Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten – Thunder (2008)

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I know what you’re thinking – three basses … another Spinal Tap opus? Nope, sorry. If it’s not Spinal Tap, then next to the drum solo, the bass solo is just about the most reviled thing at concerts — unless one of these three guys is taking the spotlight.

And that’s because Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten (or SMV, for short) tend to focus as much on showcasing their talents as they do melody, which is a rare treat among bassists — quite often you either get flashy runs or clueless thumpfests that parade as “grooves.”

So here on Thunder while we do get plenty of grooves and flashy runs, we also are rewarded with plenty of melody, and how tastefully it’s accomplished depends on your threshold for instrumental music. Three world-class bassists compete for space, yet somehow they work it out, even making room for guests Chick Corea, George Duke, Michael “Patches” Stewart, and someone named “Butterscotch.” That right there is kind of an amazing feat.

Personally, I’d say this ranks pretty low on the “wankfest” scale. It ain’t dinner music and it ain’t a shred-fest, but it should keep anyone who loves the deep end pretty fascinated.

Additional plus: Victor Wooten doesn’t “sing” at any point in this album.

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Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Tom Johnson
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