‘Everything is perfect’: Greg Lake on the timeless chemistry between the Beatles’ Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr

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If Greg Lake didn’t already have an appreciation for the unique syncopations of the Beatles rhythm section, he certainly learned a thing or two while on tour with Ringo Starr and his All-Starr band.

From Paul McCartney’s melodic style on the bass to Starr’s intuitive responses at the drums, there is still a lot to be loved, Lake says in this newly posted talk with Inside MusiCast.

“First of all,” Lake says of McCartney, “he’s a wonderful musician. So, whenever you hear him place something, it’s usually dead right. There’s not much you can fault musically with him. He’s not a virtuoso player, but he wouldn’t claim to be. But you’ll never hear the wrong bass note being played with Paul. Everything is perfect. What he doesn’t play is lovely, the spaces he’ll leave … and he can really rock, too — like on ‘I Saw Her Standing There.'”

Put that technique in a band like the Beatles with Starr — and magic happens, says Lake, himself a respected bassist for both King Crimson and Emerson Lake and Palmer.

“All he needed was exactly what he had, and that was a drummer who knew exactly where to put the offbeat,” Lake says. “A little bit behind the beat, that just slightly late delivery — that really gives you a backbeat feel. Those two things were the Beatles.”

Lake, who was part of the 2001 edition of the All-Starr Band — performing a number of Beatles songs on stage — gives a specific example of a wildly underrated part by McCartney.

“You listen to something like the bass part in ‘With a Little Help From My Friends,’ that active, dancing bass part — I played it, when I toured with Ringo,” Lake says. “I learned it note for note; it’s a beautiful part. It’s so articulate. It’s almost like a Bach piece, you know?”

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