The bass is oftentimes an unsung hero of typical rock instrumentation, but the bass can sometimes end up being the best part of the entire song. Today, I thought I’d list, in no particular order, ten tracks in which the bass really shines
#1: Yes – Roundabout
An 8+ minute prog rock masterpiece, “Roundabout” features a wide range of excellent instrumental parts, from the acoustic guitar in the opening, the organ solo, and, my personal favorite, the tight funky bass groove. Chris Squire did a terrific job with the bass track in this tune.
#2: Minutemen – Toadies
Mike Watt is one of my personal all-time favorite bassists. His parts can either be up-front, dominating the song, or subtle complimentary pieces. This particular track seems to be a little bit of both. Combine Watt’s bass with D. Boon’s guitar riff and George Hurley’s drums, and the result is one of the most memorable tracks from Double Nickels on the Dime.
#3: Talking Heads – Psycho Killer
Oh man…what bass list would be complete without this track being mentioned somewhere? Tina Weymouth’s bass in this song is one of the best basslines in rock and roll history. So prevalent, in fact, that even some recent Selena Gomez song sampled it. The bassline drives this track, and it matches the overall nervous quality this song possesses.
#4: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Higher Ground
Not only is this one of the best covers in music history, it also features truly top notch bass work from Flea. Flea’s bass intro at the beginning of the song is one of the most memorable in the Chili Peppers’ entire catalog.
#5: New Order – Leave Me Alone
It was hard trying to pick a Peter Hook song for this list, but I decided to go with “Leave Me Alone” from Power, Corruption & Lies. I was originally gonna pick Joy Division’s “Transmission” as Hook’s contribution to the list, but I think this song’s bass is much more powerful. Also, the combination of the bass with Bernard Sumner’s guitar makes quite an emotional instrumental opening to this song. Then the vocals kick in.
#6: Neu! – Negativland
If I were a closing pitcher or MMA fighter – both highly unlikely scenarios – but, if I was one of those things, this song would be my entrance music. An ominous krautrock instrumental led by a driving bassline. What more could you ask for? Seriously, give this song a listen if you haven’t heard it before.
#7: Fugazi – Waiting Room
Fugazi has got to be one of the most underrated bands I’ve ever heard: probably because of their staunch DIY attitude, but their music is brilliant in every regard. This song starts with a catchy bassline that immediately grabs your attention before the rest of the aural assault starts.
#8: Devo – Mongoloid
It’s a shame that people only know Devo because of “Whip It,” because their first few albums were all very good. This song has an incredibly catchy bassline augmented by nice synth touches. Even if the lyrics, though not really offensive, are a bit…questionable.
#9: Brian Eno – Over Fire Island
Another Green World is one of my personal favorite albums, and this song is definitely a standout track from Eno’s third solo record. Featuring jazzy fretless bass work from Percy Jones and drums from Phil Collins (yes, that Phil Collins), “Over Fire Island” is an instrumental tour de force.
#10: Pink Floyd – Money
Another bass powerhouse, Roger Waters’ work on this song is iconic, along with the rest of Dark Side of the Moon. This song is funky, catchy, and amazing. But, you probably already knew that.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Who – Substitute, The Police – Walking on the Moon, The Clash – Guns of Brixton, Black Sabbath – NIB, Gnarls Barkley – Crazy, Primus – My Name is Mud
Thanks for reading! What are your favorite bass tracks? Let me know in the comments, and make sure you check out all the other content on the site, as well as our weekly playlist. See you all next week.