June 8, 2017 at 10:04 am #68110
andrew t

I posted this article in a thread a long time ago, but it bears repeating here:

Working through the catalogue of Rolling Stones records, I can’t help but relate the band’s uniquely crafted rock and roll tunes to one of the great wonders of the culinary world: the pizza. Charlie Watts is the foundation, the solid bed that everything sits upon. Mick Jagger supplies the oogey gooey elastic vocal line that entices the consumer. And Keith Richards provides the toppings, the unique flavor and delectable licks that define each song. Going along with the analogy, Wyman is the secret sauce. He lies below the surface, sinks into the crust, and brings about a delightful tang and “je ne sais quoi” to elevate the perfect piece of pie.

Wyman has an innate sense of musicality that makes him the ideal bass player for the Rolling Stones. He understands how to lock in with Watts, compliment the rhythm guitar, leave space at the appropriate moments, and support the song with solid root notes, primal energy, and traditional blues patterns. Wyman tends to settle into bass parts as opposed to bass lines; he doesn’t necessarily play a set “groove” or sequence of notes. Instead, he establishes a somewhat loose, yet clearly distinguishable part that unites all of the musical elements of the song. His part is malleable and reactionary, always going with the flow of the band and often developing in complexity as the song progresses.

Playing with a distinctively “rooted” mindset, Wyman clearly defines the harmony of the song, which happens to be just the right thing for rock and roll. He inherently knows just the right place to jump up an octave, creating a sense of motion even though the harmony remains the same. Though his approach is fairly simplistic in terms of note choice, he has a keen understanding of how to drive a song and use the sound of his instrument.


Bass Players to Know: Bill Wyman