Jun 212012

The “money shot,” that big payoff moment… In the first installment of our Money Shot series we examined rock’s most influential vocal money shot moments. While we await the return of Townsman tonyola before exploring mellotron money shot moments, let’s turn our attention to the bass guitar.

Putting aside outright bass solos (sorry, John Entwistle on “My Generation”), what brief, shining moments in a song are brought to new heights by something as simple as a bass lick. I will suggest John Paul Jones‘ measure-long bass fill following the first chorus in “Good Times Bad Times,” heard at the 54-second mark of the following clip.

Imagine how many kids bought a bass guitar in hopes of learning that lick. Now what’s your bass guitar money shot?


  42 Responses to “The Money Shot: Bass Guitar”

  1. Slim Jade

    Hands down: Jah Wobble’s dub pyrotechnics on PiL’s “Metal Box”. Specifically, Albatross and Careering.

    Argue with me if you will.

  2. cherguevarra

    Macca’s litle bass lick around 1:10 in “The Word.” So subtle but it’s this little moment of coolness.

  3. pudman13

    The entrance of the bass in “Paperback Writer.” Those high notes (and the fact that they were so up front in the mix) were the first indication that the instrument could be a key component of hard rock. I pick this not as necessarily the best McCartney bass money shot but as the first of its type.

    I’m curious–can anyone pinpoint the first rock and roll song where the guitars dropped out and the bass and drums played on their own for a few moments? I don’t mean a solo (as in “My Generation”) but rather a groove.

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Intro to the theme from Barney Miller

  5. hrrundivbakshi

    Gene Simmons goes “ba-woo!” in the intro to “Cold Gin.”

  6. mockcarr

    Entwistles’ angry opening salvo in The Real Me off Quadrophenia

  7. mockcarr

    The bah-woo baa whoo a whoo whoo Foxton thingie at the beginning of But I’m Different Now is a definite money shot.

  8. I would have cited Paperback Writer too. Since that’s off the board, I’ll go with Elvis’s Shabby Doll. As the song fades out, B.T. does all these complex trills, a quick wolf whistle lick, and even throws in bass harmonics. It’s the whole bag of tricks. All access pass.

  9. mockcarr

    Paulie does have a ton of those moments

    There’s the little woodleDoo thing he does to answer Ringo’s entry after the strings do the lugubrious intro in I Am The Walrus that lets you know the song is now ON.

  10. misterioso

    His work throughout “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” esp., perhaps, the little runs during the “chorus,” such as around the 2:00-2:15 mark. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW6G3nh5S3I

    But, yeah, there are literally scores of McCartney killer bass moments.

  11. The late, great Dee Murray from Elton’s best band makes me wanna kick a steel door off its hinges when he arrives 16 seconds in:


  12. alexmagic

    On “House Burning Down” from Electric Ladyland: Hendrix plays bass, and there’s this quick bit where he has to transition between the Red House-style guitar intro and the first verses and he does it playing what pretty much sounds like the prototype for ’70s disco walking bass.

  13. I think Mike Dirnt is the best thing happening in Green Day. The bassline that runs through this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8dh9gDzmz8 is generally good but he really gets at it after the bass swoop around 2:20.

    • mockcarr

      Absolutely a favorite bass player of mine, whose little fillups always serve the songs well. I can’t think of a tune where I disagree with his choices.I’m a big fan of that band even though many time the sameness of their sonic approach bugs me. Never a rattle to the snare, the bass is always trebly, and the guitars are set once an album it seems.

  14. machinery

    Also … Moulding’s bass slides on Senses Working Overtime really make that song for me.

  15. One of the things that I love about the much maligned (on RTH) Jefferson Airplane is Jack Casady. He has an incredibly loose rhythmic feel and he’s frequently totally on top of the mix, in a way that you can hear him playing like you’re sitting in a room with the amp, rather than once removed with that recording studio sheen. The song below, Watch Her Ride, is front to back a pretty over the top bass performance, starting out with an aggressive and clumsy feel. But as the bridge hits at about 1:25, he drops into a long low note and then into a really swinging walk with some unusually odd notes.


  16. Another San Fran Favorite. Phil Lesh’s opening line on New Potato Caboose from Anthem of the Sun. He come in at about 0:28 but start at 0:20 so you can get the sense of the guitar set-up.


    I’m not JUST doing this to be perverse.

  17. Another bass guy that was really swell was the Sir Horace Gentleman from the Specials.His line in the opening verse of Concrete Jungle is way cool.


  18. trigmogigmo

    Benjamin Orr’s riff from 0:12 to 0:16 of “Bye Bye Love” on the Cars’ debut is super cool. Also a nice part that leads into the chorus at 0:59.

  19. misterioso

    Very hard for me to zero in on one song, much less one moment, but Bootsy’s work with the JB’s is, of course, spectacular. The one that comes first to mind at the moment is “Talkin’ Loud and Saying Nothing.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZkjo3mNmsA

  20. (Can’t quantify any Paul Simonen licks)
    (Can’t adequately describe Sir Paul’s jaunty single-note bouncy-note from “And Your Bird Can Sing)

    How’s about the dive-bomber bass skid from Perky on the outro of “19th Nervous Breakdown”?


  21. 19th Nervous Breakdown bass line descending riffs is a great one. Is Perky a knickname for Bill? I’ve never seen that before.

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