Bass Players Of Naughty…
Chaka Khan needs no introductions. With TEN Grammy awards and an estimated 70 million records sold worldwide, she’s one of the most important female voices of our time.
Chaka’s second record “Naughty” was released in 1980 and even though it didn’t get very high on the charts and it’s not her best-known work, it is considered by many a quintessential record.
“By the early ’80s, Chaka Khan and producer Arif Mardin had a great working relationship that was responsible for her hit solo debut, 1979’s Chaka… Naughty presents the two in a more centered working relationship… most of Naughty represents Khan in a holding pattern, without much material to accommodate her widening range. That being said, Naughty is only a few songs away from being a bona fide classic.” —?Jason Elias, Allmusic
Chaka Khan’s “Naughty” is a goldmine for bass playing, and features an impressive list of artists that makes it, by today’s standard, a classic.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the best tracks, basslines, and bass players in this record.
Clouds; Anthony Jackson
The album starts with the all-time great Anthony Jackson on the bass. This album features Anthony at his best, with some of his most unique basslines and creative compositions to this day.
For the session, Anthony used his very famous “Career Girl” Fender jazz bass, which featured a 1975 Jazz bass body and a 1973 Fender precision neck, tuned down to a low C (C – F – Bb – Eb).
Anthony’s history with this record is nothing but amazing. Taking from Anthonys’ own words:
“Naughty, which was recorded in New York in 1979, went on without concern for the bass tracks. I was given absolute artistic license, with one exception, and an unheard-of amount of time – three months – to recompose the bass parts, whereupon I notified Arif (Arif Martin, the producer) of my readiness to record. I was given all the studio time that I required. I never found out how much my indulgence cost Chaka, but the end result is as pure an example as exists, in my own case, of the ends justifying the means.”
And boy, was he right! The end result was a bass masterpiece!
The track “Clouds” features a very solid groove that bounces through the track, and also Anthonys’ trademark use of a flanger.
Get Ready, Get Set; Willie Weeks
Bassist number two is the great Willie Weeks, one of the most widely recorded and diverse bass players of our time, Willie played with the likes of Gregg Allman, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Doobie Brothers, Stevie Wonder, and the list goes on and on…
In this record, he used his trusty 1962 Fender precision bass, and for this particular track, the bass is doubled with the synth, which was a trend throughout the eighties and gives the line a very bouncy, envelope filter kind of vibe.
Move Me No Mountain; Anthony Jackson
Move Me No Mountain is probably the best-known song on this record and it’s probably due to the absolute masterpiece of a performance by Anthony. The creativity and the virtuosity behind this bass track can’t even be described. The fills, the amount of space, and the choice of notes make this a line worth studying.
Nothings Gonna take You Away; Anthony Jackson
This track feels like Anthony is paying tribute to his bass hero: James Jamerson. His use of space together with Jamerson-inspired Chromaticism makes this track an homage to Motown.
So Naughty; Marcus Miller
Remember this is 1979, Marcus Miller is probably 19 or 20 years old; and he’s already playing at a scary level! Of course, he’s playing his 77 Jazz bass, and his signature slap sound is all over this track, but you can also hear (at around 15 seconds) that he’s showing some bad-ass fingerstyle playing. Marcus is not holding back on this track and he’s taking all the chances he can.
Too Much Love, Anthony Jackson, and Mark Stevens
Mark Stevens, Chakas’s brother, also makes his appearance in this record, and he’s no slouch either. In this track, we can clearly hear Anthonys bouncing quarter notes and Marks slapping over it. This tracks grooves like crazy and it’s a great example of a compromise between two great bass players.
All Night Is All Right; Anthony Jackson
This is a very minimalistic track, there’s not much to it at all. But it’s still incredible what Anthony can do with it. Anthony delivers some of the best fills in this entire record on this track (check out minute 1:00). As usual, the groove is spot on, and it shows that Anthony can also play it simple and lock it in the pocket.
What You Did; Mark Stevens
Mark Stevens slapping in this track with what seems to be a Fender Precision bass. The sound is thick and rubbery and does a great job supporting the brass instruments that are highly featured in this track.
Papillon; Willie Weeks
This was the hit single of the record. Willie Weeks is killing in this track with a sound resembling a Jazz bass and he’s totally locked in with the drum beat. Of notice in this track are the various tasteful and super melodic fills Willie delivers throughout the track.
Our Love is in Danger; Anthony Jackson
And we end the record just as we started, with Anthony Jackson in the lead. This is probably the most disco-sounding track on the record and Anthony’s signature plectrum sound together with his advanced muting technique is all around this track. And of course, Phaser! Anthony’s signature phaser sound that he created around the time of his stint with the OJ’s is also very prominent in this track.
This album is instrumental based and we can hear a lot of different instruments throughout it. But the bass is at the heart of this record. It’s a bass record and it’s stacked with amazing bass grooves and fills. This is a great record to use as a study piece, but also a piece of bass history that should be passed along throughout generations!