Pat Badger

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Perhaps it’s because they did so many things so well: funk metal, hard rock, pop-balladry, and permutations thereof that Extreme was denied the superstar career they so richly deserved.

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Bassist Pat Badger – on traditional 4 and extended range – seamlessly shifted gears as the music warranted: slapping, picking, and plucking.

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Badger’s tone exuded both depth and clarity – which afforded Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt the platform to strut their stuff. They had they hooks, they had the looks, and they had the chops…go figure!   

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Greg Norton

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Giants of the indie - alternative genre, and to my ears, one of the great American rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time, Husker Du’s sonic meld of angst and song-craft continues to influence rockers well after their demise in 1988. 

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Akin to the best trios in rock and jazz, the triumvirate of Bob Mould, Grant Hart, and bassist Greg Norton created a signature collective sound that expanded the art-form even though there were only three of them! 

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The mustachioed Norton was a supreme pocket player, supporting his mates with passages that held the bottom and served the songs.    


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Following his tenure in Husker Du, Greg opened a restaurant, and nowadays works in various ensembles featuring indie rockers of note.

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U2 / You're The Best Thing About Me


Don’t let Mr. Hewson’s enhanced barnet fool yer; U2 remain a formidable modern rock music entity. Despite the forced fury of No Line on the Horizon (2009) and Songs of Innocence (2014) Adam Clayton’s bass work continues to progress rather impressively. On the debut single from Songs of Experience (2017), Clayton skillfully employs the entire range of his instrument, vacillating from eighth-note pocket grooves with ever-so-slight harmonic movement to robust unison motifs with the former David Evans.  


Pink Floyd / Obscured by Clouds


“The memories of a man of his old age, are the deeds of a man in his prime….”

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One of the Floyd’s decidedly obscure sides, the film soundtrack Obscured by Clouds (1972) emerges as an intriguing and rather enjoyable harbinger to Dark Side of the Moon (1973).  

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It’s been noted that David Gilmour maneuvered various passages throughout the Floyd canon. On this platter, be it Roger Waters (who cut fine upper register motifs on Syd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) or David – behold the exquisite countermelodies on such cuts as “Stay,” and “Wot’s Uh the Deal,” and the trad rock riffage beneath “The Gold It’s In The…”  - all of which compliment Mr. Mason’s slow-as-molasses percussive disposition and Richard Wright’s flawless plinkery. 


Rod Stewart / Atlantic Crossing

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Don’t let the glossy, glam artwork deceive ya’ll: Atlantic Crossing (1975) was, to my ears, Sir Rod’s most soulful slab.

David Hood

David Hood

Duck Dunn

Duck Dunn

With David Hood, Duck Dunn, Bob Glaub, and Lee Sklar helming the bass chair, the rooster hair rocker realized his rhythm and blues influences at Criteria (Miami), Hi Recording (Memphis), and Muscle Shoals.

Bob Glaub

Bob Glaub

Lee Sklar

Lee Sklar

Dig the descending Maj 10th motifs on Danny Whitten’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About It,” the upper register bass melody in Rod and Jessie Ed Davis’ “Alright for an Hour,” the unison groove for Rod’s “All in the Name of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and the rolling rhythms of Rod and Steve Cropper’s “Stone Cold Sober,” to cite a few. 

Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart

And in addition to the above referenced players, the other cats on the sessions include Nigel Olsson, The Memphis Horns, Al Jackson Jr., and Booker T. Jones!   

Gregg Allman / Southern Blood


To many of my generation, Gregory Lenoir Allman and his band of Brothers forged a lasting soundtrack to our lives. And for many musicians of my era, the Allmans along with their numerous exemplary solo endeavors, set the bar for excellence as improvisers, ensemble players, composers, interpreters, and recording artists. They became as important as the blues icons who influenced them, and whose music they brought to the masses.   


Longtime Gregg Allman Band bassist Ron Johnson (Warren Haynes, Les Nubians) keeps it warm and in-the-pocket for the late, truly great singer’s fitting farewell waxed at FAME Studios amid the ghost of brother Duane.

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Akin to Gregg’s timeless solo bow Laid Back (1973), the grooves are slow, swampy, and swingin’. Produced by bassist Don Was, Johnson glides through the changes – dig Ron’s growling Fender resonance on Gregg’s heartfelt reading of Lowell George’s “Willin.”  


Johnson fortifies his fallen bandleader though poignant renditions of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter’s “Black Muddy River,” Bob’s “Going, Going, Gone,” Jackson Browne’s “Song for Adam,” and Tim Buckley’s “Once I Was.” The best bassists tend to let the songs play themselves…and that’s exactly what Ron Johnson does in the service of one of rock’s greatest vocalists.


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Holger Czukay

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A recording artist, producer, composer, collaborator (Brian Eno, Jah Wobble, David Sylvian, The Edge, and the Eurythmics, among many others), video artist, humorist, and most notably co-founder of the experimental rock ensemble Can, bassist / multi-instrumentalist Holger Czukay‘s canon embraced ambient, pop, jazz, rock, avant-garde, classical, folk, and permutations thereof.

