I can't say that I've ever liked a band solely because they had a good bass player, or disliked a band because of a bad one. I think you have to try really hard to mess up a bassline. Sid Vicious's excuse was that he didn't know how to play, but that's a terrible one, because Steve Jones could have just shown him what to play. He could have mastered all of their first album in a week, most likely (If he wasn't high on something all the time).
However, I have never heard of someone not liking a band based on there not being a bassist. I mean, a good acoustic player will play a bassline under a melody, and the White Stripes (who are no more), the Black Keys (Who have a bassist now, apparently), and Nico Vega normally have the guitarist or even the drummer playing some sort of bass or low part to fill in space. I guess you don't like solo acoustic players, either?
The touring band has a bassist and a keys player. In the studio, it doesn't really matter anymore, because of overdubs and because DA plays bass and keys - so on their current studio records, you're hearing more than just vox, guit, and drums, anyway. This is akin to how R.E.M. has been technically made up of only three members for years now (until their recent split), but in effect, drums were still a part of their sound - they had a touring drummer, and they used drummers in the studio.
I understand what you mean, Clifton. I used to think the same thing. Bass always played such a major melodic role in the bands I loved like Zeppelin, REM, and The Beatles (they all had bassists who play melodic lines and did more than just play a root note under a chord), that I had no interest in hearing a band without a bassist. Also, it seemed like the lack of a bassist was the specific reason *why* they said the band was good - "You gotta hear 'em, man; they don't even have a bassist!" - and that made no sense to me. However, when I finally opened up my ears to the Black Keys, and then the White Stripes (I went backwards), I was pleasantly surprised. I realized it's not about the lack of a bassist - the reason to like or dislike the band shouldn't be based on this - it's simply what they do with what they have to make the music they want to make in their lineup. Not every band needs horns, either, or keys, or two guitarists.
But I understand your trepidation - a solo acoustic gig is something else altogether that would never have a bassist (thus, the term "solo") - but a band in the conventional sense *should* have a bassist, right? Not necessarily - this may be a new accepted lineup, a drums/guitar duo - give 'em a listen.
I probably should have phrased my reply better (not an uncommon occurence!), and re-reading it it comes off a little too harsh. What I should have said was something like, given the way a bassist can completely transform a song (see McCartney, Sting, Entwistle, Squire, Foxton, Watt, Mills, Pastorius, or pick your favorite) I don't see why you would even consider not having a bassist in a band. (I'm talking about rock bands, not really solo acoustic stuff). The bassist covers such a huge part of the sonic spectrum, providing rhythm, harmony, melody, and counter-melody, that it seems kinda weird not to have one. The only reason I could think why you wouldn't have one is because it's a gimmick of some kind, like Rickissippi hinted at above. To me, just cranking the lower end on a guitar doesn't make up for the lack of a bassist. I'll have to give the Black Keys another listen--maybe they realized that they needed a bottom end and added a bassist. But I probably won't listen to the White Stripes--Jack White's personality bugs me too much I couldn't watch "This Might Get Loud" because of him. (BTW--this is my personal opinion of him, and I'm certainly not trying to hurt others' feelings about him. There's probably stuff I listen to that others can't stand!)
The solo acoustic statement was to show that a guitarist can fill in the space of a bass player and play lead and normal rhythm parts. Nico Vega's guitarist plays in a acoustic fashion on electric guitar. If you isolated his part, it would sound like a full, normal song. It's not a ridiculous comparison.
Jack White is overrated. Notice the period after "overrated." Most of the White Stripes material is good, but I cannot stand the Elephant album, nor his solo material. Check out video demos for any fuzz pedal on Youtube, especially ones with octave effects, and there will be some mention of him. I find his lead/octave work on Icky Thump highly annoying, yet he's the new Tom Morello to most young guitarists. I think all of the White/Morello fans have no idea who Adrian Belew is.
I don't think that it's a gimmick not to have a bassist, though. It's hard to find a good bassist these days, because they're either already in a band, or they follow the drumbeat instead of creating their own part. I have only met a few drummers in my life. Since my time in college, I have met ONE. The Doors could never find a suitable bassist, so they toughed it out some session musicians on record. However, I can't name one Doors song where the bass part makes a difference in the song.
Finding a good bassist, drummer, or even a guitarist is not an easy process. I bet the Black Keys and White Stripes did look for a good bass player at some point, but couldn't find one. Do you know how many guitarists I have met? More than I care to say. It used to be that people were inspired to play bass or drums, because they saw a need for it and wanted to play an instrument. Now, most of the guitarists I meet either play really bad rhythm, or want to play "bruuuutal" metal. Do you think they'll switch to bass? It would be too hard on their ego.
The bassists you mention are one in a million each. I doubt Jack White had a Mike Mills or even a John McVie living on his street.
Either way, if they're not your cup of tea, no one can change that. I just hope that people dislike them not because of lack of a bass player, but because of their actual material.
. . . given the way a bassist can completely transform a song (see McCartney, Sting, Entwistle, Squire, Foxton, Watt, Mills, Pastorius, or pick your favorite) I don't see why you would even consider not having a bassist in a band. (I'm talking about rock bands, not really solo acoustic stuff). The bassist covers such a huge part of the sonic spectrum, providing rhythm, harmony, melody, and counter-melody, that it seems kinda weird not to have one.
Totally agree, and again, that was my first thought, as well. For the record, I'm more into the BKs than the WSs, but I have retreated a bit on my earlier, harsh position - that I didn't want to hear them and wouldn't like them simply because they don't have a bassist. I agree with Ain't that this was a short-sighted reason, but we all make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. There's also a regional band around here called Rooster Blues that is a two piece guitar-drums duo of brothers (and they don't play any blues), and they're terrific. Opened my eyes.
Jack White's personality bugs me too much I couldn't watch "This Might Get Loud" because of him. (BTW--this is my personal opinion of him, and I'm certainly not trying to hurt others' feelings about him. There's probably stuff I listen to that others can't stand!)
I felt the same way until I saw IMGL - and then I respected him a good bit. Then I discovered the Raconteurs - albeit late to the party. Wow. Those two records are amazing, top to bottom. I know it's an "all-star" band of sorts, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but still - JW is an important piece of the puzzle. Highly recommend.
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