Deeper Grooves: Great Bass Playing You May Have Missed - EPISODE 1

Deeper Grooves: Great Bass Playing You May Have Missed - EPISODE 1

Kiki Dee - Perfect Timing (1981)

Bassist: Gary Twigg


When you pick up some records, you know that you’re going to get some great bass playing. Thing is, bass players are always talking about the same albums - albeit for good reason. Albums like “Hejira”, “What’s Going On”, “Never too Much” or “Abbey Road” are still recommended to aspiring bassists who want to hear great playing ‘in situ’.

For many ‘serious’ musicians, pop records often remain overlooked - especially if the musicians appearing on them in aren’t as celebrated as Jaco, James Jamerson, Marcus Miller or Paul McCartney.

This little series seeks to highlight some forgotten or overlooked pop records featuring great bass playing. Our opening episode? We’re going to be looking at Gary Twigg’s contribution to Kiki Dee’s 1981 album ‘Perfect Timing’. It’s not Kiki’s highest charting release but I think it’s among her best sounding thanks to producer, arranger and guitarist Pip Williams and his assembled team of musos.




Gary Twigg has worked with countless successful artists like Graham Bonnet, Sheena Easton, Elkie Brooks and Gerry Rafferty and always seems to have the perfect tone and melodic approach to each track as we’ll see here…

Star

Famously used as the theme tune for ‘Opportunity Knocks’, this track is easy to overlook for its commercial production and catchy chorus but not only is it expertly performed and produced, it features some tight, funky playing from Twigg - in places double by a synth bass. The highly syncopated phrases are played by the whole band with the bass right up in the mix.

Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever

Obviously in an attempt to replicate the success of 1976’s ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’, this Stevie Wonder-penned track features Kiki’s friend and musician Elton John. There’s lots of space in the arrangement here and Twigg takes this as an opportunity to gliss his way around the changes on his fretless.

Wild Eyes

This track rocks along with a driving quaver groove. Check out the way Gary mixes up the articulation here - alternating staccato and tenuto quavers in the verses restrains the groove a little so that his pumping chorus 8ths can be given their full life to add another layer to the arrangement. Also, check out his funky little octave jumps over the outro - Bernard Edwards would have approved.

Twenty Four Hours

More fretless action here on the best ballad on the album. His licks are quite Jaco-esque around Kiki’s heartfelt vocal in the verses - they’re behind the beat and not rushed at all which gives the arrangement a conversational quality. He resists the temptation to add lots of sustain and vibrato to his notes and the occasional funky staccato note - another Jaco influence perhaps?

Perfect Timing

The title track gives us more funky rock grooves. It sounds like the back pickup of a fretless jazz bass is providing the throaty tone here which really sings on the ad-libbed licks over the fade out.

Midnight Flyer

My personal favourite features a pedal-point bass part that is undoubtedly from the creative brain of Pip Williams. The chorus gives us more staccato funky octaves which never get in the way but give the refrain an optimistic atmosphere.

There’s a Need

More pedal-point action opens this one but the bass soon breaks into a catchy 8th note groove for the second verse and chorus. There’s some funky ghost notes in the chorus too which gives the groove some bounce. The bridge gets the staccato 8th treatment before the groove enters again under the guitar solo.

Another Break

The opening fretless licks here are so Jaco that it’s unbelievable! The spacey chords and the synth solo that takes over throws us even further into Weather Report territory with Kiki delivering a vocal with Joni Mitchell stylings. The second verse boasts several licks - my favourite one of which features a lovely triplet-based descending line.

Love is Just a Moment Away

This MOR, radio friendly pop tune would have made an excellent single. You guessed it - more slash chords and pedal point here. The way Twigg links the chords in the verses is a simple but effective use of scales and chord tones. There’s some lovely variations on the groove and licks as the track fades out - Gary is a master at building interest into the baseline slowly over the course of the track.

You Are My Hope In This World

We don’t get the bass in any significant capacity until about halfway through the album closer but the chorus-laden instrument is very present playing off-beat chord tones under Pip Williams’ guitar solo.

You can really hear the Jaco influence on Gary Twigg here. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and if you have any ideas for the next one, drop me a message!

Stay safe,

Greg

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