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Neil Murray bass


dmccombe7

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2 minutes ago, dmccombe7 said:

Agree. Everything just works so well in that song. Possibly the best rock song ever written IMHO  of course.😀

It`s definitely up there, and it was also played by the best line up of Whitesnake by far. I think Mr Coverdale, who was once described by Jon Lord as "the Roger Moore of heavy metal" didn`t realise or appreciate the talent that was in that version of the band.

I would be interested in a Neil book or how about one of the talented interviewer type chaps on this site setting up a chat - over the net even - with Neil and he could ask all the questions we are dying to ask?

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3 hours ago, neilmurraybass said:

Just checking - got to the 6th bar - already there's a mistake in the transcription, so I can see I'll have to do my own version! 🙂 I'm not in any way an expert at transcribing or using notation software, so don't hold your breath.

Edit: There are 6 errors just on the first page, to be nit-picky.

I guess as it's your bass-line Neil you can be as nit-picky as you want!!!

Edited by DaytonaRik
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29 minutes ago, peteb said:

For all this talk of FFYL, I would love to here an isolated track of Neil's bassline on 'Ain't No Love in The Heart of the City' (either studio or a live version with Mr Murray). 

Agreed Pete. It’s a monster track, both the live and the studio versions. Of the YouTube offerings this is the best one I’ve found.

 

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4 hours ago, Len_derby said:

Agreed Pete. It’s a monster track, both the live and the studio versions. Of the YouTube offerings this is the best one I’ve found.

 

Yes, I've have seen that before. However, I would love to hear exactly what Neil plays, especially on the live versions. I have played Ain't No Love a few times live, depping for a band led by a singer called Ben Mellor, who does a lot of Whitesnake stuff. 

I have just found a version of the original Snakebite EP track, where the bass is quite high in the mix. I'm going to have to give it a bit of a listen and relearn the bass part. 

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As much as I’d like to say that I’ll put videos, notation and tab up right away, here are the various reasons why it’s more complicated than that:

To varying degrees, my parts are not written, and aren’t exactly the same every time I play them; Ain’t No Love will be slightly different each time, and playing it with a different band might require quite a different feel or groove, quite apart from changing parts around to keep it interesting for myself. So although I’ve played well-known Whitesnake songs over the years with different bands, the parts slowly change over time and I get used to the way I’ve played them recently rather than how they were in the late ’70s. Similarly, I would be unlikely to play Fool For Your Loving note-for-note every time, though I do tend these days to try to stay fairly close to the original.

The point is, to reproduce exactly what I played 40+ years ago, with the same tone, with no mistakes, while videoing myself, is quite a tall order. If I am pernickety about other bassists doing not-totally-accurate covers, then I need to be totally accurate myself. If I play along to the original, it’s quite possible that YouTube will block the video for copyright reasons. If I reduce the level of the bass on the original, as it’s quite high in the mix, by technically reducing the volume of sounds that are in the centre of the stereo image, then the drums (and vocals) are reduced too, which makes it harder to play along too - very unnatural. There is a way of ‘remixing’ tracks to play to, but if they get blocked, there’s no point.

Although I read music a bit, to transcribe the bass parts completely perfectly will be a laborious task, and even more so when it comes to tab, which I’m not a big fan of. It’s better to use your ears!

Furthermore, if you said to me “play exactly what you did on Live In The Heart Of The City”, for example, I probably wouldn’t be physically able to. Apart from being 40 years older, I would need to have been in a touring situation beforehand, with my chops at peak level, instead of sitting around unable to play with anyone because of lockdown. Even back then, I’d had to have a hand operation just after Ready An’ Willing because of subjecting them to over-exertion, so there’s zero chance I’m going to attack the parts with the same energy I had back in 1980. [I think I was often over-busy on Live In The Heart Of The City - trying too hard to impress!]

