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The Funky Bass Book (ed. Bill Leigh)

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I picked up a fascinating book in Head records in Leamington the other week. The Funky Bass Book, edited by Bill Leigh with a foreword by Bootsy Collins. It was only £3, published in 2010. I think they have a link with Fopp so worth looking in there too.

So far I’ve read the first 5 chapters within Part 1 ‘The Funky Founders’. This has covered James Jameson & Motown, The Bassists of James Brown, George Porter & The Meters, Memphis & Muscle Shoals (Southern Studio Soul) and Chuck Rainey (Studio Groover Master). Next up is Bob Babbitt (Motown & Beyond) and then Larry Graham & The Invention of Slap Bass.

After that, Part 2 is ‘Funk Bass Flourishes’ and the final Part 3 is titled ‘Modern Funk Bass’.

 

It makes interesting reading having just finished Stuart Cosgrove’s Harlem ’69, as certainly Part 1 references various musicians that Stuart covers as crossing over with or emerging from Harlem.

 

The structure of the book is to give an introduction to the specific bass player, and then to use quotes from interviews with them. The book is titled as “Bass Player Presents..” and it seems there’s a magazine where all of these interviews initially appeared. They then have a boxed out section of “Deep Cuts” that the artist was involved in, so that you can dig them out and hear their work.

I have to admit to a lot of the technical elements of them talking about how they play go over my head, as I have no musical training whatsoever. For example, Chuck Rainey talks about playing with Big Jay McNeely in his early days: “Up until that point, I had been using a pick - but I wasn’t able to play some of the things I was hearing, so I threw it away and switched to plucking with my thumb: I couldn’t get the accents on my walking lines, and I couldn’t play descending triplets - so I switched to my index finger.”

 

But it’s all a good read (certainly so far). Interesting to read sections like where Chuck Rainey (again) talks about how he was influenced by James Jamerson at a huge concert in Ohio while he (Chuck) was playing with Big Jay McNeely and James Jameson was playing with the Miracles. They hung out together when Jameson moved to L.A. in the early ’70s and Chuck would go round to his house where he’d be cooking and they’d talk shop.

 

Anyway - worth picking up at £3 if you’re able to find it.

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Indeed it is a good read and as you correctly say it is a special publication in conjunction with Bass Player magazine.

I had a large collection at one time of them, the books and magazines, I passed them on to a student of mine probably about fifteen years ago. They were a lot of help to me when I was studying James Jamerson and Motown as they covered quite a lot of the Motown styles, mostly attributed to JJ although a very contentious subject as there were a plethora of players who played on the Motown hits. It also covered insight from many of the great names of the instrument. The books you describe were compiled from articles out of the mags.

Do you play at all? I'm guessing so, I started age 12 and was playing in clubs by 13, rock/blues bands by 15 had a few stabs at getting in the charts in the eighties, came pretty close when on the Polytechnic circuit with the likes of Sisters of Mercy, The Cult, New Model Army, done a fair bit of session work, signed my fair share of non-disclosure contracts! Nowadays at 50+ I play in Cornwall's premier golden oldies cabaret band, there's some pics of my stick and setup in the 'Great photos' thread posted only yesterday. There might be a pic on my profile page too! 

It's been a blast, the race to the bottom, like AC/DC said 'It's a long way to the top if ya wanna rock n roll!'

Best wishes, keep on plucking! :hatsoff2:

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Thanks for the reply - helps explain where the book comes from. As for playing, no I'm afraid not. About 20 years ago I got hold of an old piano aiming to learn but despite lessons and thinking I had the motivation, my pinnacle was a clunky, slow attempt at Elvis' "Wooden Heart" that was more or less the easiest option in the music book I got hold of!

Nice pictures you posted on the other thread; sounds like you've had a huge range of experience playing and great to hear you still do.

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Posted (edited)

does the book give any insight as to how r and b bass developed from jazz?

Edited by geeselad
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:)

 

 

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5 hours ago, geeselad said:

does the book give any insight as to how r and b bass developed from jazz?

