Another break in the list, but this time it's for something awesome...

..... or at least something not nearly as tragic as my last break in the list.

The next song on my list has an iconic bass line that is instantly recognizable to anyone who knows rock music.  A second and a half into the song, you already know that you're listening to something amazing.  More on that in a couple of days...

Finding a rock/pop/soul song where the bass is the main musical focus is like finding that twenty bucks you forgot were in your jeans pockets.  It's that pleasant surprise that makes you smile, and smile big.  Bass players often get the short stick of having to hold the rhythm of a song and be that foundation that enables all the other band members to shine.  So when they get to show off a bit, it's always a welcome change.

That got me to thinking.  What are those other iconic bass lines that show what a bassist with talent can really do?  It was slow going at first, but once I latched on to a couple, the floodgates really opened and the songs just poured out.  So here are my Top 20 bass lines of all time (that aren't already on my list, either already posted or to come).  I wanted to put them in no particular order, but found that more difficult than I thought.  Being an ubergeek, though, I found a website where you can enter a list of items and it will randomize them for you.  So thanks,!
  1. John Mellencamp & Me'Shell Ndegeocello - Wild Night (Granted, this is a cover of a Van Morrison song, but the way Me'Shell Ndegeocello makes this bass line her own just gets my body moving.  Every note has attitude to it, and you just can't wait for that bass line to come back.  And thank God it does, all throughout the song.)
  2. Primus - Jerry was a Racecar Driver (Probably the best bassist in history, Les Claypool does things that you just didn't think were possible with a bass.  He spends more time at the top of the neck than a horny vampire.  His enthusiasm is contagious.  He makes you want to pick up a bass and learn how to play it, and with "Jerry Was a Racecar Driver" he spazzes out all over his bass, bathing you with sounds that you're still trying to figure out.)
  3. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Higher Ground (Another cover version, sure, but Flea just assaults you with his bass.  He takes that funky Stevie Wonder keyboard riff and just kills every single note.  And to prove that this isn't a one hit wonder of bass playing, check out Get Up And Jump, Around the World, and the end of Coffee Shop,  Seriously, I could list fifty more.  Flea gives Les Claypool a run for his money on the greatest of all time bass player list.  For my money, I'm a Flea guy.)
  4. Alice in Chains - Would?  (Not enough bassists have utilized the ability of the bass to make, low, creepy sounds.  Mike Starr was able to infuse that deranged creepiness into his bass line to "Would?"  You'd think more bassists would take the natural low register of the bass and use it to their advantage in scaring the pants off you.  If you're walking down the street and you hear this bass line, then yes, a serial killer is just about to disembowl you.
  5. Rick James - Superfreak (Sure, you could blame Rick James for the whole MC Hammer thing, but you have to give him credit for one of the most iconic bass lines of all time, and maybe the most famous.  Who wouldn't sample that for a rap song?  It's irresistable.  I've never really met a super freak myself (my breakfast with Hillary Clinton got canceled), but I would imagine that bass line would fit the situation quite nicely.)
  6. Pink Floyd - Money (As if Roger Waters head wasn't big enough with the unstoppable force that is Dark Side of the Moon, he's got to top it off with an instantly recognizable bass line that may outlive the album itself, if that's even possible.  But you gotta give the guy credit.  Five seconds after you hear that bass line for the first time, it's imprinted on your brain forever, and not in that "Mmmm Bop" kinda way.)
  7. Curtis Mayfield - Pusherman (The smooth nature of both the bass line and Curtis's vocal style goes well with the subject matter.  You'd think drugs would pretty much sell themselves, but Curtis highlights the suave, yet cutthroat salesman aspect of drug dealers.  The bass line weaves through the song as Curtis breaks down the entire life of a drug dealer with authentic street poetry that's still completely foreign to a kid who grew up in the suburbs.  But I'm still listening.  I can't help it.)
  8. The Breeders - Cannonball   (I have no idea what this song's about, but that great loopy bass line just grabs you and doesn't let go.  And did you know that most of the band members were female?  I sure didn't.  A kick-ass female bass player is a fine thing indeed.)
  9. Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart (Big fat bummer of a song, but a great bass line.  Bassis Peter Hook really gives his bass a moaning type sound that goes so well with the lyrical subject matter.  To prove how much of a bummer this song was, due largely to the dissolution of his marriage (the main subject of the song), Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide just two months after this song was released as a single.  Suck on that, "Mmmmm Bop"!)
  10. Chic - Good Times (Say what you want about disco, but that genre of music provided some of the most remembered bass lines of all time.  Bernard Edwards provides not only a great bass line for this song, but without "Good Times," there'd be no "Rapper's Delight," so they get credit for an awesome disco song as well as providing the main sample for one of the biggest rap songs of all time.  Not bad for a day's work.)
