Paul Alone

 Posted by
Jun 282011

Usually I don’t go in for this whole isolating the instruments, but there’s a cool thing going on here. I think Paul Simonon gets a bad rap as a bass player. He might have started off weak, but he did his thing well and really grew into it.

You can check out all the separate tracks for London Calling here.

The vocals slay me.


  12 Responses to “Paul Alone”

  1. tonyola

    Not bad – better than I expected – but John Entwistle he ain’t.

  2. You’re assuming that it’s actually Simonon playing on these records, which was, more often than not, not the case. Jones & Strummer covered the guy’s ass more than many want to admit, and later, more complex (& memorable) bass parts (like, say, “Magnificent 7”) were played on the albums by Norman Watt-Roy, bass monster from Ian Dury’s Blockheads. Just listen to any live recording of The Clash – there’s nothing going on in the bass department. And when they’d do “Guns of Brixton” live, Joe would play bass and Paul would wear a guitar and occasionally hack away at one chord (not when he had to sing, though). He was punk rock window dressing – like Sid, but without the bad habits. Seems like a nice guy, but all he’s really good at is looking cool.

  3. This is what I’ve always heard from Clash bios. That said, whoever wrote/played the “Guns of Brixton” deserves some sort of medal for one of the simplest, maddeningly catchy bass lines every. I hum it to myself about once a week.

  4. Both times I saw them play it live in ’79/’80, Joe played the bass.

  5. Yes, this is what I’ve learned as well. Still, whoever played the actual parts on record was highly effective, if simple, if you ask me. I like the bass tone on most Clash records, too.

  6. machinery

    I saw that clip when it was posted earlier (on RTH right?) I have to say I thought it was the most boring, wooden performance I have ever seen. I’d rather see Paul hit one sloppy note with all his movement, than John play Beethoven standing like a statue.

  7. misterioso

    Machinery, you know that wasn’t a solo performance but was part of a group effort, right? Just checkin’.

  8. tonyola

    John was a musician, not a showoff. Besides, he gave a nice contrast to everyone else’s antics.

  9. Yes. I think Paul played “a” bass track on the records, and Mick would then do an overdub of the same part that would get the benefit in the mix. Mick and Topper were pretty butt ugly, so Paul did his part on the record sleeves.

  10. BigSteve

    I don’t know, Simonon sounded pretty good on the record he made with Damon Albarn and Tony Allen — The Good, the Bad, and the Queen. I don’t think they got him because of his Look, since there were no photos on the cover and they hardly played live at all. After not having played in years supposedly, I think he’s also played some with the Gorillaz.

  11. Good point, as a bassist who rarely sang Simonon really carried a load when it came to good looks. I bet you can relate, chick.

  12. Yeah, but I think they got him simply BECAUSE he used to be a member of that iconic band, The Clash, NOT because of anything he adds as a musician. Again, you can’t *really* be sure who is playing what on a studio album. There was probably a good reason that group rarely played live.

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