There are certainly plenty of references to the individual bass players having jazz backgrounds (James Jameson being one).

If, unlike me, you understand music then I suspect that you'll be able to make sense of some of the technical explanations about how certain players would  introduce things like Jerry Jemmott, playing on B.B. King's "The Thrill is Gone." They perhaps do explain links between jazz, blues, R&B etc : "One of the nuances I used was hammering from the chromatic approach note by note up to the root or the 5th for a smooth, legato motion" (and the text adds that Herb Lovelle's kick drum matches the two eighth-notes Jerry plays on one.

The only bit of that that I think I understand is the one, very helpfully covered by Geeselad's posting of Bootsy's Basic Funk Formula.

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1 hour ago, seano said:

There are certainly plenty of references to the individual bass players having jazz backgrounds (James Jameson being one).

If, unlike me, you understand music then I suspect that you'll be able to make sense of some of the technical explanations about how certain players would  introduce things like Jerry Jemmott, playing on B.B. King's "The Thrill is Gone." They perhaps do explain links between jazz, blues, R&B etc : "One of the nuances I used was hammering from the chromatic approach note by note up to the root or the 5th for a smooth, legato motion" (and the text adds that Herb Lovelle's kick drum matches the two eighth-notes Jerry plays on one.

The only bit of that that I think I understand is the one, very helpfully covered by Geeselad's posting of Bootsy's Basic Funk Formula.

What he means is that he went from note to note in the progression by playing all the notes in the chromatic scale rather than playing pentatonically or playing in modes...

Jazz tends to be played chromatically and uses passing notes that may be Major or Minor in tonality depending on what the other instruments are passing through either Major, Minor or any combination once you've added in the Augmented and Diminished and Suspended chords...

Blues and R n B tends to played from the gut using simple Roots, Fourths and Fifths, and is more about the feel than the notes played. Blues and R n B are easy whereas Jazz becomes a bit harder because of the Maths...

If all this sounds a bit convoluted and high-brow, it is, after all if you're gonna talk about music with people who don't know anything about the theory, say in an interview, you can't simply state that you 'only play the notes that sound good, and leave out the bum ones', of course playing bum notes is one of the few pleasures left in music once you get to public performance level, it keeps the other band members awake, just as messing with the time signature keeps the drummer on his (or her in my case) toes! The audience are mostly oblivious that these mind games are going on of course...

In short when musicians talk about the craft they usually talk the biggest pile of s***e you've ever heard. I never do it nor listen to them analysing it, 'analysis' contains the word 'anal' btw! 

Way more interesting is the twinkle in the ladies eyes when they come up and ask you for one of your signed photos, which reminds me must get another 100 batch printed up as mine are running low!:hatsoff2:

 

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Thanks Ricky! 

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4 hours ago, BabyBoyAndMyLass said:

What he means is that he went from note to note in the progression by playing all the notes in the chromatic scale rather than playing pentatonically or playing in modes...

Jazz tends to be played chromatically and uses passing notes that may be Major or Minor in tonality depending on what the other instruments are passing through either Major, Minor or any combination once you've added in the Augmented and Diminished and Suspended chords...

Blues and R n B tends to played from the gut using simple Roots, Fourths and Fifths, and is more about the feel than the notes played. Blues and R n B are easy whereas Jazz becomes a bit harder because of the Maths...

If all this sounds a bit convoluted and high-brow, it is, after all if you're gonna talk about music with people who don't know anything about the theory, say in an interview, you can't simply state that you 'only play the notes that sound good, and leave out the bum ones', of course playing bum notes is one of the few pleasures left in music once you get to public performance level, it keeps the other band members awake, just as messing with the time signature keeps the drummer on his (or her in my case) toes! The audience are mostly oblivious that these mind games are going on of course...

In short when musicians talk about the craft they usually talk the biggest pile of s***e you've ever heard. I never do it nor listen to them analysing it, 'analysis' contains the word 'anal' btw! 

