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Bass playing gems in unexpected places

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I posted a while back about finding out that the bassist on the tunes from Frozen which Trev Jr has on in the car on repeat was actually the great Abraham Laboriel Sr - which explains the sublime bass playing which is there to be found on Love Is An Open Door if you can bear to listen past the layers of Disney cheese. As it is, Abe Sr seems to be becoming a bit of a "go to" bassist for Disney/Pixar having done some sterling work on the Michael Giacchino sound tracks for Zootropolis/topic and many others of his scores.

Anyway, fast forward a few months and the choir which Jr sings in. Is due to perform as part of a concert which includes the whole of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Of course for a six year old the best way to learn the tunes is to have them on a loop in the car. So it was time to download a copy of Joseph for the iPod. Of course, it's a musical I grew up with and have sung myself numerous times as a kid so a bit of a nostalgia fest as well.

Anyway, having checked out the three million different versions I eliminated the various Donny Osmond and Jason Donovan recordings on the basis of annoying drama school vocalists and vomit inducing cheesy arrangements (and given we're talking Lloyd-Webber here that's saying something - a certain level of cheesy vom was already anticipated and being allowed for). Then I came across the original 1974 studio recording which was the one I had on a horribly stretchy cassette as a kid. Download done.

Anyway, listening through I was amazed at the really great bass playing on the album. Solid, funky, inventive, out-there... and with a great tone. I doubt I ever actually heard the bass on my crappy little portable cassette player back in 1979.

Anyway, a few minutes on Allmusic and Discogs.com shows that the bass player is none than the late John "Johnny Gus" Gustafson of Big 3, Merseybeats, Roxy Music and Ian Gillan Band fame. No wonder the bass playing sounded a bit special. He's long been one of my favourite bass players. Result!

Not only that, thinking about the date of the album he's probably playing the hand made P bass that Ian Waller made for him before he set up Electric Wood and Wal Bases. This was the bass that Gustafson used on Roxy's Siren album and Love Is The Drug. No wonder the bass playing sounded a bit special.

I guess that's the lot of a jobbing Session player and when you dig behind the surface of some cheesy old hit with surprisingly good bass or guitar playing you'll often find names like Mo, Herbie, Big Jim, Clem, Jimmy, John Paul or Rick. Or indeed, Gus.

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Abe Sr (bass) and Abe Jr (drums) are seriously good. On stage, the old boy jumps when he gets to his groove. Check him on YT if you can. It's so wrong to see a large man move that way that it works.


About two minutes in he goes for it

Edited by SpondonBassed

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