Prato, Greg -The 100 Greatest Rock Bassists (Book review)

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Author: Greg Prato
Title: The 100 Greatest Rock Bassists
Publisher: Indie
Year: 2018
Reviewed: Dec 2018
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer:  JP

Greg Prato is a writing machine and seems to be trying break some sort of record for most cool, Rock and Metal books every published!   Independent publishing is so convenient and affordable these days that Prato has embraced this with another DIY book. It was bound to happen and it was far overdue but someone has written a book about Rock Bassists!  I figured it would be Joel McIver, but Prato has beaten him to the punch.

THE 100 GREATEST ROCK BASSISTS is a simple and elegant paperback about 250 pages long and it has about 40 black and white photos of bass heroes in action.   The book has a number of great features, it is not just a list.  After a brief introduction from Prato where he explains why this book is long overdue, he dives right into a reverse-order list, countdown style.   Do you have the will-power to read it from 100 to #1 without skipping ahead to see who made #1?  I didn’t!    Watch for the bonus bassists!

Each section for each player comes with a brief write-up, some recommendations, some list of their favourite/preferred gear, some similar artists in style and lastly if they use pick, fingers or both!  Watch for the bonus bassist!   There is a section called ‘Honourable Mentions’ which lists a whopping 290+  bassists who didn’t make the Top 100.   It is a straight-up list of names and what band they are most associated with. It is almost so long as to be lacking in value, who is going to go check out almost 300 additional bassists?  However, credit where credit is due!

One of the most significant bonus sections are the interviews. Prato interviewed 10 heavy hitters of the bass world; Billy Sheehan, Doug Pinnick and more.  His insightful questions open up some good discussion and reveal some great answers from the four (six, eight, twelve) stringers.

Considering that this is a Metal website it must be noted that the title is ROCK bassists.  Accordingly, there are a whole bunch of Rock guys, grunge, alternative, punk etc…it is not just limited to ‘Metal’ in the purest definition.  In hindsight there are not that many ‘Metal’ dudes in the book or Top 100 list but that makes sense because Metal traditional is not really a very groove-oriented (for lack of a better term) music. Much of the time in Metal, the bass guitar really does take a back-seat to the guitar as compared to ‘rock’ bands like Rush, Queen and so on, where the bass has more room in the band. In reality there are only about 10 truly ‘Metal’ guys in the Top 100, the obvious Mandatory ones are included (Harris, DeMaio, Ellefson etc) so if you are a Metal purist, then this book might not be for you.   For the rest of the more open-minded rockers this is a treasure trove of Bass!

For what it is worth, I fall towards the Metal end of the equation. I actually counted how many artists I was not familiar with, or had not heard, and is was a painful 75%, which just serves to expose my musical ignorance I suppose.   However, that is not a deterrent to enjoy this book!  Just because I’m not familiar with most of the artists, and was a bit disappointed because I was hoping for more Metal dudes, I can’t deny that this is a superb and long overdue work paying tribute to the unsung heroes of Rock!   I’d recommend this excellent book to all bass players, all musicians and fans of great Rock music everywhere!