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Swing Low, Bass Chariot

Stuart Bailie | 21:26 UK time, Sunday, 23 May 2010

I've seen most episodes of BBC's 'I'm In A Rock And Roll Band' and the value has been considerable. It wasn't a huge shock to be informed that drummers are habitually bonkers. But the recent survey of bass players has delivered extra interest.

Back in the day, I served on the four string machine. For much of the time, I used a dodgy bass guitar from Flood's in Smithfield Market Belfast. The sound was awful, but I had sprayed it the sweetest shade of lime green. A few years later I had graduated to a Fender Precision, but frankly, it was wasted on me.

My model had been Paul Simonon from The Clash. He was no virtuoso, but he played the root notes and added a boogie flourish. However, he was a magnificent poseur and he constantly mainlined the spirit of rock and roll.

On the other hand there was Mark King from Level 42. He played the bass high up on his chest and he slapped the strings with his thumb, which was reportedly insured for a million pounds. He looked silly.

In the BBC doc, we learned with Peter Hook from New Order has damaged the vertebrae at the top of his spine. His doctor couldn't work out the problem until Hookey showed that guy how he performs - instrument down by his ankles, powering those memorable phrases like a bearded berserker. Bad for the spine, but essential for the bassline.


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