Last month’s transcription followed the untimely passing of Rutger Gunnarsson, Abba’s bass player and although I hope not every edition will have such a sad subject I couldn’t ignore the news of Louis Johnson’s death on 21st May 2015. He was best known for his own group The Brothers Johnson (check out the slap solo in Stomp!) and playing on Thriller, one of the best selling albums of all time. However, I’ve chosen to focus on an earlier MJ cut – I Can’t Help it from 1979’s Off The Wall. Written by Stevie Wonder it’s full of extended, altered chords and a typically funky groove that underlines the jazz harmony. Johnson’s playing is particularly greasy here, with the line in the verse often sliding up and back down from the 9th focusing on the e and a of the beat. The timing is so essential here that I recommend using an exercise with a metronome only on beats 2 & 4 of the bar. If you can keep the groove to that then playing to the song is much easier.
This is probably my trickiest bass line so far, so take it easy and have fun!
The transcription does not intend to violate any laws or copyrights, it is to be used for educational purposes (fair use).