Like a lot of musicians, I tend to wear my influences on my sleeve. I learned to play the bass by listening to and playing along with my favourite bass players. Many different players have influenced me and I am always looking out for the next bass line that “I wish I had written.” Here are a few with links so that you can hear what I mean. Enjoy!
Sting – When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around
The main line in this song is relatively simple, but it is clever and how it is played is also very important. I wouldn’t call Sting an “underrated” bassist but I definitely think that his work with The Police demands more consideration by listeners.
Chris Squire – Siberian Khatru
Bombastic, intelligent, spiritual, complex, dynamic. This was one of the first Yes songs that I ever heard and the one that instantly became my favourite. I just listened to this song over and over again and I was really pleased when I figured it out myself when I was about 20. Squire uses strummed chords, artificial and natural harmonics, and string skipping with a pick all in the one song. Squire continues to be one of my favourite players and one of my bigger influences, and this is probably my favourite rock bass line of all time.
Simon Gallup – Torture
This was the song that finally convinced me that I needed to buy a bass and learn how to play. Simon’s trebly tone was something I had not heard before (back in 1998), and his melodic playing was something that I was drawn to. When I was younger, there were really only two Cure albums that I got into, but this album and Disintegration were both very influential.
Colin Greenwood – Weird Fishes
One of the more underrated bassists in modern music, Colin Greenwood has been a later influence on my playing. He is excellent at choosing which notes to play and where to play them, as well as when not to play. This song is an excellent example of that skill and it also showcases his signature melodicism (is that a word?), which allows his bass lines to shine through yet still appropriately blend in with the rest of the song. Something I am working towards!