Legend by Bob Marley and the Wailers

Today’s Essential Record is Legend from Bob Marley and the Wailers.  If you look up ‘bass groove’ in the dictionary, this should be one of the top three definitions.  In some music, the bass is not the primary focus, but for Bob Marley, the bass is the foundation, the hook, the way.  The bass player for the Wailers is the legendary Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett.

Family Man seems to play the minimum, with lots of space and silence, but his lines are so melodic that if you remove them the songs would almost collapse.  A lot of players think that the groove is in the notes that you play, but FM shows us that the groove can also be in the notes you don’t play.  Metaphysical stuff, right?

FM has said that he is trying to recreate the sound of the double bass.  Check out the interview at the bottom of this post, or click here to watch him talk about his approach.  Barrett plays a ’70s era Fender Jazz Bass with heavy flatwounds strings.  He plays with his fingers right where the neck meets the body (over the fretboard).  It’s almost impossible to imitate him (as is true of all great stylists), but listen to the groove, the deep low end, and live in the silence.


01. Is This Love (00:00) 02. No Woman No Cry (04:00) 03. Could You Be Loved (11:19) 04. Three Little Birds (15:21) 05. Buffalo Soldier (18:27) 06. Get Up, Stand Up (22:52) 07. Stir It Up (26:15) 08. One Love (32:00) 09. I shot The Sheriff (34:56) 10. Waiting In Vain (39:48) 11. Redemption Song (44:10) 12. Satisfy My Soul (48:06) 13. Exodus (52:46) 14. Jammin’ (1:00:37)


Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett Interview