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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

James Jamerson Isolated Bass

Yesterday I talked about how Paul McCartney was, in my opinion, the most innovative bass player in rock besides James Jamerson. It wouldn't be fair not to listen to Jamerson after listening to Paul, so here are a number of Motown hits featuring Jamerson's signature bass playing. Of course, Jamerson was one of the mainstays of the Motown house band known as the Funk Brothers.

Here are a couple of his greatest parts including Marvin Gaye's What's Goin' On, and The Four Tops' Bernadette.

1) On What's Goin' On, listen to how Jamerson builds the intensity of the track as it goes on. You can just  feel him pushing the track as his line gets more and more complex and he digs in harder.

2) Jamerson's bass has a distorted edge to it. He supposedly went direct while recording and used an Ampeg B-15 when playing live, but the tone on this song sure sounds like a B-15 to me.

3) Bernadette may be Jamerson's masterpiece. He's playing a fairly busy part yet it's always in the pocket and always seems effortless.

) Bernadette is also a really good example of how a Motown track is put together when you hear all the instruments fall in with the bass.

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1 comment:

patrock said...

I heard Jamerson was supposedly on a bender and they had to go find him and drag him back from some bar. He was so completely hammered when he recorded "What's Goin' On" that he had to lay down on the floor.


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