Thight Lines …

… and Screaming Reels

black marlin

No, I haven’t spelled that wrongly¹. My Track of the Week really is called Thight Lines and Screaming Reels. Then again, it must be a spelling mistake. Somewhere between Colin Hodgkinson’s pen and the record company an extra ‘h’ must have crept in. Perhaps it was a communication problem between an English man and a German music publisher (in-akustik GmbH & Co. KG). Or perhaps someone just had a fubar moment. Whatever the explanation, the spurious ‘h’ is present in every reference I can find.

Colin Hodgkinson is one of the finest bass players around. And he’s been around for quite a while². Colin is the only bass player I know who plays the instrument as if it was an over-sized six-string electric guitar with the top two strings missing. He plays it sometimes with a plectrum, sometimes with his fingers; he plays chords; he plays blues licks; he bends the strings. He is almost a one man band. (He sings a bit, too.)

colin hodgkinson

Colin Hodgkinson – Ten Years After concert, 21st May 2016, Paris

Thight Lines is an instrumental from Colin’s solo album The Bottom Line. The album consists mostly of bass solos but this track features drums and some rather nice keyboards, too. In stark contrast to the screaming reels of the title the feel is one of relaxed anticipation.

Hey, Colin, I called round but you weren’t home. Looks like you’ve gone fishin’ (there’s a sign upon your door). I see the boat has left the shore (you ain’t workin’ any more) and the engine is humming as it glides over the water. Soon it will be time to unpack your tackle and start fishin’ (instead of just a-wishin’). If you’re lucky you’ll catch a big one, a marlin perhaps, that will strain the rod and set the reel a-spinnin’. But for now you can just sit back, enjoy the sun on your skin and listen to the swell of the keyboards and those crisp tight bass lines as they mix with the sound of the waves lazily lapping on the hull.

Half way out into the channel the skipper cuts the engine. You’ve arrived and it looks as though the big fish are feeding. The clatter of a drum solo marks the tethering of the rods and the opening of the bait boxes as you settle down to wait for the first bite. The bass and keyboards return, echoing the gentle thrum of the bilge pump and, with your hat shading your eyes, your thoughts start to drift away. Then, suddenly, the line tautens, the sport begins and, as you play the fish the music fades slowly away. This is going to be a beautiful day.

Notes

  1. Note the adverbial form, here. To have written ‘wrong’ would have been unforgivably wrong.
  2. According to Colin’s website he played in a British band called The Dynatones from 1959 to 1964 and turned professional in 1966. He was a founding member of Back Door (my review of their debut album is here) and has played with all sorts of well-known bands (Alexis Korner, Spencer Davis, Zoot Money and others). In 2014 he became the bassist with Ten Years After and is still gigging. He is now 71 years old.
  3. There doesn’t seem to be a video for Thight Lines although there are clips of other performances by Colin Hodgkinson, both solo and in bands, on YouTube. There’s a nice one of Back Door from the Montreux Jazz Festival here, recorded, I think, in 1974.

6 thoughts on “Thight Lines …

  1. Driving my son’s car today I shoved on one of his CDs at random and found it was Back Door’s debut – I’d originally turned him on to it – so was interested to read this. Saw CH in a duo with Alexis Korner a good few years back … interesting stuff! 10 Years After, eh? He must have some energy still …

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  2. This is very odd but while the album is up on Spotify on this side of the pond, only two of its songs are playable, neither of them the one you’re featuring. In fact, I can’t find it anywhere. So I listened to ‘Jenny’s Rag’ which was really good. As to Back Door, I have never heard of them. Found a song called ‘Human Bed’ on YouTube. Listened. Dug it. Funky.

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    • If you’re new to Back Door I highly recommend their first album, just called Back Door. It’s on Spotify but there’s something wrong with the first track, Viena Breakdown – it sounds like a radio with terrible interference. I don’t know if this is restricted in some way in the U.S. but I don’t see why it would. I have noticed, though, that Colin Hodgkison’s solo work is harder to come by. Good luck!

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