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At 01:01 PM 7/2/99 EDT, Mark P. wrote:

Hi, Bob...Just wanted to first say that your website is extremely cool and informative, being a Bass player myself....I was quite startled over the years that Carol had played on those tunes..., But I will tell ya matter what anyone says, if you listen (especially to "I was made to love her"....the notes were definitely PICKED, not played with one finger, like Jamerson plays) and the high-end was turned down either at the Bass and Amp, or the Console...I have listened to these tunes over and over again, and I can tell you that alotta people, especially Slutsky are full of Sh#T, on the Motown matter...It seems all of the sudden Jamerson was playing 16th notes? and with one finger no less....I tell ya Bob put a good set of headphones on, eq it a little and your hear Carol Kaye in all her PICKING glory, I didn't wanna believe this either, but it's true..the proof is on the tracks....Besides, Bob Babbit had said something to the effect that they were making fraudulant union contracts for years, at Motown, and got busted for all that stuff anyway...

Thanx, from a dedicated Motown and Jamerson fan,
Marc P.

Hi Marc,
Thank you for writing. My Jamerson site is a labor of love. I grew up with the music and the sound and while I will not state what Carol did or did not do, (Dr. Licks on my Jamerson site does that very well through research and whatever else it took to write the book about Jamerson and the Detroit Motown band), I will however try to answer some of the issues you raise as they relate to James Jamerson's playing on the released versions of the records in question. I was an engineer at one time and I know very well some of the effects of compression on the sound of the bass. I know that if you squash the attack in a certain way it will cause it to sound more abrupt. I offer that statement as a possible answer to why you hear a "pick sound".

I also know that to my ears and 35 years bass playing experience and 10 years bass building experience, the records in question were undeniable Jamerson. The evidence takes away all doubt in my opinion. I probably got those records within a week or two (at most) of their release. I had the fortunate experience to come to bass playing in 1963, the same year Carol did.

I, like you, had to figure out how Jamerson did those records. I initially got it wrong. I started out playing with my thumb, used a felt pick for a hot second, then with two fingers. Later I met Chuck Rainey who plays primarily with one finger like Jamerson did (This was about 1974-75 before he moved to L.A.). When I moved to L.A. in 1980 I learned more about Jamerson's style. I always could get the notes real easy but Jamerson's feel was another thing.

If you know much about upright bass there is a style of upright playing where the player plays pitz primarily with his RH pointing (first) finger backed up occasionally with his 2nd finger for double strokes. Jamerson was this style of upright player so his style was mainly one finger occasionally using his 2nd finger. When he switched to electric he used the same techniques as he did on his acoustic. To an upright player the electric seems like a toy and many prefer not to play the electric but there is more strength to execute and certainly more dexterity if you were as inventive as Jamerson apparently was with his 16th note forays into uncharted bass territory in the 60's

I can play the line to "I Was Made To Love Her" or "Reach Out, I'll Be There" with one finger and I am not Jamerson. The same thing goes with many of the songs in question and I have been playing them since I was a kid. If you live in L.A. we can meet and I can demonstrate it for you. As to your assertion that the parts are definitely picked and therefore must be someone other than Jamerson, I simply disagree based on knowledge of the techniques involved and the fact that any bassist should be able to tell the difference between picked notes and fingers.

Now as to your statement that Allan Slutsky is full of something related to a large meal, along with other people who know that Jamerson played the tunes, I have a question. Does that remark extend to Paul McCartney, Marcus Miller, Bob Babbit, Chuck Rainey, Jack Bruce, Kenny Arronson, Dave Hungate, John Petitucci, Anthony Jackson, Will Lee (no relation ), and the other bassist who pay tribute to Jamerson on the CD that comes with "Standing in the Shadows of Motown", and me ? Are we all under the mystical spell of Dr. Licks and the ghost of Jamerson?

Lets forget about yours and my opinions and look at the evidence that Jamerson played his own lines on those records and people who played on the "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown" CD paid tribute to him for it. I would think that they 1- Know enough about their bass history 2- Would NOT have paid that tribute to someone who did NOT play the music in question.

I could stand here all day and tell you my friend told me Jamerson did "a record". You would not be required to believe me (and rightly so) but when so many icons of the bass world honor a man they all regard as mentor, everybody else can't be wrong. The CD that came with S.I.T.S.O.M. has considerably more weight than my friend around the corner who says that Jamerson played his own lines. There are quite a few links to evidence on my web site. Go to Stevie Wonder - Legends on Amazon.Com

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and listen to the sound clips on that page that were released on the same album as "I Was Made..." and you will see the continuity of the performances. Don't just listen to one of the examples, listen to all of them. (Respect is and excellent example of Jamerson's playing). It is the same player as IWMTLH. Record companies did not hire a lot of outside musicians to record their music in the 60's like they do today. Chicago had their guys, New York their's, L.A. had its guys & gals, And Detroit and Motown had the Funk Brothers for the bulk of the records they produced there from 1959 to 1971.

There seems to be a common thread of name calling by certain individuals to support their position on this matter. To say that Dr. Licks was wrong is one thing but some of the things he has been called in regards to this issue (I have seen some of them and probably have no idea of what was said privately). I don't care as I don't play those games. Some pretty rude things were even said about me but one has to consider the source and how a person acts when there is a difference of opinion. It makes me proud rather than angry about supporting the truth and I don't have to tear anybody's name or reputation down to do it.

Regarding listening to the music, I don't know how old you are but I will be 50 this year. I don't think I need to say much more on that issue... Regarding my stereo... Only the best since probably 1963-64. I had to hear the bass as it was my instrument(G). I use a Vector Research amp for my computer sound, Acoustic Control Corp (yes the bass amp company) reference monitors & Auratone speakers in my office... Sony digital headphones.

As far as "fraudulent union contracts" show me convictions (legal ones) and not allegations, generalizations and hearsay. Any Motown "bust" out here in California had nothing to do with what was going on in Detroit. I was not there and (I presume) neither were you so it is a moot point. I liked your line about Carol Kaye's picking glory and I will leave that one alone too(G). I can respect you right to believe whatever you want but you have to respect mine too.

Bob Lee
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