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Brian Ritchie on “Please Do Not Go” by Jimi Durso


Brian Ritchie on “Please Do Not Go” by Jimi Durso…  Click to download Brian Ritchie on “Please Do Not Go”

A too often overlooked bassist, Brian Ritchie did same brilliant work with the Violent Femmes, had a signature style and sound, and was one of the first people I know of to do it on the acoustic bass guitar. “Please Do Not Go”, from the Violent Femmes debut album, feature Ritchie with an 8 bar unaccompanied solo in the middle (measures 28-35).

The song is basically a three chord reggae using the I, IV and V chords in G. The progression is a full bar of G and then a half bar each of C and D. Since no one is backing up Ritchie, this gives him both the responsibility of delineating the chords in his solo line, and the freedom to deviate from it without concern for clashing. Ritchie does both Brian Ritchie – masterfully. The first two bar phrase (measures 28 and 29) he puts the root notes on the strong beats, and does so in the low range (the low G that kicks off bar 28 as well as the C on beat one of the next measure and the D that anticipates beat three). We also hear an emphasis on chord tones: measure 28 is almost exclusively notes from the G7 chord, and in measure 29 we hear C and E (the third of C) on strong beats and D on the strong beats in the second half (as well as a low A to make the D sound clearer).

For the next two measures, Ritchie starts out expanding on the idea he set up, playing almost the same line for the G chord (including the hip trill from the major to minor third, which foreshadows the G minor sound to come), and even starts out the next measure with a C major triad. But when the D chord comes up, Ritchie deviates radically from that sound. He does play a low D, and even does so on some stronger beats (the “four” and the “and of two”), but the other notes, G and Bb, spell out a G minor triad, juxtaposing a bluesy sound.

Toward the end of the measure he starts a G mixolydian scale that he continues into bar 32. He doesn’t play the third of the G chord until the end of this measure, and even then it’s a scalar passing tone to the root of the C chord in the next bar. So he doesn’t necessarily take our ear away from the blues he injected before.

And in bar 33, after revisiting the C major lick from measure 29, he again plays G minor where the D chord should be. A fascinating aspect of this measure: he combines the ideas from measure 29 and 31, so that for the listener it’s at that same time familiar and novel. A very clever way of developing a statement.

For the final two bars, he goes back to G, but goes up from a high G (Notice how for the first two measure of G major, he emphasized the low G, but for the second two, he uses the high G. Also very clever.) Then another variation on the C major lick, and for D this time he just pounds out the root note. This not only brings us back to hearing it as the V chord (after all that G minor stuff he did with this chord before) but also creates a sense of finality to his solo (making it clear to the rest of the band that it’s time to come in with the pre-chorus).


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