Skip to main content

I am curious about something, and hopefully the rest of you can help me with this.

I am a bass player of only 2 years, and because I had already known Crowded House music before I ever started, I wasn't used to thinking about Nick's basslines. Now that I've had some time to absorb the music, I want to know what he does and what he adds to the band.

The most confusing thing for me is that there are a lot of people out there and here on Frenz who act like Nick is a bad musician. I simply don't hear that at all. His parts fit Crowded House, and they never took me out of the music or the moment. I just don't hear how he can be "bad" even with the razzing that he's gotten from Neil.

Off the top of my head, my favorite bass part would be "Nails in my Feet" because what he's done there particularly in the introductory measures before the voice comes in adds to the overall quality of the song. Other than that, he hasn't to my ears sounded like a showy player playing just for self-gratification and attention, but one who is part of the texture of things serving the song as a competent bass player is supposed to do.


So... is he good or bad or what is he as a musician? Yeah, he's better than *me*, but that's not really saying much. If you have examples that would be great so I could go hear just what you mean no matter what point you're making.



PS It must be something Freudian because I always want to typo the name of the song as "Neils in my Feet." Roll Eyes

~*~

Lu Yan: He who speaks, does not Know; He who Knows, does not speak. Surely you're masterful.

Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Great question. Well, I'm a guitarist and have played with many bassmen. Some good, some bad. Nick is superb! I was lucky to be right in front of his playing at Bristol, the guy is smooth-he has this great technique where he uses slides and octaves quite a lot. Never content just to 'plod'. He's got quite a swinging style really, inventive lines.
I'll chime in here. Nick is a wonderful bass player. I play a little bass and I have gone over CH tunes and Nick's technique is excellent.

In fact I have always thought that Nick was an outstanding player.

He ain't Vic Wooten - but then again, there is only one Vic.

Listen to Nick's off beat phrasing on DDIO. It drives that song forward more than most people understand.


"I think songs will always have value." NF
There's a lot to be said for his bass playing. He genuinely has a style of his own, and to me it's an integral part of the CH sound.

If you've ever heard live recordings and heard him adlib and mess around, when it works, it really works.

I'd say he's technically a pretty good player, and creatively a very underrated one.
I play the bass and was there on Friday..and I'm a big fan of Nick and his playing and basslines....he is however prone to plenty of errors live which I detect frustrates Neil which was why he liked Sebastian Steinberg so much...SS was pretty much note perfect live..Nick played duff notes on virtually every song on Monday...even with plenty of rehearsal..not that it spoils it because collectivly they are great live...(Mark Hart very rarely nails a solo and plays plenty of stray notes but is still a great musician). I think both are underrated though...
I love Nick's playing. He's in the McCartney school of inventive melodic bass lines that serve the SONG completely. He doesn't scream "look at my chops" - no he listens and plays with feel.

I particularly love the sound of the bass on Together Alone... examples:
Nails In My Feet(listen to the transition from minor key verse to major key chorus how he hangs on that note and then makes the drop - nice)
Pineapple Head(one of the most memorable bass lines I know - Neil loves it too, check FTTW commentary)
Locked Out(no... locked IN! he and Paul are rock solid through this one - which gives Neil the freedom to jump around on their foundation with guitar solo)

and plenty more.
quote:
Originally posted by Jez Needham:
I play the bass and was there on Friday..and I'm a big fan of Nick and his playing and basslines....he is however prone to plenty of errors live which I detect frustrates Neil which was why he liked Sebastian Steinberg so much...SS was pretty much note perfect live..Nick played duff notes on virtually every song on Monday...even with plenty of rehearsal..not that it spoils it because collectivly they are great live...(Mark Hart very rarely nails a solo and plays plenty of stray notes but is still a great musician). I think both are underrated though...



Hmmm, gee if this is all true why did Neil ask Nick to join him on TOE????? Or re-form the band? Neil has the cred to play with anyone he wants to within the industry. If he wanted SS he would have made that happen.

Also, just wondering here - did Nick play WRONG notes or just not the notes you expected, or was he ad libbing? Once you play a song about 1,000 times anyone who isn't a robot is looking for a different way to express himself.


