Monday, February 9, 2015

Songs With Great Bass Intros

Bass Master Marcus Miller
There’s nothing like a cool bassline to kick off a track in style. Many classic songs have been launched by a great bassline. With that in mind, I decided to put together a list of my 26 favorite bass intros. Here’s my list in no particular order:

I Wish Stevie Wonder

Nathan Watt’s irresistible walking bassline launches Stevie Wonder’s classic in a big way. The bassline really pulls the groove together and hits right in the pocket. This funky, high-energy track is from Stevie’s landmark Grammy-winning album Songs In The Key of Life, which was released in 1976. The song reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard’s soul singles charts in the U.S.

I Wish at Amazon

Brazilica – Ramsey Lewis

This beautiful Afro-Latin instrumental has an Earth, Wind & Fire vibe to it, which is not surprising considering EWF’s founder and guiding light Maurice White co-wrote and co-produced the track. And Ron Harris provided the excellent slap bassline, which nicely opens the song. It’s a single from Ramsey Lewis’ 1976 album Salongo—a superb collection of jazz, soul, Latin and funk tracks.

Brazilica at Amazon

Hair – Graham Central Station

Larry Graham’s unique and extremely funky bassline sets this powerful groove in motion. It’s one of my favorite Graham basslines. The track is from Graham Central Station’s self-titled debut album, released in 1974.

Hair at Amazon

Come Together – The Beatles

Paul McCartney’s slightly ominous bassline sets the tone for this amazing John Lennon-penned Beatles classic. It’s a single from the Beatles’ eleventh studio album Abbey Road (1969). The song shot to the summit of the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and peaked at #4 on the UK singles chart.

Come Together at Amazon

If You Want Me To Stay – Sly & the Family Stone

Rustee Allen’s laid-back, melodic bassline at the song’s intro eases the listener into this introspective, bittersweet track. The bassline nicely frames Sly’s soulful vocals. The track was a single from Sly & the Family Stone’s Fresh album, which was released in 1973. It climbed to #12 on the U.S. pop singles charts and #3 on the R&B singles charts. It was the band’s last song to make it into the top 20 on the U.S. pop charts.

If You Want Me To Stay at Amazon

Super Bon Bon – Soul Coughing

Sebastian Steinberg’s bodacious double bass kicks this trippy but oddly funky alternative groove into gear. The track is from Soul Coughing’s second album Irresistible Bliss (1996).

Super Bon Bon at Amazon

Dusic – Brick

Ray Ransom’s creative and very funky bass line drives this bumpin’ dance groove by Atlanta jazz/funk band Brick. The track is a single from Brick’s self-titled sophomore album, released in 1977. The song climbed all the way to #3 on the U.S. soul charts and peaked at #18 on the pop charts.

Dusic at Amazon

Skin Tight – The Ohio Players

Marshall "Rock" Jones’ hypnotic bassline sets off this sexy ode to streetwalkers. “Skin Tight” is the title track from the Ohio Players’ fifth studio album, which was released in 1974. The song had a strong showing on the charts, climbing all the way to #2 U.S. R&B charts and peaking at #13 on the pop charts.

Skin Tight at Amazon

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – Sly & the Family Stone

Larry Graham introduced his dynamic and highly inventive thump-and-pluck bass technique on this explosive 1969 funk classic. Sly & the Family Stone were way ahead of their time when they recorded this super-syncopated, bass-driven groove-fest. It still sounds as fresh and original as it did when it first hit the airwaves more than 45 years ago. The track topped both the R&B and pop charts in the U.S., and it has influenced legions of funk artists and bassists in its wake.

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) at Amazon

Ball of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today) – The Temptations

This powerful political-message track opens with Funk Brother Bob Babbitt’s iconic bassline. The foreboding bassline effectively captures the dread and fear of a chaotic world possibly on the brink self-destruction.  This is one of the Tempts' most popular Norman Whitfield-era tracks. The song was released in 1970 and peaked at #3 on the U.S. pop singles chart and #2 on the R&B charts.

Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today) (Stereo Version)

Chameleon – Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock ignited this monster groove with an incredibly funky bassline, which he played on the ARP Odyssey, an analog synthesizer. It’s one of the most recognized funk basslines of all time. This jazz standard was a single from Hancock’s landmark album Head Hunters (1973) in which he teamed up with jazz masters Paul Jackson (bass), Harvey Mason (drums) and Bennie Maupin (multireedist). The collection is considered one of the definitive jazz-funk albums.

Chameleon at Amazon

Come Alive (The War of the Roses) – Janelle Monáe

Nate “Rocket” Wonder supplied the spooky bassline for this manic punk/swing track. It’s from Janelle Monáe's critically acclaimed album The ArchAndroid (2010). The track is a crowd favorite at her concerts, and she always works her audiences into a frenzy whenever she performs it.

Come Alive ( The War Of The Roses) at Amazon

Gigantic – Pixies

This wonderfully idiosyncratic song opens with Kim Deal’s soothing, indelible bassline. It’s a really simple line, but it's extremely effective in underlining Deal’s serene lead vocals early in the song. "Gigantic" is one of Pixies' most recognized songs and a fan favorite at their concerts. It’s a single from the influential alternative rock band's critically acclaimed album Surfer Rosa (1988), which was their first full-length LP.  The song was co-written by Deal and Black Francis.

Gigantic at Amazon

Watch Out Baby! – George Duke

Bass virtuoso Stanley Clarke kicks off this funkalicious track with some wicked thumpin' and plucking. It's from legendary jazz keyboardist George Duke’s 1977 landmark album Reach for It.

Watch Out, Baby! at Amazon

Jam of the Year – Prince

Prince’s smooth bassline jump-starts this dope laid-back groove. The track is from The Purple One’s triple-disc album Emancipation (1996).

