Hall of Fame #2

Having seen the post about Duck Dunn below, my buddy Jeff Owens at Fender sent me a YouTube clip of Ryane Askew’s cover of 5ive Gears in Reverse — a bass part of mine wholly modeled on Duck Dunn’s playing.

So I thought it might be appropriate to have a couple more clips of bass covers on the site.  (Although no-one seems to have picked up on the fact that the repeated melodic figure at the end of this track is actually a bass overdub, and not a guitar part.)



Ryane Askew / 5ive Gears in Reverse

Ryane of Fort Worth, Texas, is a trained clarinetist and jazz pianist but has recently started learning bass by ear from records — and appears to be progressing at the speed of light, as she’s only a few months into it.  She’s continuing a fine tradition, as that’s exactly how I learnt to play bass.  The first record I got down was Booker T’s Green Onions album — before moving on to Fresh Cream. (Ryane does a cool version of Steely Dan’s Peg on her YouTube channel — and she’s got seriously cool hair too!)


Colin Peters / (I Don’t Want to go to) Chelsea

This is the best cover I’ve heard of  ‘Chelsea’, possibly because Colin lives in South London.  He gets the subtle note variations in the chorus that not many others pick up on and plays with a real feel for the part.


Crank Up the Amps / Watching the Detectives

 Once I’d stumbled across this clip, how could I leave it out!

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

43 Responses to Hall of Fame #2

  1. Nick S. says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention Ryane. She of the Super Do. What a talented musician! I’ve shared “5ive Gears” video with others, and they all thought she was a great player and real cute to boot! And she is all that. I hope she posts more Bruce bass parts. Fun and cool to watch.

  2. Mike Miller says:

    Revisited Ryane’s “Peg” and from that ran into Chuck.
    I think I have no business with the instrument.



    • Bruce says:

      Yes — Chuck Rainey is scary. There’s a series on British TV called Classic Albums interviewing all the original contributors. One of the records they evaluate is Steely Dan’s Aja and Chuck features quite a bit, showing how he played the parts. Bernard Purdie is pretty scary too. Superdu Perry-Anne has some new clips on her channel — and a new haircut.

      My friend Tasmin Archer did vocals on a new version of Reeling in the Years with Eliott Randall — which also had the Chuck and Bernard rhythm section on it. I couldn’t resist doing a bass overdub of my own on it — just for the hell of it. It’ll never see the light of day, but I wish I’d got a rough mix of it.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Yes, I’m familiar with the Classic Album series. The Sex Pistols episode is pretty good. Didn’t Bill Price engineer one of the Quiver records?

      • Bruce says:

        Bill Price engineered the second Quiver record and Chris Thomas produced it.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Does she have her own recording rig or did you go to a studio? Pretty easy to do things “thru the mail” these days.

        I always thought TYM would have been a great Classic Album episode. Seems most of those are made in conjunction with some anniversary or reissue of the subject album. Maybe it’s time’s past.

      • Bruce says:

        She and her partner John Hughes have a pretty spiffy home studio set up now. John is a good engineer, drum programmer and arranger etc. I stay over with them whenever there’s anything to be done and usually do the bass parts for the album over a couple of days. I agree with you about TYM — it would’ve been a good album to look at.

      • Mike Miller says:

        You can have spiffy for a pretty reasonable amount these days. Great gear out there for small money. I’m always amused at the young engineers I teach to record analogue. They don’t know what to do with their hands when there’s not a keyboard and mouse and also when they can’t watch waveforms on a screen!
        I’ve read that TYM was recorded on 2″ 16 track. Sounds excellent and it’s nice and solid. Great work all round!

      • Bruce says:

        An SSL desk on a laptop — who’d have believed it.

      • Nick S. says:

        Another COOL rockumentary! (I bet all in this series are worth watching, regardless of preconceived notions of artists, bands.)

        Steely Dan was such a different band. Interesting insights on their creative process. A very cinematic process, I thought. Fagen, performing, reminds me of Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. As one Dan musician noted, F & B were like 2 people sharing 1 brainy brain. Rainey and Purdie were awesome players! They also seemed dignified, classy and (my) old school (ugh). Since I dabble with drums, probably, Purdie especially blew me away most of all the musicians. Cool to see Rick Marotta in action. Marotta’s comment about his recording on that record struck me. From what I gathered, RM stated that he had played a similar drum part before. But due to poorer recordings of it in the past, the crucial high-hat part was lost before. (We’ve kind of covered that ground here re. sound enginers and such.)

      • Bruce says:

        Yes, it’s a good piece — “the Purdie shuffle”.

