JPJ: anyone ever analyse his musical style?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Rockin John, Jan 13, 2006.

  1. Popping the Led Zepplin II CD on encouraged me to look over the TB threads on the guy. Most seem to focus on what a great bassist he was then / still is now. I happen to agree with that 100%.

    However, his musical abilities - the way he wrote and played his basslines - are of more interest to me than his standing in the bass world.

    So, I ask has anyone ever examined the way he created his basslines? If so, what was discovered?

    To me (I have no real music theory knowledge) his work generally seems quite busy on Led Zep II, yet melodic at the same time. There's groove, power, the lot. But is his playing bassed on Blues, or perhaps Jazz? Or perhaps it's more Motown influenced?

    One thing I do suspect, though, is that his skill on bass comes directly from a thorough grounding in musical theory. (Jack Bruce was much the same, I understand).

    Wisdom appreciated.


  2. d8g3jdh

    d8g3jdh Guest

    Aug 9, 2005
    when my teach taught me the workings of ramble on, he started by explaining that the 6th was a big part of his sound. since then ive noticed its true, especially on II where his bass lines are most promenent.

    Beyond that i got nothing:ninja:
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    IMO, it's Blues + R&B/Motown...& the fact that he was a session player(open mind/ears to a diversity of styles).
    The early-mid '60s was a fertile time for those with the talent/imagination playing electric 'Rock' bass.
  4. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    There's an old 'Bassist' interview where he states that producers liked to book him because they could put a chord sheet in front of him and he could quickly cook up a Motown-style bassline. When asked to pick his favourite three bass albums, he chose a Motown compilation, some Mingus and Weather Report's 'Heavy Weather'.
  5. he liked the root-fifth-octave pattern a lot- you can hear him use it often to add funk to chord changes (most obviously on Good times bad times)
  6. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    He was a sessions bassist before Led Zeppelin,I believe that's where he and Jimmy met. He's played w/ a lot of blues bands, recorded w/ Donovan. He's into a lot of stuff now. Check out his web site,
    There's some video clips there, a lot of acoustic and a couple of him playing a 10 sting harmonic I guess you would call it. Like a 12 string guitar. Sounds great.
    Jimmy and Robert really screwed the pooch when they ditched him.
  7. The Lurker

    The Lurker

    Aug 16, 2002
    i'm actually kinda glad that page and plant went off on their own, freed him up to make Zooma and Thunderthief:)

    And yeah, he was a trained choir director as well as studio musician, arranger, and six or eight other things during the late 50s and most of the 60s-- he actually took a rather large pay cut when he gave that up to start Zeppelin.

    Lots of motown, blues, jazz, James Brown style funk (the Crunge, for example) and a lot of classical stuff, especially on the last few albums, all brewed up into a delicious goulash.
  8. I recall reading in some interview that he was initially impressed by "the bass player for Motown" (as was everyone else of that era) so I suspect that Jamerson was a big influence on him, at least in the early years.
  9. sethlow3

    sethlow3 Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Nashville, Tennessee
    Jamerson was definately a strong influence on JPJ. He aslso uses a TON of quarter and eighth ties in just about everything in the early zeppelin days. His choice to play a jazz bass is key to his tone. Jamerson used ties a bit, but JPJ seems to use them so much, that its a big part of his style. There is blues in there also for sure.

    If you buy the Zeppelin bass books, you'll have to be able to read a bit to play most of the basslines correct all the way through. The ties are all over the place. It's like he holds notes in and out of time, but they all fit perfectly. JPJ also has a great range of bass tones because unlike jamerson he would play with one finger, two fingers, with flats, with rounds, with rakes, with a pick etc...:

    He is with out a doubt, the true genius of Zep.
  10. Sethlow3 said:
    Yeah. I tried a couple of years back but my dealer couldn't find any. So I gave up.:crying: Perhaps I should have another try.

    Yes, too, most agree that JPJ was 'the man' of L. Zep.

  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I would think Amazon's UK site would have the Led Zep BASS books...IIRC, albums 1 & 2 are in one book, albums 3 & 4 are in another.

    I still have the Led Zeppelin Complete songbook. OK, it's only a songbook...I shedded that book with the records for about 10 hours a day back in the Summer of '74. True, I didn't have those tunes down note-for-note...looking back, though, that Summer with that book is when I was able to finally hold my own with my fellow garage mates.

    I do recall a drummer pal having the Complete Scores book for Physical Graffitti...this was about 10 years ago & I haven't seen that book anywhere since.
  12. Thanks Jim, I'll look it over.


  13. The Owl

    The Owl

    Aug 14, 2005
    Atlanta GA
    Jonsey was a GIGANTIC part of Zep's overall sound for certain, while Pagey and Plant were getting the spotlight, Jonesy was unassumingly giving the band it's propulsion along with Bonzo! Not only was his Motown/R&B inflacted bass work key to it all, but his keyboard and arranging skills made a gigantic difference too.
  14. I'm sure Owl's right. But isn't that the way? As musicians we know all the bass players. But Joe Public only knows the lightnin' fast lead guitarist or the singer / frontman. It's part of life in the rhythm section I guess.

    How many people know the bassist because he's a bassist?

  15. d8g3jdh

    d8g3jdh Guest

    Aug 9, 2005
    well, lots of people know flea...but i guess thats kinda different.
  16. Geezerman


    Nov 28, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    I loved his work on Zeppelin II, amazing.
  17. jim primate

    jim primate bass guitarist.

    people forget to credit him with all the subtle keyboard things he did. all the synth stuff. "the rain song" is beautiful but try to imagine it without the organ and mellotron.

    then there's "trampled underfoot." c'mon.
  18. christle

    christle Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    I think it is just fair to say he is a great musician period. His compositional skills are extremely good IMO and you can learn a lot from disecting his lines (regardless of instrument).