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Here’s another from my new blog, The Groove Academy
“Let’s Work” from Prince’s fourth record, Controversy has got to be one of the greasiest bass grooves in the Purple One’s arsenal. It’s also go to be one of the most hotly debated amongst bass players of the “purple purist” variety. The tune really has two very similar bass grooves. Each is two bars long over Bm7 for one bar and E9 for one bar. It’s Technically 4 bars long but if you look at the four bar phrase as two two bar phrases put together you might be inclined to see the first of those phrases as the main groove and the second bar as a “fill”. In the same way that I described the bass part from “Soft & Wet” .
Here are couple of things that I think make this groove as greasy as it is.
Technique | Feel
Debate is almost inevitable when we start talking technique but here’s my take; use what ever technique would:
A. Make it feel like the record.( Learn whats on the record..then try to add sh%$. After looking at B. disregard the preceding sentence.)
B. Not get you fired if Prince himself called you in for the gig.
*Following A & B apply to any part, instrument, vocal regardless of the artist and will keep you employable and, many times, employed.
*Traditionally I have plucked to G# and A on the D string with my index finger but I’ve seen those same two notes thumped with the thumb as well.
*Remember that the notes on the page are only an interpretation of an idea or ideas. Some things simply can’t be written out. Take, for instance, the bends on Beat 3. They are a guide, not a rule.
This groove happens over the keyboard hooks and “Work..All right, we’re gonna work all night” break downs.
The kick pattern is a text-book “one (2) AND three (rest)” pattern . The core of the groove is right there on those 1st three beats.
Again, I personally pluck the + of 1 and thumb on beat 2 or pluck them both if I am so moved at the time. I like to thumb a half-dead B on the E string on measure three which gives a bit more thud to the kick.
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