Friday, August 26, 2005

Female bassists 

I had lunch with a friend who enjoys music and favors female musicians. Since I played bass in a couple of bands while in college -- I was a guitarist but fell into the bass like I fell into the viola, because there weren't many and I could get into better bands -- he and I always have a discussion of great female bassists. His choice is Melissa auf der Maur, formerly of Hole (after Kristina Pfaff's death). She's quite good, but I was trying to devise a top five in my head and she didn't make it.

Tina Weymouth -- probably because Talking Heads '77 was out about the time I was playing the most.
Kim Gordon -- I'm so glad Sonic Youth got back together.
Carol Kaye -- and, oddly enough, mostly for her session work with the Beach Boys, which is not a band this professor listens to very much. Somebody sat me down and had me listen to Cabinnescence once, though, and that was it. Played for about everyone, which is a great reference.
MeShell Ndege'Ocello -- The Wild Night with John Cougar Mellencamp woman. Her solo stuff is terrific. Glad to see her back.
Rhonda Smith -- not necessarily for her work with Prince. Look at her solo stuff. There's a six-string fretless bass being used that I have no idea how I would play.

Honorable mention -- D'Arcy Wretsky (#1 Son will be upset she didn't make the list); auf der Maur; Suzi Quatro; Aimee Mann. I think my problem is that my references to bass are all 70s -- Entwhistle, Levin and Lake, Clarke. If that's the filter, you'll kick out the auf der Maurs of the world (and I'm sure I'm skipping some others of that genre) for the jazzier types. And none of these women are going to break a bassist top 20, not even Kaye who's usually considered the best female.