mast top Japanese

Anthony Jackson - "Too Much Love"

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

Chaka Khan - Naughty

A lot of people think Anthony Jackson is the only bass player on "Naughty" but this isn't quite true. There are three other bassists featured: Willie Weeks, Marcus Miller and Mark Stevens (Chaka Khan's brother). However, as this song is the only track on the album to credit two bass players - both Anthony Jackson and Mark Steven - this is potentially a controversial transcription. Luckily, AJ's sound and style are easily recognizable and can be pulled out of the morass of other instruments without too much difficulty.

Stevens, who, as well as featuring extensively as a backing vocalist on the album, is the sole credited bass player on "What You Did," a track that provides several clues to his sound and style, the most obvious being that he almost exclusively slaps and pops. Thus, given AJ's known aversion to the slap/pop style, extrapolating exactly who is doing what throughout this track becomes a much simpler task.

Although the placement of the two bass instruments in the stereo mix also helps (very) slightly with differentiation, the sonic water is further muddied by the addition of a Moog bass part playing certain figures, which are later echoed by Stevens.

Close listening also reveals that certain of AJ's notes are suddenly dropped in the mix near the start of the track - somewhat fleetingly - to make way for the ascending sixteenth-note Moog bass figure (F#, G#, A, B) This is especially noticeable on the first beat of bar 6, where AJ's low G# on the first beat is turned down dramatically to accommodate the Moog fill. It's only from bar 9 that AJ's mix-level stabilizes, coinciding with the introduction of Stevens in the latter part of the same bar. (A similar kind of tinkering with AJ's volume also occurs in bars 38-41.)

As to why Stevens' slap fills were used on this track is open to debate. Perhaps Arif Mardin felt there was too much space in AJ's groove (!) or perhaps Chaka herself just wanted a "funkier" feel to the song (!!).

Anyway, Stevens drops out after bar 54 just before the last main chorus, which gives way to a splendid section in which AJ changes the mood of the piece entirely (the rest of the band continue as normal) by confidently walking in straight fours from bar 78 through 82 leading to a return of the main guitar riff from the opening, which in turn heralds a long D-major outro.

Also worthy of note is the way AJ chooses to reinforce the vocal melody in bars 25, 29 etc., picking it up for a few seconds and using it as a springboard to seamlessy return to his pounding groove.

Anyway, if you think I'm way off the mark with this transcription and feel there's a better explanation for what's going on with the Jackson/Stevens/Moog combo, then feel free to disagree - I'd be more than happy to hear alternative explanations. :-)

Transcription © Stevie Glasgow 2008