"I think songs will always have value."
well neil wants to play with nick cos they have a groove and a style of play, that neil missed, he does make the odd error, if it was all the time, then neil wouldn't work with him, nick has a unique style, and has played some fantasic stuff, as for mark, again i've listened, and i can't hear many bad notes, we all play erratically, an make mistakes, no-ones perfect, they have a sound that is just fantasic. so yeah nick must be good, or neil wouldn't go back to him.
Nick is a great player. I have been in a couple of bands and I have to say that I never noticed how much I had been influenced by Nick. When I listened back to a couple of cds, some of the runs and tricks I used were similar to Nick, I never realised at the time. A sign of a good player is when they influence others.
Secondly, I have to say that there have been a few comments in different threads in the last few days of people criticising Mark's playing and his general skills. I am getting a bit sick of this. Put it this way, how much does Mark add to the sound of Crowded House, a lot...
And for Mark rarely nailing a solo? Listen to the Fleadh or Hammersmith Odeon for starters. And when Tim left, he was invaluable to the band. Undeserved criticism.
quote:
Originally posted by lee rutle:
well neil wants to play with nick cos they have a groove and a style of play, that neil missed, he does make the odd error, if it was all the time, then neil wouldn't work with him, nick has a unique style, and has played some fantasic stuff, as for mark, again i've listened, and i can't hear many bad notes, we all play erratically, an make mistakes, no-ones perfect, they have a sound that is just fantasic. so yeah nick must be good, or neil wouldn't go back to him.


Lee,

RE: Mark's playing - he is much more of a pedal steel man and a keyboard player than he is a guitar player. But if you listen to the band commentary on FWTTW Neil is just gushing over Mark's playing on guitar. So we've been through these threads about Mark's playing before and I am just going to keep directing people to Neil's remarks.

Gee, I sometimes think people expect too much from a live band. To those folks I also like to direct their attention to the concert on the roof in "Let It Be." Plenty of mistakes from those Liverpool gods.

I have seen a lot of bands in my time and the closest to perfection I have ever witnessed came from Slowhand in the summer of 1975 - three months past his electroshock therapy and possessing all the confidence in life that having a beautiful woman on your arm can give you. And 3 years later he makes monster mistakes in "The Last Waltz."

Ok, I'll step down off my soap box now.

"I think songs will always have value." NF
Nothing wrong with you..wasn't a criticism just an observation...as I said I'm a fan of both Nick and Mark...I was offering a suggestion of why Nick might get some stick....also songwriter I know the difference between a wrong note and something improvised...have a listen to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBNfaafrTPk

Also if you listen to the commentary on FTTW Neil constantly has a dig at Nick re fluffed notes.

Agree with all though that collectivly they are a great band..which is why we love them so much!
Jez...that part wasn't aimed at you. You quoted you did think they were underestimated as players and I agree. There are certain people on the forum though who feel quite happy taking a swipe at Nick and Mark when I think it is totally undeserved. Granted, Nick does play the odd wrong note, I noticed it at the webcast but it all adds to the charm and shows they are not some kind of 'music machine'. I can't stand bands who have to be note perfect all the time. They are so busy concentrating on muso runs and the like that all feeling disappears from their songs. Crowded House have a connection with the audience and something special happens when they play...
quote:
Originally posted by Jez Needham:
Nothing wrong with you..wasn't a criticism just an observation...as I said I'm a fan of both Nick and Mark...I was offering a suggestion of why Nick might get some stick....also songwriter I know the difference between a wrong note and something improvised...have a listen to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBNfaafrTPk

Also if you listen to the commentary on FTTW Neil constantly has a dig at Nick re fluffed notes.

Agree with all though that collectivly they are a great band..which is why we love them so much!



I heard the webcast live. They were all drinking and goofing about and Neil treated it as a practice session. Neil made plenty of mistakes that night as well.

We - the CH fandom - were invited to a practice session of a band that hadn't played together as a unit prior to just a month or so ago. I'll take all of those "mistakes" this band wants to give me.

Besides, I DO NOT want them to peak in a practice session. I have plans on seeing them in May (fingers crossed) and I am betting they will be tight.


"I think songs will always have value." NF
I remember those digs on Nick...He takes a *lot*. And he was canned at one point but then brought back. I really like his sound, though...and all those digs Neil takes at him just make me think "geez, man, either support your band members or cut them off. Don't humiliate them in public." It seems bad form, to me. I know it's "just joking" but to the outside observer it seems kind of passive aggressive. It seems to me that Neil should be bigger than that.
Songwriter, you seem really defensive toward Nick for any suggestion that he makes mistakes. "It's OKAY that he makes mistakes" is, I think the point, people are trying to make. Have you watched the commentary for FWTTW? OH yes.....Nick makes plenty of mistakes!! He doesn't try to hide from or cover up that fact, so I don't see why we need to. The man is human, and just because he makes mistakes doesn't mean he's not a good bass player. And probably the only member of Crowded House who makes more mistakes than Nick is NEIL with the lyrics!! And Neil's mistakes are infinitley more obvious than Nick's. Nick fluffs the bass, Mark fluffs the keyboard, Neil fluffs the lyrics, and we love them all the more for it Smiler
I was just thinking about this the other day after the webcast and the gig in Bristol.

