This morning I woke up to find that our refrigerator – the lemon of ALL lemons – has once again decided to stop working. Again. Of course it did. In all fairness, I saw this coming, but it meant moving everything from there to ice chests. So I’m already late. Then my youngest had to have a lunch packed for school because I paid extra so that she could stay for an extended day today. Having her occupied means more time that I can watch the webcast uninterrupted. Yay!! Where were the things I needed for her lunch? In five different places, including the bottom of the damn ice chest I had just packed. *sigh* While making lunch, I get a text from the oldest. She’s not feeling well, plans to stay long enough to take her exam in her AP World History class, but then wants to come home. Guess who gets to drive 30 minutes in traffic to go get her? Oh yes, that’s right – ME. I get home and realize that I’ve got an hour to homeschool before getting online to see Dom’s show. An hour for two subjects. Sure, that’ll work as long as we FLY through English….
So here I am, taking a deep breath and trying to relax. It’s only just after noon now and yet it feels like it should already be evening my time! I’m sitting at the computer, waiting for the show to start. Funny how no matter where I am, the same butterflies happen and I can’t sit still. I’m in the chatroom on justin.tv for The Bedford Live, so I see a few people in there waiting. It’s 12:29 by my computer, so we’ll see just how prompt Mr. Brown really is. (Ha! Bet he didn’t know I’d be reviewing the show for Daily Duranie! Surprise, surprise!) It’s now 12:42 and we’re more and more convinced that there will be no webcast of this show, even though by The Bedfords own website it states the show will be seen live on the web. That’s pretty much how this entire day has gone…so…*taps fingers on table*
As enterprising and devious as Duran fans can be, the few of us in the chat room talk, and one of them decides to call the venue. He’s already playing (of course he is because he’s on time!) so it’s naturally the webcast that is being affected. Of course it is. It’s explained to the venue that the feed isn’t coming through, and the bar staff person tells the Duran caller that they’ll have someone in the event room check on it. This is typical, and while I can understand that The Bedford staff have better things to do than make sure the webcast is running correctly for the sorry souls that don’t live in the UK, it’s disappointing to say that least. Not the end of the world by a long shot – but disappointing.
So Dom, if you’re reading (Ha, sure you are…I am REALLY good at delusions of grandeur here!) ….now I have to beg and plead for you to consider coming to my coast for some gigs. As it turns out, I’m not especially talented at groveling in print, but I wish you’d consider coming over. That said, there’s always that convention weekend in November. Birmingham? Over 200 Duran fans in one place… how can that not be tempting??
Oh well. That might just be me then.
I’ve decided to sit here, finish the blog and wait just in case the feed starts to work, but we’re being told by the moderator that Dom decided not to show the webcast otherwise we’d be seeing it. That isn’t the kind of thing you want to hear/read when you’re sitting an ocean away and have been a fan of the guy for years. YEARS…like since day one he got on stage with them and practically no other fan knew of him or wanted him there, but whatever. You know, it’s inconsequential, really.
So we’re just chatting as we’re sitting there waiting, because that’s what Duranies do. We chat. We wait. Sometimes we’re even patient! We get disappointed, but we’re still fans. It’s what we do. I don’t know how many of you out there have seen the commercials for the new Samsung phone that is very similar to the iPhone5. The commercial shows scenes of a line outside of the Apple store where the fans (and I do mean FANS) are talking about all the new features the phone might offer and how they’ve had to wait so long for whatever it is they’re looking for as far as features go. Then they see phones being used from another maker and they’re curious, but they’re trying to pretend they really AREN’T that interested and so forth. The best part is when someone walks up with one of the new phones who used to be one of the Apple fans. The Apple fans recognize this person, and then ask why they’ve got a new phone. They glance at the phone then look to the people in line and say they’ve moved on. This, my friends…is what being a fan is really like, and not just if you’re a Duran fan, apparently.
Always optimistic, always waiting for the next thing. A lot of times, we’re disappointed. Sometimes we even get mad, and sometimes we move on.
The core group though? We’ve been around for a long time, and we’ll continue to stick around….webcasts, gigs, permanent members….or not.
