I don't often find myself at an impasse when it comes to being an art critic; I know what I like, and I'm usually a giant snob about it.
Yet today I find myself in a quandary: Whose bass solo is better? Geezer Butler's Basically, or Cliff Burton's Anesthesia (pulling
teeth) from KILL EM' ALL?
Which is "better"?
Should any comparison be made at all?
What do you think, Metal Heads?
As a bass player, this is a question I've wrestled with in one fashion or another for many years. It's almost an unfair comparison when you get down
to the nitty gritty. Before joining Black Sabbath, Geezer had never played bass so he approached the instrument from the perspective of a frustrated
guitar player and in that he created the template for playing bass in a metal band. What I mean by that is other than a handful of groundbreaking bass
players like Jack Bruce and John Entwistle, bass was almost a secondary percussion instrument that followed the kick and hi hat. Geezer cranked up the
gain and doubled a lot of the guitar rhythms and played some of the greatest bass fills ever put to tape.
On the opposite side of that, Cliff was a diligent student who took classical music lessons in a time when bass players were almost exclusively from a
jazz background if they studied music. While this certainly set him apart stylistically, the biggest impact his classical training had was much more
far reaching because Cliff Burton was the one who is most directly responsible for the guitar harmonies that Hetfield and Hammet(and consequently
Metallica) complex time signatures and multiple key changes are famous for. It all stemmed from the classical music.
For me, it's difficult if not impossible to say one is better than the other. They both had a profound impact on music in general and specifically
some of the key aspects of modern metal can be traced directly back to these two. Add in the fact that Cliff accomplished all of this by the ripe old
age of 24 whereas Geezer had the luck of living a full life but didn't really continue to innovate on the instrument as much as simply perfect the
craft that he had initiated. Who knows what Cliff would have gone on to accomplish had Kirk been the one to draw for the bunk Cliff ended up sleeping
in and survived the bus accident.
Again. I can't really pick one or the other as the better bass player. Each in their own way revolutionized the genre as a whole and elevated it with
their contributions. As someone else mentioned earlier, I'd go a little farther outside this box and prop up John Entwistle if I had to pick someone
that I thought was the best overall bass player with Jack Bruce as a close second.
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