Five albums every bassist should know

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Five albums every bassist should know

Words by Nick Brown

From the Chili's to Jamiroquai

I know, I know. These lists can be a waste of time (what a way to introduce an article hey!) and of course everyone has different experiences, tastes, and thoughts. Furthermore, the time period that you grew up in can really affect what you heard and were exposed to. 

Despite all that, I thought it might be cool to mention five albums all from a similar time period that really influenced and affected me as a musician (and bass player!). Realistically I could pick five hundred albums but for the sake of this article (and your sanity) I’ve kept it to five in the pop, rock, funk, broad, and general vibe from the early ‘90s.

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Emergency On Planet Earth – Jamiroquai

I clearly remember Molly Meldrum talking about this new guy from the UK called Jay Kay and his band Jamiroquai. They played a snippet of the chorus of ‘Too Young To Die’ and that was it – I was hooked. 

Yes, he was cool and hip but also there was some serious scat in the chorus and the harmonic structure seemed more from the jazz and funk realm than rock. I didn’t quite know what it was but I loved it. The bass lines were prominent, intelligent, filled with pocket and great harmonic choices, and Stuart Zender was (and still is!) amazing.

Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chili Peppers

I think I first heard the Chili Peppers via some mates that would’ve thought they were cool while still a bit indie. It didn’t take me long to realise there was some serious funk going on in their tunes. 

The fact that Flea was Australian gave me some sort of feeling of connection (not in a douchebag way! Ha), and how cool is the nickname Flea?! Bass that was so pronounced in the mix and so essential to the song was an eye opener for me. Slap lines, syncopated grooves and hits, extended intros/solos/outros… wow!

Core – Stone Temple Pilots

‘Plush’ set the tone perfectly. Another early morning Rage discovery, I remember hearing the opening chords and realising they weren’t all just major or minor AND the bass player wasn’t just playing root notes! Amazing. 

The power of Scott Weiland’s voice and the songwriting of the DeLeo brothers had a huge impact on me. Great melodies and chord changes, groove, rock with a range of influences – so damn good.

Ten Summoner’s Tales – Sting

A huge range of styles and influences on one album all connected via Sting’s intelligent, witty, harmonically interesting writing, WITH great melodies and room for the band to play.

There were perfect examples of how odd time grooves could really feel accessible like ‘Seven Days’ and ‘Saint Augustine in Hell’, and I remember my uncle taking me to see him at the Palais in St Kilda, and they burned through everything with improvisation, different arrangements, and musical authority.

Rage Against The Machine – RATM

What the hell was that (or something similar) would’ve been my reaction when first seeing the film clip for ‘Killing In The Name Of’ on Rage

The aggression, the sound, the fact there was a rapper instead of a singer (!), the groove (that definitely was coming from funk and early rock roots), their look, the song title… all this combined to completely blow my mind.

Honourable mentions – Living Colour’s Stain, Alice In Chains’ Dirt, Pearl Jam’s Ten, and about a thousand others.

Catch the ‘Killing In The Name Of’ bass track isolated.