My Fave Punk Rock Bass Riffs

Friday, February 18, 2011
Considering how much most punk is driven by the bass, picking six (or ten) bass riffs is kind of hard, but I thought I would pick mine. So here we go in ascending order

6. TV Party - Damaged, Black Flag
Chuck Dukowski (Charles on the Damaged album) sometimes get overlooked in the pantheon of bad ass punk bass players. I mean, he was one of the founders of the hardcore movement with it's unique power chord driven bass playing, but the opening bass riff on TV Party kicks all kinds of ass. By the way, the bass line build up on No More (also on Damaged) pretty much secures Black Flag in the hardcore hall of fame.

5. Search & Destroy - Raw Power, Iggy & The Stooges
Ron Asheton, founding member of The Stooges, was relegated to playing bass on this influential album, in spite of the fact that he was one of the greatest guitar players… ever. No matter, the guy could still thrash with an axe in his hands, whether it had four strings or six.

4. Shutdown - (GI), The Germs (Possibly NSFW)
What can you say about The Germs? Another short lived but influential band in the hardcore scene. Lorna Doom (who was best friends with Belinda Carlisle of Go Go's fame in high school… no seriously) shreds the bass in this song.

3. Waiting Room - 13 Songs, Fugazi
Any list of favorite bass players from punk bands would not be complete without Joe Lally from Fugazi. The opening riff on Waiting Room… damn! By the way, not including this song on your top ten first song's on a band's first album would be a sin.

2. Marquee Moon - Marquee Moon, Television
I know a lot of people say that Richard Hell & The Voidoids' , informed what would be the punk look. I think when they added a second guitarist and became Television, they informed what would become the new wave. Richard , a pretty good bass player in his own right, does not play bass on the first Televison album.

Fred Smith plays the bass on this one and demonstrates the way new wave would have a strong rhythm section, with the guitars and singers playing the heart of the song over that rhythm. Everyone likes to talk about U2 being influenced by The Clash, but I think they were more musically influenced by bands like Television and Joy Division, especially in U2's earlier work.

1. Guns of Brixton - London Calling - The Clash
A punk list from me that doesn't include The Clash would be surprising. Of course The Clash are represented here. Clash bassist, Paul Simonon's first foray's into song writing for The Clash is a bass playing tour de force. One of the earlier examples of reggae's growing influence on the band, Guns of Brixton is everything a good bass line should be.

Honorable Mention:
Love Canal - Flipper
15 Minutes - The Circle Jerks
Nice N' Sleazy - The Stranglers
Night Goat - Melvins

1. Guns of Brixton - London Calling - The Clash

2. Marquee Moon - MArquee Moon, Television

3. Waiting Room - 13 Songs, Fugazi

4. Shutdown - (GI), The Germs (Possibly NSFW)

5. Search & Destroy - Raw Power, Iggy & The Stooges

6. TV Party - Damaged, Black Flag


  1. Good list man. Not a bad song listed. Dude from Firehose and the minutemen, his name escapes me right now, played a TON of great songs. Look him up, even though you have probably heard of him already.

  2. That would be Mike Watt.

  3. Great ideas , Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks


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