2/14/2017

Weekly Basslines #214: Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers)

❥❥❥  It's Valentines Day!  ❥❥❥

My wife loves this song and so I dedicate this post to her.


The song first appeared in a prison movie called "Unchained" in 1955 and was written to reflect the mood of the prisoners as they wait for time to pass.

The music was written by Alex North, lyrics by Hy Zaret. Todd Duncan sang the version that appeared in the movie. "Unchained Melody" is one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century, with over 500 versions.

The best-known version however was recorded by Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley, who called themselves "The Righteous Brothers" in 1965. Producer Phil Spector didn't expect a major success with this and put the song on the B-side of the single "Hung on you". But Radio-DJ's instead chose to play the B-side and so the song reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 14 in the UK.

25 years later (on Nov. 3rd 1990) the Righteous Brothers version even went to No. 1 on the UK singles charts, because the track had been featured in the Patrick Swayze film "Ghost".

The song is a very good example for a "12/8-ballad". This time signature is a cousin to the 4/4 time signature. The Twelve/Eight time signature belongs to the family of Quadruple meters, meaning it has 4 beats to the bar (four dotted quarter notes) with 3 background units per beat. Therefore it's commonly used to facilitate ballad type tempos with a triplet feel.


Here's the main rhythm-pattern of "Unchained Melody" written in 12/8- and 4/4 time signature:

In the song you can hear the background units being played by the piano throughout.


Here's the complete bassline:


Here's an interesting clip about the origins and different versions of "Unchained Melody":

1/31/2017

Weekly Basslines #212: September (Earth, Wind & Fire)

I've been asked to post the transcription of "September" that goes along with my Bass cover video on YouTube. Well it's a pleasure to me :-)

Here's the original song:


The song was written by Maurice White (who sadly passed away on February 2nd 2016), Al McKay and Allee Williams a struggling songwriter in L.A., who got offered the chance of a lifetime by Maurice: to co-write Earth, Wind & Fire's next album.
Willis recalls: As I opened the studio door, they had just written the intro to "September". Because the lyrics weren't finished yet Maurice was using a go-to phrase singing: "Ba-dee-ya, do you remember, Ba-dee-ya, dancing in September. "
Willis said: "We are going to change "bee.da-ya" to real words, right?" But at the final vocal session Maurice was still singing "bee-da-ya" and so Willis asked him: "What the f---- does "ba-dee-ya" mean?" and White answered: "Who the f--- cares?" Later on Willis resumed, that this was one of her greatest lessons in songwriting ever, which was never let the lyric get in the way of the groove.






1/25/2017

Weekly Basslines #211: Better Things (Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings)

This song was requested by Sandra from Cologne (Germany). Thanks for the donation!

The Dap Kings became famous in 2006 as backing band for Amy Winehouse on the album “ Back To Black” , were they contributed six of the eleven album tracks including the two hit-singles “Rehab”  and “ You know I’m No Good”.

The original setup of the band called the “ Soul Providers”  was formed in the mid-90ies. During the recording of their first album, consisting of mainly instrumental funk tracks bassist Gabriel Roth (also known as Bosco Mann) discovered vocalist Sharon Jones.

In 2000 the Soul Providers split up, the “ Dap Kings”  were formed and the first album with this new setup was called “ Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings” (2001). It was produced by bassist Bosco Mann who was credited as being “one of the best analogue producer there is”  by funk Magazine “ Big Daddy” , honoring his amazing vintage 60ies and 70ies Soul/R&B-style sound.

 “ Better Things” was recorded for the fourth studio album called “ I Learned The Hard Way” in 2010.

After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013 Sharon Jones died on November 18th 2016, aged 60.
She suffered a stroke while watching the 2016 United States presidential election results. Jones remained alert and lucid during the initial period of her hospital stay, jokingly claiming that the news of Donald Trump's victory was responsible for her stroke.





1/16/2017

Weekly Basslines #210: Right Back Where We Started From (Maxine Nightingale)

Another request from Sherry & Mathew from Michigan.

This bassline is another nice example for a bassline utilizing the so-called 1-5-6-pattern, which I've clearly described in an earlier post. Look here:




1/10/2017

Weekly Basslines #209: A Space Oddity (David Bowie)

Remembering David Bowie on the one-year anniversary of his death.

Actually this song was a request by one of my students and it's a total coincidence that I just finished the transcribtion today.

"A Space Oddity" was inspired by Stanley Kubricks movie „2001: A Space Odyssey“ and was recorded an June 20th 1969 at Trident Studios with a young Rick Wakeman on Mellotron, Mick Wayne on guitar, Herbie Flowers on bass and Terry Cox on drums. The single was released nine days before the moon landing, but because of the lyrics the BBC refused to play the song until the Apollo 11 crew had safely returned to earth.

Herbie Flowers, one of Britain's best-known session bass-player, has recorded with Elton John, David Essex, Al Kooper, Cat Stevens and gained much fame with his prominent bassline to Lou Reeds “Walk On The Wild Side”, where he combined double-bass and electric-bass.


Definitely Herbie gave me a hard time transcribing with his extensive use of alternate root notes, slides and Jamerson-like syncopations in complex licks all over the fretboard, It's probably one of the most difficult transcribtions I ever did.



Here's the isolated bass from the original album recording:




R.I.P. David Bowie