Oddly enough though, I really have come to miss the band during these long periods of nothingness between albums. It used to be that I’d go to the shows, come home, and get back to regular life. We never heard much out of the band until there was an album ready, and even then – before internet I’d only know they were coming out with something when it would get announced on the radio. These days though, it’s different. I was thinking today as I was getting ready that this will be the very first album where one or more of the band members is really “connected” to us via Facebook or Twitter. It was only just prior to the release of AYNIN that John decided to join Twitter…but this time, it’s there and available to him from the get-go. The same goes for the rest of them. I really hope they don’t forget we’re here waiting. (Figuratively, of course. I mean, as much as I’d love to spend my day chatting on Twitter…we’ve kind of got things to do!)
So until that next time we hear from them, Amanda and I have fun things planned and we hope you’ll stick with us. Besides, we’ve got John’s book, a UK convention and a few other exciting plans that I don’t dare talk about in the months ahead! Chin up, Duranies – the wait might be longer than we care to think about, but the celebration will continue!
And with that…
I really love that this “interview” is really more of a conversation, and I applaud that the questions are smart. I can’t speak for everyone, but its refreshing to see a conversation that has nothing to do with how many of the Taylors are brothers, or that the band is “back”. (Where’d they go?!?) It’s clear that John has great respect for Dom’s work, both within the scope of Duran Duran and outside of the group, and what should become clear for everyone else is that Dom Brown has musical reach well beyond his work in Duran Duran.
Prior to listening to Blue to Brown, I’d already purchased Dom’s other solo albums. (Touch the Flames & Between the Lines – both available from Dom’s website, as is Blue to Brown.) From those it was pretty easy to hear his influences, but I don’t think I realized how much he was influenced by the Blues. Like most college music students (?!?), I spent a couple of semesters taking Rock Music History. (Ok, so that might have been an elective that I took twice at two different colleges. I was interested!! Sue me!) Both courses began with the Blues (Not much British Blues though, mostly American because our country tends to believe everything starts and finishes here.), and both times, I zoned out for a lot of the first three weeks of the class. After reading John’s conversation with Dom, I’m convinced that I need a refresher course, and I’ll bet I’m not the only Duranie needing one. I spent some time re-reading my music history textbooks last night, and I’m sitting down with some quality time on Spotify right now. The bottom line here is that our Dom does not come from the same background as the rest of the band, musically speaking. He comes from a very different musical background, and if you listen closely to his work on All You Need is Now – it’s there. Yes, I’ve just assigned homework on Daily Duranie. Do it!
In order to really understand what John and Dom are talking about when they talk about the Blues, you need to get a few basics, so I give you my “Blues Primer”. I’m sure that a lot of fans read the interview and said “12 Bar what??” All you really need to know is that it’s a basic, extremely common chord progression heard in blues music. When you hear it, you’ll recognize it immediately…I can almost promise!
This is a video of Robert Johnson’s Cross Road Blues. Robert Johnson is a very famous American Blues musician – I didn’t post this for the silly video, just for the song. This is pretty much a 12 bar progression, although his is a tiny bit different because he adds a few rests and beats in there…but it’s basically what is meant by 12 Bar Blues. If you listen to Dom’s album (and you should!!), there really isn’t much of this type of progression on there. From reading the interview I got the distinct impression than neither John nor Dom are big fans of this progression, probably because it’s very very very overused.
Another good example of 12 bar progression is in Howlin Wolf’s Little Red Rooster. You should be able to hear that same type of progression here – and it’s even more obvious, in my opinion. The pattern to the music and lyrics is what they call AAB (two lines that sound the same, one that is a little different). Hear it??
I’m guessing that for most Duran fans, this is not their cup of tea. I hear you…so above is another version of Little Red Rooster. There’s some discrepancy on YouTube as to how and when this was recorded, but from what I can tell it’s off of The London Howling Wolf Sessions (it says Yardbirds, but I think that’s incorrect). It’s a little faster and more like blues rock.
