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Thread: James Jamerson

  1. #1

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    James Jamerson

    I've heard of this guy but today I was really free in office and heard some of his records. Oh my, what amazing basslines!

    His lines had such great groove and feel to it. Doesn't overplay and everything just fits perfectly into the song. Amazing tone as well!

    No wonder legends like Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones and Geddy Lee call James Jamerson one of their influences.

  2. #2

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    yeah well he started it all... before jamerson, bass stayed only in the background, just keeping the harmony... then after him, everything just went crazy... he started the funk in bass...

    too bad he died before everyone recognized it was him...

    people didn't know motown sound was jamerson at that time...

    watch this documentary...
    Last edited by Morlock; 06-04-10 at 08:39 PM.

  3. #3

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    James Jamerson is literally the father of modern bass. every bassist should at least know his name. yet he passed away a bitter man because of the lack of credit to his work. sad, really.

    i subscribed to a guy on youtube who does excellent covers of Jamerson's work. his technique and tone really pay tribute to his basslines.

    if you see how he crafted his basslines, you can really appreciate his amazing talent. then you'll wonder how modern bass has regressed so much to the extent of just playing root notes.

    motown was probably the golden age of the electric bass.

  4. #4

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    If you can find an old copy of the book, "Standing In The Shadows of Motown" by Alan Slutsky, it goes really in-depth into the life of James Jamerson and led to the making of the award-winning documentary of the same name. It comes with a CD - I've lost the one in my copy, sadly - that analyses his basslines, including Marvin Gaye's "What's going on" "Bernadette" and Stevie Wonder's "For Once In My Life", among others, played and interpreted by modern bassists. Jamerson was the bass cat and grooved till he died. Did you know he played all those intricate lines with just one index finger for his right hand technique, which he called "The Hook"? And that The Temptations smash hit My Girl was recorded with his fellow musicians in just one or two takes because they were tired and wanted to get the hell out of the studio quickly so they riffed off of some tune they had once played and it morphed into pure genius. Jamerson once famously said he could find the rhythm for a bassline watching anything, including a lady's butt wiggling as she walked! Haha! Some scumbag apparently stole his bass, "The Funk Machine" while he was in his final days. Somewhere out there is the legendary P-Bass of the master. For that Jamerson sound it's flatwounds - old, greasy worn out flatwounds, baby - and superhigh action that other bassists found almost unplayable. Might wanna experiment with a little foam under the strings near the saddles to get that almost upright like sound.

    A bit of trivia about Jamerson was that his regular sub at Motown was a white bassist by the name of Bob Babbitt, a really nice guy who wrote the basslines for hits such as Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia". (Check that song out, I challenge you not to go "whoo! whoo!" and pull an imaginary train whistle at the chorus!!! ) There has been some argument as to who recorded what because the fast churn of hits at the studios meant that records were poorly kept and in many cases, did not credit Jamerson and his friends with performing or writing the music until much later on.
    The Bakerloo Line rolls again after two long years.

  5. #5

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    standing in the shadows of motown - the life & music of james jamerson

    discover more James Jamerson ..there is a movie/documentary out some years ak titled

    'standing in the shadows of motown' in DVD format costs about $30 or less .

    the VCD is only $9.90 if you can find it at laserflair or HMV.

    if you are familiar with mr Ho at penisula he has a DVD for sale there.

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