In the past few years there has been sinister cull.
Where there was once 4 in group it slipped down to three and then suddenly down to two.
What was once guitar/bass/drums and singer is now a singing guitar player and Â a drummer standing face to face across the stage kicking out the jams.
And what’s missing? the bass is missing.
In the punk era the bass was king, some of the most iconic figures in the bands were the bassists from JJ Burnel to Paul Simonon to Sid Vicious himself they were coolest member of the band and in the case of the first two they could actually play a bit and in the case of Burnel they were quite possibly the best musician in the whole era. In post punk the trend continued with Jah Wobble and many others continuing to crank the bass into a new lead role.
Perhaps because it was so easy to play and also because of the killer bottom end and the punks love of bass dominated dub the four string was the king. Somehow though, in the past few years the bass has started to go the way of the harpsichord- a wacky instrument from the past pulled out for a curio effect on a tune.
We blame the White Stripes for this. The band rediscovered the Cramps method for playing rock n roll without a bass. Their massive influence on contemporary music added to the vile recession made 3 or 4 piece bands a real luxury. A two piece meant buying less gear, travelling to gigs in a Â car and not having to argue with the bas player about the rider.
There are two piece bands who use just drum and bass and some of them ar egret but in mainstream terms they are just a bit too weird. And the two piece bands just keep coming with their varying line ups..
Of course in electronic music it has been the norm for ever from Suicide to Soft Cell and many glum looking righties keyboard duos but it’s recent move into rock n roll has left many bass players hanging around on street corners looking for work crying ‘buddy can you spare a rhythm section…?’