So this leads us to where I can really start hearing blues influence in Dom’s playing. Anyone ever notice that Dom will put a metal tube thing on his finger when he plays certain songs…like Girl Panic? That’s a slide, and while it’s true that a lot of guitarists use it, it comes directly from the Blues. It used to be that musicians would break the top off of a glass bottle and slide that on their finger to play (I wonder how many people were cut using that method!!), but of course now it’s the metal tube. I think that Elmore James’ (see the video below) style was copied by many a British Blues musician. Do yourself a favor and listen to this song, then go and listen to Girl Panic (a LIVE version). You might hear something a tiny bit familiar at the beginning of the song…
And just because I know you all won’t look for it on your own….
Listen to the just the first 10 seconds of the song and you’ll hear that slide. It’s not done in the same way that Elmore James plays, primarily because that’s not very Duran Duran – but the slide works beautifully at the beginning of this song, and you’ll get the idea.
So by now you’re either sick of hearing the Blues and are wondering how on earth a guy like Dom ends up playing guitar for a band like Duran Duran (the BAND was lucky!), or you’re intrigued to find out more. My little “primer” will leave off with Jimi Hendrix, because I happen to know a guy who kind of likes him…and if you listen to just about any song off of Dom’s solo albums (which I adore and are always in my car…I actually removed Duran Duran albums to put them in my CD player…no joke!) you’ll hear the Hendrix influence. You can’t miss it!
And because this is my blog and I love John Lennon…we’re doing this my way…
I loved reading that Dom’s mom actually took him out of school to go see The Stones at Wembley! That’s the kind of thing that I would do in a heartbeat for my kids – music is important. Of course, I’m the mom who also took her kid out of school not once but twice to go stand in line to meet Duran Duran. Someday she’ll be famous on Broadway (she’s a musical theatre student) and she’ll tell that story along with many others that we won’t mention about her crazy mom. It’s true. My husband rolls his eyes a lot in response to my crazy antics with the kids – trying to raise them to love rock music as much as I do – while he’s crucifying Hungry Like the Wolf on his guitar…thinking that he’s entertaining me. Good times because you all know how much I love that song. Our house is loud and never dull.
I know most Duranies are children of the 80’s. I won’t lie, my first love is what we call here in the US 80’s Alternative, once played on stations like KROQ in Los Angeles. I also have another side to my musical identity that is firmly entrenched in hard rock. I love that Duran Duran has a guitarist that has an appreciation for groups like AC/DC. It’s about time! Maybe it’s just me, but I think they really need that hard edge juxtaposed to Nick’s synths to kind of provide balance, and for me personally, that sound really works. The hard edges work!!
And again, because this is my blog.. I give you AC/DC…the music I listen to when I’m not listening to Duran Duran or other alternative bands. The toughest part was deciding which video to put up…so I went with Thunderstruck, although in my humble opinion there isn’t a bad song in their entire catalog.
Hopefully, this helps to give our readers some insight into Dom’s musical psyche. I know he has a ton of supporters out there amongst us though, and we’re all hoping he sticks around. With any luck, my little history lesson will inspire you to read the conversation, jot down some of the names he mentioned and go from there. If you’re looking for more, you should definitely click on the link at the bottom of the interview for his Spotify playlist. Some of these songs are actually on there….oddly enough!! (Maybe Rhonda should have checked that list last night. Just saying…)
Finally, I’m posting a video of my favorite solo song of Dom’s: Day Turned Black. His guitar solo is gorgeous and the lyrics are pure and true genius. If you haven’t bought his albums yet, what are you waiting for?!?
