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Wednesday, 17 November 2010


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Macca's great, but I'm partial to Chris Squire as a pure bassist.

I think Linda was a better photographer than Paul Musician.

His daughter is a photgrapher as well.

Off-topic, but I browsed through the recently released book of the late Herman Leonard "Jazz" and I almost feel like Les Paul after hearing Art Tatumfor the first time (Paul at one time led a piano trio). I do not have it yet, but I will be getting this book.

Big Entwhistle fan here. Love the Hofner bass, though. I'm a Rickenbacker man myself - is it true McCartney played one of those at some point?

and his daughter


nat familiar with her work but apparently she snapped the Bliars, oops! Freudian typo, I mean Blaires

Best Bassist Ever. Have a listen Mike when you have a minute.Tal Wilkenfeld and she's easy on the eyes also.

Dear Mike;
"best bassist ever", you are talking about Pop music aren´t you? If you´re not you are really starting to compare him with Jaco Pastorius, Jack Bruce, Michael "Flea" Balzary(Red Hot Chili Peppers),Charles Mingus, Les Claypool(Primus), Billy Sheehan(Mr Big)etc,etc and etc.
By the way I hope you have no doubts about who is the best electric guitarist ever!!

I'm in awe of Tal Wilkenfeld, although I really don't much like the music on her album. But the concert clips I've seen of her are awesome. Like a dream.


Yes, pop music. Ron Carter is the best bassist ever!


Mike -

Great reply to my comment. I am an avid Beatles fan. I actually saw them live in '65. I agree with much of your assessment. I also love John and George's stuff - maybe even more than much of Paul's, but just because they are all in the same group, Paul's work should not be diminished compared to non-Beatle writers. He was still one of the greatest of all time.

Of course, I was aware that "Maybe I'm Amazed" was not a Beatles song, but an example of Paul's writing. If I remember, he actually wrote it when he was a Beatle though.


Best bassist ever? Really? Including NHOP, Paul Chambers and Scott LaFaro? I'd even put Stanley Clarke above Paul McCartney and I don't much care for fusion. And for those who don't play above the 5th fret - you've got Brian Wilson, Sting and several others with more guts and better timing. Paul is like the Jonah Jones of bass players. But hey, it's better than his piano playing.

I thought Chris Rankin from Sabot was the best, but this may be an acquired taste. ;)

Mike off off topic - I don't know anyone with a kindle - I am an avid reader of books, y'know, paper. What is the kindle reading experience like, how does it compare to print?

just two words, Charlie Haden

This reminds me of a something Stephin Merrit (of the Magnetic Fields) said. Unfortunately I can't find the source or exact phrasing right now, but the idea was that Lennon and McCartney were two directions for rock/pop, and that the history generally followed the Lennon direction. Merrit wished McCartney had prevailed, and was doing his best to take that track.

I like 'em both...

Sir Paul McCartney best bassist ever? Next you're gonna be telling me a deep and serious study of Anne Geddes' work is a must for every photographer.


There are people alive today unaware that Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings.

Tal Wilkenfeld is certainly the bassist of the moment - and an amazing player! I'm a big fan of John Entwistle's work, but if I had to pick a favorite my nod would go to either Larry Graham (Sly & The Family Stone) or Kenny Gradney (Little Feat).

And I think Paul McCartney was given the first left handed Ric made, in 1964 or 1965.

I'm sure I'll review the Kindle, but not until I at least finish a few whole books on it...and not until I've gone through at least one recharge cycle, which I haven't yet.


Also re: who wrote which Beatles songs, Michael Deal's Charting the Beatles is worth a look:



There are LOTS of people today who've never heard of Wings.


We all know that there is no best, but if there were it would be Mike Watt no question.


I agree: Never thought much of Macca's sugary ballads and I think the commenter who associates him with Geddes nails it.
I love some of his songs, but for me he is too much Tin Pan Alley, too much banal pop. John, on the other hand, is closer to US rock'n roll in sound and, more important, in spirit. George is a master by himself.

