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Anthony Jackson - "Nothing's Gonna Take You Away"

As featured on "Naughty" by Chaka Khan
Warner 7599-26747-2 (1980)

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Chaka Khan - Naughty

This tune is fine example of what a great rhythm section can do for a fairly standard medium-ballad number, with Anthony Jackson and Steve Ferrone working their collective magic to transform the song into a driving Latin-tinged pop classic.

Again, we can see AJ'S use of rhythmic contrast to create interest and space as he employs whole notes, dotted half notes, and half notes to break up sections containing busier sixteenth-note fills.

His use of syncopation (e.g. bars 18, 23, 26) is also worthy of attention, propelling the music forward while imparting a subtle Brazilian flavour to the proceedings. In terms of the overall bass sound on this track, AJ again employs his right-hand muting technique to give his lines that easily identifiable deep, yet crisp, resonance.

Harmonically, the song is quite straightforward, but contains a cleverly disguised whole-step modulation near the end. Prior to the break in bar 62, the chorus sections are firmly rooted in F major, cycling through the relative minor (D minor) back to F again. However, the instrumental section from bar 62 neatly runs up the seventh chords of the F major scale before descending down past F through Emin to D, where the expected Dmin chord is turned into a Dsus, which resolves into a straight V-I in the new key of G major. Voila! - A neat and seamless modulation that brightens the final section of the song considerably.

Another point worthy of note in this song is a feature found in two or three other tracks on the album - addition of a two-bar phrase to temporarily shift the rhythmic centre of a given area, such as when stressing the end of a section ("Move Me No Mountain," bar 37, etc) or entering a chorus ("Clouds," bar 24, etc). These small "violations of expectation" (a favourite term of Leonard Bernstein) serve not only to create little eddies of rhythmic impetus, but also flag key points in the songs.

There's also a great moment in bar 34 where the band lays down a straight A7, but the backing vocalists sing a Bb, G, and Eb, yielding a delicious A7b5b9 chord - not your average pop fare! At first I thought this was a hybrid Eb/A chord, but if you listen closely near the end of the bar and there's a definite C# poking through.

In the E minor outro, AJ employs another harmonic twist by confidently hitting a Bb after luring the listener into a false sense of security with the B naturals of bars 81-82 (and 85-86) to subtly imply an Em7(b5) chord.

As on all of these tracks, Steve Ferrone's seemingly straightforward playing belies a universe of nuance, check out his superlative hi-hat work on this song.

Transcription © Stevie Glasgow 2008