Playing and chatting to the camera may come naturally to Lee Sklar and Guy Pratt but it certainly doesn’t to me, let alone jumping around as if I’m on stage; if I think what I’ve done isn’t up to scratch or embarrassing to watch, I’m not going to put it out. I have done a few collaboration videos but I haven’t been happy with how I came across - my fault, no-one else’s. Shooting and editing videos to a good standard are whole extra skills to master in addition to high quality home recording which I’ve spent many years slowly getting better at. I’d still far prefer to be in a studio with experts taking care of the sound and vision. The living situation I’ve had to be in because of lockdown also doesn’t lend itself to being on top form or producing good work. Not saying I’m not going to, but it has to be good or I’m not putting it out. Same goes for a book!

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It's funny. I commented elsewhere hat I'm a by-ear player who uses tab as an aid to understanding.

I like to learn things properly, simply because avoiding any shortcuts means I have to stretch myself and as a result my playing continues to improve.

Unlike many people I often prefer live albums to studio ones, warts and all, because I like hearing musicians enjoying themselves and enjoying the freedom of playing live. I'd rather hear someone play what's right at the moment rather than trying to slavishly copy a recording.

In my own small way, playing live it's when I get a chance to improvise that I have most fun and the best bit of my last gig was when we needed and encore, and I called a song we had only played once together. The structure disappeared, I just followed where the vocalist went, and it was great fun and the audience loved it.

So why would I be interested in tabs of some of your Whitesnake classics? Mainly because I'm not convinced of some of the ones in places like Ultimate Guitar and I'd rather start from something accurate rather than a rough idea, then decide what works for me. That's how I'm, very slowly, working through The Real Me - first challenge is just learning all those parts and variations, second challenge is getting into the guts of the song so I can just play along and cope even if it ends up with an extra verse or the bridge in the wrong place.

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Neil's response suggests that there is no one absolute truth in playing bass parts and, like any great story, it grows in the telling. Any part learned, whether by rote, tab or conventional score, is a moment in time and is only definitive by concensus. I guess we all agree that there is one way to play the core riffs in  'Rhythm Stick', 'Good Times' or 'I Want You Back' but, even the hits allow for the injection of a little bit of individuality. 

Classical musicians such as viola players need to be absolutely accurate because there are 23 of them playing in unison. Bass players are rarely that constrained. Accuracy at that level is not anywhere near the whole deal in Jazz, Fusion, Rock etc. Much more space to stretch out (or hold back, as you see fit). 

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4 hours ago, neilmurraybass said:

As much as I’d like to say that I’ll put videos, notation and tab up right away, here are the various reasons why it’s more complicated than that:

To varying degrees, my parts are not written, and aren’t exactly the same every time I play them; Ain’t No Love will be slightly different each time, and playing it with a different band might require quite a different feel or groove, quite apart from changing parts around to keep it interesting for myself. So although I’ve played well-known Whitesnake songs over the years with different bands, the parts slowly change over time and I get used to the way I’ve played them recently rather than how they were in the late ’70s. Similarly, I would be unlikely to play Fool For Your Loving note-for-note every time, though I do tend these days to try to stay fairly close to the original.

The point is, to reproduce exactly what I played 40+ years ago, with the same tone, with no mistakes, while videoing myself, is quite a tall order. If I am pernickety about other bassists doing not-totally-accurate covers, then I need to be totally accurate myself. If I play along to the original, it’s quite possible that YouTube will block the video for copyright reasons. If I reduce the level of the bass on the original, as it’s quite high in the mix, by technically reducing the volume of sounds that are in the centre of the stereo image, then the drums (and vocals) are reduced too, which makes it harder to play along too - very unnatural. There is a way of ‘remixing’ tracks to play to, but if they get blocked, there’s no point.

Although I read music a bit, to transcribe the bass parts completely perfectly will be a laborious task, and even more so when it comes to tab, which I’m not a big fan of. It’s better to use your ears!