I have all the Beatles albums but find myself listening specially to the oddities and rare works: The White Album etc. Happiness is a warm gun is incredible... Oddly enough, one of my favs is Two Of Us, written by Macca for his wife... but anthemic any way. I hate, really hate Yesterday.

Weirdest epxlanation I ever read for their success is that Macca being left handed, both singers -he and John- could get closer to the microphone and so their harmonies and vocal work sounded much better than their rival's. Who knows...

Every time I talk/write about the Beatles I end up thinking everything in pop/rock music has already been done and lingering for those "establishing" times, when you were surprised every other week by fresh masterpieces, original and new. Then I remember what old people said then and I feel old and grumpy and get depressed...

Funny thing is I don't feel the same about jazz. I find it as fresh and new as I remember it was then, I hear new, moving and original work very often.

By the way I was going to point to Victor Wooten and suscribe to the Larry Graham candidacy, but after watching Tal Winkelfeld I thought it over. She is amazing... Thanks for the lead. Although IMHO probably the most effective bass player in pop was Sting, I like the way he couples his singing with his bass lines.

Mike, since you mention books I will tell you that I finished Rat Girl, Kristin Hersh's memoir of the year she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, became pregnant and signed a record deal all at the age of 18. Despite that sounding like a bad year the book is very funny and very well written. I couldn't put it down. Maybe it just struck a chord with me personally but I am still recommending it to everyone who is still willing to listen to me talk about it some more.

There are bass players and song players. Paul is unquestionably the best song player ever.

Personally, "best" changes with my mood and the weather ... right now best of everything being "Ben and Sweets", a recent TOP recomendation.

Kindles, ebook readers; I'm sort of shocked, shocked I say, that I really enjoy reading on my iPhone; and that like it's iPoddiness, I can stuff so much in to it. Wonder gadget, indeed.

It appears that the compact camera is alive and well.


Mike--thanks for the Amazon link. I used to order several of the Beatles discs. I kinda/sorta agree with you on Lennon vs McCartney. But you gotta hand it to Paul for his ability to create some nice pop music.

Paul wrote 'Helter Skelter' and he sang it beautifully. Much in line with E Presley's 'It's All Right Mama', neither of them ever exhibited that energy again.

But Paul exactly because Paul wrote Helter Skelter and sang it - he's alright in my book.

And Flea is amazing. And Les Claypool is great on "My Name Is Mud." I'm kind of out of my area here....


Hey Mike,

I read a few pages of "How The Beatles Destroyed Rock and Roll". I've always felt the the similarities among musical styles are much greater than the differences. Talking about why one style is better than another is arguing about 10% of what the music is made of. The beauty of being a musician for me for me is that among musicians words are mostly meaningless. The thing grooves or it doesn't, and if it does it's the coolest experience there is.

J C,
Bingo. In poprock it's all been done already. New songs just remind me of old ones. Of course part of my problem is that I just don't like it well enough to go really deep. I think I listen to jazz because a) it doesn't get stuck in my head, and b) there's always more. Limitless supply.

The only period that starts to seem old and dated to me is New Orleans. I downloaded some Luckey Roberts the other day (after watching "A Great Day in Harlem" again) and I couldn't take the continual shish-boom marching beat after a while.

The other thing I don't like is string orchestra backing--like say on Art Pepper's "Winter Moon" or Louis Armstrong's "I've Got The World on a String" or Billie's "Lady in Satin" (my least favorite album of hers)...not that they're bad, I just don't care for that hotel-ballroom sound. And it's true I've "worn out" some records now and can't really hear them any more. But the canon just seems fathomless. There's certainly much more great jazz for me than '60s-style poprock. (Operative words, "for me.")


P.S. Good example, the other day I discovered Dave Brubek's "Time Further Out." I never bothered before, I'm not a big Brubek fan, and I figured it was just a sequel to cash in on the commercial success of "Time Out." Well, wrong-O, photography breath. Turns out it's outstanding. I might even like it more than the original. "Bluette" for instance is marvelous, slow and somber, veiled, pacifying and ominous at the same time.

Great record.