Way more interesting is the twinkle in the ladies eyes when they come up and ask you for one of your signed photos, which reminds me must get another 100 batch printed up as mine are running low!:hatsoff2:

 

RS001WhtScr098.jpg

Thanks for the insight, ive a little theory knowledge, i learned classical guitar as a teenager, but nowhere near your experience. Im alright for a signed photo though thanks. 

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9 minutes ago, geeselad said:

Thanks for the insight, ive a little theory knowledge, i learned classical guitar as a teenager, but nowhere near your experience. Im alright for a signed photo though thanks. 

I barely have enough photos to go round all the ladies, never mind giving them away to fellas! 

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Amazon also have a few 'LIKE NEW' copies of the book at just over £4 each (incl P&P). 

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On 23/10/2018 at 23:06, BabyBoyAndMyLass said:

I barely have enough photos to go round all the ladies, never mind giving them away to fellas! 

Nice Ricky, Rick! Mapleglo 4003?

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32 minutes ago, SoulStu said:

Nice Ricky, Rick! Mapleglo 4003?

Thankyou, but no. 

This is the 'real deal' if you like... The late 1974 Mapleglo 4001S. The 4003 had the glued in heel neck. 4001 is straight through five piece construction hence the hardwood skunkstripe running from bottom of body through to the headstock. 4003 has one truss rod, 4001 has two. The 4001 is also Stereo.

If you like this one is the OVO where the 4003 is the reissue.

Thanks for showing an interest though, you clearly know a bit about Rickenbackers so probably know that the players who play them are a breed apart, passionate about their sticks and the unique sound and build quality that comes with them. I've had various Fenders over the years Ps and Jazzers, the odd Pre-CBS, I actually own the only factory non-customshop Yellow P Bass on the planet as far as we in the collector world can ascertain, a Monaco Yellow 1979 International series made in Fullerton Cali. Sadly the Fenders don't see the light of day, I'm so attached to the 4001, it's become my identity in the music scene wherever I've lived

The pics are from the 'Great photos' thread but might as well go here now. Who knew this thread would go anywhere? I wasn't expecting this when Seano started it! 

 

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I don't normally link to stuff like this cause I find it awkward but here goes nothing, this is a vid I made for a pal who wanted an easy 'buskers' kick about version he could play in a clubs band he had joined, it isn't to the sheet music and isn't meant to represent what is even played on the record but is the version I adapted for ease of playing when I was playing the song in the clubs... There is also a version of GSH 'The Bottle' on the channel too. Be warned if you haven't got good speakers it may rattle yer cones a little! 

Enough of the excuses, make of it what you will... Bass is a rare White Fender P with white plate, DiMarzzio 'hard puncher' 1980s pickup upgrade and one piece Maple neck that I used extensively when I played in dives where I wouldn't risk my Ricky, now moved on to someone who genuinely loves it. I miss it, it did a lot of country gigs with me and Rockinbilly.

Like it says on the vid please no hate mail!

 

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Posted (edited)

^^^^

Nice chops,Simon.Will have a butchers at your YouTube channel.

Just wondering if you've ever seen the Bass Day 98 dvd ?

I've been watching this again recently as its all on YouTube now although I do have the official Hudson Music release version too kicking around somewhere.

Anyway ,it's worth checking out if you haven't seen it already.

 

Victor Wooton in this clip.

 

 This isn't on the Bass Day dvd but i'll include this clip of Richie Goods playing some killer bass with Lenny White's band.

What a bunch of bosses!

 

Edited by Soulsides
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1 hour ago, BabyBoyAndMyLass said:

I don't normally link to stuff like this cause I find it awkward but here goes nothing, this is a vid I made for a pal who wanted an easy 'buskers' kick about version he could play in a clubs band he had joined, it isn't to the sheet music and isn't meant to represent what is even played on the record but is the version I adapted for ease of playing when I was playing the song in the clubs... There is also a version of GSH 'The Bottle' on the channel too. Be warned if you haven't got good speakers it may rattle yer cones a little! 

Enough of the excuses, make of it what you will... Bass is a rare White Fender P with white plate, DiMarzzio 'hard puncher' 1980s pickup upgrade and one piece Maple neck that I used extensively when I played in dives where I wouldn't risk my Ricky, now moved on to someone who genuinely loves it. I miss it, it did a lot of country gigs with me and Rockinbilly.