So that Atlanta date…. I was really starting to wonder if this show was going to happen, mainly because it had been so long since I’d heard anything. Secretly I thought maybe I’d missed the news somewhere, and as I mentioned to Amanda yesterday, I figured that if I’d missed it, I was just going to figure it out later because I was busy having a life outside of my extracurricular activities! It happens, right? So the word is that the venue is beginning their “Series” on-sale as of Sunday, June 3rd. That means that this show is being sold to their subscribers in a sort of package along with several other shows, kind of like season tickets. Then after that, the DDM presale will begin on June 13th. While once again I have serious scheduling issues with the presale date – it’s my youngest’s last day of school and that means I am at her school that day (not something I can or even want to get out of), I have no doubt that Amanda and I will figure this out. Of course, she’s going to be on her way to a little vacation with her parents – but you know, it’s not really a fun or a tour unless we’ve got some crazy drama going on, right? It’s the challenge that makes it worth our time! If you are not a DDM member, then the public on-sale date (non-series, single show tickets) is on Saturday, June 16th. Let us know if you’re going to the show because we’d like to do a get-together and possibly look into group rates at a hotel if there’s enough interest! Assuming Atlanta works out, that means Amanda and I will be touring the cities and highways beginning in Biloxi, onward to Atlanta, and then ending up in North Carolina. Have you sent your birthday greeting yet?? Duran Duran put out a request for short birthday wishes to be sent to email@example.com in honor of Nick’s BIG birthday….I sent mine in, and you should get yours in as well. Deadline is this Saturday, June 2nd. It happens to the best of us, Nick. Well, not me (yet), but you know…I think you had a bit of a head start!
Last but not least, today is Blue to Brown’s big day with their release party at the Cookoo Club in London. It’s fairly obvious that Amanda and I could not be there, but we send our very best wishes to Dom and his dad for a great showcase. Have you bought your copy of Blue to Brown yet?? Get out there and get one, then buy one for a friend! Also, if you want to keep up with the latest Blue to Brown news, “like” their new facebook page!
We need to get the full-disclosure out of the way with some harsh realities. If you have purchased this album and are expecting to hear anything remotely similar to Duran Duran, you will be disappointed. This is not Rio. This is a blues album.The closest thing to the blues that Duran Duran has ever done would have to be the performance of House of the Rising Sun at the Voodoo festival in 2006, and without Dom on stage that night it is doubtful the performance of that song would have been the same.
Contrary to what you may have heard, Amanda and Rhonda are not trained music critics (That’s sarcasm, friends!), and what you read below is only our opinion.
Rhonda’s point of view:
I must admit that I had nervous trepidation upon receiving Blue to Brown because I knew we would be reviewing it for the blog and if I hated it – what would I say?!? The fact is, I’ve never really been into the blues. You might even say I don’t personally own a single blues album in my entire collection. As I mentioned on a previous blog, my experience with the blues has been mainly a struggle.
The album is clearly a labor of love for Dom and his father, Rob Brown – who performs lead vocals and does so extremely well. His vocal quality is perfect for this music, and while yes – it’s indeed a departure from the likes of Simon LeBon – it’s supposed to be. There is a fabulous gravely quality to Rob’s deep voice, oozing emotion into all the right places.
There are plenty of great highlights on this album. I love the jazzy sax feel to Going Down but Not Slow. One of the brilliant things about the blues is that it tends to incorporate or even lend itself to several types of music. Old fifties rock and roll being one of them, jazz being another, still yet there’s gospel, and if you’re in the deep bayous of the US – zydeco is another. Anna Ross does a flat-out amazing job on the gospel-inspired Sweet Mercy. Kat Pearson duets with Rob on The Heat is Gone and she completes the visual I have in my head of the song being performed on stage. If that’s not enough to peak your interest, the extremely talented Martha Riley graces the album with her work on Please, Please. I love that this one album includes the gifts from so many. Much to my surprise, I don’t think you have to already love the blues to find something to enjoy on this album.
The shining star on the album is Dom’s guitar skill. I dare the naysayers out there to give a fair listen to this album and then come back here to argue his place on stage with Duran Duran. It is only on this album where you can really begin to fully ascertain the breadth of Dom’s musical versatility. Yes, this is the same guy that can play Careless Memories by Duran Duran, Day Turned Black off of his own album, and then play a superb solo for Talking Blues. To say Dom is “just a studio guitarist”, doesn’t even scratch the surface. Duran Duran is lucky to have him and they know it, he’s been there for over six years now. They are lucky he doesn’t wander off to do his own thing because if this album is any indication of potential, the sky doesn’t even begin to set a limit. (Personal note to Dom: no wandering off!)