Furthermore, if you said to me “play exactly what you did on Live In The Heart Of The City”, for example, I probably wouldn’t be physically able to. Apart from being 40 years older, I would need to have been in a touring situation beforehand, with my chops at peak level, instead of sitting around unable to play with anyone because of lockdown. Even back then, I’d had to have a hand operation just after Ready An’ Willing because of subjecting them to over-exertion, so there’s zero chance I’m going to attack the parts with the same energy I had back in 1980. [I think I was often over-busy on Live In The Heart Of The City - trying too hard to impress!]

Playing and chatting to the camera may come naturally to Lee Sklar and Guy Pratt but it certainly doesn’t to me, let alone jumping around as if I’m on stage; if I think what I’ve done isn’t up to scratch or embarrassing to watch, I’m not going to put it out. I have done a few collaboration videos but I haven’t been happy with how I came across - my fault, no-one else’s. Shooting and editing videos to a good standard are whole extra skills to master in addition to high quality home recording which I’ve spent many years slowly getting better at. I’d still far prefer to be in a studio with experts taking care of the sound and vision. The living situation I’ve had to be in because of lockdown also doesn’t lend itself to being on top form or producing good work. Not saying I’m not going to, but it has to be good or I’m not putting it out. Same goes for a book!

Personally, I wouldn’t expect you to do a big production and for you to actually transcribe the parts, at least not unless someone is paying you! I would be happy if you could just play through a verse / chorus a couple of times and then just show some of the variations and licks that you might throw in when you’re playing that song and then perhaps share how you came up with the part, along with a few reminiscences of recording the song or that time in general. I certainly wouldn’t expect you to play a note perfect rendition of something you played forty years ago – part of the magic of those performances is that they were slightly different every night.

The thing with the videos like these from Guy Pratt and Lee Sklar (as with guys like guitarist Tom Bukovac) is that they are all shot with an iPhone in a nice light room. Not everyone can be a raconteur like Guy Pratt, but the thing that they all do is to just talk to the viewer like they are talking to them face-to-face, maybe like you would a student or someone who you might chat with after a gig.  

It would be great if you do decide to do it and I think that there would be a fair demand. Obviously, there are quite a lot of guys like me (on BC and beyond) who started playing bass just as you were getting well known and for whom you were a big influence. But there would also be younger players who are fans of Whitesnake (and others on your CV) and would be interested in how one of the more notable players among a cast of thousands came up with the parts that helped define the early version of the band.

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On 16/12/2020 at 18:38, Bilbo said:

Neil's response suggests that there is no one absolute truth in playing bass parts and, like any great story, it grows in the telling. Any part learned, whether by rote, tab or conventional score, is a moment in time and is only definitive by concensus. I guess we all agree that there is one way to play the core riffs in  'Rhythm Stick', 'Good Times' or 'I Want You Back' but, even the hits allow for the injection of a little bit of individuality. 

Classical musicians such as viola players need to be absolutely accurate because there are 23 of them playing in unison. Bass players are rarely that constrained. Accuracy at that level is not anywhere near the whole deal in Jazz, Fusion, Rock etc. Much more space to stretch out (or hold back, as you see fit). 

I have bitten the bullet, and I hope you don't mind, Bilbo, but I've used your transcription as a basis to adjust to something that's as correct as I can make it - unfortunately it's a steep learning curve regarding the notation software I'm using, and frankly it's much easier for me to play it than notate it! Bearing in mind that I have played Fool For Your Loving perhaps a couple of hundred times in the last 20 years, in my mind it is played in a definite way, sticking close to what's on the record, as I've had to play every note as strongly as possible given the volume that other band members play at! So I have to eat humble pie a little when listening to the original over and over, as some parts could indeed be classed as 'clinkers', in that they're not executed 100% perfectly as I would hope to do these days. However, the hunt for 'perfect' execution means that one plays safe, whereas when Fool was recorded I was 'going for it' (and trying to put some Jack Bruce influence into the bass part) so it was better to have a one- or two-take partly improvised performance rather than a part which was worked out note by note from beginning to end. On Live In The Heart Of The City, I go overboard trying to go one better than what I did on Ready An' Willing, and while some parts are impressive, a lot of it sounds too 'over the top' to me nowadays - very unrelaxed. It'll take some time to produce finished notation to my satisfaction, but I'll put it up on Basschat when it's done.