Like it says on the vid please no hate mail!

 

I'm learning a lot through this book and the thread! I could just about follow the bass by seeing it filmed like this and hearing it slightly over the backing record, but what the hell are 'chops' as mentioned by Soulsides and often crops up in the book??

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, seano said:

what the hell are 'chops' as mentioned by Soulsides and often crops up in the book??

Hehe,apologies Seano!

It basically means the level of skill at musical interpretation and delivery, the term originated from Jazz circles as far as I know and is used to describe an individual musicians performance or ability on their chosen instrument.

Edited by Soulsides
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Thanks lads! :hatsoff2:

@Soulsides My middle son is the best Wooten imitator the world has never seen. I've seen all of it. I don't use the technique much myself, never had any call for it since the cabaret band scene stopped being obsessed with the Chillis.

@seano I think the Bass world is calling you, get yourself a stick and a small practise amp. I recommend the 1980s Westone basses, very cheap, verging on vintage and sound and play fantastic, a Concord can be bought easily on EB for a hundredish and the Orange Crush series of practise amp, also good but cheap are the Fender Squier series of budget basses, get started it's incredibly satisfying when you finally nail those first chops, remember that nobody is born good musician, everyone was crap when they first started, enjoy, so much easier to learn nowadays with the age of YT and all the instructional channels and the websites devoted to song arrangements!

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11 hours ago, Soulsides said:

It basically means the level of skill at musical interpretation and delivery, the term originated from Jazz circles as far as I know and is used to describe an individual musicians performance or ability on their chosen instrument.

Great thanks for clearing that up for me!

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10 hours ago, BabyBoyAndMyLass said:

I think the Bass world is calling you, get yourself a stick and a small practise amp.

Thanks for the encouragement here; I might stick to the theory for now!

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Surprised me really the response this thread got, I wouldn't have started it, glad that Seano did and brought some fans of the instrument out of the closet!

Of course everyone who likes Soul music is a fan of the Bass whether they're aware of it or not, same goes for any type of dance music.

With that in mind I'm just gonna round it off with this little taste of Epic, this is what I class as damn good! Janice Marie, just sublime in it's epicness!

Get on up on the floor...

 

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Just revisiting this to drop this in here, Scott is so good and tells it as it is! There are and will be folks in the site who h ave a dusty bass sitting in a corner untouched and unloved, they've probably read this thread and don't feel like they are in a position to comment, this one's for you!

Dust it off get some strings on and get learning! 

And then when you can do this, send me a message and let me know! Another YT mate of mine, who is frankly a Bass Master! 

 

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Nice posting thanks BabyBoyAndMyLass. Looks like there's a lot of excellent tuition material out there. No current plans here, but who knows?

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Posted (edited)
On 25/10/2018 at 21:27, BabyBoyAndMyLass said:

 

 

 

 

 

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Nice sticker on the yellow one. :P

Steve 

Edited by Winsford Soul
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Posted (edited)

This is a subject I have a bit of knowledge on so let me start by saying to anyone who might be considering learning to play the bass, it's going to take several years of practice to get anywhere near the standards you hear on most major label soul, funk, and jazz fusion tracks. A vast proportion of the musicians on those are among the best in the world, the very top end of the session players. Expecting to achieve that level of playing within a couple of years is as unrealistic as going for a kick about in the park and expecting to be able to match the skills of Lionel Messi or Christian Ronaldo within a few seasons. You have to set your targets realistically and be very patient.

I started playing in 1980 having been influenced by two particular artists and their distinct sounds, Derek Forbes of Simple Minds, and whoever was playing for A Certain Ratio as they had interchangeable bass players within the band. I was self taught but progressed quite quickly. As an addicted John Peel listener, I was hearing such a wide variety of music and a lot of it had funk influences. Then something happened in March 1981 that was a life changing moment, I heard Level 42 Love Games for the first time, I was shocked, this was absolute perfection and I had never heard bass being played quite like it. I soon realised once I had the LP that Mark King was playing such a unique style that I couldn't even begin to figure out how to do it even though I was already able to play basic slap grooves. I thus recognised I shouldn't even attempt it as it would only frustrate me, hence my earlier comments about realistic targets.

