Sunday, January 27, 2008

Armageddon/Pearly Gates

I’ll probably sound like an obsessive obscurantist, but there’s this moment in this song called Sometime World on this album by Wishbone Ash called Argus. Upto the point this moment arrives the song is a fairly stately balladic effort, vague lyrics interspersed with some ‘70s guitar. Around the two minute mark cymbals are rattled, voices fade and the song appears to wrap up. But then guitars are heard again in the distance, this time much faster. And the bass starts…

There is no bass line in all of rock ‘n roll like this one. It comes careening in out of nowhere and just moves up and down, up and down the scale, each individual chord distinct and rich. The band takes this as a cue to go nuts around it for about three minutes; they could have spent thirty and it would still have been interesting. Its unlike any bass line you’ve ever heard. It can be played solo, you can put a piano in the background, or guitars, or a fucking brass band - the effect would be the same. It sounds simultaneously unhinged and logical as clockwork. It can be played when Armageddon finally comes or when one is nearing the pearly gates. It makes you wish it was being played behind John Coltrane, so he could have improvised around it. It makes you want to play it yourself, even if you can’t play bass. It makes you go “Do do do do do do” because you can’t play any damn instrument, and you can’t really sing either, but there’s no other way to convey the brilliance of what you’ve just heard to your puzzled friend at the other end of the telephone line. It makes you want to stop reading this article and download the damn thing so that you can write back and tell me that you’ve heard a thousand better bass lines. Go ahead. I doubt I’ll agree, but will still feel content in the knowledge that I’ve done my bit towards making this world a better place.


Anonymous said...

are you trying to promote piracy by asking people to download copyrighted music?

i still think though, seven nations army is waaayyyy better than this "Do do do do do do do"

Anonymous said...

First of all, the song is "seven nation army" and not "seven nationS army"...

More important though, is the fact that the bass in seven nation army isn't even original. its a rip off of the bass in "the subway song" by The Cure.

The Wishbone Ash song does have a pretty good bass line-- it sounds even better coz the rest of the song is, well, kinda trashy.

when the bass bit starts playing... its briliant, but then the rest of the band sort of enters the song with percussion and an average guitar riff and compeltely assaults the briliance of the bassline.

tsk tsk.

poor bass line.