I agree with Jez re: both Nick and Mark.

I've played bass for a long time, and in fact Nick's lines were one of the reasons I chose the bass. I absolutely love the lines he comes up with, and on record he's perfect. I'm sure his melodic sense has influenced me fundamentally from a musical perspective.

Live, he does make mistakes, and not a few either. He isn't so hot at the improvisation that regularly happens. This isn't a real criticism, just an observation, I don't think the less of him because of it, he still adds so much to CH live (and recorded).

Mark is the same, I love his lines, but his 12 string electric playing can go either way on occasion, and his keyboard solos sometimes fluff too. It's worth it for the gems though, and I love it when he does Born on the Bayou.

I'm not saying that Neil doesn't make mistakes too, but I do think that Neil is the real steady one in the band that can drag it all back together - every band needs one member like that.

And Justacat's point about Neil's passive agreesiveness towards Nick, I totally agree - I've noticed many times that Neil will pick on something Nick's said and correct him, seemingly to make him look small (Sputum in the webcast, and 'Nick's got his own phalanx of photographers'. 'I think it's a brace of photographers.'. 'No, it's a phalanx.'). Again, I'm not judging, they are obviously great friends, and every friendship has it's dynamic, but it's definitely something I've noticed.
Maybe this is a carryover from the fact that Neil didnt like Nicks playing around the time of the 2nd album if I remember correctly.He actually consitered replacing him I think.Now as far as my opinion..I have played the gituar myself for a long time since I was 12 and am now 46.I play regularly and have played bass in some session work at a friends request.I also listen closely to all the music I love and most of it carries wellwith time and I find I can lsten and isolate the drums vocal git bass ect.I think that Nick has come a long way during his tenure with CH and think he is an exceptional bass player and its clear if you listen closely to his playing.
forgive my spelling its bad-
mark n san diego
I feel that Nick is a great bassist, particularly because he seems to have his own very distinctive style, which is identifiable in most Crowded House songs. In this sense, I feel that the music of Crowded House would be quite different if he wasn't playing.

Neil has worked with some other good bassists in his time, Sebastian Steinberg being one of them, but it's clear to me that Nick's playing and Neil's songs are especially suited to each other.

As for Mark, he's equally as important to the band as Nick. I was at the Bristol gig, and it was quite apparent that Mark's a real pro with the versatility that is required to complement Neil and Nick. His singing on Born on the Bayou was also top draw.

-Tom
I am a drummer and have been playing in front of people since '65. When you have a good bass player, all is right with the world. I have a long standing band now with the best bass player I have ever played with. I am constantly sending him CH songs to hear Nick's playing. It helps to hear how other players work their rhythms. The Nick and Paul stuff is very strong and worthy of a good listen often. It makes we lesser beings strive.

Nick is part of the heart and backbone of their sound. I think it's Matt who has his work cut out for him. As they play and tour, it will pull together just fine. Fewer clams. Even Neil has had trouble with lyrics. All those songs... I can't always remember the words either!

I think Nick is one of the best I have ever heard! I loved his little dance move going into There Goes God on the DVD. I have watched it over and over. It cracks me up. A great spirit.
nick's a great player - melodic in the style of mccartney,and for me it doesn't get much better than that.

the thing about inventive musicians is because by nature they experiment - it makes mistakes more possible because they don't always play it safe.i love neils guitar playing because he doesn't always play the same hackneyed solos.it does however mean some fairly spectacular bum notes from neil too from time to time.

as for mark - for me he's every bit as good a guitar player as he is a pedal steel player.all the facets of his musicianship make him an integral part of the band.

in short - i love all neils music ,but in my opinion his music is served best by crowded house - nick and mark (and now matt too.)
Back again, and thanks to all who have posted. It's been wonderfully interesting.

I just thought I'd throw this into the mix of disucssion. My personal bass hero is Nigel Griggs. The man is an awesome musician any way you look at it. But my discovery of Nigel didn't happen until after I'd already been playing bass for nearly a year. Fertile mind, or some such.

Both Nigel and Nick serve the music and you won't see either of them showing off chops just to show off chops. But the difference between Split Enz and Crowded House in many was was Neil's ability on the (electric) guitar. While in SE he was still learning, and Nigel and Eddie worked harder to fill up the sonic space. I can simply hear the bass better in Enz music.

