Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Feb 4, 2017 - JS - Spotlight on James Jamerson

Rockin' Remnants

Rockin' Remnants is broadcast from WVBR-FM Ithaca. Check out our
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Date:  2/4/17
Host:  John Simon
Feature:  Spotlight on the Motown Bass man James Jamerson!

 This Saturday, a spotlight on one of the greatest bass players of all time: Motown's own James Jamerson. Join JS for three hours of Motor City magic starting at 6 p.m. We'll start the Jamerson tribute at 7 (he's the star of this week's Birthday Calendar). Cheap Date Night, baby! C'mon over.

 Image result for james jamerson

 Note: The entire East Hill was crippled by a massive power outage on this night. WVBR was off the air until about 7:20 p.m., so the first hour of the show won't even be posted here. Just you wait, though....I'll be ba-a-ack.

Birthday Calendar

January 29 - James Jamerson - born in 1936

February 1 - Don Everly (Everly Bros) - age 80

February 2 - Graham Nash (Hollies, CSN) - age 75

February 3 - Dave Davies (Kinks) - age 70
                  - Melanie - age 70

February 4 - Alice Cooper - age 69
            – John Rudan – age is still a secret....


[songs in bold are from the spotlight date of DATE; yellow song titles are YouTube links; songs with * were requests; all chart information comes from the Billboard Top 100 (for chart dates before/during July 1958) or Billboard Hot 100 (for chart dates during/after Aug 1958) unless otherwise noted]


OPENING THEME:  Good Old Rock ‘n’ Roll – Cat Mother & the All-Night Newsboys (1969, #29, produced by Jimi Hendrix)

JS then did a brilliant opening monologue, followed by a slew of great tunes from Detroit artists  -  all proudly sponsored by Island Health & Fitness, Ithaca's premiere fitness facility with two convenient locations!


Always It's You - Everly Brothers (5/60; #56 - the b-side of their first release on their new label. The a-side was "Cathy's Clown," which spent five weeks at the top of the chart.)
Image result for everly brothers

Bird Dog - Everly Brothers (9/58; #1 - this was their third chart-topper for the Cadence label. Tonight we hear it in first-time stereo!)

On a Carousel - The Hollies (3/67; #11 - featuring the lead vocals of young Graham Nash, who was starting to yearn for material that would be more sophisticated and meaningful.)
Image result for hollies on a carousel    Image result for hollies on a carousel

Lola - The Kinks (8/70; #9)

Beautiful People - Melanie (1969 - this non-charting single is a personal favorite. Happy 70th birthday to Melanie!)

I'm Eighteen - Alice Cooper (2/71; #21 - the first nationally-charting hit for the Detroit native and his band.)

Spotlight on James Jamerson, who played bass for a core group of musicians who came to be known as The Funk Brothers. He is reported to have played on some 95% of Motown recordings between 1962-1968, including nearly thirty No. 1 Pop hits (surpassing the record commonly attributed to The Beatles) and nearly seventy R&B #1's.
Image result for james jamerson

Think about the first few seconds of The Temptations' "My Girl," that syrupy bass line leading to the opening flourish. That was James Jamerson. Or the rushing current underneath Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Tears of a Clown." For almost a decade the South Carolina native was the backbone of The Funk Brothers: the house band that defined the sound of Motown Records.
Image result for James Jamerson double bass

For a glimpse of James Jamerson's one-fingered bass technique, watch this short video: My Girl!

My Girl - The Temptations (1/65; #1 Pop and R&B - the Temptations cajoled Smokey Robinson into writing them a hit that would equal the success of "My Guy," which he'd written for Mary Wells. Voila!)
Image result for temptations my girl     Image result for tears of a clown miracles

Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (12/70; #1 Pop and #1 R&B for three weeks - this song was an album track recorded three years earlier. A British DJ started playing it and it was rush-released as a single. When it topped the UK chart, Tamla released it here in the States Wise move....)

Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (6/67; #19 Pop, #3 R&B - the debut single for Marvin and his new duet partner was propelled by the driving bass stylings of Mr. Jamerson. The formula was perfect!)
Image result for Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye & Tammi       Image result for Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye & Tammi

Stop! In the Name of Love - Supremes (2/65; #1 Pop, #2 R&B for four weeks - "It has an undeniable hook  -  a faded up organ glissando played by James Gittens. Anchored beneath the tune there's an 8-to-the-bar Jamerson bass line that barely ever lets up, a device he would use with the girls' follow-up singles and on countless hits throughout the Sixties." - Dr. Licks)
Image result for Smokey Robinson and James Jamerson

