Blog 24: Notes from the low-end
Variety, change, something new, these are watchwords for David Bowie’s musical career and as the bass player in the band it’s the variety in the music that appeals to me. Previously, I’ve played in cover bands doing blues and rock and the bass parts in those genres can be a bit limited, so when I spotted Allan’s advert for the band, my first thought was that as a big fan of the Ziggy album, joining a Bowie tribute would be exciting. I got in touch and went along to the first rehearsal, keeping in mind that I was adamant that I wouldn’t be wearing any Spandex 😂. I was intrigued when Allan told me that our David Bowie was female! Great, I thought…. that’ll be different and interesting, bring it on!
Having not really studied the bass lines to any of his songs I was delighted to discover the plethora of interesting bass lines there are to play.
My first ‘favourite’ is the line to Heroes….check out the run up from low E on the section under ‘oh we can be heroes…….just for one day’ (headphones on – https://youtu.be/lXgkuM2NhYI ). I love playing this song as for me it’s part of what being a bass player in a great band is all about, driving the song along while providing the platform for everyone else to do their thing. As we’ve expanded our set (it’s over 40 songs now) I’ve discovered a few more iconic bass parts which I feel really make the song. Changes….a fabulous song where the bass is playing a lead guitar part (almost, I’m not a massive fan of bass solos), Ashes to Ashes….who doesn’t love a bit of slap-a-da-bass, China Girl….the interplay between the bass and guitar parts in this song is fabulous, Sound & Vision….lovely melodic bass part on this song with a nice jazz-funk vibe. Then there’s Lazarus where the bass part has a definite lead element to it and provides the foundation for the sax, guitar, and vocal parts.
I guess the most instantly recognisable bass part is to the iconic ‘Under Pressure’…. I bet you’re all now humming it to yourselves! This is the only one where I start on my own after Allan’s high-hat intro, so I’m very aware of not dropping the ball when we play this live. After the first stanza, I drop down from playing the riff in the upper register (often referred to as ‘the dusty end’ on a bass) which launches the song into the main part and is really satisfying for me to play.
One of my favourites and one of the most intricate is the bass part to Criminal World….here’s my favourite cover version by Michel Roth https://youtu.be/qSvxeFo1ctQ … watch ‘til the end and give Michel the ‘thumbs up’….one of my little rituals when I watch this video (welcome to the world of a bassist….we’re a weird bunch). I’ve had no luck getting this onto the set list so far so if all you lovely people can start requesting this one then I’ve got a chance of playing this one live.
So that’s a little bit of an insight into my role as the bass player in this wonderful band. I write this just a week after our gig supporting The Bootleg Beatles at the Arboretum which was an absolute blast for us, and we were overwhelmed by all the lovely comments we got from the audience and from The BB’s themselves. When those who come to watch tell us they’ve enjoyed our show it makes it all worthwhile and when experienced professional musicians choose to compliment us then we know we’re doing something right.
So enough of my musings, we’re looking forward to seeing you at our next gig in Jane’s hometown of Ilkeston on September 4th at the Latch Lifter
…..and the band