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I once heard a wise man say that if you wanted to put an All Points Bulletin out on a groove it could be found on the “e’s” and the “a’s”. “777-9311″ from The Time’s 1982 release, “What time is it?” album is a great example of that idea. The Time was, as many people know, Prince’s brain child and, yup, you guessed it, that’s Prince on bass. Once again he doubles the bass with a synth line which made for an interesting learning experience for me back in the day when I was trying to cop this off of records and tapes. I still have nightmares about fixing broken cassettes with ball point pen caps, wearing out tapes trying to learn songs. Whoops….just dated myself. The synth line, in tandem with the bass part, give is a super slinky feel. Most folks can cop the feel ( ha ) with the right envelope filter. My filter of choice is the MXR M82 envelope filter by Dunlop.
Dig; this music is not about metronomic sterility. (remember where you heard it first!) This music is about a little bit of slop. I’ve heard some insider stories about hearing some of these tracks solo’d out and marveling at all of their sloppy goodness. Having said all that I am not saying that time isn’t important. I’m saying that a little push and pull is “ccccccccccc O O lllllllllll” . <- Somebody got that.
Now, although I won’t get into too much detail about the intricate drum part which is sort of a “litmus test” for drummers I would be remiss if I didn’t start off this style study by talking about the kick drum pattern which starts on the “e” of Beat 1. Man….that’s funky enough all by itself. FEEL the E of Beat 1, the AND of Beat 2 and Beat 3. That’s the main stuff., the cake. Everything, and I mean everything else, is icing.
Technique | Feel
Funk is rarely, if ever “pretty” and the “grease” , especially here, is in the ghost notes and the slides particularly the slide into Beat 3. Without the slide into the note the groove is funk’s antithesis. I ‘ll be totally honest – as of this moment I don’t know how to notate the slide in Finale so don’t take that first bar literally. Truth be told, none of the stuff that makes this groove what it is can be written down in it’s entirety so take the image below with a grain of salt and watch the video
Notice how the bass line relates to the kick pattern?
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Morris Day and the Time Live in 1982. Terry Lewis on Bass.