Think I better compose now!
January 23, 2010 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Please help me write a bass riff for Prince's Kiss

So, I'm playing bass in this cover-band at a gig next week, and they've decided they want to play Kiss as the last song. Okay, great, its just a wonky blues progression. Only thing is, I've listed to both The Artist's and Tom Jones' versions and neither really has much in the way of Bass. In fact, as far as I can tell, they both just use some sort of synth to thump out the root note at the beginning of each measure.

So, I'd rather not stand there and just play one or two notes per measure. Only thing is, I can't come up with anything more complex to play that sounds good (at least to my ear).

So, bass-players of Metafilter, please, help me come up with something to finish strong with.

Thank you.
posted by jeffamaphone to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Steal a riff (guitar or bass) from another well known Prince song.
posted by K.P. at 11:44 AM on January 23, 2010

This might be a good question for MeFi Music Talk.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:54 AM on January 23, 2010

Response by poster: I didn't actually know MeFi Music Talk existed.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:01 PM on January 23, 2010

Steal a riff (guitar or bass) from another well known Prince song.

Erotic City maybe? Helluva riff.
posted by philip-random at 12:04 PM on January 23, 2010

Steal a riff (guitar or bass) from another well known Prince song.

Cream, the bassline in the verse (the chorus is just steady root notes, if memory serves). The chord progression isn't exactly the same (I - IV - I - IV instead of I - V - IV - V - IV), so you'll need to selectively use the parts of it that go with the Kiss chord progression, and maybe that'll inspire you to do your own variations on it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:25 PM on January 23, 2010

Prince and Tom Jones songs do it like that because the groove calls for it, and that's pretty much what this particular song is.

Obey the groove. If you want to slay people, keep it simple and insert one crazy fill, one time, in the last half of the song. They will notice.
posted by quarterframer at 1:01 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

For bass, you might have better luck looking to Morris Day & the Time. Try shoving Jungle Love in there.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:14 PM on January 23, 2010

Best answer: So, it's worth noting that Prince himself struggled with the arrangement of the song Kiss, from the moment he wrote it (for his protege band Mazarati) to the moment he reclaimed it (as his Parade album needed a hit lead single) to the many times he's rearranged it for live performance. He's actually gone so far as to never use the same live arrangement twice on the song.

A couple of good starting points might help here. Send me an email (in my profile) and I can give you links to both the original acoustic demo of Kiss and the full 12" version. The demo is essentially a standard blues progression, as noted, so depending on your own arrangement, you could just vamp on something like that as a starting point. The extended version actually does have a bassline, albeit not a particularly interesting one. I'd have to imagine, based on his contemporary work around 1986, that he'd have probably employed a walking slap bass bassline under the song if he'd intended to have a bassline at all. If you can find other Prince tracks like "Sexual Suicide" (later released on Crystal Ball) or "Love or Money" (a b-side from the same era), those might yield good insights into what a contemporary bassline from Prince would have sounded like.

Prince has also re-recorded the basic track to Kiss at least twice in the studio, once in his "Purple Medley" circa 1994, which does actually segue into Erotic City's bassline pretty seamlessly, proving philip-random's got a great ear. Even more obscure is his 2006 re-recording of the song for a Versace music sampler, which essentially does just play the root of the chord, albeit with at least an interesting rhythm to it.

Erotic City would definitely be a crowd-pleaser of a bassline to add to the song, likely familiar to the audience and could give your singer the chance to throw in a few of the lyrics for fun. And it's roughly contemporary in Prince's career so accurate enough, as far as that goes. If you really want the most interesting performance that's accurate, though, I'd recommend the ridiculously fun bassline to "Love or Money" or even the all-over-the-place one on "Sexual Suicide", which are both from sessions around the same time as Kiss and phenomenally engaging for any bass player.

You might also want to reach out to Brown Mark, bassist for the Revolution and Mazarati, as he'd obviously have more specific insights here. (Both Wendy & Lisa are very active on Facebook and Twitter as well, and they might have more specific insights into the arrangements of Kiss from that final Revolution tour, as well.)

This may be a little more answer than you wanted, but I figured I'd err on the side of comprehensiveness. Funky basslines are important.
posted by anildash at 3:01 PM on January 23, 2010 [15 favorites]

Minor clarification: Prince never used the same arrangement for "Kiss" between tours. Obviously, he'd keep a particular arrangement for the duration of a tour. And I meant that, while Brown Mark might have specific feedback, Wendy & Lisa might have broader insights.
posted by anildash at 3:07 PM on January 23, 2010

I'm thinking the bass line from Sign of the Times would funk it up just right.
posted by timsteil at 6:02 PM on January 23, 2010

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