  11. Queen - Under Pressure (It was a toss up with Another One Bites the Dust, but John Deacon's intro to "Under Pressure" really shows what a simple, yet powerful bass line can do to impact a song.  Without that great bass, the song would still be awesome because it's Freddy Mercury and David Bowie singing together, for Christ's sake, but the bass line takes the song to that Hall of Fame level.)
  12. Elvis Costello - Pump It Up (While the rest of the band plays the more rhythmic parts of the song, Bruce Thomas gets to hog all of the spotlight, not only with that great intro, but all throughout the song as well.  It takes a great song and transforms it into an amazing song (pssst.... that came thisclose to making my list).
  13. Yes - Roundabout (Chris Squire is the Beethoven of bass players.  There's a classical beauty to the way he plays.  But don't be fooled by those statements, he can unleash some tremendously kick-ass bass lines that rock you to your core.  In "Roundabout," the entire band cuts loose, but it's Squire who steals the show, jumping all over his bass as if his life depends on it.)
  14. Rush - The Pass (Geddy Lee is probably the best pure rock bassist who's ever lived and he shows it in dozens of songs.  His talent knows no bounds.  At times in concert, he's singing, playing the bass while also playing the keyboards - with his feet!  I chose "The Pass" because the song is built around his exquisite bass work, rather than your normal rock song that's purely guitar driven.  And it's an awesome song that doesn't get its due.  Check out the classic "Tom Sawyer" for sure, but don't miss out on the lesser known, but amazing bass lines in  "Marathon" and "Where's My Thing?"
  15. New Order - Blue Monday (New wave music never got its just due, in my opinion, but some of the best bass work in the last thirty years has happened in new wave songs.  Until this very moment, I had no idea that Peter Hook was responsible for the awesome bass lines in both "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Blue Monday."  Holy crap!  Nice job, sir.  Anyway, back to "Blue Monday."  After the slow keyboard buildup, Peter plays a pretty stock dance bass line, but then gets to shake it up a bit with some more intricate work higher up the neck.  Two songs by the same guy!  I really am floored.)
  16. Chemical Brothers - Block Rockin' Beats (Another quasi-cover, this one of 23 Skidoo's "Coup," the Brothers take the original bass line and hit you over the f*cking head with it.  It's an aural assault and battery of your ears, but not an unpleasant one.  Relentless in its pace, "Block Rockin' Beats" hits you hard with the bass, the drums, everything.  You're spent when it's over, but you want to listen again, you glutton for punishment.)
  17. Steve Miller Band - The Joker (As an interesting contrast to "Block Rockin' Beat"s frenzied bass, Gerald Johnson shows that a great, slow bass line can work just as well.  It's a bass melody that is instantly recognizable and has an almost whimsy that matches the tone of the song so well.  So while the bass line does steal the show, it also serves the song, which is really impressive.)
  18. Duran Duran - Girls on Film, (Another band where I could pick a bunch of songs (including, "Rio" and "Planet Earth," both of which have almost equally amazing bass lines), "Girls on Film" shows John Taylor at his best.  His bass lines propel both dance songs and moody ballads with equal panache.  I said he was underrated in my Band Aid post and I completely stand by that statement.  Not only did he do great bass work for Duran Duran, but he also got to show some serious rock bass chops in Power Station.  Do yourself a favor - listen to more Duran Duran.  You'll be surprised at the high level of musicianship hidden behind those pretty faces.)
  19. U2 - 40 (In all fairness to Adam Clayton, who I think is a great bassist, he doesn't play bass on this one.  For some reason, The Edge and Adam switch instruments, with Edge delivering that great bass line that lays the foundation for Psalm 40, set to music, while Adam plays an atmospheric guitar which acts as the counterpoint to Edge's bass.  "40" shows that you don't need to jam in as many notes as you can in as short a time as you can to have a great bass line that can carry a song.  Since my conscience is bothering me, please check out Adam's performance on "Mofo."  He kicks ass in that song.)
  20. Paul Young - Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home) (Pino Palladino is probably the best bassist you've never heard of.  Although his performance in Paul Young's "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" is his best flashy work, the way his fretless bass line carries all of "Wherever I Lay My Hat" shows how a great bass performance can carry a song on its broad shoulders.  He's gone on to be the bassist for The Who, carrying the sizable mantle left by John Entwistle's death.  He's a bassist's bassist - a background guy who constantly wows you, but shies away from the limelight.  That also makes him one of the best.)
So I'll give you a couple of days to try and guess what the next song is.  Feel free to comment with what you think it might be.  And, no, it's not "Ice Ice Baby."  But that song did have a really great bass line.  I wonder where he got that from?
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