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Monday, February 4, 2013

"Ramble On" Isolated Bass Track

Going back in time again, here's the isolated bass track from a Led Zeppelin song that I always loved - "Ramble On." On it you hear bassist extraordinaire John Paul Jones play a complex track very well, but listening to just his track alone isn't quite fair, as you'll see.

Here are some things to listen for:
1. Listen to how the bass sounds. Big, full and fat, with lots of lows yet plenty of definition. We sometimes have a hard time achieving that today.

2. Listen to how the level changes between the first verse and chorus from there on. It's much louder by the end, as is the rest of the band. It's a good example of dynamics.

3. Listen to how JPJ plays the verse line staccato (short and choppy) in the first verse, then legato (smooth) from there on.

4. There's a lot of missed notes that you probably didn't hear with the rest of the band playing (I know I didn't). Listen at 1:20, 1:30 and 2:31 just for starters. Then there's a mistake at 3:47.

That's not to rag on one of the best bass players ever. It's just to point out that back in those days, we had a different idea of what was acceptable than we do today, where we try to wring perfection out of each note.

5. JPJ plays some brilliant ad libs on the outro after about 4:00. Too bad we miss a lot of this thanks to the fade on the record.

This just goes to show that an isolated track does not make a song, it's how the entire band interacts. If you listen to the real thing, you'll hear how spot on JPJ is with both drummer John Bonham and guitarist Jimmy Page, which is why the band always sounded bigger than the sum of its parts.


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1 comment:

Rand Bliss said...

Always have a Whole Lotta' Love for anything Led Zeppelin.

To also quote from the same classic album 'Thank You' Bobby!;-)

By the way, how did you get this particular track isolated for your example? Do you have privileged access to the Houses of the Holy...?


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