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Author Topic: Brian's Bass Playing  (Read 5345 times)
Niko
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« Reply #25 on: July 07, 2015, 08:54:01 AM »

Personally, I will play bass in the classic two fingers pointed down style, using a pick, or with my thumb. It all depends on the song. If I'm playing a soft jazz ballad, I'll use my thumb for a larger, warmer sound. If it's something rocking that need a hard, driving sound, I use a pick...etc etc...
Guitar too. I go back and forth between fingerpicking (fingers plucking kinda like Mark Knopfler but without the skill/elegance/speed) and using a pick. I just do whatever I think suits the song I'm playing.
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Ron
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« Reply #26 on: July 07, 2015, 05:08:20 PM »

It must be, Ron. That whole original MTB line-up from Spartanburg was incredible. Toy's solo album, Son of the South, recorded not long before he passed away 20-some years ago has some of his best guitar work - Why Am I Cryin', instrumental Night Life, Texas On My Mind, live Can't You See . . . . . George McCorkle was no slouch as second guitar, either.

You're speaking my language, now.  Very sad that this band doesn't get more respect, they made so much quality music and were so original.   If you get time and are up to it, if you search for Toy Caldwell enough on youtube, you'll eventually find some videos of him in the early 90's playing in a little tiny bar in Myrtle Beach to a handful of people.  it's pretty stunning to see him late in his too-short life virtually forgotten in a beach bar. 

Didn't Toy play EVERYTHING with his thumb?  As in, every note?
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NHC
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« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2015, 09:16:58 AM »

Ron, yes and yes. Toy also played at a place - in Greenville or environs? - somebody's Pump House? in the (very) early 90's shortly before he passed, that was on youtube. He had a quartet and did lots of MTB and solo stuff. Or is that the one you're speaking of? The youtube videos disappeared a year or so ago, unfortunately. There are some great ones of him solo and the original line-up, plus a short interview with Tom Snyder in 1980 when they appeared on his TV show.  Some classic humorous southern-type lines from Toy, Paul and George. I loved how he could slip from rock to blues to jazz and back so seamlessly you never really noticed it at first. His solo on "I Should Have Never Started Loving You" is immortal.

To understand why this band - the original line-up, specifically - is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame requires far more imagination than I possess.

(Sorry guys, we didn't mean to hijack the thread.)
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« Reply #28 on: July 08, 2015, 09:33:36 AM »

It must be, Ron. That whole original MTB line-up from Spartanburg was incredible. Toy's solo album, Son of the South, recorded not long before he passed away 20-some years ago has some of his best guitar work - Why Am I Cryin', instrumental Night Life, Texas On My Mind, live Can't You See . . . . . George McCorkle was no slouch as second guitar, either.

You're speaking my language, now.  Very sad that this band doesn't get more respect, they made so much quality music and were so original.   If you get time and are up to it, if you search for Toy Caldwell enough on youtube, you'll eventually find some videos of him in the early 90's playing in a little tiny bar in Myrtle Beach to a handful of people.  it's pretty stunning to see him late in his too-short life virtually forgotten in a beach bar.  

Didn't Toy play EVERYTHING with his thumb?  As in, every note?
To this day, Toy's "This Ol' Cowboy" is still one my favorite songs. I play it quite often. I love that fusion of Country, Jazz and that tint of Rock. The song is a real Tour de Force. Smiley
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The Brianista Prayer

Oh Brian
Thou Art In Hawthorne,
Harmonied Be Thy name
Your Kingdom Come,
Your Steak Well Done,
On Stage As It Is In Studio,
Give Us This Day, Our Shortenin' Bread
And Forgive Us Our Bootlegs,
As We Also Have Forgiven Our Wife And Managers,
And Lead Us Not Into Kokomo,
But Deliver Us From Mike Love.
Amen.  ---hypehat
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« Reply #29 on: July 08, 2015, 09:52:25 AM »

Ron, yes and yes. Toy also played at a place - in Greenville or environs? - somebody's Pump House? in the (very) early 90's shortly before he passed, that was on youtube. He had a quartet and did lots of MTB and solo stuff. Or is that the one you're speaking of? The youtube videos disappeared a year or so ago, unfortunately. There are some great ones of him solo and the original line-up, plus a short interview with Tom Snyder in 1980 when they appeared on his TV show.  Some classic humorous southern-type lines from Toy, Paul and George. I loved how he could slip from rock to blues to jazz and back so seamlessly you never really noticed it at first. His solo on "I Should Have Never Started Loving You" is immortal.

