The Nigel Griggs appreciation thread

I am just loving the bass in "Famous People" lately, and was curious what others' favorite Nigel moments are...discuss!
"All I ask is to live each moment free from the last" - T. Finn "And when you're in the moment, everything you want is right" - N. Finn
Original Post
I should probably add my voice to this thread. Nigel was my first bass hero after starting to play the bass guitar 3 years ago.

My musical background is percussion and voice. I have a bachelor's degree in music education, and I tought public school for a while. So my personal areas of performance are more classical. That affects how I listen to the things Nigel has done.

Three years ago when I started to play, I didn't know who he was at all. I'd only heard of SE as a name of some band that Neil and Tim were in before Crowded House, but I had never heard any Split Enz music at all. A few months after that, toward the end of 2005, I finally heard the music and I was astounded.

When I listened to music before becoming a bassist myself, I heard the gestalt of music, but I never isolated bass parts. Sometimes they were even hard for me to hear. Once I got to Split Enz after having bass under my belt (so to speak) for a few months, I could really and truly hear what Nigel was doing. Again, I was just amazed. His parts were interesting and creative but without gratuitious conceit that would end up as music wankery that didn't serve the song.

One of my favorites of his, already mentioned, is "Giant Heartbeat." Specifically, I love the descending line introduction at the beginning that starts around the 12th fret. It adds energy to the piece of music. I'd heard the same thing done in the choral piece "The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee" by the composer Jean Berger. In that, the top voices of the ensemble have static chords while the basses rise and fall with the introductory melody. The similarity of this rock song and that classical piece struck in my mind as way cool. By the way, this 12th fret/octave energy is also used by other excellent bassists such as Donald "Duck" Dunn in the Stax great "Knock on Wood" by Eddie Floyd.

Changing meter? Love that, too, perhaps especially because of my percussion background. (I still play in an orchestra.) I had some great fun doing changing meter on some Chavez (Mexican composer) and Stravinsky pieces. We've got that coming back again in several of the Split Enz songs, and it sounds great around the Time and Tide era.

Technique-wise, I noticed he's got a fluid left hand. The movements seem graceful and effortless as if it just flows all over the neck and fingerboard. His right hand is very still, which has been a puzzle to me, but according ot the man himself it's to have an even attack. (I personally play with fingers as opposed to a pick/plectrum that Nigel uses.)

But as far as a groove, locking it in and sounding good? Yeah... he's got it. No one can beat "Dirty Creature" which would be the song I'd nominate to introduce complete strangers to the band. Plus, the first time I heard "Famous People" (not on the A&M release of Frenzy) I must have drooled a little because that song full of sexy, slinky, basstastic goodness.

So... yeah. I appreciate his professional body of work.
aikakone, I used to play bass in my younger days. I wasn't very good at it but still had a fun time learning and experimenting.

When you mentioned the 12th fret octave/energy subject, that took me back to the person who inspired me to play, Gary Thain, a Kiwi musician who played in Keef Hartley and later, Uriah Heep. Although the Heep was critically slagged, and in most cases rightfully so, have a listen to this man play. He was originally a jazz player and he played off of the twelfth fret like a madman. His style sounds way too busy for my ears today, but his talent is undeniable. Try the albums Uriah Heep Live or The Magician's Birthday. He always played a Fender Precision, which had a REAL long neck, making his dexterity all the more amazing.

Years later, I came to appreciate the more restrained and complementary style of players such as Ron Blair (with Tom Petty) and of course, Nigel Griggs.
Very well-described, aikakone. I'm not a bass player myself (and only barely a guitarist) but just from your description I could hear exactly what you were talking about from memory - things I hadn't necessarily picked out when listening!

Is it just me or does the Enz section of the Frenz board tend to bring out a higher level of musical erudition in the discussions?
Thanks, TT and Sadly. Big Grin I could have gone on longer because I've thought other things about his playing, but I wasn't really in the headspace to do it very effectly.

I don't know if it's necessarily true about te Enz board having more erudition (great word!). It could be, but my first thought is that people have known Enz music longer, so it's easier to think about and reflect. I'm not personally one of those people who has known Enz music a long time, but several fans are.

