Is Flea considered a really good bassist?

I will be the first to admit that I am really ignorant when it comes to music and talent. I can obviously tell a good singer and a good/fast lead guitarist…but really I am pretty well in the dark when it comes to a good rhythm guitarist or drummer or bassist or percussionist violin player etc.

I recently saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert and in between their songs they would just kinda BS some music, and most of it was centered around Flea playing his bass…really really fast. I always knew Flea was a famous bassist (one of the few) and he obviously doesn’t suck, but I was blown away by how fast he could pluck and really think he’s amazing. Is that train of thought pretty popular in the music circles? Aside from being famous for being in a famous band, and famous for being weird, is Flea as good a bassist as I think he is?

He’s not considered really good, he’s considered fucking incredible. (I’m not swearing at you; the profanity is required.) Playing fast is nice and all, but what’s noteworthy about Flea is that he’s a very funky and creative player. I’ve never been a huge Chili Peppers fan, but he’s the man. You can hear him pretty well on this cover of Higher Ground- I think he stands out in the mix more than he does on the studio version.

Not much to add - I can’t judge much who’s a good vs bad bassist, but upon reading the thread title, “Higher Ground” immediately sprung to mind. I thought he sounded amazing.

Yes. Flea is highly regarded among other bassists and musicians.

This is another good one. link

Ha! I would agree that the profanity was necessary.

ETA: He would very often, like pretty much between every song, fly into one of these crazy bass solos like in the second link…I was blown away…it’s what prompted me to make the thread

He may be the most technically capable bassist currently active in pop music (unless you consider Alex James of Blur to still be “active”), but I honestly think he has the worst taste of any rock ‘n’ roll bassist I’ve ever heard.

Les Claypool is also an amazing bassist, but I think Flea still blows him out of the water. I had the bass turned up one day when Higher Ground came on the radio and was just stunned, listening to the bass parts, thinking, “Damn. Flea is a beast. A MACHINE!”

Same. That bass line came into my head immediately, and it just won’t leave. Not that’s a bad thing.

Yes Flea is all that. Someone had a poll - Rolling Stone? - and he was top 5 or so alongside folks like Victor Wooten, Claypool and Entwhistle.

While the blurry fast technical stuff is amazing and fun, I love the bassline of stuff like Give it Away. Simple, but super funky and really perfect as a song backbone - like Tina Weymouth’s simple bassline for Take me to the River.

You’ve either got it, or you don’t.

Wait… the voice of the dog on Invader Zim has a day job?

Yeah, to add to the chorus, Flea is that good. It’s not that he’s fast and technical–he does that. But he’s got soul and funk to his playing. Just incredible timing, feel, and dynamics. The Chili Peppers don’t really do much for me, but his bass playing always stands out. I still remember the first time I heard Alanis Maroisette’s “You Oughta Know” and just grooving to that funky bassline, wondering who in the hell it was playing it. Sure enough, Flea.

I’m a casual RHCP fan, but saw them in concert a few weeks ago with a friend who had a spare ticket. I was blown away by how good they are live, Flea in particular. Not just the technical stuff, but the performance too - jumping around, doing handstands, playing the bass nearly upsidedown. It’s incredible to think that these guys are 49-50 years old and they still look like teenagers having fun out there.

Actually, it seems to me that Flea is more highly regarded by non-bassists.

I’ve been playing a lot of bass lately (though I’m mainly a guitarist), and using a very popular bass forum. While some do like Flea, there seems to be a pretty large contingent of bassists there who aren’t fans and who consider Flea to be much more hype than talent.

I tend to agree, really. There’s nothing I’ve heard Flea do that I haven’t heard better from someone else. I’d say Flea is more famous for being famous as a bassist than for being a really great bass player. He’s better than most bassists in his stadium-rock genre, but in terms of actually being an amazing musician? Not really.

You want funk? Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins, anyone who’s played bass for P-Funk, Bernard Edwards, etc etc etc. Flea doesn’t belong on that list. There are slap specialists who can run rings around him. Flea really only stands out because he’s well-known to people who don’t know much about bass.

ETA: Talk Bass discussion.

That sounds a lot like a backlash- nevermind the temptation to say some of those people might just be a little better. Sure, his stage presence factors into his reputation, but he can play.

I can’t help thinking Flea would tell you the same if you asked him, since he obviously loves those guys.

Fair enough - I probably sounded more dismissive of Flea than I meant to - he is a good bassist and I do like what he does, I was just trying to say that he’s not considered a towering Godlike figure among actual bassists.

On the bass forum Jaco Pastorius gets that kind of acclaim, and I’m not actually a fan of Jaco. Too busy for my tastes. I prefer reggae/dub bass players and old-school double bass jazz players myself.

But, if you find Flea amazing, YouTube Jaco Pastorius and prepare to have your mind blown.

Hey, Shakester, how does Jeff Berlin rate in your circle?

I’m only peripherally in the bass circle. I love playing bass, but it’s not my main thing. And my tastes are kind of all over the place anyway. If you want to know what the bass specialists think, go to the Talk Bass Forum.

Does anyone know of any quotes in music publications from Stevie Wonder commenting on the Chili Peppers cover of “Higher Ground”?

Vaguely related amusing story:

My wife and I saw The Chili Peppers about five years ago when she was six months pregnant with Spike (which may explain a lot). We were enjoying ourselves, and they played Higher Ground. I turned to my wife and said, “Flea is on fire tonight.”
She replied, “Yeah, and the bass player is great, too!”