f6d52915c7724ef8c993f0ef1c1e5b19Forgive my vanity and indulgence here, but I was forced to LOL (as they say) when I read the comments on a guitar tab for Crimes of Paris (a poignant title, to be sure) on the guitaretab.com website…

β€œThe tough thing about Crimes of Paris (as in many EC songs) is that he’s actually only playing five chords on the guitar, but the changes in the bass notes and the vocals are what you really hear. So, if you play it by yourself the way EC does on the album, it sounds like you’re missing a lot of important changes – and you are.

One is the pesky G with F bass (there’s no F major in the song) in the verses, which is tough to play on guitar. It sounds okay if you play a G7 there – the F will be in the chord, just on top instead of on the bottom. A similar problem is the Am with G# bass- which can be solved by flatting the A on the G string (what the hell chord is that anyway? Ammaj7?????)

The most original part is the bridge with the bassline walking up beneath the Am chord. Ami/B is, by
itself very dissonant, as the B isn’t part of an Am or Am7, but in context it sounds great. The end of the bridge is really strange with the same line continuing through D D# E with the Beatles-like chanting going on against it-I don’t know what to call those chords.

Luckily, it’s not too tough to work the bass notes into the chords on this one …I imagine that’s how Elvis played it as he was writing it.”

Well guys, I can exclusively reveal to you that it wasn’t! Maybe it had more to do with the bass player trying to make the chords sound more interesting.

As someone (who was accused of being me, though it wasn’t) said recently: Elvis may have written the book, every day, but it was the Attractions that designed to cover, chose the font and did the illustrations.

Posted in Music | 44 Comments

44 Responses to

  1. alison (yes, it really is) would not have chosen it! says:

    Hi Bruce, new poster,
    Great read, wallowing in nostalgia, I remember you taking the p**s out of my name when you played at at Stafford, I don’ remember anyone else playing Stychfields Hall, except Sham69, might be wrong. The place was like the works canteen and social club. It’s always odd to think that you can have such vivid memories of events that others don’t even recall or think you must have made up, or as my other half always calls them,MSU moments, which caused me to look up playlists for EC and be able to show him that it was not made up! I realise that you probably don’t remember it but was the strangest place I ever saw you, and there were many (not strange places, just many times I saw you!)

  2. Ed Morgan says:

    Since we are officially entering the holiday season…have you ever played on any Christmas recordings?

  3. Mike Miller says:

    Beautiful condition ’73 SVT just came in. Nicest I’ve seen in some time.


  4. Mike Miller says:

    I though EC was very complimentary of the Attractions in his McManus family history book.

  5. Geert De Wilde says:

    Just listening to it now: you’re making most of that bass up as you’re going along, aren’t you? It’s full of ‘impossible’ notes. But that’s what I love about The Attractions: a self-confident very adventurous bass. Anything is possible and it’s way way out of its safety zone. It’s melodious, strong and pushes the limits.

    • Bruce says:

      I’m a bit reluctant to disappoint you — but the notes were fairly considered rather than random. I was playing a bit with disonnance at the time — much to the annoyance of several people who’d booked me for session work πŸ™‚ There’s a track on a Peter Case album where I detuned the bass strings and then tried to bend the notes into pitch.

      • Geert De Wilde says:

        That’s a very interesting and very difficult way to go about things! But like I said, I love the bass to push boundaries, so whichever way it was conceived – through design or complete abandon – I love the effect!

  6. Paul Inglis says:

    There’s also some interesting “strange chords” in the middle eight of “Blue Chair”, which I definitely attribute to Mr Bass Player.

    • Bruce says:

      Wouldn’t it be funny, after all these years, if what everyone thought were my bass lines were all down to Elvis’ thumb. πŸ™‚

      • Geert De Wilde says:

        While the drums were actually Steve tapping his feet!

      • Bruce says:

        There are no secrets anymore.

      • Paul Inglis says:

        I always thought the drums were Nick Lowe tapping on the control room window, and the guitar was being played by a man with a musical chainsaw.

        Elvis would need to have one hell of a thumb though … he could hitchhike with the best of them if it were really so. πŸ˜‰

      • Geert De Wilde says:

        Actually, it’s obvious now: you and Pete don’t really exist! ‘Thomas’ is the shared nom de plume of Elvis’ thumb and Steve’s foot …

      • Bruce says:

        The secret is that it’s musical flatulence — and it’s his other end that’s miked up. Pardon my ‘end-of-term’ levity.

  7. Ed Morgan says:

    I think most folks understand what the Attractions brought to the table if for no other reason than simply listening to the EC recordings that they were absent from. From your perspective what other bands “designed the cover, chose the font” for other well regarded singer/songwriters? I’m sure most of your frequent posters have names to toss in this post…

    • Bruce says:

      I’d say Bob Dylan’s musicians did a lot towards shaping the songs and creating the sound of his albums during the early electric phase.

      • Ed Morgan says:

        That’s an interesting pick. I don’t really disagree with you but from the release of the bootleg series he seemed eager to explore the songs and let them find their own life so to speak.. Have you listened to any of these releases? I think they’re fascinating and really great to listen to. My pick would be the Rumour. I think they really lifted Graham’s game although he still had flashes of brilliance at times without them.

      • Bruce says:

        I haven’t listened to Bob Dylan bootlegs since the ‘Judas’ days! Bob Dylan had a good line that ‘a song is anything that can walk on its own’. But the Band obviously brought something to the table — as did the Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield ensemble. Yes, the Rumour played above and beyond the call of duty.

  8. David Witherington says:

    I’ll second that as a listener! The hooks and melodies just poured out of the early EC & A albums (when he allowed you to actually be a band). The “Blood and Chocolate” album was a welcome return to at least flirting with your classic pop combo sound. There’s a reason so many bands tried to copy the “EC&A sound” during the early New Wave days. You guys were throwing down the gauntlet album after album, then suddenly did a U-turn when EC “dismantled the sound” (as he puts it). That momentum was never regained, and the records seemed to lose focus as he hopped from genre to genre, “maturing” as it were. As Pete said in 1994, “The Attractions are the bad-ass heartbeat of Elvis Costello.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame knew that, and anyone there during the heyday knew it. From 1977-1981, I waited with bated breath for each “next album”. After that, I still listened (and still do), but the bated breath has long since become a suspicious sigh of “what are we in for this time?”

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