Simon Renardson: Songs In The Key Of Life

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Simon RenardsonSimon Renardson is a well known gigging bass player in town. Here he picks the music which has soundtracked his life…

Burt Ives – Ugly Bug Ball

The earliest song I can remember, this was on a Disney cassette that was on constant play any time we went anywhere in the car aged maybe 4 or 5. I have absolutely no idea what movie or TV show this song comes, but it’s always reminded me of the long trip from Kent to Yorkshire, and it’s the only song from that cassette I can remember.

Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell

My dad used to have a pretty big LP collection with some brilliant artists: Elton John, Queen, Men At Work, Thin Lizzy, er, The Carpenters. But nothing beat listening to this track, on vinyl, with the volume cranked up to ‘window shattering’.

Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught The Train

The first album I bought (again on cassette), was Moseley Shoals. I think I picked it up in a shop in Dublin for about £8. I bought it about a year after picking up a bass for the first time, and Damon Minchella has some amazing basslines, though I didn’t fully appreciate them at the time. It’s still a fantastic album to listen to.

Oasis – Roll With It

My first concert was Oasis in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in ’96 (I think). During the Britpop wars of the 90s, I was an impartial observer, I was a big fan of both Oasis and Blur and had “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory” and “The Great Escape” on repeat (I’d upgraded to a CD player at this stage).

I woke up one morning –  still groggy and bleary-eyed – and was handed the phone immediately upon coming down the stairs by my mother. On the other end of the line was 2FM and apparently I had just been commissioned to participate in a competition to win tickets to the concert.

The other contestant and I had to guess the name of the song within a number of seconds of playing it. I bid her down to either two or three seconds. On came opening riff to this song and I knew it immediately, so off I went to the gig.

Queen – Death on Two Legs (Dedicated To…)

John Deacon was the main reason for me picking up a bass. although I didn’t know it at the time. It was only after playing for a couple of years of playing that I realised that I could hum any Queen bassline you could think of and not a clue of what any other instrument was playing on the track.

It was a completely subconscious thing. John Deacon had an amazing sense of melody while doing the “supporting the track” thing that is the job of any good bass player. Again, “A Night at the Opera” was an album that was often borrowed from my father’s LP collection.

Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark

Hands down the best concert I have ever been to. I had been to see The Eagles a year before and was blown away by it, their harmonies were spot on. Then came this gig and this song, I still get shivers down my spine thinking of the entire audiences singing along to the intro of this song. The 30-foot Eddie bust waving his hand over the crowd just added to the experience.

Frank Zappa – Titties and Beer

A twist on the “meeting the devil at the crossroads” song. I joined the music society in U.L. when I got up there, joined a band and the guitarist asked me if I’d ever heard Frank Zappa? He played me this song and my obsession began.

This guy can do it all; funk, rock, humour, doo-wop, rock, classical, his catalogue is amazing and varied, he is nothing short of a genius. And the dialogue with the devil in the middle changes with every recording I hear. (NSFW)

Primus – Power Mad

Another phenomenal bass player is Les Claypool. I started hearing of him in bass magazines, but I’d only briefly heard of the name Primus (They did the South Park theme tune). I walk into Roxy Records one day and there it was, their album Antipop, so I bought it.

I’ve spent years trying to play some of his songs (to no avail), add to that the fact that he’s singing as well and you’re employing an exercise in futility, he is one of a kind.

Tom Waits – Heartattack and Vine

I love the guitar playing in this song, very dirty. Add to that Tom’s gritty vocal style and the double bass and it’s, in my opinion, close to the perfect blues song. Full of incredibly witty lyrics “I bet she’s still a virgin, but it’s only twenty-five ’til nine”, “Don’t you know there ain’t no Devil? That’s just God when he’s drunk”

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah

The most clever lyrics in this song. If you need proof, the line “It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift” in musical terms goes like this: root, fourth chord, fifth chord, minor chord, major chord. Incredibly clever songwriting, then again, that’s what he’s known for.

Thin Lizzy – Got to Give It Up

There are so many Lizzy songs I could pick, but this is my favourite. We used to play it when I was in The Silk Cut Blues. Phil Lynott is traditionally know as a fantastic vocalist and frontman, he is also an incredible and very underrated bassist. The strange thing about him though is that his songs, through choice or consequence, are fairly easy to sing while playing the bass (Which is normally quite hard to do).

Metallica – Creeping Death

The ultimate debate amongst my friends was whether “Ride the Lightning” or “Master of Puppets” was the best Metallica album, both amazing examples of the incredible musicality of a hard rock band, but I’m going to stick with Ride the Lightning. Purely for this song and Jason Newsted’s raw, pure-energy vocal on the “Live S**t: Binge & Purge” version of it.

Bach – Toccata and Fugue in d minor

If Tony Iommi is the godfather of heavy metal, Bach is the DADDY. This is incredibly dark sounding, had it been played on electric guitar in the 1800’s, it would have been heavy metal. If you can get a good recording of this, put it on and turn it up LOUD! You feel it more than hear it.

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