Hammer of the Gods

Marceline: The Vampire Queen

Marceline Aberdeer or Marceline, the Queen of Vampires, no matter which name you prefer to call her, she is the bad ass, wild rocker girl amongst a cast of diverse, misfit, magical beings in the Land of Ooo, on Cartoon Network's "Adventure Time". A thousand year old, shape shifting, bass playing, singer/songwriter, vampire with a mischievous personality and a knack for playing pranks. While I have to admit, I'm pretty much a noob to the show, so I'm not going to try to write much about the character, a good source for more info on Marceline can be found on the Adventure Time Wiki. But since I had a request, from my good friend Jennie Z., to do a bit on Marceline, I'll stick to what I know, her bass guitars.

So far in the series, Marceline has been depicted with four basses, again I will point you to the AT Wiki for more info on these instruments. Here, I'm going to show the 20th/21st century Earth, as we know it, equivalents of the instruments shown in the post-Mushroom War world in the Land of Ooo. In her first appearance, Marceline is seen with a left-handed 1951 Fender Precision Bass. This was the first electric bass guitar to gain widespread acceptance and use in modern pop music. P-Bass players of note: James Jamerson (Motown) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin).

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Rolling Thunder

Been slacking a bit on my "Thunderous Thursday" pieces, so as not to have another week past without a feature, I'm doing a quick one featuring bassist on motorcycles. Just three, but these three have at least three things in common. All are singer-songwriter bassist, they are all Brits and they all are on Triumphs Motorbikes.

The first being Lemmy, lead vocalist, bassist, primary songwriter, founder and the only constant member of Motorhead. Born Ian Fraser Kilmister, he is such a cult icon, he is most commonly known as simply, "Lemmy".

Up next is Jeane-Jacques "JJ" Burnel, he has been the bass guitarist, a lead vocalist and principal songwriter for The Stranglers since their formation in 1974. Early recordings of The Stranglers were noted for JJ's distinctive bass tone and driving, melodic basslines. He has also composed the opening and closing themes for the anime series, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo.

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Black Metal Bassist Elected to Greek Parliament

Came across this fellow when I goggled "metal bassist. He is Giorgos Germenis, bassist and Greek parliament representative. Although, I've never heard of his band, Naer Mataron, I did watch a few bits of two videos, and it's pretty bad. I'm not a big fan of Black Metal, but I have heard some that actually has some valid metal cred, but not these guys. Nonetheless, in the wake the Presidential election, I did find this to be an interesting story.

According to Blabbermouth, "Germenis, who's stage name is "Kaiadas", will represent the extremist Golden Dawn party, which is described as perhaps the most extreme of the far-right parties in all of Europe. Comparisons are made to Germany's neo-Nazi National Democratic Party and many say Golden Dawn's logo resembles a swastika."

Golden Dawn, an extreme right nationalist party with patriotic symbolism and an anti-immigrant stance, won between 5 and 7 percent of the vote in Greece's general elections on May 6, enough for them to gain representation in parliament for the first time in Greek history.

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John Curley: The Afghan Whigs

While I can't fully recall where we were coming from, I knew where we were headed, Detroit, in the back of a rented box truck, due to the fact our tour van had broken down. It was going to be a long day, locked in a container not built for passengers. No windows to stare out at the bits of America I had never seen, no fresh air to cut through the ripe odor of 4 punk rockers on tour. But I did have fresh batteries in my favorite piece of road gear at the time, my Sony Discman "Psyc" player with it's translucent neon blue lid. Also in my hands, were purchases from the day before, a bag of comic books and a cd, "Gentlemen" by The Afghan Whigs.

I was familiar with their previous release, "Congregation", but not a big fan of it at the time. My initial reaction to that album was "They don't really sound like a Sub Pop band". What I didn't know at time is that they weren't part of that whole Pacific Northwest "grunge" scene. In fact they were the first band outside of that area that Sub Pop signed. I just remember meeting people on the road and being asked if I listened to them much. This question or the topic of the Whigs came enough to convince me to give them another listen. Especially when some random soundman said "I bet you'll like the bass player, you guys have similar gear; Thunderbird bass, Gallien Krueger amp and Hartke cabs".

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Prince: Purple Reign, Royal Thunder

What we have here is a talent so friggin' large, that at one point in his career, he dropped his name and wished to be recognized by a symbol and simply referred to as "The Artist". Born Prince Rogers Nelson, known by the world at large as Prince. When his name is spoken, most do not ask "the prince of what?" they just know who is being spoken of. Not the prince, but Prince...the Artist, singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and among many other things one bad ass, mutha-pluckin' bassist!

