Bruce’s Hall of Fame

 

When I posted the clips for my new Profile Signature Model Bass on YouTube, I found quite a few bass players who’ve taken the time to cover some of my parts … because they like them.  Here’s a selection of some of the best … Nice playing, one and all …

 

 

 

 

Pump It Up – Geant Kor Grand Di

There are several versions of this bass part online, but I like this one because it’s played standing up (with the bass worn at the right height) and it grooves. The exotically-named bassist has EQ’d out most of the original bass part, so the playing you hear is his.

 

This Year’s Girl – Wes Mitchell

This sounds great on Wes’s Rickenbacker and lends the end a bit of a Macca feel.  Note the ‘other’ Beatle bass in the guitar rack …

 

Love Went Mad – John C McCain

I’ve included two performances by John McCain of South Portland, Maine — who plays tracks that are not often chosen, both from the Punch the Clock album. The first is played on a full-size bass that looks a more than a little familiar.  What I like about John’s playing is his articulation — he keeps it crisp and tight. 

 

Lip Service – Jean Michel Jodon

The enigmatic Frenchman has done a great version here …

 

Accidents Will Happen – Troy Hughes

I’ve also put up two selections by Troy, because he gets all the notes right — even my noodling and doodling on the outro.  The guys behind him look like a fairly typical Attractions’ audience, too.


 

TKO – John C McCain

John’s second track is played on a scaled-down practice bass …


 

Oliver’s Army – Troy Hughes

Another ‘note-worthy’ version by Troy to round things off …

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

49 Responses to Bruce’s Hall of Fame

  1. Danny C says:

    Hi Bruce
    Just found your site- delighted!
    I’ve been playing bass (at least trying) for about 18 mths and I guess like most bass players when listening to music, spend most of my time concentrating only on the bassline waiting to find that ‘something’ that makes you desperate to go learn it. This is the tricky part, It happened within 30 seconds of hearing ‘Sulky Girl’ but I’m not sure if you were the bass genius or not?! To me it sounds like your bassline? Anyways, I can’t find it anywhere and I’m obviously not good enough to work it out….can you point me towards where I might find it?

    Sort it out with EC, its just not the same.

    Delighted from Surrey

    • Bruce says:

      Sulky Girl is me. If you can get a YouTube clip or play the CD on your computer you can repeat sections till you get them right — that’s how I work out tricky parts!

  2. John Q says:

    Hi Bruce,
    I’ve started an EC tribute band on Long Island. In rehearsals for about 2 months.
    All parts coming along fantastic except for bass. Can’t find the right guy and the one we’ve got just isn’t getting it.
    Is there anyone you may be able to direct me to in the New York City area?

    • Bruce says:

      Don’t know anyone in the area. Make me an offer I can’t refuse. On the other hand you could sack him and start and Imposters trubute band 🙂

  3. Joe Hope says:

    Do you still have the Wal bass you used on ‘Punch the Clock’? I still have mine almost 30 years down the line 🙂

    • Bruce says:

      No I don’t. I’m not even sure what happened to it. I only used it for that one album. They were good basses, of their time — if a bit on the heavy side with those massive pick-ups.

  4. Punk_Rocker says:

    Hi Bruce, i am starting in the world of bass, can you tell me some advices? Im a big fan of your work 🙂

    • Bruce says:

      The more you play — the more you’ll learn. If you can keep in time just tapping your fingers in rhythm, you laready half way there. Find simple bass parts you like and learn to copy them. That’s pretty much what I did for the first year.

  5. Daniel says:

    I’ve been recently trying to figure out the organ parts of a lot of Attractions songs, so I mostly focus on the wonderful Vox Continental. I started listening a little closer to the bass, and I was blown away. My favorite bassline is from Two Little Hitlers. Between you, Horace Panter from the Specials, and Paul Simonon, I almost want to take up the bass myself.

    • Bruce says:

      Thanks, Daniel. Keep listening. There’s one thing about bass playing over keyboard playing — you only have to play one note at a time. But if you want a keyboard player to listen to for inspiration, them Monsieur Nieve is as good as you’ll find.

  6. David Witherington says:

    Hi, Bruce! I just wanted to thank you for many years of great listening pleasure. As Pete once said,”The Attractions are the bad-ass heartbeat of Elvis Costello.” So, so true. I must have seen you guys play 30 shows or more in the 80’s. Your creative bass lines were so crucial to the melodies. You are SO missed. Peace and love, and all the best to you. 🙂

  7. Punk_Rocker says:

    Hi Bruce, love your bass playing! Wanted to tell you that i first heard about you thanks to Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio`s bassist) he said your a big influence on him, you should check out his work. My favorite of your basslines is The Imposter.