My personal favorite on the album straddles two songs, Sweet Mercy and Please, Please. The latter reminds me so much of my childhood as it’s exactly the type of song my parents would have spinning on our console record player back in the 1970’s. I wish my dad were still alive so that he could hear it, I would proudly share the CD with him, knowing he’d enjoy every minute. (Sadly, I never could convince him to be a Duran Duran fan!) All in all, Rob and Dom Brown have taught me to thoroughly enjoy their brand of the blues, and even more surprising, I find myself reaching for this CD for the sheer listening enjoyment – something I couldn’t have promised prior to getting it in the mail.
My review starts a lot like Rhonda’s does. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I got this album. I knew going in that it wouldn’t be Duran. In fact, it wouldn’t even be in the same neighborhood as Duran Duran. After all, it is a completely different style of music. Now, I have always enjoyed the fact that Duran has pushed me to check out music that isn’t on my radar. For example, I remember putting on my first Chic album (I borrowed it from the library when I was a kid!). I couldn’t believe what I heard! At first, I couldn’t understand why Duran would like it and put it away only to try it again years later! Thankfully, I have matured quite a bit since then and understood that things that are different aren’t necessarily bad. I have to be open-minded. Of course, from there, I contemplated the idea of Duran’s guitarist making a Blues record. Blues? I couldn’t really wrap my head around it. How would/why would musicians in England get attracted to the Blues? While I don’t know much about the Blues, I do tend to think of African-Americans in the South. In fact, I have a vision of players sitting outside on their porches, playing on a hot, muggy night. It is interesting that the cover seems to fit this image of the Blues. Anyway, I would love to know what/how Dom and his father got interested in the genre.
I started listening to the album in my car. I figured that in order to really give the music a chance it deserved more of my undivided attention. The car provides that as I can’t be doing anything but drive and listen to music. The first time through I didn’t pay a lot of attention to specific songs or specific qualities. I wanted to measure the album as a whole, to get the real mood of the album. I found it was incredibly mellow and relaxing. It actually made me calm in the midst of a stressful time. Perfect! While there is obviously instrumentation, that instrumentation isn’t so overwhelming that it drowns out the song. For example, many songs feature solid guitar solos. They aren’t such that all I hear and FEEL is guitar. These solos aren’t done for attention, for a spotlight. They are done for the good of the music, for the good of the song. Perhaps, this shows what I generally feel about guitar solos. I don’t like many of them, even if they are done by quality guitar players. I find them too arrogant, too much about being the star of the show. In this case, the solos feel natural, organic, pure unlike the majority I find in so-called rock music. While I’m focused on the guitar, I’m just amazed by Dom’s talent here. I couldn’t help but to think about all that he brings to the table with Duran Duran. He clearly is multidimensional and understands music. Of course, I thought about how he would bring different influences to a writing process as well, which could make for some exciting recording sessions!
Vocally and lyrically, the album is very Blues. Honestly, I think Dom’s father’s voice is absolutely perfect for the music and for the genre. The vocals are deep, slow and really work to draw the listener in. I wanted to know what he was singing about. Of course, the album also features vocals by Dom, a woman by the name of Kat Pearson and backing vocals by Anna Ross. All of them work to enhance the quality of songs, in my opinion. I really liked how, at times, those additional vocals were very much in the background and other times would come center stage. Again, I couldn’t help but to think of a spontaneous jam session in someone’s yard in the early evening on a warm summer day. The songs feel that natural. Interestingly enough, after a few listens, I found myself wanting to sing along! While the genre isn’t one to have catchy lyrics, I found myself wanting to join in and participate in the fun!
As far as individual tracks go, I really like the first two tracks, Blue Boy and Going Down but Not Slow, as well as the Heat Has Gone. I enjoyed the female vocal in the Heat Has Gone as well as the storyline. The first track, Blue Boy, really shows the genre off with the fabulous guitar solo, backing vocals and lyrics that pull you in. Going Down but Not Slow has lyrics that I could relate to. Again, the lyrics weren’t super complicated by I liked the message of putting up a fight. All in all, I think the album is quality and I’m happy that it has opened my ears to a genre that I’m not as familiar with.
