I was reading an interview with Rod Argent and in talking about this song, he said that the bass line was one that he wrote as an integral part of the song as he was writing the song. It wasn't something that Chris White came up with. Yet, it is never the focus except at the start.
Motown bassists like James Jamerson have been well lauded over the last 50 years but it's interesting listening to Martha Reeves and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the street." The bass guitar hardly does anything ! It's barely noticeable. I've been listening to the song since 1979 and it's only today that I actually listened to the bass and I've heard the song hundreds of times. In fact, the bass is probably the least noticeable element in the song. Jamerson's here is a real 'foundation' bass ~ and the perfect part without being in the slightest bit dramatic.
This is one of those bass parts that is so fundamental to the listening experience of this song. Take it away and the song collapses. Yet it's packed full of other elements that the ear may initially be attracted to. So Timothy B. Schmidt succeds in a bass part that is simultaneously the focus, the foundation, the decoration and the invisible man. Not an easy feat.
I really like John Wetton's bass playing. I have his stuff across a number of bands like Mogul Thrash, Larry Norman, King Crimson and UK. He was more than adept at that kind of lead bass style but I always felt that he was restrained and in the service of the song. For the most part.
In this number by Mogul Thrash, he plays a part that kind of brings me back to what STAROWEN was asking in his OP. There are parts of the song where he's very complimentary, other parts where he's sitting back, other bits where he seems to just make cute tones and others where he almost plays twin lead with the guitarist, James Litherland and other parts where he plays in unison. For me, none of it is inappropriate.
When listening to lots of different genres and bands and songs, one soon realizes that there are so many different ways of playing the bass guitar. I was reminded of something when Rob said
hated that song. Did a bit of research and discovered it was in fact, a 100% faithful part from Michael Buble's version. So not something invented by my friend, but the real part
and that was something a musicologist called Howard Goodall {he does these really interesting programmes on the Beatles music} talked about in one of his documentaries; he was making the point that the moving bassline has actually been a feature of western music for 300 years. Part of the reason I chose those 4 pieces above was because they came in the early evolution and liberation of the bass guitar when players were moving away from the notion that there was a definite role that the bass guitar was supposed to have and in actuality, the instrument really from about 1964/5 onwards was moving in quite a few different directions. Much of this was because the first wave of bass players weren't originally bass players. They came to the bass guitar from the double bass, piano and assorted keyboards like the organ, guitar, various brass and woodwind and so their musical heads had already been somewhat expanded. Players like Ronnie Wood, Greg Lake and Jimmy Page who are known as guitarists actually first made their names in recording bands as those band's bassist.