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  1. #1

    Reconstructing the History of Motown Session Musicians: The Carol Kaye/James Jamerson

    I found this interesting academic article that talks about the controversy about who played base on many motown songs. I came across it because I was listening to an Apple Music play list called Carol Kaye: On Session. There were a lot of motown songs, one in particular was Baby Love by the Supremes. Which seemed odd to me, because it seemed so in line with WDOLG.
    I googled Carol Kaye/ Baby Love and found this article:
    Reconstructing the History of Motown Session Musicians: The Carol Kaye/James Jamerson Controversy.
    If we thought the background singers was a conundrum, so too are the session players. Especially since motown didn't identify who played on the records, and the producers would just put a song title down as a placecard, not that that would be the title, so musicians didn't known what song or hit they may have played on. Or as this article seems to indicate, the LA sessions might have played the song, but it might have been for a TV show, not for the actual record.

    An interesting read.

  2. #2
    This is old ground here on Soulful Detroit... I personally, as a former bass player AND as sponsor and spokesperson for the Funk Brothers with a great interest in this issue, as well as being a fan of the Los Angeles Wrecking Crew that Kaye performed with...I don't need to read the article for I could have written it...Kaye, a terrific musician, guitar and bass, made many claims about Motown recordings she says she played on that were clearly and undisputedly the work of James Jamerson... Most of those claims have been discredited by the producers on those records, even to the point of legal affadavit's being proffered... Kaye was either uninformed that the tracks on most of those songs she claimed she played on were either auxiliary recordings for other purposes, or was just lying for the sake of credibility... Were she a nicer person, the first possibility would likely be more widely accepted, however, her insistence that she played on recordings, CLEARLY Funk Brother Detroit tracks makes her innocence suspect... She has a reputation of being surly and short tempered... Bottom line and despite her claims to the contrary...Bernadette, I Was Made To Love Her and other Kaye claims regarding Detroit Motown tracks are untrue and she has never admitted as much... That said, she is a skilled and talented musician who DID work in the 70's on some later Los Angeles Motown recordings, but not the 60's Funk Brothers classics...and its a shame that she has sullied her legacy over some stupid false claims that she has refused to correct the record on...

  3. #3
    Stu pretty much covered it. I could never understand how she thought she could claim sessions she was on when the obvious truth was just sitting there. I never had any love for this fraud.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    This is old ground here on Soulful Detroit... I personally, as a former bass player AND as sponsor and spokesperson for the Funk Brothers with a great interest in this issue, as well as being a fan of the Los Angeles Wrecking Crew that Kaye performed with...I don't need to read the article for I could have written it...Kaye, a terrific musician, guitar and bass, made many claims about Motown recordings she says she played on that were clearly and undisputedly the work of James Jamerson... Most of those claims have been discredited by the producers on those records, even to the point of legal affadavit's being proffered... Kaye was either uninformed that the tracks on most of those songs she claimed she played on were either auxiliary recordings for other purposes, or was just lying for the sake of credibility... Were she a nicer person, the first possibility would likely be more widely accepted, however, her insistence that she played on recordings, CLEARLY Funk Brother Detroit tracks makes her innocence suspect... She has a reputation of being surly and short tempered... Bottom line and despite her claims to the contrary...Bernadette, I Was Made To Love Her and other Kaye claims regarding Detroit Motown tracks are untrue and she has never admitted as much... That said, she is a skilled and talented musician who DID work in the 70's on some later Los Angeles Motown recordings, but not the 60's Funk Brothers classics...and its a shame that she has sullied her legacy over some stupid false claims that she has refused to correct the record on...
    I've often wondered, and this may have been addressed before, is she confused in that she may have played it as recorded as a cover by another Motown artist and therefore can claim she did play on those songs? Yes, I realize that, for example, I don't know of another artist who recorded Bernadette thus squashing her claim. It seems that would be quite possible. Yes, she is indeed a talented bassist, but she needs to find some backup documentation to continue to support her claims.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    I've often wondered, and this may have been addressed before, is she confused in that she may have played it as recorded as a cover by another Motown artist and therefore can claim she did play on those songs? Yes, I realize that, for example, I don't know of another artist who recorded Bernadette thus squashing her claim. It seems that would be quite possible. Yes, she is indeed a talented bassist, but she needs to find some backup documentation to continue to support her claims.
    My best guess re/Bernadette, outside of the possibility that she was just grossly mistaken, is that the Four Tops performed that song for some other venue or appearance that Kaye played on or was just re-recorded for one of many possible purposes...It's even possible that Motown had Los Angeles demo tracks cut on many songs then later cut in Detroit with The Funk Brothers as the overwhelming majority of tracks were cut throughout the 60's...For anyone with an attuned ear, it's clear that those original tracks were played fingerstyle and Kaye always plays with a plectrum (pick)...different sound...

