Considering the length and variety of Chuck Rainey’s resume as one of the bass world’s most respected studio artists, a bassline would have to be quite unique to rank amongst the finest of his profession. Such is the case with Kid Charlemagne, from Steely Dan’s 1976 album The Royal Scam. “Kid Charlemagne is one of my most valued achievements as a recording bassist making up bass guitar patterns,” Rainey informed BP, while likewise pointingout Allen Toussaint’s Just A Kiss Away from 1978’s Motion, as another individual highpoint.
The frustrating impact on Rainey’s bassline is that of Motown legend James Jamerson, with its numerous root-5-octave shapes, drop-down moves to the 3rd, chromatic technique notes, and cool usage of ‘wrong’ open notes as harmonic stepping stones. “I credit at least half of that bassline to Jamerson,” stated Rainey, who tape-recorded direct with his valued 1957 Fender Precision – long consideringthat retired from responsibility. “I’ve constantly been very proud of understanding him. We fulfilled around 1958, when we were both simply beginning to play the electrical bass.”
Kid Charlemagne is complete of syncopations, slides, double-stops and ghost-notes. “On that session I keepinmind playing whatever that I understood – whatever I had ever come throughout! I felt extremely great about it, particularly because we did it so rapidly. I believe the finest sessions are the ones that occur fast, and I keepinmind that The Royal Scam, as well as the earlier Steely Dan records Katy Lied and Pretzel Logic, were made really rapidly. We mostlikely did Kid Charlemagne in one or 2 takes.”
You can review Rainey’s separated bassline listedbelow.
With its super-tight groove and mindful balance of low and high signsup, Rainey’s percolating bassline is a testimony to his capability to equate a chord chart into a dazzling bassline. “I had worked with the manufacturer Gary Katz formerly in New York; I constantly like to work with somebody who has faith and self-confidence in the rhythm area and who doesn’t feel the requirement to hire an arranger to compose out parts. That, of course, was the case with Jamerson at Motown – after all, if somebody hadactually composed out those parts of his, they neverever would haveactually been played! It’s constantly a satisfaction to work with somebody who offers me a chord chart and simply lets me be Chuck Rainey.”
Rainey was fast to point out that harmonically, much of his line on Kid Charlemagne is easier than it may appear. “I wear’t mind stating that with the exception of passing tones, whatever I played was primarily 1-5-1. I’m quite much set in the secret with the position of my hands; there aren’t a lot of accidentals. It’s all within the chord.”
You can watch YouTuber Rick Beato’s evaluation of the track listedbelow.
Having invested the 1960s as a first-call bassist in New York City, Rainey played with everybody from Louis Armstrong to Aretha Franklin. Along with Jamerson at Motown, he essentially specified the function of the electrical bass in popular music.
“Jamerson, having began as an upright gamer, tended to toss in a lot of open strings – not to land on them, however to usage them to get from one location to another,” stated Rainey. “The ear is considerate to that, so if you play a fast open E, even if it’s not in