To understand why this band - the original line-up, specifically - is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame requires far more imagination than I possess.

(Sorry guys, we didn't mean to hijack the thread.)

Those are probably the same videos I'm talking about, I must have the location wrong... yes, I can't find them on youtube anymore either... There's not really much video of him ON youtube so I'd imagine we've all seen the same videos.  What a great talent.  Sad story, really.
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« Reply #30 on: December 25, 2022, 03:47:41 AM »

Sorry to bring up this old thread but I don't think this would need no new one:

Currently I'm very interested in playing bass and therefor wondered about Brian's playing. One question that comes up is if Brian was the only bass player on the songs he played during the late 70s live shows. I watched a couple of videos but couldn't see anyone else on bass for those songs. I understand that I - as others probably do as well - underestimate late 70s Brian becaus of his condition. Still, I wonder if he had that much practice and rehearsal for carrying the bass duties during that time.

Another general question I have is if we know if Brian had an understanding of how the bass works so that he could actually "play" the instrument or did he just have Carl show him the lines for each song and kept it to that?
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« Reply #31 on: December 25, 2022, 02:57:30 PM »

Sorry to bring up this old thread but I don't think this would need no new one:

Currently I'm very interested in playing bass and therefor wondered about Brian's playing. One question that comes up is if Brian was the only bass player on the songs he played during the late 70s live shows. I watched a couple of videos but couldn't see anyone else on bass for those songs. I understand that I - as others probably do as well - underestimate late 70s Brian becaus of his condition. Still, I wonder if he had that much practice and rehearsal for carrying the bass duties during that time.

Another general question I have is if we know if Brian had an understanding of how the bass works so that he could actually "play" the instrument or did he just have Carl show him the lines for each song and kept it to that?

Not sure about the second point but Ed Carter was almost certainly covering bass for Brian, whose playing and behaviour could be described as quite erratic during this period.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2022, 02:57:59 PM by Cabinessenceking » Logged
All Summer Long
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« Reply #32 on: December 25, 2022, 11:21:19 PM »

Sorry to bring up this old thread but I don't think this would need no new one:

Currently I'm very interested in playing bass and therefor wondered about Brian's playing. One question that comes up is if Brian was the only bass player on the songs he played during the late 70s live shows. I watched a couple of videos but couldn't see anyone else on bass for those songs. I understand that I - as others probably do as well - underestimate late 70s Brian becaus of his condition. Still, I wonder if he had that much practice and rehearsal for carrying the bass duties during that time.

Another general question I have is if we know if Brian had an understanding of how the bass works so that he could actually "play" the instrument or did he just have Carl show him the lines for each song and kept it to that?

Not sure about the second point but Ed Carter was almost certainly covering bass for Brian, whose playing and behaviour could be described as quite erratic during this period.

I could be wrong, but I thought that Ed Carter switched to guitar for those 1977-78 shows and only played bass for songs like Lady Lynda, Country Pie, Everyone’s In Love With You, etc.

Rocker, I thought the general consensus was that, at the very beginning, Carl showed Brian the lines for each song, but that eventually, Brian knew how to “play” bass on his own (maybe with a little help from Carl for more difficult parts?). I do wonder about any songs he hadn’t played bass on in the ‘60’s that he may have played in 1977-78. I wonder if he “translated” them himself, or if Carl or Ed Carter helped him because he hadn’t played bass regularly for a while.
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« Reply #33 on: December 26, 2022, 02:28:49 AM »

I do wonder about any songs he hadn’t played bass on in the ‘60’s that he may have played in 1977-78. I wonder if he “translated” them himself, or if Carl or Ed Carter helped him because he hadn’t played bass regularly for a while.


That's a great question. In Australia Brian played bass on "Heroes & Villains" and "Wouldn't it be nice" a.o., and I can't figure out if Ed Carter or somebody else is there covering for Brian just in case. You can see though that Brian's playing seemingly doesn't fit the bass line in the chorus of H&V. And also after the acapella break and "toce la guitara" I wonder if that is really him, the camera angle doesn't give a good look on his hands. On the other hand, him sitting on or standing by the bass amp instead of in front of the stage could actually mean that he was concentrating on his playing.

His playing on "Rock and Roll Music" - to be sure a much simpler job than "H&V" - on the Midnight Special sounds pretty solid and that is while he's singing at the same time.


From "Catch a Wave" by Peter Ames-Carlin we know that Carl was hesitant to let Brian play bass on stage, while the latter had already gotten out his old equipement and started to practice. I don't kow how much energy Carl would put into him showing Brian completely new (for Brian) lines instead of just focusing on the things that Brian had played in the 60s and refreshing his mind.


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a diseased bunch of mo'fos if there ever was one… their beauty is so awesome that listening to them at their best is like being in some vast dream cathedral decorated with a thousand gleaming American pop culture icons.

- Lester Bangs on The Beach Boys


PRO SHOT BEACH BOYS CONCERTS - LIST


To sum it up, they blew it, they blew it consistently, they continue to blow it, it is tragic and this pathological problem caused The Beach Boys' greatest music to be so underrated by the general public.

- Jack Rieley
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« Reply #34 on: January 17, 2023, 05:57:39 AM »

Both Brian and Bruce had a weird picking technique.

Bruce picked.

Brian thumbed.

Yeah that 'thumbing' technique, I've seen Bruce use it too.

That thumbing technique that Brian uses actually was 'the' technique at one time. When bass made its transition from the stand-up bass used by people like Elvis's Bill Black to the electric basses made by Fender, the thumb technique from the stand-up remained until people figured out more efficient ways of playing - including using fingers, pick, or indeed slapping with both thumb and fingers.

This can be seen in older basses (or reissues thereof), where instead of a thumb rest allowing the fingers to play, there's a finger rest/grab handle allowing the thumb to play while still being anchored.

« Last Edit: January 17, 2023, 05:58:54 AM by UEF » Logged
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« Reply #35 on: January 17, 2023, 06:51:57 AM »

One of the problems with giving an intent listen to Brian's bass playing on those 1977/78 shows is that few great-sounding sources for those shows exist. A few radio broadcasts and pro-shot videos; that's about it. And I can't say the mix on any of those shows is particularly great.

The videos at least give you a look at what Brian is playing (however much it's mixed up in the live mix).

I've never felt Brian really needed to focus a ton on bass playing. He was/is so musical that he could do it.

I've long felt that learning the most rudimentary bass is probably easier than learning guitar (see: Stu Sutcliffe), but being a very good bass player might be harder than being a very good guitarist.
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« Reply #36 on: January 17, 2023, 10:18:45 AM »

Both Brian and Bruce had a weird picking technique.

Bruce picked.

Brian thumbed.

Yeah that 'thumbing' technique, I've seen Bruce use it too.

That thumbing technique that Brian uses actually was 'the' technique at one time. When bass made its transition from the stand-up bass used by people like Elvis's Bill Black to the electric basses made by Fender, the thumb technique from the stand-up remained until people figured out more efficient ways of playing - including using fingers, pick, or indeed slapping with both thumb and fingers.

This can be seen in older basses (or reissues thereof), where instead of a thumb rest allowing the fingers to play, there's a finger rest/grab handle allowing the thumb to play while still being anchored.





That's true. Check out Jerry Lee Lewis' bass player J. W. Brown's handling of the bass on what is credited to be the first time an electric bass was played on TV (it's what I've read, haven't checked it myself):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs_bkhqJmRI








I've long felt that learning the most rudimentary bass is probably easier than learning guitar (see: Stu Sutcliffe), but being a very good bass player might be harder than being a very good guitarist.



Which reminds me of Willie Nelson's answer when getting asked by Ray Price if he (Willie) could play bass. "Can't everybody?" Willie had never played bass before but became the bass player for Ray's Cherokee Cowboys after that.  Cheesy
« Last Edit: January 17, 2023, 01:05:46 PM by Rocker » Logged

a diseased bunch of mo'fos if there ever was one… their beauty is so awesome that listening to them at their best is like being in some vast dream cathedral decorated with a thousand gleaming American pop culture icons.

- Lester Bangs on The Beach Boys


PRO SHOT BEACH BOYS CONCERTS - LIST


To sum it up, they blew it, they blew it consistently, they continue to blow it, it is tragic and this pathological problem caused The Beach Boys' greatest music to be so underrated by the general public.

- Jack Rieley
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« Reply #37 on: Today at 03:52:31 AM »


Which reminds me of Willie Nelson's answer when getting asked by Ray Price if he (Willie) could play bass. "Can't everybody?" Willie had never played bass before but became the bass player for Ray's Cherokee Cowboys after that.  Cheesy

Like a lot of players with (presumably) no money, Willie would've spent years playing 'fake bass' on the low strings of his guitar. When it's time to move over, you already know what you're doing and all the notes are in the same place. Just bigger Smiley

McCartney did something similar in the old Beatles days, the bass he had to play was an electric guitar with piano strings fitted.
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