Book Review - Motown Bass by Dave Rubin


Being an avid fan of the bass playing of James Jamerson and the Motown bass sound I have every publication that even remotely relates to Jamerson's bass playing. This is a review of Motown Bass by Dave Rubin, a title in the Bass Signature Licks series.

What's Motown Bass About?

The book Motown Bass by Dave Rubin is subtitled: 'A step by step breakdown of the bass styles and techniques of Motown.' There is a brief introduction that sketches Jamerson's influence on the Motown sound - and mentions some of the other guys who played bass for Motown - and then the book quickly skips to the main part of the book which is a detailed look at 12 tunes. Those tunes include Ain't To Proud to Beg, Daning In the Street, For One In My Life, Get Ready, I Can't Help Myself, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, I Second that Emotion, It's The Same Old Song, My Girl, My Guy, Reach Out I'll Be There, Shot Guy, Stop! In The Name of Love, What's Going On and You Keep Me Hanging On?

Now it's important to realise that the transcriptions are not necessarily complete transcriptions. The author breaks down the songs into their constituent parts and talks about some of the elements that make up the bass lines (e.g. chord tones, passing notes, make up of the chord progression of that part of the song etc).

How Is Motown Bass Presented?

Motown Bass is approximately 60 pages long and my copy has a sot, stapled binding. The transcriptions are presented in both notation and bass tab format. There is a CD included with the book, and all of the examples have been recreated in a 'full band' setting that allows you to play along once you have learned some of the parts. Some of the tracks have also been recorded at a slower tempo, so that you can work out some of the more complex parts at a slower tempo to start with.

How Could Motown Bass Be Better?