Bass players are usually the forgotten member of the band, the nobodies, the ones that struggle to make an impression. Often told to “shut up and look cool” the bass players are designed to make the frontman the centre of the attention while they get left in the shadows. But why are bass players so often overlooked?
Sadly, bass only really requires a supportive bass line in the simplest way possible therefore bass solos are usually non-existent, and bass players are left receiving little to zero attention. So, to celebrate those that do make a noise (in all the right places) here are the 10 greatest hard rock and hair band bass songs ever.
10. Money – Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd are often credited with being one of the most progressive rock bands in history, and track “Money” certainly shows off their distinctive style. Released in 1973, the song is famed for its tape loop of money related side effects as well as its unique time signature. However, it is the bass that really stands out, with bassist Roger Waters dropping one of the most familiar bass lines to date.
9. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
One of Van Morrison most famous songs, “Brown Eyed Girl” is a stand out favourite for classic rock lovers. However, Morrison recently claimed that he didn’t even consider it to be one of his best 300 songs, stating, “the record came out different, this fellow, Bert, he made it the way he wanted it, and I accepted the fact that he was producing it, so I just let him do it.” Whatever the case, the bass is most certainly the standout feature providing the catchy number with a killer bass line and even better riff.
8. Sweet Emotion – Aerosmith
Released by American rock band Aerosmith in 1975, “Sweet Emotion” was the band’s breakout hit. Famed for its repeated electric bass riff that runs alongside the bass marimba and a talk box, the song also uses a packet of sugar in place of maracas. Now referred to as Aerosmith’s signature song, the track often tops greatest rock song lists worldwide and bass lines.
7. The Boys Are Back in Town – Thin Lizzy
One of Thin Lizzy’s most famous tracks, “The Boys Are Back in Town” was written for their fans who were mostly from working class backgrounds and liked to drink. Mostly known for their unique twin guitar sound, bassist Phil Lynott was also noted for his distinct bass style in which he attacked his strings with a plectrum. Loud bass players at their very best.
6. Under Pressure – Queen
What do you get when you put together some of the best musicians on the planet? A killer track of course! Released by rock band, Queen, in 1981, “Under Pressure” was also written and recorded with singer and legend David Bowie. Famed for its iconic bass line, Queen’s bassist John Deacon confessed that it was Bowie who had thought it up. That man could really do anything.
5. Ace of Spaces – Motörhead
Released by Motörhead in 1980, the track quickly became their most famous song and signature tune. Loud, ferocious and in your face, the bass line is one of the most recognisable in rock. Unmistakable in his sound, bass player Lemmy was known for his overpowering and distorted unique playing ability which quickly put him as one of the best bass players around. We miss you Lemmy!
4. For Whom the Bells Toll – Metallica
Inspired by the Ernest Hemingway novel of the same name, “For Whom the Bells Toll” is one of Metallica’s most famous hits. Displaying a killer introduction, the sound is often mistaken for an electric guitar. However, it is Cliff Burton’s distorted bass riff that really opens the song, which was written before Burton even joined the band.
3. Killers – Iron Maiden
An underrated track to say the least, “Killers” first appeared on the Iron Maiden album of the same name with bass player Steve Harris providing one of the most killer bass lines in metal. In fact, Harris is the only member left since their inception in 1975 and is still thrashing on his strings to this day.
2. The Lemon Song – Led Zeppelin
Not one of their most famous songs, “The Lemon Song” is more of a cult classic. However, the song certainly shows off the unique playing ability of bass player, John Paul Jones, who is responsible for several distinctive and recognisable bass lines throughout the bands career.
1. Sunshine of Your Love – Cream
One of Cream’s most well-known tracks, “Sunshine of Your Love” also holds one of the most identifiable bass lines in music history. Bassist Jack Bruce later claimed he had based it on a repeated musical phrase he had developed after watching Jimi Hendrix in concert. Now that’s what you call a proper musician.