"Paul wrote 'Helter Skelter' and he sang it beautifully."

"I kinda/sorta agree with you on Lennon vs McCartney. But you gotta hand it to Paul for his ability to create some nice pop music."

I'm not saying I'm doctrinaire about this...I'm not even really that much of a Beatles fan, to start with. At least not compared to a lot of REAL fans.

It's been a lot of fun revisiting them over the past few days, though, something I seem to do every 6-8 years or so.


@Simon: Not Mike of course but sufficient to say that my family has 5+ macbook, windows, desktop even Apple TV! After my wife has the first Kindle, we have five within a few months and reading it every since. Did I mention I got an iPAD as well.

For reading books, it is the reading experience! Mind you it is a NOT a general purpose book machine. It is not for graphic, colour, ... text, novel, history, ... something intended to be read from start to finish and not jump around too much. It is perfect.

Heard a book intended for this kind of serial reading, click (a sample if you not sure), download (anywhere in the world) and read ... next one please!

A kind reminder is to buy it through Mike's link. (He will loss all the future purchase of book though and hence this purchase is important to him. ... one minute, may be it is not a good idea after all ...)

I've never been wowed by Paul McCartney's bass playing (and I'm a bass player) but I did get to see the great Jaco Pastorius once. Sadly, it was in the final year of his life when he was deep in the throes of schizophrenia. He could barely function (he may have been self-medicating, as so many schizophrenics do, with alcohol or other substances) and spent most of the gig singing happy birthday (he claimed it was his mother's birthday) and verbally abusing the audience. It was heartbreaking to see.

Hi Mike,
Thanks for the tip on this one! I;ve been meaning to complete the remastered collection ever since it was released. This gave me a perfect opportunity to do so and add a little to the TOP coffer. 6 CD's just ordered via your link.
As to your comments - Paul was my biggest influence as a lad learning bass - his melodic approach really did revolutionize electric bass playing. A more interesting coincidence is your taste in Jass players - Ron Carter is my all time favorite too - I have most of his vinyl releases from the CTI days forward. Love his tone!!! His All Blues album has been spun a lot recently.

There's a harrowing book about the great Pastorius, called simply Jaco. The author's name is Bill Milkowski. Good book. It really is a tragic life.


Yeah. I recently went on an extended Great Jazz Trio binge, and one of my favorite albums is Piccolo. I swear that album is shape-shifting...it sounds different every time I come back to it. The guy is a shaman.


Brits love MacCartney. Americans prefer Lennon.

I don't know why this is, but its an empirical observation of mine over a period of 30+ years.

I'd recommend people bemoaning the lack of anything new seek out DJ Dangermouse's The Grey Album.

It's a mashup of the vocals from Jay-Z's The Black Album, and music samples from The White Album.

It's sacrilegious. And it's genius.

(It's also six years old, so not exactly new, but I'm guessing this site would have the lowest hip-hop listening readership of any site I visit, and that many of you would be unaware of it.)

I can't for the life of me get into any other hip-hop, including Jay-Z, but find what one guy created in his bedroom in two weeks thoroughly intoxicating. (Of course he was working with unbelievably good source material!)

It's not available anywhere legally - duh! - but I've read interviews in which Dangermouse says he has heard that Paul has listened to it, and that he has given it his unofficial thumbs-up.

There's a video mashup (done by an unknown third party) that isn't really one of the best tracks, but it will give you a quick taste. Turn it up!

I guess you guys must be talking about "populist bass players." The greatest musicians are largely unknown to the public. For whatever reason some of the greatest musical artists (in the strictest sense) have forsaken notoriety and musical commerce to focus on excellence. Another reason best of lists are ridiculous.

What! No one's mentioned James Jamerson yet?


As a matter of curiosity, a desire to know, here's a question: for those of you assigning writing credit to this song or that song or a portion thereof, what is your source of information?

Thanks in advance.

A year ago I got the mono boxed set, and also Abbey Road in stereo. At the time I recall some buzz along the lines of, for the true fan the stereo mixes were different enough to be interesting in contrast to the mono. Any thoughts? With the Amazon pricing... Worth considering?


