It’s been a while since I started this look at why I learned to love the bass, but since it’s been stuck in my head a lot lately I will continue the theme by introducing John Paul Jones.
The legendary multi-instrumentalist from Led Zeppelin doesn’t need an introduction, so I won’t go into a lot of biographical stuff. That’s what Wikipedia’s for. Suffice it to say, JPJ has been pretty much my favourite bassist since the moment I heard him play. He has such a fantastic grasp on melody and rhythm and backs it up with some very impressive chops.
So, an isolated bass track of What is and What Should Never Be appeared on the net a little while back and it’s a stunning example of Mr. Jones’ genius. He manages to control this pretty, lilting line through the verses, then drives the chorus hard. Throughout he drifts around the pulse with such subtlety, adding small ornaments and improvised runs, it is a work of art.
There are too many other examples to choose from, although I am quite partial to his collaboration with Diamanda Galas, and Them Crooked Vultures has some tasty bass too.
So, John Paul Jones is a master of melodic rock bass, one of my all-time faves. But not the only one. I’ll share my thoughts and feelings about other bassists and I welcome discussion along the way.