Triumvate: Louis Johnson

triumvirate (2)1. Michael Jackson – Thriller

Come on. Do we need to explain why you need this album? Face it, if you don’t own this you’re a loser. Although Johnson didn’t play bass on every track on the album (mainly thanks to the heavy use of synths, damn them), he did grace its finer bass moments. The relentless ostinato of ‘Billie Jean’, and that Latin-tinged disco classic ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’’ both come courtesy of the groove-heavy Mr Johnson.

 

triumvirate (3)2. Earl Klugh – Living Inside Your Love

From main- stream pop to instrumental jazz, Louis Johnson is a master of musical styles. Accompanying the jazz guitarist extraordinaire Klugh, Johnson plays one of his most intricate bass-lines on ‘Kiko’. His complex slapping sounds so earthy and rich, a mile away from the high-speed technique freaks that would follow in his footsteps. Check out his take on ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’: muted, staccato and so funky it’s unreal.

 

triumvirate (1)3. Michael McDonald – If That’s What It Takes

We may sound crazy urging you to buy this album for Louis Johnson’s sole effort (pun intended) on the debut album of smooth-voiced crooner Michael McDonald, but so be it. Buy it, stick on track two, ‘I Keep Forgettin’’ and listen to one of the greatest bass-lines ever – and that is said with no hint of irony. Not only is the song friggin’ amazing, but Johnson’s playing is nothing short of sublime. And don’t feel the album is a waste of money: with Willie Weeks and Mike Porcaro handling bass on the rest of the album it’s a bass player’s paradise from start to finish.

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