  6. #6
    You all should read the article. It talks about all of this, compares sessions from her logs and the Motown session logs, and sorts out a bunch of the hypotheticals.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by lefty View Post
    You all should read the article. It talks about all of this, compares sessions from her logs and the Motown session logs, and sorts out a bunch of the hypotheticals.
    Carol was threatening to sue individuals over their accounts of her false claims until the actual producers of those recordings came through with sworn affidavits refuting her claims. She dropped her lawsuits like a bad habit...

  8. #8
    Stu is "You`ve Made Me So Very Happy" an example of her work?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    This is old ground here on Soulful Detroit... I personally, as a former bass player AND as sponsor and spokesperson for the Funk Brothers with a great interest in this issue, as well as being a fan of the Los Angeles Wrecking Crew that Kaye performed with...I don't need to read the article for I could have written it...Kaye, a terrific musician, guitar and bass, made many claims about Motown recordings she says she played on that were clearly and undisputedly the work of James Jamerson... Most of those claims have been discredited by the producers on those records, even to the point of legal affadavit's being proffered... Kaye was either uninformed that the tracks on most of those songs she claimed she played on were either auxiliary recordings for other purposes, or was just lying for the sake of credibility... Were she a nicer person, the first possibility would likely be more widely accepted, however, her insistence that she played on recordings, CLEARLY Funk Brother Detroit tracks makes her innocence suspect... She has a reputation of being surly and short tempered... Bottom line and despite her claims to the contrary...Bernadette, I Was Made To Love Her and other Kaye claims regarding Detroit Motown tracks are untrue and she has never admitted as much... That said, she is a skilled and talented musician who DID work in the 70's on some later Los Angeles Motown recordings, but not the 60's Funk Brothers classics...and its a shame that she has sullied her legacy over some stupid false claims that she has refused to correct the record on...
    About 10 years ago there was this big argument on one of my Youtube videos of Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made to Love Her". It got to the point where Stevie himself had someone comment on the video on his behalf to flat out state that it was James Jamerson and not Carol Kaye on it.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Polhill View Post
    Stu is "You`ve Made Me So Very Happy" an example of her work?
    Now that would be a strong possibility.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Polhill View Post
    Stu is "You`ve Made Me So Very Happy" an example of her work?
    I have no idea Roger...I do like much of her Wrecking Crew work, particularly with the Beach Boys (although she was virtually taking down what Brian told her to play) and Sonny and Cher... Truth be told...She also took credit for some of Joe Osborn's Wrecking Crew work as well including some of the terrific Grass Roots tracks... I personally like most of Joe Osborns work over hers...

  12. My thing is, if Carol played on the Supremes' A Go Go L.A. sessions, then the bass lines there in no way even approach the busy bass line of I Was Made To Love Her. Listening to the bassbline on The Supremes' Shake Me Wake Me, it struck me that in no way could anyone else ever even get approximately close to what Jamerson played on his Four Tops original. Even on The Supremes' Get Ready, the bass work isn't nearly as nimble as on the Detroit version. If You've Made Me So Very Happy or Debbie Dean's Why Am I Loving You or The Miracles' More Love are examples of her playing then again, the fingering is nowhere as fluid, dexterous or nimble as even James Jamerson's most basic bass lines. Those songs have fairly busy passages yet I hear nothing to indicate Carol would be able to play the staggering runs in Stevie Wonder's song.

