During the recording process of Chaka Khan’s second solo album, Naughty (1980), bassist Anthony Jackson became unhappy with the parts that he had laid down on some of the tracks, feeling that he could accomplish something of greater artistic merit given more time. Yes, a bass player could be considered hugely pretentious for demanding that an artist delay completing their record until he was happy with his parts, but if you’ve ever seen or read interviews with AJ then it’s quite understandable.
In the end, producer/arranger Arif Mardin gave Jackson six months to work on his lines. Anthony reportedly drove around with the demo tapes of the album on his car stereo, composing ideas until he found things that satisfied his creative vision. Can you imagine any other bassist being given that luxury? I don’t think so.
In the end, it was worth it; Anthony Jackson’s contributions to Naughty are some of the greatest bass lines to ever grace a commercial pop record (the author is hugely biased, yet unapologetic). Given that this was pre-6-string bass era, Anthony detuned his 4-string Fender Jazz bass to allow him a low C, which can be heard dominating tracks like ‘Clouds’ and ‘Move Me No Mountain’.
Fortunately, ‘Our Love’s In Danger’ requires no such retuning. What it does require is a pretty high level of technique in both hands (dust off that plectrum!) a great deal of attention to detail and absolute commitment to every single note – pretty much sums Anthony Jackson up.
The song begins with assertive semibreves flavoured with some subtle modulation – flanger or phaser should do the trick. The chorus features a driving line punctuated by staccato octave fills that span most of the fretboard – Jackson’s note length is always precise, with his crotchets slightly clipped to impart a sense of perpetual motion to his lines.
The verses are filled with more of AJ’s pioneering Jamerson/Jack Cassidy inspired parts, while the bridge showcases a picked version of typical disco bass octave patterns. This song, as you’d expect from one of the titans of modern bass playing, is not a walk in the park – break each section (or even each bar) into small chunks and work on playing with accuracy and authority.