  3. BorisBrain says:

    Hey Bruce,

    Always a pleasure to read your posts. I wonder if you can share some insights into how you achieved some of your amazing classic tone on TYM, AF or GH? I’ve been trying to replicate that amazing deep punchy sound with an American Ampeg SVT head and matching 4×10, with a fairly cheap and cheerful Fender Jazz bass (a vintage US Precision will probably involve selling my spleen, since the kidneys were mortgaged a while back…).

    Talent aside – and God knows mine isn’t any where near yours – would you put it down to type of guitar, bass amp, EQ, bass effects, post-production, or all of the above?

    Many thanks, and stay groovy


    • Bruce says:

      Hi Boris.

      Well,lots of variables in the equation there. First of all I’d say there’s a big difference between a Jazz bass and a P Bass and you can’t get one to sound like the other. My P bass had the pick ups rewound, wrongly as it happens but it turned out to be a happy accident and gave the bass a different sound in itself.

      I never used Ampeg SVT equipement until later on — and only live. On the albums you referenced I used a Traynor monoblock head with a custom speaker rig containing 2×12″ speakers and 1×18″. obviously it was the 12″ speaker that was miked up — but I also mixed in the miked sound with a DI feed.

      A vital part of the sound was a small Boss graphic EQ pedal which I used to roll out low bass and the honky mid tones (around 600 I think). The only other modification was a bit of compression.

      Having said all of that, most of the punch you talk about comes from the way you pluck the strings. The only way to describe it is to say that if you try snapping your finger and thumb together to make that snapping sound, it’s a bit like that. Also important is releasing the string with your left hand, so you get a more staccato stabbing effect.

      Try getting that kind of punchy sound just playing the bass acoustically without plugging it in to anything and you’re half way there. On some of the clips I put on youtube I turned the amp right down, so you might be able to hear what I mean.

      All the best.

      • BorisBrain says:

        Many thanks Bruce – really appreciate the reply. I’ve coveted quite a few P basses over the years, and may have to start there. But with me being a lefty, there are slimmer pickings. The rig you describe sounds pretty impressive, though my increasingly dodgy back is already struggling with the Ampeg gear, so as much as I’d like to, I won’t be getting any 18s any time soon. Regrettably the band isn’t in the roadie league yet.

        And thanks for the playing/snapping advice too – I’ll certainly work on that.

        Finally, with regard to EQ, did you always use the pedal you mentioned? Or would you get similar results from, say, the graphic EQ on something like the Ampeg?

        Many thanks again – this is valuable advice from a player who’s tone and technique I have greatly admired for many years.

        Stay groovy,


  4. John Biscuti says:

    Off-topic a bit Bruce, but I saw a few shots of you using a Danelectro Longhorn Bass and a Wal Bass. Did you use either of these on any EC recordings? If so, do you recall which ones?

    • Bruce says:

      I used the Wal on the Punch the Clock abum and the Danelectro on Brutal youth. Actually the “Danelectro” was a Jerry Jones “replica” — I used it on the 1994-95 work with the Attractions and pretty much all the session work I did post-Attractions, including the Suzanne Vega albums. If you go to the Video Clips page on this site, you’ll see me using it on the Letterman Show.

      • Mike Miller says:

        I’ve been recently playing a JJ Longhorn that belongs to the mastering engineer here and it looks identical to yours. It’s quite a change from playing a heavy-strung Precision and reminds me a lot of the Gibson EB-0 I had as a teen.
        Did you use round or flat-wound strings? He’s got flats on this one…sounds good though!

      • Bruce says:

        I use D-Addario short scale roundwounds. They’re great recording basses, you must have discovered that as an engineer. I used mine on all the Suzanne Vega stuff.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Do you still own a JJ and do you have much of an instrument collection these days?

      • Bruce says:

        Believe it or not I sold my last JJ to Jeff Owens who’s in charge of PR at Fender! The only basses I’ve currently got are various “pink” ones — none of which are exactly matching in colour.

      • Mike Miller says:

        The JJ I was playing was recently “repossessed” by it’s owner. It really has excellent acoustical properties that attributes to it’s nice sound. He told me he paid $300 for it a couple of years ago.

        I found out how important “body tone” was when I sent a ’64 Precision that had been completely sanded down and disassembled in for refinishing. It appeared to have had 3 paint jobs in it’s life ( original sunburst, xmas tree green and chocolate brown including the headstock) and was in sad shape.

        The refinisher called me and said the body was a 1/16″ thinner because of all the sanding that had been done prior and I had two choices: Lots of primer and paint for it to look smooth and perfect or a paint job that would look good from a distance. The perfect paint would result in a dampening of the body sound. I went for the nice look and in retrospect I wish I would have went the other way. Still a good bass, but the worn sunburst ’66 I have sounds better.

