas compact disc can put over bigger and sharper contoured and deeper body-penetrative bass).

Another beautiful, winding 'n' chiming bass performance: 

The group's playing is telepathic.

This album takes me back to '83  - that's when I would have first heard Younger Than Yesterday (and Forever Changes). Borrowed in both cases from Steve Micalef's legendary collection. 

I remember us - the Monitor crew, back then the Margin crew - sitting in Hilary's room absolutely spellbound, silent through the entire album, eyes shining...

Hadn't known music like this existed...   Whole areas of history were locked off in those days, in a way that is hard to understand now...  But which made discovery and revelation possible. 

For psychedelic bass, I was going to do "Rain" - while equally expecting many others to pip me to the bass post. Which they did. 

In its stead, "Beeside" by Tintern Abbey. Gorgeous, all of it, but here what counts is the part played by Stuart Mackay

Love the bass-detonations on this - courtesy Roger Waters

Enjoyably lackadaisical:

Hard to pick a Noel Redding. Perhaps this one  - most likely my favorite Jimi Hendrix Experience tune alongside "I Don't Live Today". 

Hang on a minute, there doesn't appear to be any proper studio versions of JHE tunes on  YouTube! They've been BLOCKED.

There's only cover versions (and no I'm not going to play Stevie Ray Vaughan's version, no thank you) or peculiar fucked-around-with versions.

This 45 rpm not 33 rpm version does actually let you hear what the bass is doing

Digression - a curiosity: Jaco paying tribute to both Jimi and Noel simultaneously?

Back to Sixties bass...

Now at this point - late psychedelia starting to turn a bit heavy - the bass is getting big and bulgy and wide and sprawling  - and sort of colorized. Nice job, Ronnie Lane

This next isn't really psychedelic, but it is pure rolling glory. To isolate the bass is both hard to do with such a gorgeous smushed-together sound  - and sort of goes against the whole spirit and feel of the song.  Still, hats off to Pete Quaife for the rollicking bass.