  13. #13
    y
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    My thing is, if Carol played on the Supremes' A Go Go L.A. sessions, then the bass lines there in no way even approach the busy bass line of I Was Made To Love Her. Listening to the bassbline on The Supremes' Shake Me Wake Me, it struck me that in no way could anyone else ever even get approximately close to what Jamerson played on his Four Tops original. Even on The Supremes' Get Ready, the bass work isn't nearly as nimble as on the Detroit version. If You've Made Me So Very Happy or Debbie Dean's Why Am I Loving You or The Miracles' More Love are examples of her playing then again, the fingering is nowhere as fluid, dexterous or nimble as even James Jamerson's most basic bass lines. Those songs have fairly busy passages yet I hear nothing to indicate Carol would be able to play the staggering runs in Stevie Wonder's song.
    Actually Kaye could play quite nimbly...In some ways, even faster than James who played with just ONE finger (The "legendary" hook), and while his style evolved into the ability to play fast, it was his syncopation and ghost note style that he was famous for... Kaye has some runs, like on Wouldn't It Be Nice that are brisk and fluid and many others...I just noticed her lyin ass claims credit on Get Ready AND Second That Emotion by The Temptations LOLOLOLOLHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA... First of all...Smokey & The Miracles did ISTE...and her dumb ass didn't play on Get Ready... Her discography, while MOST impressive is also significantly fraudulent ,making it impossible to know exactly WHAT the hell she played on... Check out her website's Discography...LMAO

  14. #14
    When I first moved to Monterey, in 1978, she was teaching bass at a local music store. Before I learned of this she was gone.
    Last edited by ralpht; 03-18-2020 at 11:53 AM.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    When I first moved to Monterey, in 1978, she was teaching bass at a local music store. Before I learned of this she was gone.
    Last I heard she was living in a Senior Citizens residence here in Santa Clarita...

  16. #16
    Tired stuff to say the least , "There is only one James Jamerson, only one"

  17. #17
    But hold on, "I Second That Emotion" was a hit for Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations - which was produced by Frank Wilson - so where was that recorded?

  18. #18
    Not exactly sure where the recording took place, but knowing Frank, I'd put money on Jamerson.

  19. #19
    As I posted the other day elsewhere...Joe Osborn, the legendary OTHER Wrecking Crew bassist (with a REAL discography of hits that somewhat dwarfs Kaye's) completely called Kaye out in this interview...http://poopnugget.com/files/Joe%20Os...n-basscast.mp3
    Last edited by StuBass1; 03-28-2020 at 01:17 PM.

  20. #20
    Thanks StuBass1. That was interesting. For the non-expert in music, I find this discussion interesting because it is so beyond what I hear as a "recreational" listener. I can appreciate "appropriation" when your work or style is credited to someone else.
    As an aside, my financial guy is a bass player and had taken mentorship lessons with Carol, so that is how I became aware of her. And because of my "recreational" interest in music I became aware of the wrecking crew and have some DVD's on them.
    My work life was stressful with just this kind of thing, so I watch this with some detachment, but recognize the emotions involved and the huge angst/insult involved.
    As an aside, I saw a photo from a swim meet that I competed in recently, that was
    particularly flattering, except it was labelled as somewhat else. As much as I wanted it to be me, because that's how I see myself, I knew my belly was not that taught.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by drlorne View Post
    Thanks StuBass1. That was interesting. For the non-expert in music, I find this discussion interesting because it is so beyond what I hear as a "recreational" listener. I can appreciate "appropriation" when your work or style is credited to someone else.
    As an aside, my financial guy is a bass player and had taken mentorship lessons with Carol, so that is how I became aware of her. And because of my "recreational" interest in music I became aware of the wrecking crew and have some DVD's on them.
    My work life was stressful with just this kind of thing, so I watch this with some detachment, but recognize the emotions involved and the huge angst/insult involved.
    As an aside, I saw a photo from a swim meet that I competed in recently, that was
    particularly flattering, except it was labelled as somewhat else. As much as I wanted it to be me, because that's how I see myself, I knew my belly was not that taught.
    Sure, no problem...and I'm sure you can teach your taught belly...LOL

  22. #22
    Ha, Ha, very good. :-) "taut". Nice play on words. I could say it was auto correct, but unfortunately I own it.