I Heard It Through the Grapevine - Gladys Knight & The Pips (11/67; #2 Pop, #1 R&B for six weeks - drums by Richard "Pistol" Allen and Uriel Jones, rumbling bass line by James Jamerson. Up to this time, this was the biggest hit for the Motown family  -  but a year later Marvin Gaye's version would shatter all records.)
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(Your Love Keeps Liftin' Me) Higher & Higher - Jackie Wilson (9/67; #6 Pop, #1 R&B - "It became a worst-kept secret that Jackie Wilson's 'Higher & Higher' did not have a Motown influence quite by accident  -  the Funk Brothers migrated to do the Wilson session.")
Image result for (Your Love Keeps Lifting' Me) Higher & Higher    Image result for With This Ring - The Platters

With This Ring - The Platters (3/67; #14 Pop, #12 R&B - released on the Musicor Records label, and clearly featuring the uncredited Funk Brothers. When Berry Gordy heard that the band was moonlighting again, he fined each player. A rival record label exec showed up at the Motown staff Christmas party and handed each member twice the amount they'd been fined.)


Don't Mess With Bill - Marvelettes (1/66; #7 Pop, #3 R&B)

Girl, Why You Wanna Make Me Blue - Temptations (9/64; #26 - basically a three-note bass line for most of the song!)

Baby Baby Don't Cry - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (1/69; #8 Pop, #3 R&B - yet another wildly unlikely rumbling bass line lurking beneath the surface and propelling this record to greatness.)
Image result for Baby Baby Don't Cry - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles    

I Was Made To Love Her - Stevie Wonder (6/67; #2 Pop, #1 R&B for four weeks - Jamerson's distinctive bass lines were all over these next two records. Curiously, LA session bassist Carole Kaye has gone on record saying she'd played on the Stevie Wonder single. I'm still trying to figure that one out!)
 Image result for I Was Made To Love Her - Stevie Wonder     Image result for Bernadette - Four Tops

Bernadette - Four Tops (3/67; #4 Pop, #3 R&B - "The road bassists held Jamerson in the highest regard, but they had the unenviable task of trying to re-create his bass lines on stage." - Dr. Licks)

Rock The Boat - The Hues Corporation (5/74; #1 Pop, #2 R&B - Jamerson was pretty much done at Motown, but continued to be in demand as a session player. He helped drive this one to #1.)

You Don't Have To Be a Star - Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. (9/76; #1 Pop and R&B - "It's one of the few songs in my career where I tried to emulate the Motown sound., so I made sure I got the session musicians I needed. I went off to LA to get Jamerson." - producer Don Davis)
Image result for You Don't Have To Be a Star - Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis

You Keep Me Hanging On - The Funk Brothers (1966 - from the soundtrack to the film "Standing In The Shadows of Motown," this is the isolated instrumental track the Supremes would later ride to the top of the charts.)
Image result for standing in the shadows of motown

Didn't You Know (You'd Have To Cry Sometime) - Gladys Knight & The Pips (3/69; #63 - Valerie Simpson was a demanding producer who warned Jamerson to not do "...any funny business" on this session. His bass lines were subdued  -  and so were record sales. Hmmm....)
Image result for Didn't You Know (You'd Have To Cry Sometime) - Gladys    Image result for Valerie Simpson

What's Goin' On - Marvin Gaye (2/71; #2Pop, #1 R&B for five weeks - According to fellow Funk Brothers  in the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Gaye was desperate to have Jamerson play on "What's Going On", and went to several bars to find the bassist. When he did, he brought Jamerson to the studio, who then played the classic line while lying flat on his back. )
Image result for what's going on marvin gaye

* (Last Night) I Didn't Get To Sleep At All - 5th Dimension (4/72; #8 - Joe-the-Cabbie got through and said he'd love to hear some more Marilyn McCoo. Here ya go, Joe!)
Image result for (Last Night) I Didn't Get To Sleep At All - 5th Dimension    Image result for Marilyn McCoo 

That Old Song - Ray Parker, Jr. & Raydio (7/81; #21 - Ray Parker got his start as a session bassist for Motown Records when they relocated to Southern California. Clearly a different approach to bass playing....)

Everybody Go Home - Eydie Gorme (9/63; #80 - we close tonight with a low-charting tearjerker from the lovely Ms. Gorme, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Shoulda beena hit!)

Image result for Everybody Go Home - Eydie Gorme

CLOSING THEME:  Sleepwalk – Santo & Johnny (1959, #1 for two weeks)

Host Next Week (2/11/17):  Jan Hunsinger with a spotlight on Valentine's Day

Thanks for tuning in! You can listen to Rockin' Remnants every Saturday night from 6-9pm on WVBR (93.5 FM in Ithaca, NY) or at wvbr.com/listen.

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