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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (CAP) - As gamers everywhere anticipate the release of Rock Band 2 for Xbox 360 later this month, some of the world's most prominent bassists are speaking out against those who ignore their instrument when playing the popular video game.
"It's completely unacceptable," said Chris Squire of the band Yes, president of the International Brotherhood of Bass Players (IBB). "What are you teaching these kids by letting them leave the bass out? That the fookin' drummer and guitarist can do whatever the fook they want, that's what."
Rock Band, which has sold more than 3.5 million units, allows gamers to perform along with popular songs, one singing into a microphone, with others "playing" drums, guitar and bass. But the basic bundle provides only one guitar controller, which players invariably use to play lead guitar, leaving the bass out of the game.
"If you don't include the second guitar, who's going to go out and buy it just to play bass?" asked Tony Levin of the progressive rock band King Crimson. "Hell, I remember back in the '80s I had a bloody time getting Robert [Fripp] to shell out for my actual bass. But I finally convinced him that Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part III) would make no musical sense without one.
"We were such pretentious assholes," he added.
"We thought about including a bass guitar [with the game], but we didn't think people would want to pay an extra $15 just for that," admitted Alex Rigopulos, co-founder and CEO of Harmonix, creators of Rock Band. "Mainly because standing there fake-plucking a plastic bass for hours would probably make your head explode from boredom."
IBB members tend to disagree, and have launched an information campaign to remind Rock Band players and other music fans of the importance of the bass.
"Rock history is full of funky, ground-breaking bass solos," said Doug Wimbish of Tackhead, who is the campaign's Bass Ambassador. "But the only solo most people remember is that one from You Can Call Me Al, and they only remember that one because of the video with f'ing Chevy Chase."
"I hate f'ing Chevy Chase," added Wimbish.
Wimbish is one of several performers slated to take part in the charity single Bass Instincts, meant to remind listeners of the importance of the bass in rock music history. Other participants will include Les Claypool (Primus), Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Joe Lally (Fugazi), Jennifer Finch (L7) and Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu), all taking turns throwing down overlapping basslines before playing simultaneously for a six-minute bass jam.
"We were trying to get some singing bass players, like Sting or Paul McCartney," said one of the song's co-writers, Michael "Flea" Balzary of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. "But the pricks apparently don't like to remind people that they actually play bass." Flea said he will attempt to make up for their absence by performing in the video wearing only a white tube sock over his penis.
"The fact of the matter is, bass players don't want the spotlight. But you'll miss us if we go away," noted Garry W. Tallent, vice president of the IBB and bassist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. In fact, a recent poll of attendees at Springsteen concerts showed that 78 percent could not recall if Tallent had been there or not.
Squire was even more adamant, insisting that Rock Band players need to understand that "the bass is the backbone of any rock composition" - and to prove his point, he proceeded to play the entire bassline to the 22-minute Yes song Gates Of Delerium, explaining his musical choices as he went along. Then the CAP News reporter's head exploded from boredom.
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