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Bizarro Buddha / Blog

Klaus Fluoride, Part Deux

Okay, here's a brief rundown of some of the greatest basslines played by one of the greatest bass players of all time: 1. "Lie Detector" (from Bedtime for Democracy): Dominant in the mix on this powerful album-closer, Klaus' bass is crazily cutting, with a vibrant, almost obnoxious pick tone. Also, the bass notes just simply never stop on this low note tour de force. 2. "Soup is Good Food" (from Frankenchrist): Ostinato bass line in a punk song? Check. Primo, creative note choices are sprinkled throughout this masterful song. (One of East Bay Ray's best guitar suites, too, in my opinion.) 3. "Halloween" (from Plastic Surgery Disasters): This is perennial Klaus: tons and tons of fun runs throughout this tune. A little bit of grit in the bass tone (and a lower place in the overall album mix) makes this tune a "seek and ye shall find" bass gem. 4. "Night of the Living Rednecks" (from Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death): Just simply some badass jazz bass backing. This track was live, improvised, and brilliant. (Jello to Klaus: "Take down on the bass...little bit down on the bass!")

An Appreciation of Klaus Fluoride

Ahhh, Klaus. The bass player for the groundbreaking Bay Area quartet The Dead Kennedys is one of the most underrated musicians in recent memory. In fact, I could argue (and may in the future) that the DK's were years ahead of their counterparts in the late seventies and early eighties--- both thematically and musically. If you spin the DK catalogue, the overall complexity of the song arrangements, note barrages, and melodies is pretty stunning...and all this was held together and propelled forward by Mr. Fluoride.

The DK's only had four proper studio albums, but their footprint on the punk/progressive scene is as large as a megalodon. I could easily spout off the individual accolades of every band member: the surf guitar/middle eastern/just plain atonal guitar genius of East Bay Ray; the heady, unique tones and rhythms of vocalist Jello Biafra; the stalwart percussion of DH Peligro. As a biased bass player, though, Klaus gets the time today.

Klaus Fluoride respected the songs he played on, although he is personally given only one or two writing credits throughout the catalogue. That respect shines through in the unbelievably energetic, mixed tonality, complex bass lines---no, make that bass arrangements---that he came up with. Examples to follow in the next entry.

Top 5 Things You Should Avoid Saying to a Female Drummer by Thumper

Don't misunderstand, I love our fans. They're truly the best! There is just a subset of creeper pervs that say things to female drummers that shouldn't be said to a drummer. Or a woman. Ever. Period. Here's my top 5 comments to avoid saying if you're not a creeper perv: 1. You play great... for a girl. (Woohoo, finally boobs give me the extra credit I need to move from mediocrity to greatness! Who knew they were good for drumming? 2. You should play in stilletos. (No, Beavis, YOU should play in stilletos) 3. I like how enthusiastic/perky/bouncy you are. (And you're the reason I like having 5 cymbals all strategically placed at chest height around the kit) 4. You hit those drums hard. (Okay, so I'm not delicate back there, but I have watched other drummers, mostly men, and they aren't delicate either, so I can only assume you are surprised I don't hit 'like a girl'.) 5. I should give you drum lessons. (I've learned to make these coulda-been-a-contender drum teachers play my drums to gauge whether they are Neil Peart like they say they are. Not one has played anywhere near as well as my current teacher, who can and does play Neil Peart but has his own style that I love. If telling me you should be my teacher is a pick-up line - get a new line and stop embarassing yourself on girl drums - they're covered in cooties you know:-)

Geddy Lee basses, Part Two

(continuing with my list....)

5. Wal Mach I. For the Late Eighties/Early Nineties Triad of Rush Rock (Power Windows, Hold Your Fire, Presto), Mr. Lee employed this nifty tool. His now-infamous black Wal Mach I had a very different sound from pretty much anything else that was being heard in popular music. Given the very advanced circuitry and superior build specs, the Wal bass had a tone best described as "twangy." With such deep lows and non-brittle, piano-like highs, the Wal cut a huge sonic path through the mixes if competed in during this era of Rush. Loved by many, despised by some, the Wal sound was nothing if not distinctive.

6. Wal Mach II. This bass only appeared (as far as I know) on one Rush album: Roll the Bones. Given the bigger body and otherwise identical electronics to the legendary black Wal Mach I, this bass had a deeper sound and a little less twang than it's older brother.

7. '70's-era Jazz Bass, Chapter II. With their album Counterparts (1993), Rush stripped away a lot of the synthesizers and went with a more straight-ahead rock sound (in more ways than one---gone were the lush and complex song arrangements, odd time signatures, and gobs of sampling). Part of this band reinvention was the dusting off of ole Bluey the Kalamazoo Jazz. Now with even more distortion and bassy goodness, the bass tone on this album is considered a fan favorite. As of this writing, Mr. Lee has continued with the Fender Jazz line with varying degrees of distortion.

Questions? Comments? No problem! Just track me down here on this site or at www.bizarrobuddha.com.