  8. Paul Inglis says:

    Damn! The Pump It Up video has now been blocked by the world conquering forces of the Universal Music Group. I wanted to revisit that one as I was just fiddling with the part on my P-bass and wanted to compare fiddlings, as it were.

    • Bruce says:

      You must have felt deflated 🙂

    • KorGranDi says:

      My cover of Pump it up has been taken down by youtube (or UMG). I disputed the copyright claim, and they reiterated their claim. So now the video is blocked in some countries. I could appeal to the decision, as the bass playing is really mine (I eq-ed Bruce’s bass out as much as I could), but I guess UMG actually DO own the rights to the composition. I find that sad as I enjoy watching people playing covers like that, and I know that it helps some people to learn how to play the bass lines.

      • Bruce says:

        To be honest, it wouldn’t be much of a song without the riff, but I’d have the same problem if I tried it. As long as the songwriter writes “E” on the chord chart, it doesn’t matter what the bass players comes up with. All you can do is surmise that UMG stands for “unlovable, miserable gits” — though there are several alternatives. Shame, I can’t see how it’s depriving anyone of income, unlike illegal file-sharing.

  9. Bill says:

    Bruce – You’re the reason I started playing bass in the early 80s. I’ve just joined an EC (No, not Eric Clapton) tribute band, and we’re sounding pretty damn good. Lipstick Vogue is my favorite cover so far. Anyway, on This Year’s Girl, what notes are you hitting on the “there’d be no doubt” part of the song?

    • Bruce says:

      In answer to your question (without checking) I’m guessing it’s middle and bottom E. Good luck with your band — let me know if or when you get some YouTube clips up. If you do a YouTube search for “Clapton/Scorsese” you’ll find a series of clips of the man playing a series of tributes to his own influences (from Lowell Fulson to Otis Rush and Buddy Guy etc) for what was probably going to be an episode of Martin Scorsese’s Blues documentary series — but for some unknown reason this episode never saw the light of day. In my opinion it’s the best playing and singing EC has ever done — he’s at the height of his powers on them. Drifting Blues is pretty close to perfect. Well worth seeking out folks — in fact, I’m going to watch it now!

  10. Ross B. says:

    Hi Bruce –

    Greetings from across the pond. I came across the YouTube clip of you demonstrating your Signature instrument and wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for the many hours of enjoyment I have gotten from your playing, and to voice what an amazing player you are. I had the fortune to hear you perform live in Rhode Island with EC back in ’81 or so (and was nearly crushed as the venue used a now forbidden “general admission” seating-type arrangement) and still can remember what a great concert it was. Many thanks, and look forward to hearing more performances from you. Best, Ross B.

  11. John Biscuti says:

    Hi Bruce, one of my favorites of yours – and a very underrated one I think – is “Goon Squad”. I took a stab at it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se_AUhGPHJc

  12. John Anderson says:

    One of my favorite parts of your playing is when you play walking lines. Did you have a method you used when doing ascending or descending lines?

    • Bruce says:

      It was all figured out by Bach! Basically you just play notes in the scale of the chord your accompanying, and flow to the next chord. If the scale doesn’t fit naturally where the chords change, you play the nearest root or harmony (third, fourth or fifth) interval to the new chord that doesn’t disturb the smooth progression of the line. If that makes sense.

      Or you can take that principle and create a different kind of part. For example, the bass part in the bridge of “Party Girl” slides up and down the neck. I worked out what was the lowest note that fitted in with the first chord, then slid up to the highest note that fitted the second chord; then the second lowest note that fitted the next chord, and then the second highest etc, etc — till they met in the middle.

      Sometimes you don’t have to do anything — the chorus of “Oliver’s Army” is just a straight descending scale — whereas the beginning of the bridge uses the harmonic principle described at the top. If you look at the first four chords, and compare the first four bass notes, you can work out what harmony I’m playing.

      • John Anderson says:

        Have you considered writing a book on bass playing? Thanks very much for your reply!

      • Bruce says:

        I have — but when you read the convoluted explanation beneath of such a simple thing, you’ll understand why I’ve never gone any further 🙂

  13. damo says:

    What about classical music Bruce?? – Are there composers you take any influence from? Is there a favourite?

    • Bruce says:

      Well with all the arpeggiating and counterpoint on some tracks, I think Bach’s leagcy is fairly apparent. The Big Three have all played their part. Beethoven for melody and drama and Mozart for intelligence and elegance. I do like some of the more impressionistic French composers though, like Debussy and Erik Satie

      • Damo says:

        Bruce,
        Have you ever played with a large sting orchestra? I can only imagine how it must be – playing to an audience and having the power of 30 man music machine behind you. Quite like the fun of driving a steam-roller I guess….