Emancipation CD at Amazon

Better By The Pound – Funkadelic

This fantastic track is one of my favorite cuts from Funkadelic’s classic album Let’s Take It to the Stage (1975). At the song’s intro, Billy “Bass” Nelson effectively sets the mood with a mysterious and haunting bassline. And Eddie Hazel and Garry Shider bring tons of soul and passion to their co-lead vocals. The song was co-written by Hazel and George Clinton. Meshell Ndegeocello did a really dope cover of this song back in 2002, which was on her album Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape.  It’s definitely worth checking out for those who haven’t heard it. The acclaimed artist puts her own unique and funky spin on the track.

Better By The Pound at Amazon

Superfly – Curtis Mayfield

This superb slice of R&B is about the protagonist of the Blaxploitation cult classic Super Fly. Joseph “Lucky” Scott provided the smoothly funky bassline, which effectively launches this great cut. The song is the title track from Curtis Mayfield’s critically acclaimed soundtrack to the 1972 film Super Fly, which is about a New York City cocaine dealer looking to find a way out of the drug game. The album spawned two huge hits, the title track (#5 R&B, #8 Pop) and “Freddie’s Dead” (#2 R&B, #4 Pop). It’s now considered one of the top film soundtracks of all time and one of the few soundtracks to out-gross the film it accompanied. It’s also made several top album lists of noted music publications.

Superfly at Amazon

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson

This MJ-penned dance/funk classic has one of the most recognized and iconic bass intros ever. Most R&B, funk and pop music lovers can instantly identify the song from just hearing those first two bass notes at the song’s opening. The bass part at the intro was played on synth bass by keyboard wizard Greg Phillinganes; and legendary bass man and funk master Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson joins in once the groove kicks off proper.

“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” was the lead single from MJ’s landmark 1979 album Off The Wall. The track skyrocketed to the top of both the R&B and pop charts in the U.S. And it remained atop the R&B charts for six weeks. The track peaked at #3 in the UK and made the top ten in several other countries. The double platinum-selling single earned the pop/soul superstar a Grammy for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance at the 1980 Grammy Awards.

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough at Amazon

GO! – Tones On Tail

Glenn Campling’s urgent fuzz bassline drives this frenzied, kinetic groove. The irresistible bassline really pulls you in and gets you movin’. This track is from English post-punk band Tones On Tail’s LP The Album Pop, which was released in 1984. The members of the now defunct band were Daniel Ash (guitar, vocals), Glenn Campling (bass) and Kevin Haskins (drums). “Go!” appeared on the soundtrack for the 1997 comedy Grosse Pointe Blank and was used in an episode of the popular television series Beverly Hills, 90210.

Go! at Amazon

Pluck (Interlude) – Marcus Miller

Bass titan Marcus Miller lays down some nasty bass-poppin’ funk on this badass groove. It’s from the acclaimed musician’s 2007 album Free.

Pluck at Amazon

Slide – Slave

This powerful funk/dance groove was blasted in cars and played at parties and clubs across the U.S. back in 1977.  Mark “The Hansolor” Adams opened the track with a treacherous bassline that was sure to get heads bobbin’ and booties shakin'.  It was a single from Slave’s self-titled debut album, which was released in 1977. The track topped the U.S. R&B charts and climbed to #32 on the pop charts.

Slide at Amazon

Funkify Your Life – The Meters

George Porter, Jr.’s infectious, hard-groovin’ bassline at the song’s intro lets listeners know that they’re in for a helluva funky ride. Very few bands could out-funk the Meters, one of the greatest and most influential funk bands of all time. This Latin-flavored funk gem is a track from the band’s eighth studio album, New Directions, released in 1977. The track also has some cool talk-box guitar work from Leo Nocentelli.

Funkify Your Life at Amazon

Bustin’ Out (On Funk) – Rick James

Oscar Alston’s memorable bassline anchors this rousing funk anthem. It’s one of “punk-funk” bad boy Rick James’ best- known tracks and probably his funkiest. It was a single from his second album Bustin’ Out of L Seven, which was released in 1979. The song performed well on the U.S. R&B singles chart, peaking at #8. In 2007, it enjoyed a big resurgence in popularity due to its inclusion on the soundtrack of the comedy smash Superbad.

Bustin' Out (On Funk) at Amazon

Hey Man Nice Shot – Filter

Richard Patrick opens this track with a sinister bassline that fits the subject matter extremely well. The 1995 single is about the public suicide of Pennsylvania state treasurer R. Budd Dwyer, who shot himself during a press conference on January 22, 1987. He was scheduled to be sentenced the next day for a conviction on bribery charges in December of 1986, and he was expected to receive a long sentence. Dwyer professed his innocence to the end. Many people incorrectly believe the song is about Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994.

 The track was the first single from industrial rock band Filter’s debut album Short Bus (1995).  The song saw some decent chart action, peaking at #10 on the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and climbed to #19 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock tracks. And it reached #76 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The track was also featured in a scene from the Jim Carrey dark comedy The Cable Guy (1996).

Hey Man Nice Shot at Amazon

Action Speaks Louder Than Words – Chocolate Milk

New Orleans funk/soul band Chocolate Milk dropped this searing political-message song back in 1975. The song boasts some dope synth work from Robert Dabon, including a super-funky Moog bassline. It's the title track from the band’s debut album, which was released in 1975.

Action Speaks Louder Than Words at Amazon

It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me - Barry White

Nathan East’s irresistibly funky bassline opens this sterling disco/funk smash in epic fashion. The track is eight-plus minutes of pure sonic magic. It was the first single from Barry White’s 1977 album Barry White Sings for Someone You Love. The song topped the U.S. R&B charts for five weeks straight and climbed to #4 on the U.S. pop charts.

It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me At Amazon

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