On the other hand, once Neil got to CH, he was a better, more experienced guitarist. He could take that sonic leadership role in a more guitar heavy band. So Nick took the role of quiet glue instead of a "look at me and my mad bass skillz, yo!" take on things.

So as odd as this may sound, I really hadn't ever thought of Nick as an instrumentalist before and what he brings. As I mentioned in my original post, I just hadn't been paying attention to his lines. Now... I think I need to listen to the discography to hear what I like *besides* Neils and Nails in my Feet.
I see Half-Full has already made a point I was going to make, Neil makes plenty of mistakes on his own ... and not only with lyrics. Nobody is prefect.

Listening to some live Crowdies recently, I was really appreciating Nick's playing live. Unfortunately I can't recall any specific songs or even live shows to name, but he did drive the Crowdies sound very well and reliably.

I cannot disagree with aikakone's theory, however I would like to add that I think much of the difference between Nick and Nigel's playing also has to do with the style of the music. Crowded House tunes were considerably lighter and poppier sounding numbers, which is not to say that they were lacking in any way, it is simply a fundamental stylistic difference between the songs. Given that each player was respectively in the bands for a reasonable amount of time, I'm sure this had some degree of influence on their playing style.

Hearing Nick play some Split Enz songs at the Finn Brothers show at Homebake, I thought he did an admirable job (especially as he clearly didn't know some given the notes he was studying closely at times), but they seemed out of keeping with his style and so for me the songs lacked the power of the Enz renditions. However, having said that I thought he made them rock far more than Tim Smith who played with the Brothers for their EIH tour, but again for the most part he is more in fitting with the Finn Brothers musical style.
They are all top musicians, and the reason mistakes are sometimes made is because(as has been stated) they are not satisfied to stick with cliches and the same old repeated phrases in their playing. Maybe we should start a thread for Nick's top 5 basslines?

I sometimes tire of people wanting to nitpick. If people ARE that concerned then why actually follow the band? Yours wonderingly.

Mike
I don't think anyone is all that concerned. I think we appreciate all the things that make our musical heroes who they are, including.....possibly even especially....their humanity. It seems to me that most people are having a pretty lighthearted conversation about those amusing oopses, and I don't understand what the big deal is. It's not really intended as serious criticism as far as I can tell. It seems to me that the only ones really taking this very seriously are the ones who have a problem with the conversation taking place at all. That's fine, of course, if you're not interested in this subject of conversation. By all means, don't take part, but please don't come down on people who are just having a conversation and intending to ill will toward anyone....not Nick, nor any other member of Crowded House. I don't think there is any harm in acknowledging that they are human.
Was relistening to Temple of Low Men last night, and the "second side" blows me away as per general music and specfically Nick. He does some *great* stuff on it!

I'll have to listen again and give concrete examples of what I've heard that I like so much. The only one that I can think of just now is his lick under the 4 acoustic guitar strums before the lyric starts with "Oh, hell, trouble is coming..." It's a lovely bit of melody in the bass mid-range. Well done, Nick.

But I'll possibly be back later with more comments. Big Grin
i love nick's bass playing, he is very inventive in the lines he comes up with, just listen to "pineapple head" or "in my command", genius stuff. actually i love how youth's production on "together alone" brings the bass to the fore, nick's playing is the backbone to the band and an essential ingredient on what makes the crowded house songs so great.

i'm hoping the production on the new album will let his basslines shine out
I think a few people have gotten it right here; Nick is not a technically perfect bass player by any stretch (just listen to the commentary on FTTW, with Nick saying, "Hmmm...was that a flubbed bass note?" and Neil saying "Undoubtedly!" and both of them laughing), but, as Mitchell Froom states in the book Something So Strong (I'm paraphrasing), Nick isn't brilliant in conventional terms, but he comes up with idiosyncratically wonderful bass parts. Of course, I think the same could be said for Neil and Mark on their respective instruments, so they are well-suited to each other.
Excellent thread Aika, kudos to you for starting it....Altho I'm hardly any sort of musician, I am a fan of Nick Seymour, he comes from an extremely talented family...Like any musician, I don't think he's completely perfect, they all make mistakes, but, I love him mistakes & all....Besides, the mistakes are part of his charm Wink

Add Reply

Post
    All times London, UK.

    ©1998-Eternity, Frenz.com. All post content is the copyrighted work of the person who wrote it. Please don't copy, reproduce, or publish anything you see written here without the author's permission.
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×