  23. #23
    Jobete, Motown's publishing company, recorded demos of practically everything in LA and NY for the purpose of selling other artists on recording the songs. This led to a lot of claims by various people.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by bob_olhsson View Post
    Jobete, Motown's publishing company, recorded demos of practically everything in LA and NY for the purpose of selling other artists on recording the songs. This led to a lot of claims by various people.
    Quite true and well documented...that and for various reasons lots of demo's were cut on many of those songs as you suggest... That said, what Osborn and others are referring to are Kaye's claims that it was she on the RELEASED versions of songs like Bernadette, I Was Made To Love Her, Get Ready and others ( I believe the interviewer was a bit mistaken when he mentioned early J-5 tracks which other than Jamerson, we know that Wilton Felder played those early J-5 hits, but there may have been some she claimed....not sure), however, Osborn's point was one listen and any musician with any ear can tell right away that those tracks were played fingerstyle...NOT with a plectrum, and Kaye played exclusively with a pick... That should have settled the issue right there, along with the fact that those tracks were definitely Funk Brothers tracks based on musicians recollections and to the best of my knowledge, Kaye was never even in Detroit, let alone a Funk Brother... That's the genesis of the lies that Kaye knew full well she was telling...and it wasn't only Motown stuff...I've seen Kaye claim credit on even some Osborn tracks like on some Grass Roots (Midnight Confessions) stuff and This Diamond Ring and other Gary Lewis & The Playboys tracks that Joe and Hal Blaine were the go to guys on... She also claims she played on virtually EVERY Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell hit listed on her discography, and it's not about demos, because on her website...she lists the song AND the artists......I think Kaye claims credit of every song she's ever heard...and some she hasn't, but liked the title...I think Osborn summed it up pretty well when he speculated that after a while she told that lie so many times she started to believe it herself...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 03-29-2020 at 10:24 PM.

  25. #25
    Just for another quick take on this topic... the difference in sound from Detroit tracks to Los Angeles tracks in the 60's was generally obvious... Just last week on another site on Facebook (Steve Harris Soul Radio USA) the subject of the Martha & The Vandellas song I'm Ready For Love came up and without other or prior knowledge, I knew that track was definitely NOT a Funk Brothers Detroit track... The drum fills and pickups are nothing like any Detroit drummer would have played, and the bassline was not only definitely not Jamerson based on the structure and syncopation,, but the clicky sound was absolutely played with a pick on some cheese cutter type strings...They got back to me and as I suspected...was told that "paperwork suggests that you are right. The songs title card shows that the track was recorded the same day as Love Is Here And Now You're Gone... Both in L.A. as it looks like HDH spent a few days in L.A. in the middle of August 1966." ... Vocals and background vocals certainly cut in Detroit, and string overlays could have been Gordon Staples in Detroit too...not sure???... But rhythm track, looks like Los Angeles....So while Funk Brothers tracks have several distinctive characteristics...non Funk Brothers tracks will tell the same story...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 03-30-2020 at 01:39 AM.

  26. #26
    Great to get this sort of insight and I love finding out more about these tracks - wonder which other tracks were started at LA that time.

    HDH did some recording on The Lewis Sisters around this time too, though "Break Away" shows as Hitsville (and so does IRFL but I think Stu has that covered accurately as a hybrid). According to DFTMC "I'm Ready For Love" was completed by 15 September 1966 and "Break Away" 26 July 1966.

    As an aside, an unedited version of Martha's IRFL was issued on the Readers Digest set RDCD 4581-3 The Ultimate Motown Collection - Love Songs. After the middle, the Vandellas sing "I'm Ready, I'm Ready, Right Now, Right Now, I'm Ready Right Now, I'm Ready Right Now" which is different to the usual versions. Always liked this track though.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by mysterysinger View Post

    As an aside, an unedited version of Martha's IRFL was issued on the Readers Digest set RDCD 4581-3 The Ultimate Motown Collection - Love Songs. After the middle, the Vandellas sing "I'm Ready, I'm Ready, Right Now, Right Now, I'm Ready Right Now, I'm Ready Right Now" which is different to the usual versions. Always liked this track though.
    I'm not sure if it was the same mix but this version with the longer break was the first I ever heard. It was on the original WATCHOUT! album I bought, not sure if it was mono or stereo. I didn't know there was an edited version until I bought their ANTHOLOGY a few years later.

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