Who put the Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)? And while we’re at it, who put the ram in the ramalangadingdong? If you’re interested in this question (in its widest interpolation) then I suggest this week’s AC might well be the radio show for you.
As I blogged last week, I’ve been keen to take listeners on a little musical journey celebrating the great country instruments. We’ve celebrated the banjo, piano, guitar and the fiddle but before we go much further we need a little grounding. So, it’s my pleasure to introduce this week’s crucial country instrument – the bass. I’ve purposely not said bass guitar here as so often bass on country records has been played by double bass (bass fiddle as our American friends would say) and also electric bass guitar. It’s also had sessions with more than one bass when, for example, we interviewed The Bradley family a few years ago, we talked to the ninety year old Harold Bradley – brother to producer Owen, who had played tic-toc bass on Patsy Cline’s seminal cut of Crazy alongside the bass guitar of Bob Moore.
Many people who have never been involved in recording wonder about the point of the bass. The least flashy of instruments, it’s the one country tool that probably won’t get its own solo in any of the records we play. So why highlight it? It’s probably best to explain it like this: try imagining any of your favourite records without it. In traditional country and early rock ‘n’ roll it would be impossible for the music to rock or roll without the bass. Think back to these early Elvis videos where he’s playing the state fairs and his first TV shows and you’ll recall that the girls were going wild without the diabolic influence of a drum kit. The bass, stand-up of course, was doing all the heavy lifting in the rhythm department and without it…well without it there was no swing, no shuffle and certainly no reason for Elvis’s hips to make the moves that scared a generation of parents and TV executives.
Paul Mccartney with Bill Black’s bass
So get ready for country bass in the records of Bela Fleck, Flatt and Scruggs, JD Souther and Bobbie Gentry. Turn up the volume and hear the great playing of legends like Bill Black, Victor Wooten and Stanley Clarke. As well as this we’ll bring you wonderful new releases from Andrew Combs, John Fullbright, Ingrid Andress and Mickey Guyton. As ever you will find us on BBC Radio Scotland FM from five past eight this Tuesday evening as well as on BBC Sounds whenever or wherever you’d care to listen. Don’t forget to engage your woofers and get ready for a mighty rumble.
I’m not 100% sure, but Bob Dylan’s’ ‘Dirt Road Blues’ feels as though the stand-up Bass is running the whole song, and what a song!
Nice one….shall revisit!