Pennsylvania rock quartet Halestorm saw their international profile receive a shot in the arm back in February, when they scooped a Best Hard Rock/ Metal Grammy for their song ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’. Far from being just another headbanger, bassist Josh Smith reveals a classic set of influences in his fistful of bass albums…
The Beatles – Abbey Road
Just as so many people before me did, I grew up listening to, and loving, the Beatles. Paul McCartney wrote and performed some of my all time favourite songs on Abbey Road. You’ll notice a pattern in my Take Five bass players, because they’re all composers and play beautiful, melodic bass parts. McCartney created beautiful melodies to accompany some of the most influential, and well-known songs of all time. Let’s not forget his voice, which is a unique and wonderful instrument in its own right.
Jackson 5 – Third Album
James Jamerson was a critical player when it came to creating the Motown sound. I don’t know if he played every song on Third Album, but he did perform on the last song, ‘Darling Dear’, and this track has always stood out for me. James lays down a constant, cascading flow of melody, and what’s more, he does it with one finger, the ‘hook’. If you ever find yourself humming along to a tasty Motown bass-line, there’s a good chance that it’s one of Mr James Jamerson’s many classics.
James Brown – Sex Machine
Bootsy Collins didn’t play with James Brown for long, but his sound and style can be distinguished from the many great bass players who contributed to James Brown’s band. Bootsy attack is so punchy and aggressive. It doesn’t sound like he plucked the strings with his fingers, but more like he grabbed and pulled each note equally and deliberately. His tone has a sharp set of teeth. The entire P-Funk catalogue is a music lesson, but the first song that was introduced to me, and still an all-time favourite, is Parliament’s ‘Up For The Down Stroke’.
Tower Of Power – Tower Of Power
My dad introduced me to Tower Of Power at a young age. As I became more involved in jazz through lessons and school, my appreciation of them continued to grow. Every year Tower Of Power would play at a local theatre near to where I lived, and my dad would take my brothers and I. Rocco Prestia and the band never disappointed me. Listen to the opening track, ‘What Is Hip?’ – it’s airtight. Rocco can probably hold that 16-note pattern in his sleep.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magic
I was only eight years old when this album came out. It was three years before I even picked up a bass guitar, and I didn’t care to explain why I loved Blood Sugar Sex Magik, I just did. Flea was clearly put on this earth to speak the language of music. His attention to groove and melody is something I fell in love with when I was a kid, and since then I have enjoyed his style and tone in every single song he has gone on to create.