Groove Of The Week #15: Led Zeppelin – ‘Ramble On’

This week’s groove comes courtesy of the great British bassist John Paul Jones, whose part on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Ramble On’ provides a masterclass in writing a part that manages to be melodic without diverting attention away from the rest of the band:

JPJ’s high register line sits firmly in the key of E major, using slides and ghost notes to embellish his part. He varies the part slightly on each repetition, but the basic groove is shown here:

Led Zep - Ramble On

You can check out the original isolated bass part of ‘Ramble On’ below – hearing JPJ’s playing in isolation really demonstrates the huge influence of Motown and Stax recordings:

His tone is very Jamerson-esque, and the verse groove to ‘Ramble On’ reminds me of pioneering soul bassist Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn’s part on Eddie Floyd’s ‘Knock On Wood’, which was recorded 3 years before ‘Ramble On’:

Wherever JPJ got the inspiration, his bass work on ‘Ramble On’ (and many other Led Zep songs) gives us a wealth of material for study when it comes to supportive yet melodic bass playing.

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