“I Love The Colorful Clothes She Wears” . . . : The Beach Boy’s Good Vibrations

In my previous post I briefly talked about the great bassist, Carol Kaye. In a career of over 50 years and over 10,000 recording, spanning artists from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley to The Monkees to practically every TV show theme music from the seventies, the high point must surely be playing on The Beach Boy’s Good Vibrations.

Although started during the sessions for the classic 1966 album Pet Sounds, Good Vibrations, (music by Brian Wilson, lyrics by Mike Love) was not issued as a track from that album, instead being released as a stand-alone single. “Good Vibrations” was envisioned for the unfinished album Smile, but after an infamous meltdown in a recording studio,  Brian Wilson abandoned large portions of music recorded over a ten-month period and the band substituted its release with Smiley Smile (1967), an album containing stripped-down remakes of some Smile material.

“Good Vibrations” established a new method of operation for Wilson that would serve as the template for the entire Smile album. Instead of working on whole songs with clear large-scale structures, Wilson recorded short interchangeable fragments that through the method of tape splicing, could then be assembled into a linear sequence with the tape edit masked by reverb and decays that were added during mixing. This new approach to constructing music was incredibly prescient for the time. Nowadays, with digital audio editing tools having replaced tape splicing, this method is much more the norm but in the late sixties it was pretty avant-garde.

Below is an excellent video essay from the You Tube channel Polyphonic discussing “Good Vibrations”. The video gives some background on it’s creation, an analysis of it’s structure, it’s use of unconventional instrumentation like the Theremin and the melodic bass line in the verses (a call back to the amazing Carol Kaye)  and it’s place in history.

Good Vibrations: The Beach Boys’ Pop Masterpiece –

For the instrumental backing tracks for Pet Sounds and Good Vibrations, Brian Wilson employed the services of “the Wrecking Crew”, the nickname for the group of first call session musicians active in Los Angeles at that time. Production for “Good Vibrations” spanned more than a dozen recording sessions at four different Hollywood studios, unheard of at the time for a pop single. Below is a short video clip from a documentary on the Wrecking Crew where they are talking about working on Good Vibrations.

The Wrecking Crew – Making of Good Vibrations

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Posted in Classic Rock, Music Appreciation and Analysis

“Bass Is The Place” . . . . : Reverb Bass Tricks Videos

Reverb?? On a bass?!! No, I’m not talking about using reverb on a bass (reverb, the audio effect that makes the instrument sound like it was played in a bigger space, is generally considered not be good for bass as it muddies the sound). No, I’m talking about the website Reverb and it’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/reverbmarket/featured ). In my last post I talked about the cool series of videos they are putting out about walking bass lines. This time I want to mention another nifty little series of videos that should interest bass players. Called Bass Tricks, the videos offer overviews of a specific bass player. I’ve already talked about James Jamerson in a previous post (https://roymusicusa.com/2017/04/14/aint-no-mountain-high-enough-the-genius-of-james-jamerson/) but this video discusses his technique and the setup he used that helped to define the Motown sound. Another player highlighted is the amazing Caro Kaye. I first heard of her from the column she used to write for Guitar Player magazine. As a Los Angeles studio musician in sixties and seventies, she has played on an estimated 10,000 recordings over a span of 50 years. Probably her most well known playing was on the classic Beach Boy’s records including the epic Pet Sounds. Like the Jamerson video, this video goes over her picking technique, bass setup and playing approach.
The third video spotlights a player many bassist many not have given much thought to but who I consider to be one of the more underrated bassists of all time, Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads. Let’s face it, the bass line to Psycho Killer is an immediately recognizable classic.  The video goes into Tina’s Motown influence and discusses some of her other great bass lines like the much sampled Genius Of Love.

The James Jamerson Motown Bass Sound | Reverb Bass Tricks


The Carol Kaye Bass Sound & Technique | Reverb Bass Tricks


The Bass Sound of Tina Weymouth | Reverb Bass Tricks


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Posted in Bass, Classic Rock, Music Appreciation and Analysis

“Walk This Way” . . . : Cool Walking Bass Videos From Reverb

When you ask someone to imagine a  jazz tune in their head, I bet that the imaginary tune has a walking bass line. It’s that steady, pulse keeping, melodic thump that will make you tap your feet, nod your head and feel the groove. In many ways it epitomizes what bass playing is all about: defining the song’s harmonic rhythm in a melodic manner. It’s a deep rabbit hole of a subject to get into for a bassist but the excellent You Tube channel Scott’s Bass Lessons (about who I wrote about previously, see https://roymusicusa.com/2015/11/28/cool-video-alert-10-things-every-bass-player-should-know/ ) has a good playlist of videos that serve as a solid  primer on the subject.

