The Low End Theory: Celebrating This Saturday's "12 Bassists of Christmas" with 12 Great Bass Lines
5) Talking Heads, "Psycho Killer"
Bassist: Tina Weymouth
With her rapid-fire finger-picked style, Weymouth is the engine behind many of Talking Heads' and Tom Tom Club's most recognizable songs. At first, Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love" seemed the obvious choice, with its sunny, bouncy, almost liquid bass line. But ultimately, "Psycho Killer" remains her trademark. Its simple but spooky opening riff evokes unfamiliar footsteps late at night on a dark street.
6) The Beatles, "Taxman"
Bassist: Paul McCartney
Famously, McCartney became the Beatles' bassist not because it was his chosen instrument, but because neither Lennon nor Harrison wanted to give up their guitars. However, he made it his own. Beginning in 1966, his bass lines became more fluid and melodic. Allegedly he'd been strongly influenced by Motown and Stax, but we suspect other "influences" came into play as well. "Taxman" opened Revolver. The Jam later appropriated it for "Start!"
7) A Tribe Called Quest, "Excursions"
Bassist: Mickey Bass
For its second LP, The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest consciously sought to emulate the feel and flow of its members favorite jazz records. The group even went so far as to recruit bassist Ron Carter for a song. "Excursions" is the opening track, and that deep bassline that kicks off the first verse is sampled from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers' 1973 Buhaina LP.
8) Bobby Byrd, "I Know You Got Soul"
Bassist: Fred Thomas
James Brown is, of course, one of the most sampled artists in hip-hop. However, some of his most famous samples are credited to other artists, including his backing bands and sidemen. Consider Lyn Collins' "Think (About It)", whose "yeah! whoo!" break appeared in no less than 788 tracks. Or how about "I Know You Got Soul," which Brown produced for Bobby Byrd in 1971? If it sounds familiar, that's because Eric B. and Rakim used the bass line, as well as the drums and the chorus, for their own song of the same name.
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