Dr.D

Bizarro Buddha
Bizarro Buddha  (over 2 years ago)

Thought I'd throw in some example songs for some of the Geddy Bass List.

1. Precision. The best place to hear this hulking thing is the bass breakdown during "Working Man." Check out the chromatic glory...

2. Rickenbacker. As mentioned above, "Cygnus X-1" is amongst the best examples of this bass' sound. The bass domination throughout all of the album Hemispheres is notable as well...and there's a heap of flange on the ole Ric throughout the epic entire-side title track.

3. Jazz bass. I personally like "The Weapon" off of Signals as a good place to hear this fuzzy thing come to life. Oh, and for the record, the bass line to "Digital Man" (also off Signals) has won many bass fanatic polls as the all-time trickiest and best bass line throughout Rush's extensive catalogue.

4. Steinberger. I'm drawing a blank on this one.

5. Wal Mach I. Check out "Territories" off of Power Windows and "Show Don't Tell" off of Presto. Stuttering right-hand syncopation wonderment...

Bizarro Buddha
Bizarro Buddha  (over 2 years ago)

Geddy Lee bass sample track list addendum:

1. Steinberger is on display throughout the Grace Under Pressure Live show (I had to dust off my VHS copy to confirm this...Joe Flaherty is hilarious on there...), although the bass mix is a little lower than on their other live show releases (like Exit...Stage Left and A Show of Hands).
2. Wal Mach II heard mainly on Roll the Bones, and most prominently on "Where's My Thing?"
3. Modern Jazz Bass tone heard everywhere from 1992 onwards. My favorite single song that demonstrates this monster sound, though, is "Animate" off of Counterparts. This track also highlights Geddy's use of back-and-forth flamenco right-hand technique.

Geddy Lee: Basses over the years, Part One

The perennial rock bass magnate, Gary "Geddy" Lee of Rush has been destroying it with four strings for over 30 years. Unlike a lot of his aging colleagues, however, Mr. Lee has managed to keep a fairly fresh sound from album to album, often by switching up basses and bass rigs as the popular surrounding styles changed. In addition, he's one of the gods that doesn't mind learning a thing or two along the way: indeed, Mr. Lee has broken out several new and almost groundbreaking bass-playing techniques over the years---techniques that were passed to him by lesser know but massively accomplished teachers (eg., Jeff Berlin).

So, here's my compendium of Mr. Lee's albums and the basses he used, with some side notes regarding the tones, rigs, styles, etc. that were employed:

1. Fender Precision: only used on the first album from 1972. Clanky, ballsy, brash tones like only an old P-bass can muster. Bluesy bass lines on this album. You can almost hear what's about to come next....

2. Rickenbacker 4003. He used this axe on most of the seventies uber-prog stuff...Farewell to Kings, Hemispheres, 2112, Fly By Night, etc. Considered by many to be the definitive Geddy tone, the Ric is the king of the gritty, pseudo-overdriven, trebly, stanky, harmonic-rich sounds that Mr. Lee used to tonally dominate these classic prog records. Cue up "Cygnus X-1" for the ultimate Ric joy ride...

3. Fender Jazz, Chapter One. According to legend, Mr. Lee found his old blue early '70's jazz bass at a pawn shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan around 1980 or so. He used this thing extensively (but not exclusively) on the big Rush Pop Triad of the Early Eighties: Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, and Signals. This early '80's jazz sound was fuzzy and mid-range-y, and he used just a dainty touch of chorus/flange for a lot of the tunes in this era. Additionally, his ole Oberheim synthesizer was sneaking in to beef up the low frequencies during this time. Often times, the jazz bass and the synths would fuzz together, giving a great layered sound: Rush was sounding more like a five-piece than a three-piece...

4. Steinberger L-2. As far as I know, Mr. Lee only busted out the "licorice stick" for one album: Grace Under Pressure. Despite its small size, the Steiny had a fierce sound...sort of a mixture of percolating sterility (from the EMG pickups and graphite resin neck and body) and coarse bark (probably from Mr. Lee's hard right hand picking technique and some added onboard effects).

(to be continued...)

A word on Bass Tones...by Dr.D

I've always maintained that Bass Tone can be divided up into three main "prongs": Prong 1: Rickenbacker. This prong would also include basses like the Gibson Thunderbird and the Fender Precision---thick, meaty, easily distorted with the appropriate picking hand technique, etc. Prong 2: Boutique. This prong includes all the fancy custom basses like Alembic, Status, and Wal. The sound is clean, hi-fi, and highly tweakable. Prong 3: Jazz Bass. This set includes, obviously, the Fender Jazz as well as other brands such as Modulus and most of the Ernie Ball models. This guitar set gives off the rapid-fire, nasally, jazzlike sound that's currently one of the most popular tones to try and achieve in rock music. This is just my two cents. I'd appreciate any feedback on this...

Bizarro Buddha
Bizarro Buddha  (over 2 years ago)

After much soul-searching, I've determined that my current bass tone---achieved with a Stingray Classic---should probably be lumped into Prong 1, although there are distinct overlapping tones with the Prong 2 set.

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