As I'm typing this it's already become apparent I could spend more time than I actually have available to talk on this subject so I'll make a number of postings gradually. In the meantime, having looked at the comments so far there's two things I'd like to say. Firstly I have absolutely no idea what any of the fuss about Victor Wooten is. I find his style of playing that I've seen in most of his Youtube videos, unbearable and would not recommend any new player study him. Secondly whilst Scott's [Bass Lessons] knowledge of the instrument is second to none, I struggle with his over the top presentation style and repetition of statements. If he was to edit his videos so the viewers only saw what they needed to, they would be more enjoyable.

If you want tuition that is well presented, check out Cambridge Bass Lessons: 

More to follow

 

Edited by Martin S
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Posted (edited)

I can honestly say that I could never get on with Level 42's stuff,personally.

Sure, the bloke can play really well but thier music has never done anything for me,it just leaves me cold in fact.

The style of production is far too smooth and clean for my tastes,it sounds so sterile and 'bleached' in my opinion,it's what we used to derogatory term as  'Studio Funk'.

One of the problems I also had with King is the way he was rammed down everyone's throats,especially in the 1980s by the music gear magazines who acted like he was the only bassist that mattered and which was and is obviously utter bollocks.

There was one publication in particular called 'Making Music' that used to be available and they had him on the front cover so many times that I started calling it 'Mark King Music' and stopped reading the magazine altogether. 

Maybe it was the times we were in to be fair but it just seemed like complete overkill to me,focusing solely on one musician in that way .

Plus,weren't Level 42 and Sade the stereotypical background music to every 80s yuppy dinner party?

It really did seem that way!

He's certainly no Stanley Clarke or Alphonso Johnson though, but then again who is? 

Edited by Soulsides
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Derek Forbes, did some wicked riffs in his Simple Minds days, they were never the same after his departure. 'Love Song' one of his best dance riffs. Another underrated was the Bass player for Heaven 17, whose name escapes me.

A Certain Ratio were a Manchester based band on Factory records, their Bass player was good in the 'Slap n pluck' kinda style that some people like. I can play it but don't, too much of it has a tendency to get on audiences t**s. Played many a gig oop north on the same bill as A certain Ratio, their tune 'I need someone tonight' was their best.

Mark King was/is certainly a talented guy, with him his combination of good voice/writing and good bass were what projected him to superstardom, his music always had a sequenced bass accompaniment, which is fair enough considering his workload onstage as a wicked frontman, their music wasn't to everyone's taste of course but they had a sparkling career. I had to perform live 'There is something about you' for years in clubs.

Have to say my all-time Bass hero was Chris Squire.

I often joke about the 'Race to the bottom' and am self deprecating about my career and my attempts at the charts in the mid 80s but... I will say that with dedication and commitment it is possible to have a lot of fun and make some considerable money out of it even without having a glittering chart career, I continue to make around a third of my total yearly income from it playing Spector songs and oldies from the 50s and 60s in cabaret clubs, get on it, with YT and the internet nowadays it's never been easier to learn an instrument!  :hatsoff2:

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Posted (edited)

I'll break down my replies to the above over a few emails. Firstly the bass player for Heaven 17 was John Wilson, however unless he was recording with other artists uncredited, he seems to have played on very few records in his career. Soul Warfare ranks as one of the best tracks in my entire collection, and hearing this for the first time in 1981 was another unforgettable experience. Here it is, the solo is mind blowing. 

 

 

 

Edited by Martin S
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Just now, Martin S said:

I'll break down my replies to the above over a few emails. Firstly the bass player for Heaven 17 was John Wilson, however unless he was recording with other artists uncredited, he seems to have played on very few records in his career. Soul Warfare ranks as one of the best tracks in my entire collection, and hearing this for the first time in 1981 was another unforgettable experience. Here it is 

Ah John Wilson eh? His live shows with Heaven 17 were wicked, one live show comes up fairly regularly on Sky Arts, well worth catching, his playing as I say was superb.