I could postulate the differences between strongly disagreeing and threatening. I could comment on what I really believe John meant by his CLEARLY rhetorical question he tweeted the other day. I could mention that for as many thinly veiled threats of physical violence that have been tweeted or posted, there have been many, many more flat out rude comments made about all Duran Duran fans, not to mention the band themselves. I could also offhandedly say that for what appears to be every blog written as a derogatory slant against the band’s chosen appearance for the Olympic opening concert there was one written…by the same writer no less…practically gushing in wild fan-like abandon for their appearance at SXSW last year. But I won’t. There comes a moment when you realize no more can or should be said, and that moment for me is right now.
Instead, I will share with you what has been the highlight of my week in every way. Yesterday I received Dom Brown’s Blue to Brown CD in my mailbox. I’ve been awaiting it’s arrival since I ordered it, and I have to tell you – I even smiled because I saw that no other than Martha Riley posted it to me. If that’s not a family operation going on in the Brown household, I don’t know what. I laugh because there are moments when even my husband has me running his secretarial errands when he’s overseas, so I get it. We do what must be done. I popped the CD into my car stereo as I went on my way to pick up my oldest from school.
I won’t do a full review here because I want Amanda to have the chance to listen to her copy before we both comment, but for those of you who haven’t bought a copy or haven’t heard yours yet, I’ll tell you something: you’re in for a treat.
Truth be told, I am no fan of the blues. I’m really not. I had to take two classes that covered the blues when I was in college – and both were rock music history classes. I tried hard to understand the blues, I listened with an open mind and tried to feel it all and I just never connected. I really wanted to support Dom and his dad on this project – even if just by purchasing a CD – because I think it’s very special. I am truly an emotional sap right now, but the fact is he is SO lucky to be able to work with his dad. Those are moments you just can’t get back after your parents are gone, and for that reason alone I was determined to give this CD a real shot and listen with not just my ears, but my heart.
Ok, so I’m apologizing right now for the continued sap. It’s a tough time for me right now and I promise that after May 13, I’ll be back to my normal sarcastic self.
As I said, I promise not to review the whole CD. The one thing (well, maybe a few things) I’ll say is that this is your opportunity to really hear what Dom can do with a guitar. There were moments when his playing nearly moved me to tears, and not just because he’s a nice guy. He can really play and Duran Duran should be ashamed of themselves for not featuring him more often or making him sign a contact in blood that he will be a lifetime member. (blood too extreme maybe?!?) Another thing I will say is that I sat with a smile on my face the entire time. Maybe it was because I knew it was his dad singing and that made it special. Maybe it was because Anna Ross also does back up – beautifully, I might add. Or maybe it’s just because the CD is just so easy to listen to and not the least bit overdone.
One song in particular did “it” for me and that was Please, Please. This song is a gem and is as much that traditional American blues/50’s rock & roll as I’ve ever heard. For me, it was a bit of a trip down memory lane because I could picture my mom and dad dancing in our living room as I was a kid. I can remember hearing an Elvis record or something similar be put on the console tv/stereo set up we had when I was really little, and I’d wander in there to see my parents slow dancing to the music. I can remember giggling at the sight of them and my parents would smile and invite me “in” to dance with them. I was probably no more than four at the time, and I always wondered why my dad loved that music so much. He never really got into music beyond the likes of Elvis and possibly the Beach Boys (I still have to thank he and my mom for the brilliance behind naming me after one of their songs…which is exactly why my children are not named Rio, Arcadia or JT.) Interestingly enough now I get it: he was a fan of the blues.
Make no mistake, this is not Duran Duran. If you’re thinking you’re going to hear Rio or anything remotely close to Save a Prayer – you will be disappointed. Moreover, this isn’t Between the Lines. (Dom’s most recent solo album) This is not rock. It’s the blues. You have to listen with your heart as much as you do with your mind. That’s the real key here, and I think it probably took this album to make me see what I’d been missing in my previous attempts to appreciate the blues. I only listened with my ears and my head.
Truly the best part of my week was spent listening to that album!