Metallica fans have long bemoaned the apparent absence of bass guitar on the band’s 1988 album …And Justice for All. Flemming Rasumussen, who co-produced the record with the group, praised bassist Jason Newsted’s work for the release in an interview with Rolling Stone conducted to celebrate the 30th anniversary of 1986’s Master of Puppets.
“Jason is one hell of a bass player,” the producer says. “I’m probably one of the only people in the world, including Jason and Toby Wright, the assistant engineer, who heard the bass tracks on …And Justice for All, and they are fucking brilliant.”
Rasmussen went on to say he still doesn’t know why the tracks were “nixed in the mix,” as the mixing duo Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero had been attached to the project prior to his arrival. “It’s not on them, that’s for sure,” the producer says. “It was Lars and James who said to turn the bass down. I know that for a fact because I asked them.”
Overall, the producer feels that the band did not give Newsted the respect he deserved. “He always more or less was the new kid,” Rasmussen says. “I actually had him practice bass when me and Lars would be doing drums. And I’d ask Toby to do some bass sounds with Jason to run it through a few times, and we’d go, ‘This is great. This is not great. Do this, do that.’ And we’d let them bang it out after we’d left for the night. While we went to sleep, he was actually doing some of his bass tracks. We’d listen to them the next day. … I feel and I think the general feeling in the band is that he was never treated with the respect that he deserved.”
Metallica brought in Newsted to replace bassist Cliff Burton, who’d died in a bus accident in September 1986. He’d previously played with the thrash-metal group Flotsam and Jestsam, who’d at that point put out only one record, 1986’s Doomsday for the Deceiver. …And Justice for All was Newsted’s second recording with the group, following the previous year’s covers outing The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited.
“Jason was a different kind of bass player than Cliff, for obvious reasons,” Rasmussen says. “There was only one Cliff Burton. … Cliff had this artistic approach, whereas Jason was very technical. Jason was a perfectionist and Cliff was more musical.”
Newsted stayed with the group for a little over a decade, playing on the mega-selling “Black Album,” as well as Load, ReLoad and Garage Inc., among other releases. He quit in 2001 to work on his project at the time, Echobrain. He has subsequently toured with Ozzy Osbourne and recorded and toured with Voivod and his own eponymous group, Newsted. He reunited with Metallica for one-off performances in 2009 for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and again in 2011 for their anniversary shows.
A handful of songs from …And Justice for All were later released as downloadable content for the video game Rock Band, allowing fans to hear the bass parts for the first time. A YouTube user named Adimifus subsequently remixed and amplified Newsted’s parts on “…And Justice for All,” “Dyers Eve” and “Blackened.” Another user, named Toamaster89, gave “The Shortest Straw” a similar treatment.Find out five thing you didn’t know about Metallica: