Friday, 22 October 2010

An overdue list, if not what is should be

Ever since I began to read popular music lists seriously, I have always felt that far too much focus is on the guitar vis-à-vis the other major rock instruments of bass, drums and vocals. Lists of best guitar albums are common, but for bass, drums and vocals one almost never sees them and when i listen I find this a gaping hole.

In this absence, Stuart Hamm’s Ten Greatest Bass Albums of All Time is refreshing. He pull no punches with looking at what he considers to be the ten greatest bass albums of all time:
  1. Fragile by Yes
  2. Live at Leeds by the Who
  3. Yessongs by Yes
  4. Funkentelechy versus the Placebo Syndrome by Parliament
  5. Stanley Clarke by Stanley Clarke
  6. Heavy Weather by Weather Report
  7. Jaco Pastorius by Jaco Pastorius
  8. Reach for It by George Duke
  9. Masques by Brand X
  10. Shadows and Light by Joni Mitchell
All these albums date from the 1970s, and almost all are related to progressive rock or fusion jazz. It would be good if other genres could be appreciated and the role of the bass understood therein.

Still, Stuart Hamm in his notes compensates a good deal for this stereotyping because he offers such a good account of how he came to appreciate the albums he lists as the best bass guitar albums. He relates all of these to his own experience and history with the material he recommends, a vital step to draw the reader/listener in.

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