Thanks for the link to Tal Wilkenfeld. Gave me a couple of wonderful hours of watching and listening to her YouTube videos, and the comparison to Jaco Pastorius reminded me of a great, memorable moment with Jaco. My wife and I were having a couple of beers late one night way back when in a nearly empty Greenwich Village bar, when a guy who looked like a bum walked in off the street. He went directly to the bar’s small stage, picked up an electric guitar sitting there and proceeded to wail a soulful national anthem (ala Hendrix), then left. That was Jaco.

Joe Cameron

And Flea is amazing. And Les Claypool is great on "My Name Is Mud." I'm kind of out of my area here....


Well of course they are, as are hundreds if not thousands of other players. I have seen them both live, Flea on too many occasions. Les is a freak of nature type, like Tal is. Mike Watt is just really, REALLY into the music, all music and it just simply becomes him and vice versa. He is truly a sight and sound to behold.

I don't think it fair that he is always called a Punk Rock bassist, because The Minutemen were a genre all of their own in so many ways. Hell, some people think Double Nickles on the Dime is one of the best "fusion" albums ever, whatever that means;-)

If you don't know it or own it, you should at least have it on your HD.

Or buy it on Vinyl


Best bassist ever?

Soul: Jerry Jemmott
James Jamerson (founding member of the "Funk Brothers"...

Jazz: Oscar Pettiford, Steve Swallow, Richard Davis, Curtis Counce, Mingus, Wilbur Ware and the list goes on and on

That is one great album. Love it. Thanks mucho.


Since playing bass is a subject very close to my heart I thought I'd add something witty & informative but it seems pretty much all the bases [pun intended] have been covered. One thing I would like to address is the reference to Jaco by Bill Milkowski. From what little I read of it I can't really comment on it. From the perspective of those who knew him personally [http://www.jacopastorius.com/biography.html] the book falls tragically short. I for one saw Jaco play twice in Chicago at the height of his powers. Once with Herbie Hancock and once with Weather Report. Having the opportunity to see great music of all kinds [jazz, blues, rock, etc.] in a time when truly great music was being made I have to say these two shows stand out above many other great shows. We could go on & on about the tragedy that became Jaco's life but I prefer to savor the best part of the what he left us and that is the music he made.

One thing that crossed my mind while writing this is that it seems no one mentioned Marcus Miller. It was only recently that I discovered the deep personal relationship he had with Jaco not to mention his relationship with Miles. With all that Marcus has done in his career - bassist, composer, band leader, producer & bass clarinetist - I'm hard pressed to get too gaga over Tal at this point in time. I like her playing & her personality but she's got a long road to travel before she'll even get close to either Jaco or Marcus IMHO.

Oh, yeah, I plain forgot about Richard Davis....


Wings... well, the re-release of "band on the run" must be one of the most underwhelming events in recent popular music history.

One thing about it is worth noting. When it was originally released it followed the recent arrest and conviction of McCartney's band for cannabis possession on arrival in Japan at the start of a tour. He wasn't shy about making public the fact that the song was written in response to that event. Or at least that's what he said at the time.

Nowadays he claims that the song was occasioned by the fashion for "outlaw" posturing in rock music in the 70's (assuming that you can accurately characterise "band on the run" as rock music; feeble pop would be a more appropriate label). No mention of the Japanese bust these days.

His gutless failure to be honest about the derivation of this weedy song today strikes me as absolutely characteristic of Paul McCartney.

Some great performances by Jeff Beck's band with Tal Wilkenfeld at Ronnie Scott's available on YT.

That is one great album. Love it. Thanks mucho.


It certainly is Mike. Glad you like it.

Another unsung bass hero that's come to mind is Chuck Rainey. Listen to his work with Steely Dan. He creates a groove that is virtually untouchable. Then there's Will Lee who not only plays with the Late Night Band but also is an accomplished singer and is part of the Fab Faux. The FF do the Beatle's proud I would say being that they play some songs that were only ever heard as recordings.

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