BASS IN YOUR FACE: Isolated bass parts of Sonic Youth, Rolling Stones, The Police, Rick James & more

Poor bass players. In the hierarchy of rockbandland, even the mercenary backup singers get more love. Like a drummer, a crummy one can wreck your band, but unlike a drummer, even a superb bass player can fade into the background, seeming for all the world like a mere utility placeholder while the singer, guitarist and drummer all get laid. Before the ‘80s, the bass player was perceived as the would-be guitarist who couldn’t make the cut and got offered a reduction in strings as a consolation prize. Since the ‘80s, bass has been the “easy” instrument a singer hands off to his girlfriend to get her in the band.

It’s all a crock of utter shit. A good bass player is your band’s spine, and is a gift to be cherished.

An excellent online resource for bassists,, has links to an abundance of isolated bass tracks, from celebrated solos to deep cuts to which few casual fans give much thought. There are, of course, song-length showoffs like “YYZ” and “Roundabout,” but there are unassuming gems to be found too. Check out how awesome Tony Butler’s part is in Big Country’s kinda-eponymous debut single. It wanders off into admirable weirdness, but when the time comes to do the job of propelling the song forward, this shit is rocket fuel.


Though Sting has been engaged in a long-running battle with Bono to see who can be the most tedious ass to have released nothing of worth in over 25 years, listening to his playing in the Police serves as an instant reminder of why we even know who he is. The grooves in “Message In A Bottle” are famously inventive and satisfying, but even his work on more straightforward stuff like “Next To You” slays. You can practically hear the dirt on his strings in these.



Funny, as much of a trope as “chick bass player” has become, loads of time spent searching yielded almost no isolated tracks from female bassists. Which is ridiculous. The only one I found was Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, heard here on “Teenage Riot.” It takes a bit to work up to speed. Taken on its own, it’s a minimal, meditative, and quite lovely drone piece.


Here’s a gem—a live recording of Billy Cox, from Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, eating “All Along The Watchtower” for breakfast.


This one was a revelation—the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman on “Gimme Shelter.” I knew this was a great bass part, but there’s stuff in here I’ve never heard before, and it’s excellent. I should have been paying more attention.


But is there “Super Freak?” Oh yeah, there’s “Super Freak.”


I searched mightily to find isolated bass tracks from Spinal Tap’s gloriously excessive ode to both low-ends, “Big Bottom,” before I realized there would be absolutely no point in doing that. So I leave you with the unadulterated real thing.

Previously on DM: The incomparable James Jamerson: isolated

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
RIP P-Funk bass whizz Cordell ‘Boogie’ Mosson

Boogie Mosson in some awesome ‘Motor Booty Affair’ garb
Thanks to commenter Daniel Kalmann for alerting me to this sad news last week via Facebook. On April 18th, Cordell ‘Boogie’ Mosson, bassist and integral player in the Parliafunkadelicment Thang, funked off this mortal coil and ascended to that Mothership in the sky.

Mosson was originally introduced to Parilament-Funkadelic by way of the band Untied Soul, who were signed to Detroit label Westbound in the early 70s, and ended up being produced by George Clinton. Clinton poached both Mosson and Gary “Daiperman” Shider from United Soul, and even re-recorded some of United Soul’s tracks on later Funkadelic albums. Bootsy wasn’t the only bass whizz in the band(s), from the mid-70s it was Mosson who became Bootsy’s permanent replacement. That’s another very important tentacle of the funktapus now gone.

Over at George Clinton’s official website, P-Funk keyboardist Danny Bedrosian has left this tribute:

CORDELL “BOOGIE” MOSSON, the ultimate FUNK theologian, one of P-FUNK’s most pivotal and vital musicians (bass, guitar, drums and vocals), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, and one of my teachers, has passed away today. We lost more information, lessons, and vast rare funk knowledge today, then most learn in a lifetime. Much like the last of the samurai, the end of the era of the pyramid builders, and the passing of an age, vast sums of knowledge are now lost. For those few of us to have studied under him (Boog’s tenure with P-funk starts in 1971, and his Plainfield NJ roots go back much further, giving him preponderance in the P-Funk histories), we must go on with the knowledge we have been imparted by Boog’s far seeing vision of funk theory. Boog’s knowledge and understanding of Rhythm, the ONE, the Pocket, and the FEEL of P-FUNK, was UNMATCHED. We in Parliament-Funkadelic, wish to send our prayers to Boog’s family, and with extreme sadness, we say our worldly goodbye to our brother, our uncle, our friend, our teacher, our valued, trusted, master of musical expression: CORDELL “BOOGIE” MOSSON (October 16th, 1952 – April 18th, 2013)

Funk in Peace brother!

Cordell “Boogie” Mosson on Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Hazel and Michael Hampton (2004):

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

‘One Nation Under A Groove’: a crash course in the history of Parliament-Funkadelic

Mothership Connection: Paliament-Funkadelic live in Houston, 1976 (full show)


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Never Mind the School Tie: Can you guess who this darling little boy grew up to be?
06:56 am


bass players

Just look at that sweet lil’ punim!!!


Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment