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Who played bass on "I want you back"

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Bassist30, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    There is a motown song called I want you back sung by the Jackson Five. Have you heard the bass on that song and who played it. Was it James Jamerson? It really has a smokin' bass line. It gets better and better as the song goes on. He had really great chops. I wonder if it was James Jamerson. It was near the ending of the Detroit Motown era. I think they moved to LA in 72 or 73.
  2. Wilton Felder.
    Bass Player did a transcription of the line with his input a few years ago.

    although apparently there is another version (demo?) which Jamerson played on.
    lowplaces likes this.
  3. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    Who else has he played with? Great bass player. Got to look into him more........... :bassist:
  4. The Crusaders. Interestingly enough, he also plays sax, and is actually better known for that. I don't recall how much bass he actually played with the Crusdaers, but for a time back in the day, they had Robert Popwell playing bass (hell of a name for a bassist) and Felder playing sax.
    lowplaces likes this.
  5. lowplaces likes this.
  6. BassLand


    Mar 20, 2000
    Lost Angeles
    The only thing wrong with that list is I Want You Back is not on the list! The Jackson 5 record was a hugh hit and lot bigger than most of the recortds on that list. I wonder if...

  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The one I remember is "Street Life" - which was a big hit in the 80s with the Crusaders - Randy Crawford singing!

    He played bass on that one - the chart's in the Jazz Real Book!
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Felder played bass on the entire Chain Reaction album by The Crusaders.
    lowplaces likes this.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    ...that list is entirely accurate? :meh:
  10. The Owl

    The Owl

    Aug 14, 2005
    Atlanta GA
    Wilton played bass on the studio albums and then someone else would play it on tour, then they got Pops Popwell in the late 70's.
    lowplaces likes this.
  11. "...I wonder if..." more research is in order concerning the original question...

    (...or maybe the list-maker didn't know about that one; no one's perfect. ;) )
  12. ...wasn't it Jamerson who played bass on "I want you back"? - I always thought it was coz thats what my teacher told me before I learnt it...
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    It's Felder.

    See Mock's post(#2 above).
  14. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Actually there's still a lot of controversy surrounding this track...for years it was assumed that either Jamerson or Babbitt played it, it was only later that it was sugested that Wilton Felder played on it..as we all know there were numerous cuts done on the track from different demo versions to radically different versions (for other vocalists) of the track...so honestly I dont think we'll ever know who played on the well known jackson 5 version for certain...

    A lot of the controversy surrounding who played on numerous classic tracks like these is because it was the practice at the time to record different versions of the same track..hence we had the situation of different musicians doing the recording sessions for certain tracks which may or may not ended up being the finished product for a particular hit...hence the Carol Kaye /Jamerson controversy..(I believe Carol Kaye did play the bassline on "I was made to love her"....but which version?)

    Personally my money's on Babbitt for "I want you back" though.... :)
  15. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    Actually the track was eventually played by Jermaine Jackson, the Jackson 5 were pretty self contained and Joe did'nt like paying studio musicians. Wilton actually came up with the bassline but it was Jermaine who did the actual record or overdub I think at the tender age of 14. Babbit was'nt envolved that I know of.
  16. No offense, but I find this extremely hard to believe. Nothing I've ever heard from Jermaine Jackson leads me to think he could have played like that at 14. Nor do I know of any reason to think that Motown *wouldn't* use their crack session musicians for these sessions, especially in that they were coming at the very beginning of the Jacksons' career. Were the Jacksons *ever* really "self-sufficient" on record?

    Anything to back this up?
  17. I found a site that said that the Jackson version of the song was released in 1970.

    ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/1xtra/bhm05/years/1970.shtml )

    If that's the case, then my guess is that it wasn't Jamerson.
    The mystery continues...
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Agree 100%.
    Look at The Jacksons' later records(i.e. Destiny, Goin' Places, etc); by then, you would think they woulda/coulda been 'self-sufficient'...nope. At least the later discs listed the studio musician credits.

    As far as Jermaine playing "I Want You Back" on the album? Check out the J5 doing the tune on the Ed Sullivan Show DVD...he can't even fake it good!

    As far as Babbitt? Never heard him claim "IWYB" as his...Jamerson? Not enuff improv during the verses. I'm stickin' with Felder.
    Michael Dempsey likes this.
  19. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    Saw the Jacksons right before they split Mowtown and Jermaine nailed ALL the basslines like it was nothing, why is it so hard to believe that a 14 year old could do it? Bootsy did Sex Machine at that age and anybody with any knowledge of this KNOWS that Jermaine is an awesome bassist in his own right, he may have "synced" on Sullivan but never when the group was live.I'm sure some old timers can back me up on this if they have seen 'em live and their are videos out with early live concerts., which will explain why Jermaine didnt appear on the later Jackson stuff mentioned above, plus they had fired Joe as their manager. This gave Mowtown the freedom and gave The Jacksons the freedom to write their own material. Jermaine being married to Berry Gordy's daughter Hazel, decided to stay with Mowtown and released a slew of solo albums and at that point most of the musicians would be contracted in for The Jacksons sessions. Mowtown wanted to focus on his bass playing skills early in his career, even allowing him to do a song on the first album titled "My Name Is Jermaine" the tune was called " 2001 A Bass Odyssey". Back in the sixties children couldnt get union scale and Joe was very adamant about using only the act to record the material, ther was even a cousin who did all thier drum tracks. The are many books and documentaries that have this info. The Shadows of Mowtown DVD has no Jackson songs in it for a reason. Man you are getting this from a former Jermaine Jackson fanatic. If you even get a chance to get your hands on his first three solo albums(My name Is Jermaine, Feel The Fire, Frontiers) you will know just how awesome of a bassist he truely is. The first album he actually has an Alembic series one on the cover. :bassist: :)
  20. Well, name one then, or provide a link. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to bust your chops or be hostile. I just don't believe your assertion, though I will gladly concede the point if you prove it.

    The reason it's hard (not impossible) to believe that a 14-year-old could have played that track is simply that the vast majority of 14-year-old bassists can't play like that. Sure, I know Jermaine could play, but I don't know for sure that he could play like that at 14. Of course it's not impossible. Just unlikely. I usually don't give that much credence to unlikely explanations when more likely ones exist (i.e., the use of crack studio musicians, in this instance), unless there's evidence to the contrary.

    Hey, if I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and if so, I don't mind. Buit I had a quick look on Google (don't have time for a long one), and I found nothing to prove that the Jacksons played all the parts on the recordings. I found things saying Jamerson or babbitt or Felder, but nothing that claimed Jermaine. Wikipedia (not necessarily the last word) had this for "I Want You Back" (note the last line):

    So, with respect, in the absence of any countervailing evidence, I'll continue to believe it was *not* Jermaine on the record.