Flashback to 1978, the heyday of disco and my older teenage sister is really into the music. She would spin all the staples of the day on her record player, but there was one song that always stood out from the rest, a song called "Soft & Wet" by Prince. I remember she had his album entitled "For You", but she always listened to that one song over and over. But one day when she wasn't home, I went into her room, which was forbidden to me of course, and listened to the entire album, I liked it okay, but initially couldn't put my finger on what was different from this than most of the other music that emitted from sister's record collection. But when the last song came on, I realized his influences were a bit more broad than the R&B/Disco flavor most of this album displayed. "I'm Yours'' was a big departure, this song had vocal elements similar to Earth Wind & Fire with and instrumentation that I can only describe as Funkadelic meets early Rush. This song was a rocker, that closed out with dueling guitar and bass passages all played by Prince! From that day on, I became a Prince fan.

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Kieth Brammer: Die Kreuzen

Over the past couple of weeks, I have featured bassist who influenced me during my hardcore formative years. This week I'm going to complete the triad, let's call it my "Trinity of Thunder" of my favorite hardcore bassist, Mike Dean, Darryl Jennifer and now, Keith Brammer. 1983-84, I had read quite a bit about a band from Milwaukee, WI called Die Kreuzen. Many reviews for their first 7" ep "Cows and Beer" reported on the sheer speed of this band, I was listening to a lot of bands at the time who were into playing fast, so I wanted to check it out for myself. I picked up their self titled full length album "Die Kreuzen", from Electric Smiles Records (my copy still has the ES sticker on it) and took it home for a listen. Like much H/C of the day it was fast, pissed of anthems of alienation and despair. Like I said, it was fast, very fast, but with a certain discordance, although played with precision and skill. And what really stood out, a midst this jagged, cutting edge was the huge, chunky, almost metallic bass tone of bassist Keith Brammer.

Die Kreuzen didn't sound like other hardcore bands, from the beginning they were about creating a unique sound of their own. Even in the somewhat limited genre of hardcore, they pushed boundaries. They made up the rules as they went along ( how novel, for a underground band ), and refused to repeat themselves musically. By the time they released their 2nd album, "October File" in 1985, they slowed things down to more mid-tempo rock pace, but it was no less intense. The sound was even more angular and dissonant then on previous records and the bass seemed even bigger. Brammer's approach always reminded me of bands such as Birthday Party, Joy Division, PIL or even  Killing Joke. His playing was like am exclamation point at the end of a sentence. Combined with Dan Kubiniski vocals transforming from screams and howls to a more melodic wail,  the bombastic drumming of Eric Tunison and the ever-evolving and sorely underrated and overlooked guitar wizardry of Brain Engeness. The band  was able to craft a slab of rock that was arty and progressive, but not all pretentious. Throughout the record, Brammers bass plays to fit the varying moods of the song, while employing his own unique style. Over the years, "October File", would inspire such bands as Soundgarden, Neurosis, Tool, Alice and Chains, Voivod, Sonic Youth and the Deftones, and many others. Thurston Moore once stated; "Man, there was a point there when Die Kreuzen were the best band in the USA".

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Darryl Jenifer: Bad Brains-Thunder & Lightning

"My main thing is to stay focused when I step up on that stage. When I start dropping what I'm dropping, I'm representing this battle I'm telling you about, with the PMA, and the great spirit, to try and spread positive vibrations. That's why the Bad Brains are allegedly so influential and powerful because we, our energy, is like thunder and lightning. And people look at the thunder and the lightning; people say that's a glorious, gloriful thing." -Darryl Jenifer ( in the Washington Informer April 2012). The Bad Brains were by far, if not THE most influential band of my formative years as a musician. Prince, Rick James and Funkadelic were some of my first, but as a teenager discovering punk rock and other underground music, it was the Bad Brains that gave me the courage and the inspiration to play the music I was then feeling inside me.

The Bad Brains influence, impact and position in hardcore punk rock and later what some called funk metal has been written about numerous times and now even documented on film( Bad Brains: A Band in DC). If you are not that familiar with the band, Google them, listen to them. I suggest in chronological order, starting with the RIOR cassette or whatever they call it now, to at least, I Against I, undeniably the apex of their recorded output. This will give the uninitiated a glimpse of their evolution as a band. So back to my personal influence, yeah the whole black dudes playing that blistering punk rock, that's the obvious. But Darryl Jenifer as a bassist, shit that cat just had it going on! The Bad Brains are a riff band and Darryl made sure you knew they were about the power of the riff. Not a flashy player, just incredibly powerful and solid. If you were fortuanate to see them during the early to mid '80s, you witnessed a force of nature at work. H.R. just going nuts, Dr. Know ripping, Earl pounding and towering over it all, the mighty Darryl Jenifer. His techniques varied from song to song, because as a bassist he served the song. Play what is needed to make this the best song it can be. Most impressive upon me was how he strummed power chords on bass. Live, this would punch you in the gut while simultaneously lifting you towards heaven in a triumphant! Not to be overlooked is his deftness and soul stirring reggae lines. He grooves are heavy and they dig deep....DEEP! Like Thunder and Lightning.

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