Saturday, February 19, 2011


 (Charlie at Crimson Guitars setting up his bass)
The images above are from these websites, and the Elite Strings ad on top features a young(er) Charlie in the early 90's. I highly recommend 2002's Dreamland for anyone who likes Plant and would like to hear some great playing by Jones and his cohorts.

I've got lots and lots of musicians I like, and one that I have not heard much from the past five years has been Charlie Jones, a UK bassist who got onto my radar screen by doing some great playing with Robert Plant. In fact, he's married to a daughter of Plant.

But his familial relationship has nothing to do with the classic bass grooves that roll off of both his electric and his acoustic upright bass. Jones is one of the few players with the actual upright skills who can pull off REALLY playing an upright. Although I'll readily admit, I'm glad it was only an occasional feature during his work with Plant.

The bass I really enjoy hearing his play is the Crimson P-Bass copy, made of Perspex (more about that in a moment), that is, transparent plastic. While Ampeg and numerous other copycats made guitars and basses from lucite and other plastic materials dating back to 1969, the Crimson version has a twist because the neck and headstock on the Crimson P-bass copy are also made of perspex. On every lucite guitar I've ever seen, attached to the plastic body was a wood neck and headstock. However, as the photos above show, there apparently was either a wood neck replacement or another model of this guitar with at least a wooden fingerboard out there.

So it's a highly unusual guitar, but within the confines of live concert cd's and dvd's and their sound, it's a live sounding guitar to me that really cuts through the stage and audience mix. It's also unusual in that it has some kind of sparkly material imbedded in the molded plastic thoughtout the length of the bass, from body to headstock, and that looks cool on stage as well.

But as always, function over form with musical instruments, and the sound is great. I'm sure you could buy one of these from Crimson if you had enough money to throw at them, as I suspect they are neither cheap nor easy to build.

But as I said about his son-in-law status with Plant, so it goes with the bass he's playing. It can be a Perspex or a vintage Fender, it matters not. His playing stands on it's own.

After playing several bands, Jones begins working on Plant's solo albums in 1990, followed then by working with Plant and Page. It's all good stuff, particularly the Unledded tour, but it was in the early 2000's when he began playing with Plant's then band The Strange Sensation that I really became a big fan of his playing.

A friend of mine was getting live show cd's and some dvd's of Strange Sensation and their first tour. The early appearance of Strange Sensation on Austin City Limits was another great set of songs with Jones and his fellow virtuoso's in fine form backing Plant. At some point in time during the too-short tenure of The Strange Sensation, Jones decides to leave the band and was replaced by fellow UK bassist Billy Fuller.

Since then, Jones has been playing with a bunch of bands I've never heard of, like Goldfrapp,

with Robert Plant
1990 -
Manic Nirvana
1993 -
Fate of Nations
2002 -

Compilation Albums by Plant with Jones
2004 - Sixty Six to Timbuktu
2006 -
Nine Lives

with Page & Plant
1994 -
No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded
1998 -
Walking Into Clarksdale

In his post-Zeppelin work, Plant has surrounded himself with a somewhat steady contingent of musicians to play his music and that of others, changing the casts every few years. In the recent past decades, he ended the 90's playing with the short lived project Priory of Brion, then moved on to The Strange Sensation, then to his work with Alison Krause and now into his current Band of Joy. Four totally different lineups and different styles in the past 12 years. Not bad for an old man like Plant, and I just wish he'd keep Jones along with him as his permanent bassist.

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