I also felt like sharing that I recently (January 31st) bought my own Spector bass, and that was influenced directly from the fact that Nigel plays a Spector. (He has a BC Rich, too, which he's using to prepare for the concert series in a few weeks.) The difference with me, though, is that my beauty is fretless. The most luscious thing ever!

One of the things as a bass and Nigel fan I've done is point out his stuff to ther fans who might not have listened in a certain way. We all know how well Neil is appreciated, and his "Message to My Girl" makes the straight female fans swoon. It's a fantastic song, absolutely, but listen to the part Nigel is actually playing. He's doing a lot of stuff in there being quite active in a song that gives the overall impression of mellow. He could have played it in a way that stomped all over the song because he is "busy", yet it works without his choice coming off sounding as indelicate as a bull in a china shop.
I think those showboating-type bassists lack the confidence to play with taste - confidence that Nigel has in spades!

That, or they simply lack the taste.

quote:
Originally posted by aikakone:
I don't know if it's necessarily true about te Enz board having more erudition (great word!). It could be, but my first thought is that people have known Enz music longer, so it's easier to think about and reflect.

What I thought it might be was that the Enz may have been a bit more musically adventurous as a unit. Whereas the later Finn efforts put a greater focus on showcasing the song, with a tendency towards simplicity over intricacy. Certainly both approaches are valid, but I think you get a bit more to talk about with Enz arrangements.

A complete and utter generalization, mind you! Some Enz songs were very simply cast. And some solo, brothers, or CH songs incorporate outre touches. But those tend to be the exceptions.
I'd actually written a post to this thread last night that seems to have been consumed in the ether never to be seen again. No matter, I think perhaps it's been said more eloguently than by my own words:

quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Sadly:
I think those showboating-type bassists lack the confidence to play with taste - confidence that Nigel has in spades!


quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Sadly:

What I thought it might be was that the Enz may have been a bit more musically adventurous as a unit. Whereas the later Finn efforts put a greater focus on showcasing the song, with a tendency towards simplicity over intricacy. Certainly both approaches are valid, but I think you get a bit more to talk about with Enz arrangements.

A complete and utter generalization, mind you! Some Enz songs were very simply cast. And some solo, brothers, or CH songs incorporate outre touches. But those tend to be the exceptions.


Generalisations aside, this is a point I've often made when comparing Nigel to Nick, or to those who have played bass for the Finn Brothers (thinking specifically of Brothers and Tim solo, where Dirty Creature often makes an appearance). There does tend to be a greater complexity to Enz songs, yet they vary so much from song to song that discretion is required as to whether to thump them out or play something rather elaborate in a rather subdued nature. Nigel seems to have this ability down pat, whichever is required of him. It is, I feel, what is actually required of any bass instument (as someone who hasn't played bass but has played trombone, which can have a similar role).
quote:
Originally posted by mummakook:
It is, I feel, what is actually required of any bass instument (as someone who hasn't played bass but has played trombone, which can have a similar role).

Surely not even the tuba! :-)

But seriously, I quite agree. It's a real shame that most bassists seem content to thump along boringly (or are made to do so). But perhaps a bigger shame that those who indulge in a more involved approach tend to take it so far that it becomes a distraction.

I tend to think Tony Levin pulls it off though.
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Sadly:
I think those showboating-type bassists lack the confidence to play with taste - confidence that Nigel has in spades!




quote:
Originally posted by mummakook:
There does tend to be a greater complexity to Enz songs, yet they vary so much from song to song that discretion is required as to whether to thump them out or play something rather elaborate in a rather subdued nature. Nigel seems to have this ability down pat, whichever is required of him. It is, I feel, what is actually required of any bass instument (as someone who hasn't played bass but has played trombone, which can have a similar role).


These comments reminded me of a quote from the man himself in "Letters To My Frenz":

"It's not just the playing, it's what you choose to play and how that fits with everything else. It may mean playing something very simple, something anybody could play, but if that is all it needs, then that is all you give it. To this day I have to work hard not to overplay."

Add Reply

Likes (0)
    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.
×
×
×
×
×