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A Certain Ratio are the band that had the biggest influence on my musical career. I bought every release of theirs up until 1986, following which they headed off in a commercial direction that no longer appealed to me. Almost every release up to and including those in 1984, is among the best records in my entire collection. It's not possible for a new collector of their material, in my opinion, to just settle for a few of them such is the relentless quality which is near impossible to split, you simply have to have everything up to and including 1986, though you could forget the Force LP if you had the singles from it. For a beginner bass player, some of their material will be reasonably playable once you've mastered the basics of slap, however some tracks have two bass players playing at the same time. Others that are heavy on effects pedals may find you struggling to identify some of the notes, I speak with experience of it myself.

Their most challenging track for me has always been "Day One" from the "Sextet" LP as there is so much to remember as I clearly demonstrate in the below video. Up to 1.57 I play over the track, from 1.58 I play the same but with no backing, and from 3.38 I play the segment that covers the last minute or so of the track. If we take the final segment, to the casual observer with no playing experience it might look as if what I'm doing is relatively easy, but trust me it's not. The unimpeded open strings, string dampening, ghost notes, and harmonics in that segment are going to require years of practice to get to that level, as are the collection of notes and timing of them at 0.24 and 2.04, so as I said in my first posting you have to be realistic in your expectations.

I'm playing the top of the range Westone bass, the 1989 Thunder 3A Active, bought brand new that year from Bootleg Music in Epsom. I previously had versions 1 and 2, and as mentioned by another member you'll struggle to beat them for quality and value on the secondhand market. The 3A has become very collectible as  you'd understand if you heard the full range of frequencies it offers, it's in a completely different league to the 1 and 2. These days though you can pick up remarkably cheap brand new basses that are outstanding value for money, £300 being the max you're likely to need to spend.

More to follow tomorrow, as rather aptly this is just Day One.

 

Edited by Martin S

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Please no more! This has got nothing to do with soul music.

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, autumnstoned said:

Please no more! This has got nothing to do with soul music.

An interesting comment considering the last time we met you posted: Saw the Buzzcocks live in 1978 and still got the singles I bought then.

You clicked on a thread titled "The Funky Bass Book." Surely you got what was expected? 

Edited by Martin S

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Posted (edited)

When we met? Sorry, don’t get it.

When I posted about the Buzzcocks it was in a thread in Freebasing - don’t think it’s visible to non members of the site, but could be wrong.

Re the current thread, I certainly didn’t expect un-moderated self promotion, posting of your own YouTube clips and discussion of Bass Players in pop bands.

I’d flag it up but it seems the moderator is on the same path as you.

 

Edited by autumnstoned
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2 hours ago, autumnstoned said:

When we met? Sorry, don’t get it.

When I posted about the Buzzcocks it was in a thread in Freebasing - don’t think it’s visible to non members of the site, but could be wrong.

Re the current thread, I certainly didn’t expect un-moderated self promotion, posting of your own YouTube clips and discussion of Bass Players in pop bands.

I’d flag it up but it seems the moderator is on the same path as you.

 

Moving this out to Freebasing soon as it has gone on a bit of a tangent away from Soul/Funk music now, locked for now, will move it and re-open it soon.

I'll shoulder responsibility  for it cause Seano probably wasn't expecting much of a response to it.

Btw I do get that some folks have limited time to view the forum and go away disappointed sometimes when they've seen OT and thread drift. :hatsoff2:

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Re-opened now in FreeBassing, sorry meant to say 'Freebasing' as some people are reading it and enjoying it! 

The instrument is such a massive part of the Soul music we all love! :hatsoff2:

 

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Tonight (Friday 18th January 2019) BBC4 are showing a programme featuring Tina Weymouth, bass player from Talking Heads, all about the bass in popular music. Including discussion of James Jameson, Bootsy Collins, Bernard Edwards and others.

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It would be nice if they mention Bruce Thomas, J.J. and Gary Thain... but they won't....

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