The Low End Theory: Celebrating This Saturday's "12 Bassists of Christmas" with 12 Great Bass Lines
9) The Beach Boys, "Good Vibrations"
It's unknown which member of the Wrecking Crew actually played this. Some sources credit Carol Kaye. However, our Beach Boys records, including the Smile Sessions double CD, do not include detailed production credits. It's likely, given that "Good Vibrations" was recorded in several studios over a period of months, that several bassists ended up on the final version. Regardless, this is a perfect distillation of Wilson's production sound at the time. The bass sneaks in on the offbeat, weaving its way around the verses, before coming in full strength on the chorus.
10) ESG, "UFO"
Bassist: Deborah Scroggins
Originally known as Emerald, Sapphire and Gold, the four Scroggins sisters (plus friend Tito) emerged from the early-'80s South Bronx. Influenced by the breakbeats they heard in local parks, their version of dance music incorporated bass, percussion, brief lyric snatches and little else. It was sparse, minimal and polyrhythmic enough to get them noticed by the artsy crowd, including the 99 and Factory labels. Factory producer Martin Hannett recorded "UFO" and two other songs in a New Jersey studio, using some extra time left over from an A Certain Ratio session. At its heart was a descending bass riff, which held steady while the drums dropped in and out, and the guitars beamed in from outer space.
11) Black Flag, "Six Pack"
Bassist: Chuck Dukowski
Next to guitarist/founder Greg Ginn, bassist Chuck Dukowski was arguably Black Flag's most essential member. He wrote some of the most powerful songs, including "My War," "American Waste" and "What I See." His blunt, aggressive bass style was the perfect counterpart to Ginn's fractured anti-solos and sculpted noise. "Six Pack" begins with a long, portentous bass solo. The drums and guitar gradually join in, and when the tempo change hits before the first verse, it's like being kicked in the gut.
12) The Who, "My Generation"
Bassist: John Entwistle
Almost too obvious to mention, "My Generation" contains the most famous bass solo in rock history. However, what's less appreciated is how Entwistle plays like a maniac through the entire song. This is especially clear on the instrumental version, which you can hear as a bonus track on the My Generation CD reissue.
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