Jack Casady/Pete Sears

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Posted by Keith E Rice on 12/29/01 - 15:41:51
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This is a somewhat-belated follow-up to some comments made by Mission Control a few weeks back about Paul's JS being the catalyst for Jack to rediscover his "psychedelic" bass style. (Me and MC agree? Well, not quite...but not that far off...maybe?!?) (Hi, Michael!)

In a BASSPLAYER interview around about the time of "PAIR A DICE FOUND", Jack said that during the latter stages of the Airplane, he was using all of his fingers to play around the beat.

Listening to something like the "POINTED HEAD" version of "Other Side Of This Life" or "Pretty As You Feel" or the "WINTERLAND" version of "Saucers", you can believe it!

Elsewhere I've seen Jack described as "the Jimi Hendrix of the bass guitar"; and when you listen to stuff like "Sunrise", "A Child Is Coming", "Candyman", "Crazy Miranda", "Lawman", "Silver Spoon", "Water Song", "Sunny Day Strut", "Your Mind Has Left Your Body" or "Fishman", that description seems quite apt.

For me, Jack's last really interesting piece of work was "THE PHOSPHERESCENT RAT".

When Tuna headed for cod-metal, Jack really restricted himself to just holding down the bottom - unlike bassists in other power trio outfits - eg, Cream, The Who - where the bassists made up for the instrumental vacuum by, if anything, overplaying.

For me, Pete Sears' work in the Starship - if not up to peak Casady - was certainly superior to anything being done concurrently by God. (With the exception of "Watch The North Wind Rise".) Even Freiberg was more interesting than Casady!

Jack's post-Tuna work in SVT required even more simple basswork - which, according to the aforementioned BASSPLAYER interview - he couldn;t do. Jack actually ended up taping his fingers together so he could only strike one string at a time. Which gave SVT the on-the-beat they needed.

Paul, of course, made a great thing about getting Jack to work with him on "PERRO" - but Casady hardly distinguished himself. I just don't believe that the reverbed bass on "Telepath" is Jack. There's none of his trademarks on that tack - so who is it? On "Science Friction", there's some of Casady's stretched-out fuzz. Elsewhere it's strictly SVT-style playing on the beat.

The only track Jack wakes up for on "KBC BAND" is "Dream Motorcycle" - redolent with heavy chording. As for his work on KBC's "KING BISCUIT HOUR", compare Sears' wonderful hammer-ons on "Ride The Tiger" to the muddy growling on the version of "Tiger" here.

Even on Tuna's "SWEETWATER" albums, Jack sounds like an everyman bassplayer. Knows his way around a fretboard, yes - but hardly distinguished.

Then we come to "DEEP SPACE/VIRGIN SKY". From the opening growls of "Ganja Of Love", it's obvious that God is back. And by the time we get to the fuzzed-up intro to "White Rabbit", we've rolled back 20 years of mediocrity.

I suspect MC's analysis is a little too simple. (Told you I couldn't bring myself to agree totally!) I don't think Jack ever completely lost his psycedelic style. Until Paul resurrected all those old JA songs, Jack had no motivation to revive that style.

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