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A cat who could work the pocket or take it outside (“Two Bass Shuffle” – from On the Way to the Peak of Normal -1981), Czukay also pioneered sampling in the pre-digital era.     

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Paolo Nutini / Caustic Love


Go figure why UK artists oft times remake, remodel, and reinvent American soul better than we do nowadays. Perhaps it’s because they rely less on computers, and more on human players! Scottish sand-and-glue crooner / heartthrob Paolo Nutini waxes a new-school gem with an old-school vibe anchored by bassist Mike McDaid, who goes plectrum ala Carol Kaye. Great grooves and countermelodies abound - dig “Cherry Blossom,” Fashion” (with Janelle Monae), and “Scream (Funk My Life Up)” to cite a few.  


Reinie Press


“When it's good for you, babe, and you're feeling alright, well, you just roll over, and turn out the light, and you don't bring me flowers anymore…”

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A classically trained pianist / bassist and a graduate of North Texas State School of Music, if you’ve attended a Neil Diamond show or purchased one of his albums/singles in the past 45 years, then you’ve heard Reinie Press.

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A first call LA session cat on upright and electric, Mr. Press waxed several seminal sides with artists including: Babs Streisand, Kim Carnes, Claudine Longet, David Cassidy, Tim Buckley, Larry Carlton, 5th Dimension, Art Garfunkel, Carole Bayer Sager, and Engelbert Humperdinck, to cite a select few.  

KNOW YOUR BASS PLAYER SEMINAL SIDES: Coming off the success of A Star is Born, Babs'  1977 follow-up slab makes overtures  to the then current pop landscape with mainstream rock ("Don't Believe What You Read," "Cabin Fever"), singer-songwriter ("New York State of Mind"), torch song balladry ("My Heart Belongs to Me"), and disco ("I Found Love"). First call LA session ace Reinie Press (Tim Buckley, Neil Diamond, Larry Carlton, Sparks, Carole Bayer Sager, Art Garfunkel) is fashionably up in the mix, plying formidable grooves amid the sappy string arrangements to afford Ms. Streisand a rare soulful disposition.


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Doug Wimbish


“I’m not just a bass player, I’m a sound-system…”


Among the most versatile and accomplished players ever to pick up the instrument, Douglas Arthur Wimbish’s extraordinary body of work as a bandmember (Tackhead, Living Color)...


...collaborator (Jungle Funk, Head Fake), composer, producer, sideman (Sugarhill Records), session cat (Ron Wood, Seal, Mick Jagger, Mos Def, Billy Idol, Bernard Fowler, Al Green, Madonna, Annie Lennox, among others)...


...and solo recording artist spans funk, punk, classic rock, metal, hip-hop, rock, blues, soul, reggae and countless variations thereof. 


An exemplary soloist, pocket player, and melodic foil, if you see Doug’s name on the marquee or record credits – it’s worth checking out.   


John Lennon & Yoko Ono / Stripped Down

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Directed Sir Winston O’Boogie to Tony Levin “they say you're a good player, just don't play too many notes…” Counting Sir Paul, Klaus, Gary Van Scyoc, Gordon Edwards, Tony, and Dee Murray and Jim Pons on live recordings – every Lennon track ever waxed was anchored by a master. Though it was great to hear John back in action in November ‘80, I’m not sure how Double Fantasy would have gone down had a tragic fate not intervened. Yet Stripped Down (2010) reveals Levin as an exemplary song player who skillfully used rhythm and space to make the songs stronger. Note that Levin did not imitate any of his predecessors, and, in tandem with Earl Slick and a crack team of NYC studio cats, forged a musical aura on Double Fantasy that still resonates as modern.     

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Bill Wyman / Monkey Grip and Stone Alone

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A busman’s holiday done right - twice!

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Granted, the former William Perks’ vocal and songwriting skills were not up to the Glimmer Twins’ ranks. Yet, on his first two solo slabs, Bill enlists famous friends aplenty – Leon Russell, Dr. John, Clydie King, Joe Lala, Dallas Taylor, Joe Walsh, Lowell George, Al Kooper, and future Stone Ronnie Wood, to cite a few – to wax thoroughly enjoyable genre exercises traversing blues, country, folk, jazz, funk, rockabilly, glam, and permutations thereof.

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Revel in Wyman’s sparse pocket grooves on “What a Blow,” “It’s a Wonder,” and “Soul Satisfying.”  Leaving no stone unturned, to my ears, Monkey Grip (1974) and Stone Alone (1976) reveal the oldest Stone to be the wisest and most diverse Stone…            

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Wings / Red Rose Speedway

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As a bassist, Paul does no wrong!   

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Lambasted upon its release as Alladin Sane, Houses of the Holy, Quadrophenia, Mott, Billion Dollar Babies, Dark Side of the Moon and Greetings from Asbury Park made their mark, Sir Paul’s sophomore Wings slab had some fine four-string forays despite the rather light subject matter. “Big Barn Bed,” “Get on the Right Thing,” “Loup (1st Indian on the Moon),” “Hold Me Tight / Lazy Dynamite / Hands of Love/ Power Cut” all harken his latter-day Beatles bass wizardry. 