Scott’s Bass Lessons – Walking Bass Lines:

Recently, the web site Reverb started a cool little video series called Bass Walk of The Week. In the videos, Jake Hawrylak demonstrates walking bass line pattern from jazz masters like Paul Chambers, Ray Brown and Christian McBride. The patterns are one or two measures long and each fit over a single chord. That makes them easy to conceptualize as melodic cells that can be played when you’re in a similar harmonic environment.

“So What” by Miles Davis (Paul Chambers) | Reverb Bass Lesson –

Christian McBride on “McThing” | Reverb Bass Lesson –

Ray Brown on Oscar Peterson’s “Work Song” | Reverb Bass Lesson – 

Reverb.com is a music geek’s cyber heaven. It’s an online marketplace for new and used music gear and it’s You Tube channel features gear reviews and educational videos for guitarist, bassists and all of us who are afflicted with that terrible condition; Music Nerdism (I’m thinking of holding a telethon for this condition: send me your dollars to find a cure by allowing me to buy more stuff).

Reverb on You Tube –


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Posted in Bass, Jazz, Music Appreciation and Analysis, Music Theory

New York Movie . . : The new album from The New Jazz Spasms

I am pleased to announce the release of the New York Movie, the fourth album from my virtual band, The New Jazz Spasms on SoundCloud. The album continues the explore the nexus of where The Allman Brothers meets Grant Green meets B.B. King meets Booker T and The MGs meets Thelonious Monk meets The Meters.

The complete album is embedded below so please check it out. If you are interested in hearing the three previous albums from The New Jazz Spasms, then please go The The Jazz Spasms tab of this website (or go here:https://roymusicusa.com/the-new-jazz-spasms-3/) to hear them via SoundCloud. Hit the Like button, share it with others and do all that internet stuff you’re suppose to do.

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Posted in Blues, Improvisation, Jam Band, Jazz, Music Appreciation and Analysis

Ho, Ho, Ho . . . : A Funky Xmas To You

Something to listen to besides the usual Christmas Crap

Stevie Wonder – What Christmas Means To Me (Tamla Records 1967)

Electric Jungle – Funky Funky Christmas

Albert King – Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin

Clarence Carter – Back Door Santa (1968) –

The Soul Saints Orchestra – Santa’s Got A Bag Of Soul –

Booker T & the MG’s – “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” –

Booker T & the MG’s Jingle Bells –

Bobby Timmons – Holiday Soul –

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Posted in Blues, Jazz, Music Appreciation and Analysis

A Haiku For The Holidays 2017

My Favorite Things
A Holiday Song They Say
“Whatever” I shrugged.

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Posted in Blues, Jam Band, Jazz

“The View From Here” . . . : My First Soundtrack

It all started a little more than a week ago when my old friend Dennis emailed me ith an interesting proposition. His latest obsession has been flying drones and making videos of his aerial adventures. His latest video had a soundtrack that wasn’t working for him and he asked if I could come up with something. I had never done anything like that before but I was immediately interested. Dennis gave me a wide latitude to come up with something since the video was still just a rough cut. The only instruction was to have it between 2:15 and 2:45 minutes long.

I watched the video repeatedly with the sound off while I would play musical ideas on the guitar. My initial attempts were basically pathetic imitations of the Pat Metheny tune “New Chautauqua”. After a while, I simplified what was a overly busy acoustic guitar rhythm part to just outlining the basic chord progression and a simple drum track from my library of drum loops. After that things came together pretty quickly. The opening melody is played on a six string bass, followed by sections where I use some of my favorite tricks: open string chords up the neck (which produce a slightly off “jangle”), slide guitar and guitar harmony lines a la Allman Brothers. I sent off the results off to Dennis who, after re-editing, produced with the video below.

Lake Lanier 2 –

I must say that I’m pleased with the result and I am definitely looking forward to doing something like this again.

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