        They did an excellent job: http://www.rsguitarworks.net/cms2/

      • Bruce says:

        Fender only ever put the thinnest coat of nitrocellulose lacquer (auto paint) possible to cover the bare wood, without primer. Occasionally, if a paint job didn’t work out, they would respray a second finish directly over the first one. So it’s not unusual to have a red guitar start wearing away to reveal a sunburst finish underneath, for example. Of course, a sunburst finish takes three colours to achieve in itself, as you know.

  5. Nick S. says:

    Hey, Bruce.

    Thanks to your blog, I’ve been revisiting EC & Attractions via live videos on YouTube. It all started with your posting of great, live “13 Steps . . . .” I’ve since seen promotional video for same song, and didn’t really like the video (or lyrics). Studio version wasn’t nearly as intense nor ferocious as Letterman version.

    Some of the standout live videos I saw at YouTube were: 1996, A Case For Song, “Accidents,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLCj95iIgzg ; “Riot Act,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIFErCYTn7o ; 1979, Count Down, “Oliver’s Army,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OSdWz-eMXw ; “Lip Service” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_EitybjgDc&feature=relmfu

    Just some (of MANY) live performances that I thought were pretty outstanding. It seems in ’96 you guys were at a peak performance level . . . you all could play with the same intensity of your youths, but with a maturity that only time could “tame” or mellow some.

    You may wish to add any of these to your video page; you may not. JUST a suggestion on my part. The Attractions were a weird band. I mean that as a high compliment. No other band sounded like you guys. It’s too bad when “magical” band chemistry goes awry. But it seems common and inevitable. (The Beatles, The Jam, CCR, orig. Black Sabbath, XTC, Felder/Walsh Eagles, orig. James Gang, Barlow Jethro Tull, etc.) I suppose it’s good enough to be grateful for whatever good came out of “magical chemistry.”


  6. John Foyle says:

    Did you know you were on the cover of the NME Encyclopedia of Rock (1976)? http://whatsheonaboutnow.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/at-last-i-can-name-mystery-band-who.html

    • Bruce says:

      Well, there’s a thing!

    • Nick S. says:


      Thanks for solving that mystery.

      I own that terrific reference book. Looked in it just recently. Bought it brand new back in the day. The authors had pretty good taste, I thought. (Puzzled why Jam and Clash made book, but EC didn’t?) ALWAYS wondered who was pictured on cover. Couldn’t find an answer in book. The esteemed Mr. Thomas does it again!

  7. Nick S. says:

    Dear Bruce,

    So glad you have an Internet presence. I was very impressed with ALL the videos you posted. While I’m not a musician — I’m a drummer ;0) — my ears tell me they were all very faithful renditions.

    I also wanted to state that without you, Elvis Costello and the Attractions are GREATLY diminished. In my HUMBLE opinion, Declan MacManus is just an OK songwriter, a better singer, and somewhat mediocre guitarist. The basslines you contributed to his songs were AMAZING! Often, you were the lead instrument in the band. Melodious, complex-sounding, interesting, riveting, memorable basslines. Mostly you made his OK songs sound great. In fact, your playing is mostly why (I like the Keyboard Player and Drummer, too) I can return to those records. Nick Lowe’s production was EXCELLENT, also. The critics truly were “mad about the wrong boy.” I don’t really mean to diss El (his strength is as a singer), but I’m just stating my impression. (I would make a similar argument about The Jam’s dynamic rhythm section. Bruce Foxton was EASILY The Jam’s musical focal point.)

    I hope you still enjoy playing bass. It’s a joy to hear your fantastic playing on EC’s old records.

    Nick (NOT Lowe!)

  8. Andrew Crivilare says:

    I remember watching her videos when I started playing, she helped me get my timing down on “5 Gears”. Always hoped she’d play “Opportunity” sometime, could never figure out the tabs to that one.

  9. Brian Daley says:


    I thought your readers might dig this interview with Roger Bechirian plus some pictures of you back in the day….


  10. Mike Miller says:

    I watched her Youtube videos. 3 months? Not sure I’m buying that.

    • Bruce says:

      That’s a bit cynical of you. I’ve never known a beautiful woman to lie.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Regardless of her time frame, she’s well on her way. Maybe about 2000 into her “10000” hours.

      • Bruce says:

        I know the “10,000” hours theory has become a bit of a cliche nowadays — but that’s because it’s true. It certainly has been in most of the endeavours I’ve gained any competence in. I’m about 24 hours into blogging 🙂

  11. Jeff Owens says:

    Very cool, Bruce! I have to say I knew that ending bit on “Five Gears” had to be an overdub, although it is fun to try to work those notes in while keeping the low E string going underneath!


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