Takin’ Care Of Business
Jon Bishop transcribes a classic and hugely influential track by a true titan of blues - the one and only Freddie King.
Of the ‘Three Kings’, Freddie is often overlooked. He never quite achieved the superstar status of BB or Albert King - due in part to his untimely death at the age of 42. His style, however, fused BB’s melodic lead lines with Albert’s ferocious attack, and had a huge influence on the blues-rock guitarists that were to follow. Freddie, like so many bluesmen of the time, had very much his own approach to playing the electric guitar. He wore his strap over the picking hand shoulder instead of around his neck. He also used metal thumb and fingerpicks to attack the strings as apposed to a flat pick or fingers alone. His use of thumb and fingerpick was originally inspired by players like Jimmy Rogers. The metal picks provided a bright and biting tone and when this was combined with a valve amp on full volume with the treble turned right up, Freddie’s signature lead tone was born.
Eric Clapton covered Freddie’s Top 40 hit, Hideaway, which served as lead guitar tour de force on the John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers ‘Beano’ album, as well as live. In this track it’s also easy to hear Freddie’s influence on other players, including Clapton, Peter Green and, later on, fellow Texan, Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Takin’ Care Of Business was originally recorded in 1961. The song is in the key of Db and is essentially a Db dominant blues. The vocal verses are a slightly unconventional 16 bars long. This structure makes sense to the ear and is essentially a 12-bar blues with an extra four bars added. The solos are a standard 12-bar progression. The feel of the track is a shuffle at 128bpm. This shuffle feel can be written with a 12/8 time signature but to make the notation easier, we chose 4/4 with all the quavers swung. That way it’s clearer to see where the swung quavers, quaver triplets and crotchet triplet rhythms are, and how they function in the track.
The form consists of: 4 bars intro; 16 bars vocal chorus 1; 16 bars vocal chorus 2; 12 bars guitar solo 1; 12 bars guitar solo 2; 16 bars vocal chorus 3; and 12 bars outro.
The guitar tuning on the original recording is a little out of whack, and this is a feature that we have chosen not to replicate for the GT version. Many popular 60s recordings featured slightly out of tune guitars, but modern production values have established the tuning of all instruments to be a key element. The original track fades out, so to make the backing track more fun to play along with, the GT version has a classic, blues style ending attached.
For the GT recorded version, a live band was the only way to go, so many thanks to James Compton for performing piano duties and to Pete Riley for playing drums!