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And if you grabbed the preview picture single “My Love” as I did at Sam Goody in April ’73, you got the killer b-side “The Mess” underpinned by thundering Macca thumpery aplenty.  

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Jahn Xavier and the Bowerytones / Yes You

Charles Roth

Charles Roth

Hear ye bass brethren and rockers of ages – the pocket is where it’s at! Need a bass player when there ain’t none? Find a drummer. A life lesson I’ve learned is that percussion purveyors of note are oft times notable bassists. Dig tub thumper / multi-instrumentalist Charles Roth, credited as C.P. Roth -bass, vocals, musical director, Sherpa on Jahn Xavier (another bassist) and the Bowerytones’ gritty and glorious song-cycle.

Jahn Xavier and Charles Roth as photographed by Andrew Gardner

Jahn Xavier and Charles Roth as photographed by Andrew Gardner

Roth rumbles with deep tone that punctuates Xavier’s pained/joyful libretto whilst plying motifs that accentuate the almighty groove. Great songs make for great bass lines – yes, you yet get both on Yes You (2103)!         

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The Who / By Numbers

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An overlooked gem in the ‘Oo canon, By Numbers (1975) dropped amid the singer-songwriter zeitgeist and the onset of punk. With Pete in a personal funk, Moon on the perpetual loon, and Daltrey disinterested, it was up to The Ox to bolster his mates – which he did with gobsmacking gusto and virtuoso performances on every cut by way of his signature hammer-on technique, chords, counter-melodies, and glissandos. His solo break in “Dreaming From the Waist Up” stands among Entwistle’s greatest performances on record. And John’s cover art, to me, is the best of any Who slab. Gear heads note that John used a Rickenbacker 4001 8-string on “Success Story,” and as far as I know, he also utilized an Alembic Series 1, and the Peter Cook “Lightning Bolt” bass on the other tracks.       

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Maria Muldaur / Southern Winds

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Five years after she sent your camel to bed, session ace Scott Edwards brought a decidedly funkier edge to the artistry of the folksy former Ms. Maria Grazia Rosa Domenica D'Amato on Southern Winds (1978).

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Though the strings may be a bit too sweet to some ears, the grit and the grooves dig deep, especially on a trio of Leon Russell penned tunes “Make Love to the Music,” “Say You Will,” and “Joyful Noise,” and J.J. Cale’s “Cajun Moon.”   

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DiVinyls / I Touch Myself

The question is, how could I NOT touch myself after viewing the video clip of the now departed alt-rock diva Christina Amphlett dramatizing her band’s #1 hit in the year 1990? Directed by Michael Bay, the bassist on the track is none other than session ace and former American Idol judge Randy Jackson, who plies nifty walking lines in the choruses and a rapturous countermelody when the song breaks down before the outro.    

Cher / If I Could Turn Back Time

KNOW YOUR BASS PLAYER JUMPS THE SARKASIAN: Session ace John Pierce anchored this Diane Warren penned hit though I’m not sure if that’s him in the clip.

I maintain strong recollections of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, Neil and Buzz’s lunar steps, Nelson Mandela's release from prison …however, to my eyes, those vivid video (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) images pale in comparison to the revelations of “If I Could Turn Back Time” on MTV (1989).  

I still weep uncontrolably at the one- minute mark wherein Cher straddles the shaft of the USS Missouri’s rising gun turret.  

Miles Davis / Jack Johnson

"I'm Jack Johnson, heavyweight champion of the world. I'm black. They never let me forget it. I'm black all right. I'll never let them forget it." Motifs appropriated from James Brown and Sly Stone. Teo Macero marshals Herbie into the studio after the keyboardist had made a grocery run on East 30th Street and stopped by not expecting to work. Awaiting their bandleader, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, and 19-year-old bassist Michael Henderson commence to jamming. Chord changes go out the window. Funk noir grooves abound. Macero pastes it all together, including snippets from In A Silent Way (1969).  Miles had warned that he would make the greatest jazz rock album ever, and to my ears, he certainly delivered on A Tribute to Jack Johnson (1971).            

801 Live

The Fender Precision headstock album cover image says it all!

Captured at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall 3 September 1976, 801 Live is a veritable showcase for bassist Bill MacCormick, who makes his grand entrance on the first downbeat of “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Messrs. Phil Manzanera, Brian Eno, Simon Phillips, Francis Monkman, Lloyd Watson, and MacCormick forge a matchless mélange of art and prog rock on one of the greatest live slabs of any era in rock.

Mac is up in the mix, plying funky grooves, glittering grace notes, and cool countermelodies with an edgy tone that cuts through at every opportunity.

 Pity that 801 only waxed one live and one studio slab together, though you can hear this line-up in various configurations on select Eno and Mananzera sides.