Friday, November 29, 2013

R&B Bass Bible -- Book Review

R&B Bass Bible -- Book Review

One of the ways to move forward on your journey learning how to play bass is to learn songs. Transcribing is a great skill - but sometimes you need a shortcut. There are lots of 'tabs' available on the internet, but the bulk of them are sadly inaccurate. A much better alternative are the commercially available transcriptions books. This article is a review of one of those books, the R&B Bass Bible.
So What's The R&B Bass Bible About?
The R&B Bass Bible is published by Hal Leonard and is a collection of transcriptions of classic 60s and early 70s 'r&b' tunes. There are 32 tunes in this book ranging from Motown classics like Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Ain't Too Proud To Beg, Bernadette, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Standing IN The Shadows Of Love, Uptight, What's Going ON, This Old Heart Of Mine, I Want You Back and I Was Made To Love Her to some Stax Soul classics like Green Onions, Hard To Handle, I'll Take You There, Knock On Wood and In The Midnight Hour.

            Buy Now "R&B Bass BIBLE"          
In many ways this book could have been called A James Jamerson And Duck Dunn double header, because these bass players are featured on the bulk of the tunes (looking at the contents I think Jerry Jemmott played on Respect, Lewis Steinberg played on Green Onions and I Just Want To Celebrate was played by John Parrish of Rare Earth. The other 29 tunes are either Duck or Jamerson).
How Is The R&B Bass Bible Presented
The R&B Bass Bible is around 170 pages long and comes in a standard Hal Leonard binding - if you've read any of my other reviews you'll know what i think about that and what my preference is..
Where Hal Leonard are good though is that their transcriptions are usually pretty accurate, and in this book they are presented in standard notation plus bass tab. Additionally the chord symbols for all of the tunes are included. And as an added bonus - and great for studying some of Jamerson's lines - the melody line is included too (though you'll have to be able to read treble clef to use that).

How Could The R&B Bass Bible Be Better
The R&B Bass Bible is a pretty good book as it is. Spiral binding it would make it better. Another thing that would make it better for musicians - but would lessen the publisher's profits, so we're unlikely to ever see it - is if the bass lines were printed on their own in standard notation, and also printed again with the melody and the bass tab.
The other area where this book could be better is there is a bit of overlap in material with Standing In The shadows Of Motown. It would have been nice to have seen some of the lines that are featured there replaced with songs that aren't published.
That's a minor quibble though. If you want to learn some more tunes and late 60s r&b is your thing this is a really good collection of tunes that is very professionally presented. This is a 4 and a half star review - as always the book loses half a star for not being spiral bound.

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