Hammer of the Gods

Bohemian Rhapsody: 2 Interpretations


Arranged and performed on solo bass by Simon Fitzpatrick


A fairly straight-forward cover of the classic sing-a-long rock epic, from Puscifer, the side project of TOOL and A Perfect Circle frontman, Maynard James Keenan. This video borders on being creepy. It stars drag queen, Dina Martina and reminds me of John Waters movie.


Simon Gallup: The Cure-Dark Trilogy

For a good chunk of the early '80's "Play For Today" by the Cure, was "my jam". This was one of those songs that really made me want to play bass. Like rolling, melodic thunder, the bass intro's the song before it goes into the bouncy, pulsating riff that pounds out through the remainder of the song. Simon Gallup, who replaced original bassist Michael Dempsey, was a key element in the shaping the new sonic territory Robert Smith and the Cure were entrenching themselves into. A musical territory, which along with other bands like Bauhaus, Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees, would be labeled as gothic or goth-rock.

Seventeen Seconds, the second full length album by the Cure, and first with Gallup on bass, was a somber and heavy collection of songs. This template of introspective (even if vague) lyrics, sparsely arranged instrumentation and atmospheric production, with the bass sitting prominently in the mix, and not just volume, but as "lead" instrument in the song structure, would serve the band well over the course of the next two albums, Faith and Pornography. Along with Seventeen Seconds, these records comprised what would later be referred to as "the Dark Trilogy".


John Deacon: Queen

With no reluctance do I began by stating that, in my opinion, John Deacon is one of the most overlooked and underrated bassist and songwriters in rock. Not that his work and contributions with Queen have gone unnoticed, let's get it out the way first, that with Queen, he laid down TWO of the most recognizable and often sampled bass lines in rock/pop history; "Another One Bites The Dust" and "Under Pressure". Or maybe I'm just being a typical bassist myself and championing the underdog, attempting to point the spotlight on the guy in shadows,  putting the bass man upfront and center stage!

By being the bass player in Queen, it's was hard not to be overlooked, fronted by the larger than life, flamboyant personality known as Freddie Mercury and sonically charged by guitar virtuoso, Brain May, the group had it's focal points. Along with powerhouse drummer, Roger Taylor, the group sought someone who wouldn't clash with these three big personalities. Even the band admits that Deacon was hired not only for being a brilliant bassist, but also because he was quiet and didn't try to upstage the other members. Even on their first album, "Queen", the band decided, without John's input, to list him in the credits as Deacon John, instead of the other way around, his proper surname, "to make him sound more interesting". Although he stood as the "invisible man", Deacon caused quite a thunderous and majestic roar in Queen's court.


Lou Barlow: Dinosaur Jr.

When I first heard Dinosaur's (Jr.) first album, I thought how much fun it had to be, to play in that band. Almost every song was a different style, some of it had a hardcore edge, others a bit twangy and country-fried, even some goth sounding stuff with a few chunky metal riffs cast about and plenty of guitar solos . It was the first album by a young band, recorded for $500 in a back woods studio. But one thing that was present through the majority of the record was melody. While some songs seem to go on a bit to long, you could just hear that this band from Amherst, MA was onto something, they just hadn't figured out what that something was yet. Bassist Lou Barlow once stated, "We loved speed metal and we loved wimpy jangly stuff".

By the time they recorded their second album, they benefited from a bit of touring with Sonic Youth and the recording and production prowess of Wharton Tiers. One thing missing from the first album, that later help define the bands sound, was Lou Barlow's massive bass tone. I can only guess, that on the first album, the bass was recorded direct, because it was totally lacking the air-movement of a live bass rig. This was not the case on "You're Living All Over Me". The bass was absolutely bone crushing, Barlow, a former guitarist, played bass like a guitar. But unlike many guitarist turned bassist, it wasn't in a noodlely way. He played liked a hardcore guitar player, chugging away on two-note barre chords and alternating strums a bit Townsend-like, alongside melodic single note bass lines. "In A Jar" one of my favorite Dinosaur Jr. songs and my all time favorite Lou bass performance is a wonderful example of his playing style.


Thunderous Thor's Day?

Came across this guy, surfing about on the cyberwaves. He's dressed liked the Marvel version of Thor and he's playing bass, but wielding the "Hammer of the Gods", nope, not the case. Listened to his band on their Myspace page and at the very least, I was hoping they had a sense of humor. Sadly, not only do they lack a sense of humor ( and a live drummer), they lack song writing skills as well. Very boring metal.

The band's name is not even worth mentioning, but this guy, if you are curious, comes up if you google "Thor playing bass".


Jimi Hendrix & the Chitlin' Circuit

I've had this photo sitting on my desktop for some time now. I just think it oozes with massive amounts of cool, Jimi Hendrix backing Wilson Pickett during his time as a "guitar-for-hire/sideman on the Chitlin' Circuit, before he went on to rise as a rock star, fronting his own bands, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Band of Gypsies.

While viewing it again, I thought I needed to do an piece an Hendrix, but to focus on his early years after being discharged from the army and before his ascension to being Guitar God. So after finding a few more photos from this period, I started compiling some  info and then I came across an article on the super fantastic webpage, Soul Patrol, on this very subject! It's summarized, but covers a great deal. So If you want to know more of this part of Hendrix's history, please, check this out, good stuff!


Ravi Shankar: The Imperishable Soul

Ravi Shankar, the sitar virtuoso who became a hippie musical icon of the 1960s after hobnobbing with the Beatles and who introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over an eight-decade career, has died. He was 92.

In New Dehli, India, the prime minister's office confirmed his death and called him a "national treasure."

Labeled "the godfather of world music" by George Harrison, Shankar helped millions of classical, jazz and rock lovers discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music.


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