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Many thanks Neil. It will mean a lot to people like myself who have a very high regard for you and what you've accomplished over the years.

For me Fool for your Loving was you at your very best. Even if there are things not quite perfect it's still such a fantastic bassline. When you consider when it was recorded and that bass players all over the world are still trying to figure it out for me just shows how good it is.

Dave

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  • 2 weeks later...
11 minutes ago, neilmurraybass said:

Here's my transcription of what I played on Fool For Your Loving, as accurately as I'm able. I hope it's useful!

Fool For Your Loving NM tab.pdf 462.01 kB · 0 downloads

Was the open D in bar 99 a mistake?? I always assumed that was a pretty cool use of an open string while you went up to the high F. I always made a point of including it...! 

 

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  • 4 months later...

I am incredibly late to the party here, but I'd like to wade in with a few points.

Firstly, Neil Murray. On Basschat. stinky poo a brick! At 34 I feel like I've been a Whitesnake fan all of my life, from listening in the back of the car as a kid, through to seeing Live... In the Still of the Night in 2006 and playing (or trying to play) some of Mr Murray's basslines note for note in bands and failed bands and wannabe bands and rehearsals etc. Indeed my Spotify account reminded me last year that I was in the top 5% of listeners to Whitesnake... Yeah, trying to flipping learn THAT version of Ain't no Love in the Heart of the City (which I'm still getting to grips with) and FFYL which well... Now I've got a bloody good reference point. That'll keep me going! Very interesting to hear from the man himself about what went and goes into writing those types of iconic lines then and why they aren't necessarily the same now. Food for thought for a covers band bassist!

Now, being a player for the last 15 years all started with seeing Live... ITSOTN standing in front of Marco Mendoza and Reb Beach, watching and listening to them tear through the set with Mssrs Coverdale, Aldridge, Aldrich and Drury, singing my throat out, being thoroughly inspired.... and then buying a bass the very next day (a gold Wesley PJ!) but in my naivety assumed THAT was THE band I've been listening to all of my life. It didn't immediately dawn on me that band members could be replaced!

I too was secretly astounded to learn it was Mr Murray on bass for the 5 times I saw WWRY (yes dear of course I don't mind seeing it again) - I waited at the stage door for the musicians rather than the cast! (Didn't get to meet any of the musicians though, sadly)

So maybe in truth and reality, I owe the last 15 years as a bass player, the highs, lows, blisters, miles driven, suspensions ruined, adrenaline highs, bank balance lows etc. to Neil Murray? If that's true then THANK YOU! I think I've found that post-covid motivation I've been looking for.

PS... came to the internet looking for a Neil Murray book having read Bernie Marsden's book in a day... ;)

 

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Posted (edited)

Nice history there @jonsebass. Neil and Jack Bruce were my main influences. Neil mainly from his Whitesnake and Cozy Powell projects but also his Colloseum II work. When Neil left Whitesnake i stopped following them. The bass went from being a feature in the sound to a background bass. The bass became much the same as any other rock bands of that era and style of music.

I tend to buy albums where the bass is noticeable in the mix. For me no-one does a rock bass line like Neil and he's such a nice guy.

Dave

Edited by dmccombe7
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On 25/11/2020 at 20:31, Smirfy said:

IIRC he has a Sandberg currently with  P and MM setup

I own a Sandberg Ken Taylor Custom that he commissioned.  Bought off here about a year or so ago, fantastic tone.....

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36 minutes ago, ProfJames said:

I own a Sandberg Ken Taylor Custom that he commissioned.  Bought off here about a year or so ago, fantastic tone.....

I remember seeing that bass and did think about it just for the prestige of owning a Neil Murray bass. 

Dave

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