“They’re the guys in the background. They might not be the first ones that come to mind and they might not be as popular as their band’s guitarist or vocalist but bassists are important to any band. Some double as singers and many contribute greatly to the creative process as songwriters. Bass plays a much larger role in rock than people may realize. It may not stand out as much as the drums, guitars or vocals do but bass is part of the backbone of any musical group and along with the drums make up the all-important rhythm section.
“Bassists are essential to any band’s sound. Though they may not get all the attention or credit they deserve many bassists are responsible for making songs sound whole. The deep tone of a bass prevents songs from sounding empty, something that is sometimes overlooked by fans but is key to every group’s sound none the less.”
I’ve just had a communication from that gentleman of letters Derek Philpott and his cohort, Mr Wilf Turnbull, who not long ago wrote to ‘Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ regarding anomalies they’d found in some of band’s recorded works. Having failed to elicit a response from the song smith concerned, I have stepped in to try and help. Our respective letters may be viewed here at Mr Turnbull’s site … though I fear many wormholes may yet be found in my Victorian analogy.
Here’s another find in the magic loft! … a Polaroid I took (according to the date on the back) in 1981 … I can’t remember where. It’s not AIR studios or Abbey Road, so it looks like it must be in the McCartney offices in Soho Square.
Believe it or not, this exquisitely crafted instrument (which I made myself!) is what I began learning to play bass on. I found it in my Mum’s loft over Christmas — I thought it had disappeared years ago.
Note that it has an eleven-fret octave instead of twelve — which means that I was probably playing in some kind of Indian tuning — particularly as the frets were positioned more or less at random. Even so, I learnt Green Onions and many other riffs on it.
The electrics are lost — the pick-ups were the voice coils from telephones and the fact that several phone kiosk handsets were vandalized in the streets near our house at the time the bass was made was pure coincidence.
I just got an e-mail from Clouds organist, Billy Ritchie (r). Apparently, on his website, Jon Anderson of Yes has finally acknowledged (a little) the vital role Clouds played in the inception of Prog Rock — and in the careers of the many who embraced it.
Clouds were very important in those early years. I remember them performing Paul Simon’s America at a Marquee concert and at a gig in Wales. As you know Yes eventually performed the song, I still do today in my solo concerts. Those far off days were very open and exciting. I did have dreams of all those bands touring together on a bus …great music, great times of innocence. Jon Anderson (Yes)
As Billy himself adds: Only forty years too late! I suppose it’s safe to own up now?