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Bass Transcription: John Paul Jones’ Bass Line on Dusty Springfield’s “Take Another Little Piece of My Heart”

Dusty Springfield was a British singer whose early chart success in the UK and USA was with straightforward pop tunes such as 1963’s “I Only Want to be With You,” and more sophisticated ballads like 1966’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”. The 1968 Dusty… Definitely album began her change towards a more R&B/Soul sound, with inclusion of more R&B-inspired songs on this album than previously. Two of those – “Ain’t no Sun Since You Been Gone” and “Take Another Little Piece of My Heart” – featured arrangements and bass playing by John Paul Jones.

Although his father tried to warn him off the “novelty instrument”, Jones had been a session bassist since he left school at sixteen, playing on hundreds of sessions for acts like Tom Jones, Burt Bacharach and Sammy Davis. By the mid-sixties, he had also expanded into arranging and musical directing, including work for The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds. This talent, and the ability to create bass lines that captured the feel and sound of Stax and Motown recordings, kept him in demand for British artists aiming to replicate a more American sound.

“In the (British) session world, if you wanted your record to sound American, you would call me because… I could play it,” Jones shared. In a similar way to how James Jamerson worked at Motown, where many composers and arrangers just allowed him to create a bass line for the song, Jones had free rein to create his own ideas; “The arrangers generally couldn’t write those parts as they were quite complicated, so they would just write the chords up (and say) ‘go on, you know what to do’ – so I had the freedom to improvise through whole sessions”.

The Dusty Springfield recording of “Take Another Little Piece of My Heart” is very much based on Erma Franklin’s 1967 version, with Jerry Jemmot on bass. But Jones develops the bass line to include a wider variety of ideas. It has many hallmarks of the work of James Jamerson, with chromatic runs, use of the sixth and minor seventh, syncopated semi-quaver-based rhythms and dead notes all adding to the stylistic landscape. Jones does add in some high-range fills near the end, which Jamerson tended to avoid, but on the whole, there is a strong resemblance to his style.

By 1968 Jones was tiring of the session scene, and by the middle of the year he would find himself playing for Jimmy Page’s version of The Yardbirds after Chris Dreja decided not to continue. This band were to rename themselves Led Zeppelin, and become one of the most successful bands in the world.

Take a listen and follow along with the transcription: