Takin’ Care Of Busi­ness

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

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!

Dbm Pen­ta­tonic

Db­ma­jor Pen­ta­tonic

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