“Rocco Prestia could have held that 16th-note pattern in his sleep – it’s airtight” Halestorm bassist Josh Smith picks his top 5 bass albums

 Photos of Francis Rocco PRESTIA & Josh Smith
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Halestorm saw their international profile receive a shot in the arm back in 2012, when they scored a Best Hard Rock/Metal Grammy for their song Love Bites (So Do I). On the strength of the group’s latest album, Back From The Dead, the Pennsylvania rock quartet were also well-positioned to score a 2023 Heavy Music Award for Best International Artist.

Their success is at least partly due to the range of influences that go into their sound. In Smith’s case, his music education included all the greats: “You’ll notice a pattern in this list, because all my favorite bass players are composers and play melodic bass parts,” he told BP. “If you ever find yourself humming along to a tasty bassline, there’s a chance that it’s by one of these guys.”

Far from being just another headbanger, Smith could never be called an ego-fuelled rock star. He’s pretty much the opposite – ever-friendly and in awe of his heroes. We asked him to reveal his bass guitar influences in a fistful of albums.

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

“I was only eight years old when this album came out. It was three years before I even picked up a bass, and I didn’t care to explain why I loved Blood Sugar Sex Magik, I just did. Flea was clearly put on this earth to speak the language of music. His attention to groove and melody is something I fell in love with when I was a kid, and since then I have enjoyed his style and tone in every single song he has gone on to create.”

2. Tower of Power – Tower Of Power (1973)

“My dad introduced me to Tower Of Power at a young age. As I became more involved in jazz through lessons and school, my appreciation of them continued to grow. Every year they would play at a local theatre near to where I lived, and my dad would take my brothers and I. Rocco Prestia and the band never disappointed me. Listen to the opening track, What is Hip? – it’s airtight. Rocco could probably have held that 16-note pattern in his sleep.”

3. Parliament – Up For The Downstroke (1974)

“Bootsy’s attack is so punchy and aggressive. It doesn’t sound like he plucked the strings with his fingers, but more like he grabbed and pulled each note equally and deliberately. His tone has a sharp set of teeth. The entire P-Funk catalog is a music lesson, but the first song that was introduced to me, and still an all-time favourite, is Parliament’s Up For The Down Stroke.”

4. Jackson 5 – Third Album (1970)

“James Jamerson was a critical player when it came to creating the Motown sound. I don’t know if he played every song on Third Album, but he did perform on the last song, Darling Dear, and this track has always stood out for me. James lays down a constant, cascading flow of melody, and what’s more, he does it with one finger, the hook.”

5. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)

“Just as so many people before me did, I grew up listening to, and loving, The Beatles. Paul McCartney wrote and performed some of my all time favourite songs on Abbey Road. He created beautiful melodies to accompany some of the most influential, and well-known songs of all time. Let’s not forget his voice, which is a unique and wonderful instrument in its own right.”

Back From the Dead is available to buy and stream.

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.

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