Every now and then I decide to write out an interesting bass line I hear or even play. In this instance I play this track with an Elvis Tribute show. The song is called Runway, which was originally recorded by Del Shannon. Elvis performed this when he returned to live performing in 1969. It’s from the Album ‘Elvis Presley : In Person’.
Elvis and the band take this track and transform it into their own track. Jerry Scheff’s bass line on a standard song always amazes me. Jools Holland’s bassist, Dave Swift said he liked how Jerry Scheff takes a standard pop tune and transforms it with his playing. He certainly does that with this track. When I transcribe to notate it, I go in depth a lot more than usual. I’m shocked at how much I missed when I originally learnt the bass to this version. Unlike myself, Jerry plays with just one finger, a little like Jameson.
Below is a link to the transcription. I have also added a clip of myself playing along to a bass-less backing track, which doesn’t have the same oomph as the Elvis version, even though it’s based on that. The intro is also slightly shorter. The bass guitar is recorded direct to film, no mixing, just into a mixer and then to camera.
Playing bass in theatres with Lee Memphis King, the Elvis Tribute Artist, there are few clips because video isn’t allowed. People that do manage to sneak a clip, don’t tend to put it on YouTube. Instead, they probably just show their friends to show them what they have been doing and seeing.
I just found this one clip of suspicious minds recorded at Northampton Derngate Theatre. You can see the audience are having a great time, and why not, it’s a great show.
I have transcribed the bass part for this from Elvis’s ’72 show at Madison Sq Garden. Jerry Scheff, Elvis’ bass player, played it different every time. I’ll post a link to the transcription in due course. Meanwhile, enjoy the one and a half minute clip with myself on bass.
Jet Harris was the original bass player with The Shadows (formerly The Drifters) who left due to a drink problem. He sadly past away 18 March 2011. He did leave some bass gems behind. Many are well documented already. However I initially decided to transcribe this particular track recorded at a live concert with Cliff Richard in 1962, because the bass during the solo was interesting to me. However, as I started and continued past the solo I realised there were many interesting things going on that can be used over many standard Rock n Rock tracks to make the bass more interesting. I thought I’d share it here. Jet has a driving bass sound in this recording, quite staggering when you consider he was using a Vox AC30 amp. Probably it was a slightly oversize version with a 15″ speaker, very rare. Most certainly this would have been played on a fiesta red Fender Precision bass guitar with flatwound strings and a plectrum. It’s also worth mentioning that Jet was probably drunk when he played this!
transcribed by Nathan J Hulse
Main highlights / analysis
When the song starts Jet plays a standard Rock n Roll line over the F. On the C he adds a 4th with the follow bar starting on a D (9th). This gives an interesting feel and movement. Moving forward to bar 26 Jet again adds a 4th over the C with a run back down to the C later a similar pattern over the F chord.
For the solo, you can hear the descending run with the C pedal note throughout each bar. Towards the end he plays a II – V – I pattern over a V – IV – I sequence. Jet was a Jazz player originally and perhaps this was intentional or a happy mistake.
Moving on to bar 74 is a lovely descending pattern over a static C chord. This I personally use quite a lot over a guitar solo. There are quite a few jumps which suggests Jet would be using open strings quite a lot to move position.
Notice how Jet is also just as happy to play driving quarter notes over the root.
There’s a lot of useful info in this track to add to your rock n roll bass line creation and vocabulary with this. I hope you find helpful.
I play bass for who I consider to be the best Elvis sound-a-like tribute in the UK (and probably the UK and Israel). I have already transcribed some of my favourite lines. I will put them on this blog in due time. It can be quite am interesting and sometimes shocking thing to do. Because I listen more carefully to the original recording I noticed things that I don’t usually play. Always On My Mind is quite a simple track to play, but delve a little deeper and the bass player (Emory Gordy) has some quite varied and and interesting rhythmic variations going on. This is a bass line I see many doing, yet they miss some of the more interesting parts. Click the link below for the pdf.
On the introduction, there is a D being played, which I think is the bass. I’ve included the note in brackets as the main bass part you hear clearly starts on the fourth beat of the first bar. Emory uses quite a few slides which helps keep the line more interesting. In bar 10/11 he slide up to the B on the 9th fret, then back down on the G to the C. From playing this myself I would guess this helps the give the note more body. Bars 59-60 I have used the timing from the recording. However, in a live situation the singer would be more likely to go on feel. So listen to the piano pickup in bar 61. The final repeating bars, I’ve only transcribed the first time round, on the original recording it goes round about 6 times to the fade. Again, live, the singer would probably give a cue when to end.
The YouTube clip features myself on bass with Lee Memphis King. Luckily, you can’t see me after the into. I would point out, I have done this transcription since the video, so it is interesting to see how much I didn’t pick out from the original recording.
Here’s a clip of me playing along to a track without bass of ‘What A Man’. The track is featured in the film The Sapphires sung by Jessica Mauboy. When I heard it I thought it was such a great bass line I just had to transcribe it and write it down. The original track was done by Linda Lyndell in 1969 at Stax studios, probably with Duck Dunn on bass.
The main riffs are quite repetitive but effective. You can hear some Jaco Pastorius in there (Chicken, Come on Over) over those dominant 7ths, all be it a little slower than Jaco. The film sound track version has a definite end which is written on the music, this is not on the backing track I used.
I have decided to make the transcription available for anyone that may get use from it. The only thing is, I don’t know how to make it available to view on Blogger, so I have provided a link to the pdf file. If you would like a TAB version contact me I can arrange this.
I’ve always enjoyed Wham bass lines. This particular track was originally played by Deon Estas, who used a status bass and Fender Jazz, not sure which he would’ve used on this recording. I used my Status Retro bass.
I’ve written out the first verse accurately, there are some minor differences in the following verses. The Intro lines and chorus seem to be consistent throughout the track. It’s a relatively simple bass line and really effective which is why it works. During the fade out at the end you hear a nice little ad lib line which I included at the end of the transcription.