If you could only choose the bass tones from three albums to describe yourself, which three albums would you choose?
Here are my picks:
- The Beatles – The Beatles (1968)
I’ve long held that the greatest achievement in the history of humankind is the bass tone achieved on The 1968 album The Beatles, which is also known as The White Album. Most of the bass parts on this album are played by Paul McCartney, but at least a few songs feature John Lennon or George Harrison on bass. McCartney is of course famous for playing a Hofner violin bass, but the most notable bass parts on this album are actually played on a Fender Jazz Bass. To my ears, the bass was pushed through a Marshall half-stack instead of being fed directly into the board. Of course, I don’t really have any way to prove that, but I’m not sure how else someone could achieve that great biting, angry tone. The bass tone is great throughout this whole album, but “Glass Onion,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and “Yer Blues” all stand out as having just otherworldly bass tones.
- The Band – Rock of Ages (1972)
For much of his tenure with The Band, Rick Danko famously played a fretless Ampeg bass, which requires a tremendous amount of precision. Considering he sang lead or harmony on practically every song in their catalogue, the task suddenly strikes me as Herculean. Danko’s bouncy fretless playing is highlighted throughout this tremendous live album in perfect marriage with Levon Helm’s drumming and Allen Toussaint’s horn charts. And Danko’s tone here is *kisses fingers.*
- Joni Mitchell – Mingus (1979)
Mingus is never mentioned as one of Joni’s best albums, and the bass tones on it are often cheesy-adjacent. However, there’s a quality to both the album and the bass tones that evokes that disorienting liminal space between wakefulness and sleep. I’ve never heard anything like this album or the bass tones therein. The bass is played by the legendary Jaco Pastorius. I’m not sure what type of bass he plays on this album, but it must be a five or six-string to achieve some of those notes that are lower than the low-E of a standard 4-string bass.
Post the three albums whose bass tones perfectly describe you in the comments.