      • Bruce says:

        As a matter of fact, we once played with a 105-piece orchestra live at the Albert Hall. When we improvised the opening of a song not as rehearsed by musicians who were reading the dots, the band and the orchestra ended up a bar out of sync with each other. That was a lot like what I imageine driving a steam roller through Selfridges front window would be like.

  14. BorisBrain says:

    Hey Bruce –
    Great to discover your site, and thanks for some of the punchiest, electrifying and mind-boggling baselines I have ever heard.

    I think it’s great that you showcase other bassists playing your parts, but do you think you might ever post some vids of you playing along to some of the classics, so we mortals can get a better look at your technique? Every time I hear the outtro to ‘Shabby Doll’ I still wonder “how the hell does he do that…”

    Thanks again for some truly energetic and inspiring work. My low-rent punk covers band does its best to pay homage to several EC&TA songs; I keep wanting to do ‘Lipstick Vogue’ but our drummer just doesn’t have it in him…

    Stay groovy,

    BB
    Birmingham, UK

  15. Mike Miller says:

    Bruce:
    I’m so glad I found your site. For many years I have wanted to pay respect to you and your work through mail or email, but never found a way.
    I’m 59 years old now and have been playing bass as an amateur since my early teens in the mid ’60s.
    Spent many hours in my bedroom playing along with Beatle records such as “Rain” marveling at Paul’s bass lines.
    My first exposure to the Attractions was SNL in Dec ’77 and I’ve been on board ever since. I’m remember my girlfriend ( now wife of 32 years) saying: “That bass player looks like a little kid”
    Your work is still a major part of my practice and warm-up routine and I thank you for it.

    Of course, I have my ’64 pink P-Bass that I refer to as my “Bruce Thomas Tribute Bass”

    Mike Miller
    Kansas City

  16. John Anderson says:

    Wow, Bruce can’t believe you have this site out there. There is so little info out there on your playing. I started my own notebook last month to “try” and transcribe your lines. Almost through “This Year’s Model”. You have a ton of fans in the U.S.!

    • Bruce says:

      There are quite a few people working on transcriptions I know about. I’ll maybe collate some of them and put up a Transcriptons page on the site, if that sounds like a good idea.

      • John Anderson says:

        That is an excellent idea. If people have a favorite that isn’t out there on the web, I can give it a go. I will mention this site on Talkbass.com.

  17. Rob Richard says:

    I just want to say I think it’s fantastic that Bruce is giving nods towards the fans who put their interpretations of his work on YouTube. It shows how appreciative and humble he really is.

  18. Youlanda says:

    Nice post, stylish web site, continue the great work

  19. Jean Michel Jodon says:

    Hi Bruce !

    I am so proud to be here .. I think Graham Maby & Bruce Thomas are the two most ” inventive bass and groovy”.
    Sorry for my english, i’m just a poor “enigmatic Frenchman” 🙂

  20. Chris Fox says:

    Wonderful playing on these clips, particularly “Love Went Mad,” one of my personal favorites. Guess it’s time to get with the ‘shedding and put up my *own* Bruce video tribute on YouTube…

    • John C. McCain says:

      Hi Chris –
      So glad that you liked Love Went Mad…
      I intend to post several
      more lines from Punch The Clock on my youtube channel sometime soon…
      Bruce’s playing on the album is uniformly excellent
      and the lines are so fun to play…
      I look forward to hearing what you post !
      Best Wishes –
      John C. McCain
      South Portland, Maine

  21. Geant Kor Gran Di says:

    I’ll quote parts of a couple of the comments written here, as they reflect exactly what I think :

    “Thank you for being supportive and unselfish, you are a tremendous asset to the music community!”
    “there’s no way to measure what your support and appreciation means to each of the musicians you featured on this page”

  22. wardo says:

    Hello sir — these clips are very informative, if only to demostrate to me that even after playing the bass for 20 years, I’ve still got a long, long, LONG way to go.

    I look forward to more posts!

  23. David Muse says:

    Hey Bruce!

    Many thanks for recognizing other musicians on youtube including Troy Hughes. I am so thankful for his generosity in helping me learn to become a better bass player myself. Thank you for being supportive and unselfish, you are a tremendous asset to the music community!

    Dave Muse

    • Hi Bruce –
      I want to second what Dave just wrote…there’s no way to measure what your support and appreciation means to each of the musicians you featured on this page…I recently told a bass student that learning your basslines will help stave off Alzheimer’s Disease…keeps the brain nimble and the fingers connected ! Your playing is a true inspiration ! Thanks for your kindness ! John C. McCain – South Portland, Maine

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