Music's Mightiest Bass Lines

We're here to celebrate all that is great about those basslines which are so bloody good they can ramp an average song up to colossal, foot-stomping heights.

Ultimate Guitar

Ah, the bassist: the member of the band that no one ever wants to interview (unless it's Flea). The're definitely the unappreciated middle child of the music world.

So today, let's right that wrong. Forget the guitar solo, because we're here to celebrate all that is great about those basslines which are so bloody good they can ramp an average song up to colossal, foot-stomping heights. Here are Top 5 by NME but, more importantly, what are yours?

5. New Order "Blue Monday"

No greatest bassline list would be complete without Hooky, so logically he had to be on it twice. "Blue Monday"'s 7 minute hammering bassline is the stuff that has us staying in dingy indie clubs till closing time.

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4. Lou Reed - "Walk On The Wild Side"

All the lyrics of transexuality, drugs, jiglos are kind of overshadowed by Herbie Flowers' use of two, yes that's right two, interlocking basslines. The double bass and fretless bass guitar that are meshed together make one of the most memorable walking bassline there is.

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3. Talking Heads "Psycho Killer"

The bass kicks in relentlessly stabbing away like a... well a "Pyscho Killer". All credit to Tina Weymouth's full-bodied bassline, which has provided rhythm for those who are about as able to bust a move as Screech from "Saved By The Bell".

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2. Joy Division "Love Will Tear Us Apart"

Yeah, Ian Curtis' lyrics are the kind of thing we all scrawled across our desks at school, but what about the post-punk bass that drives the whole tour de force of emotion together? One of the most tear jecking basslines ever? We think so.

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1. The Pixies "Debaser"

"Debaser" has the bassline that sends 20 minute guitar solos sobbing in the corner over their inadequacy. It's a formidable, propulsive bassline that's kind of on a par with trying your first Dib-Dab, just a pure sugar-rush.

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366 comments sorted by best / new / date

    For Whom The Bass Tolls, anything by Les Claypool, Lounge Act, Re-Arranged, Around The World, Gigantic, Would?, Psycho (SOAD). I could keep going, and I ain't even a bassist.
    The first thing that came to mind - Tool "Schism ", Radiohead "The National Anthem " and Nirvana "Come As You Are ".
    These are alright. Not what I usually think of as "mighty bass lines." Rush please... Oh wait, just saw it is by NME. Makes sense.
    what about Pink Floyd's Money? ya its not the most technical bass line but once i hear it its stuck in my head- in a good way!
    Where's Orion? Cliff has some cool bass lines there, especially in the middle section of the song, and not to mention his solo. Also where's Billy Sheehan on this list?
    jurnag12 wrote: How about Geezer Butler's Bassically, or anything from Rush?
    100% with you on both of these suggestions. I love Geezer's playing on Fairies Wear Boots as well.
    Sweet Child of Mine Detroit Rock City Schism My Friend of Misery Lounge Act Powerslave Would? Mountain Song
    Jeremy-PJ. AiC-Would Kim Deals basslines are lovely. And I just love JPJ's work-Ramble On, Achilles Last Stand, Dazed and Confused. His TCV work is remarkable. And songs like "Angry,Angry" , "Shibuya Bop" .
    Oh comon you guys!! how has no one yet said Another one bites the dust or under pressure?!?! Then theres hysteria, feel goo inc... i could go on, there is a plethora of bass lines that smash the ones in the article. not to say they aren't good, just not the best.
    Tarsplitter wrote: NME sure loves Never Tear Us Apart...
    well this is embarassing.
    Led Zepplin: Trampled under foot Alice in Chains: Would? Tool: Schism Megadeth: My Last Words
    Aerosmith- Sweet Emotion Metallica- My Friend of Misery The Killers- Jenny Was A Friend of Mine The Beatles- Rain I do love the inclusion of "Take A Walk On The Wild Side"
    Terrible list. Basslines in rock music generally don't groove, they are more of an ominous thunder that follows the guitar riffs. Good Times - Chic Detroit - Marcus Miller Superstition - Stevie Wonder Take the Power Back - Rage Against The Machine Billie Jean - Michael Jackson Those are basslines. Look them up, I dare you.
    I used to play bass and none of these did anything for me. Obviously everyone's will be different and I don't have anywhere near close to the knowledge of music most UG users have but a few I think should make the cut are: Coffee Shop - RHCP One World - Dire Straits Free - All Right Now (if we're doing rhythm-holder basslines) Mr. Pink - Level 42 Your Smiling Face - James Taylor Maxwell Murder - Rancid Muse - any one of their Hysteria-type basslines Queen - You're My Best Friend Rusted Root - Send Me On My Way Any Dream Theatre or that type of music.
    So... Orion isn't here... Poor Cliff must be revolving in his grave. :'(
    Velvet Revolver-Slither. That bass line is my favourite bass line because of its simplicity. \m/
    Tool - The Pot Between the Buried and Me - Viridian Rage Against the Machine - Wake Up Iron Maiden - The Clairvoyant Metallica - (Anesthesia)--Pulling Teeth I guess some of these are more solos than bass lines, but there's some excellent bass playing there. Les Claypool, Jaco Pastorius, Geddy Lee, and several others also deserve a mention. It doesn't really make sense to just have a list of the top five, since it leaves so many excellent choices out, that are practically equal in quality, but just different.
    Primus - My Name Is Mud Primus - Jerry Was A Race Car Driver Morphine - Yes Morphine - Thursday Minutemen - The Glory of Man Minutemen - Search Fishbone - Bonin' In The Boneyard Fugazi - Waiting Room
    This is one of the saddest lists I've ever seen. No Lee, Squire, Jones, Geezer, Entwistle? Boris the ****ing spider?
    How could you have a list about bass lines and not have Queens "Another one bites the dust" its straight up blasphemy!
    I really like Ozzy's "NO MORE TEARS", also Metallica's "MY FRIEND OF MISERY" and Dream Theater's "VOICES" between many others.
    Pretty weak, nothing against the songs mentioned, but the lack of Muse/RATM/RHCP is pretty odd and they're just the obvious ones!
    Billie Jean, Holly Wars...Punishment due, Peace Sells, Hysteria, plug in baby. my fav bass lines
    Jeremy- Pearl Jam Where I End And You Begin- Radiohead Hysteria- Muse Love Will Tear Us Apart should stay right on the spot. Soul To Squeeze- RHCP
    all of fleas bass lines are better then these, give it awaay? throw away away your televison? Get on Top?....and Queens Another One Bites the Dust is a great bass line too