Taylor to Blue to Brown

I think it goes without saying that most of us here in the community might be a little down today. Naturally this is not the way many of us thought we’d be spending this week – worrying about Nick, sad over the cancellations of shows, or reading tweets from various band members about ending the tour and going home. It’s especially difficult to see such a monumental tour come to an end. Let it be known that I always experience a bit of a tour let down (for lack of a better description) when the show(s) I attend come to an end. I’m sad because it means leaving my friends again, going home, and feeling fairly out of the loop.  Sure, I keep tabs on what’s going on for the blog – but it’s not the same, and of course this time, there’s even more melancholy because this is not how any of us envisioned this ending. We’re all concerned for Nick, and once again we send him our very best wishes.

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…

A fantastic conversation between John Taylor and Dom Brown has appeared on DD.com yesterday. You need to go read it right now before reading on in the blog. Find it here.

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?!?

I’d also like to say a very heartfelt thank you to everyone who took the time to send me a note in the past few days about my dear friend Laurie’s passing, whether over Facebook, Twitter or even my personal email. Monday was an awful day for me, yet every time I got online there were more notes of kindness and compassion to read. I feel very lucky to be involved in a community that, when it comes down to it, loves one another so much. Sure, we can fight over the band like we’re starved lions at times – but when we need one another, people step up out of the woodwork. My next week is going to be very trying – her services are Monday and Tuesday of next week and I think part of me is still in denial. I went to text her yesterday and realized I couldn’t. Anyway, I just want to say thank you and I love you all.

-R

9 thoughts on “Taylor to Blue to Brown”

  1. YES YES YES!!! We are kindred spirits! I also listened to KROQ in the 80s, but before that, I grew up listening to all sorts of music. As a kid in SoCal in the 70s, I loved music more than most of the kids my age. I also loved old movies and through them, learned about the blues and jazz and scat (If people don't know what that is, look it up. There would be no rap or hip hop without it!). I listened to classic rock bands, many of whom were heavily influenced by blues. My second favourite band is the Doors. Aerosmith has a lot of that, too. (They do a GREAT cover of My Big Ten Inch.) I was the only kid around my area who had a damn clue who BB King was. I am happy to say I got to see him @ HOB a while ago and was right down front! I also listened to older stuff like Cab Calloway. I love music that has different sounds fused together. I was HEAVILY into DEEP FUNK as a kid in the 70s. (George Clinton and Frankie Smith, for example) Between my love for that and then for the experimental sounds coming out as part of the whole post punk/post glam sound, it is no wonder a band like Duran Duran would appeal to me. And now with Dom, I love the possibilities. You left out his great live performance of Hendrix, by the way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNuhtLTkrnw&feature=BFa&list=PL10691394B7AACC00

    I have all of Dom's CDs. I was lucky to get a signed copy of Blue to Brown. I love it. Oh, and the opening of Day Turned Black reminds me a bit of Stairway to Heaven. What do you think?

  2. I really didn't forget that video Nique, but I have to be honest – I really love Day Turned Black so much and the solo in that one amazes me, so I left it there.

    I hadn't thought about it's similarities to Stairway, but you know – you've got a point there even though Stairway has been played to ever loving DEATH.

    I absolutely adore his solo work, and to some degree I love it even more than Duran's because it IS so different. It's more like what I listen to when I'm not listening to DD, which is really nice.

    My background is classical. I've mentioned it here before, but I play clarinet, and during my “formative” years I played in an orchestra. When other kids were running home to watch videos, I was running home to practice and then get in the car to drive to and from LA every other day for orchestra rehearsal. That said, I listened to a lot of radio (KROQ) in the car. Also, my mom and dad were really into 50's rock and roll (or R&B). I hear a little of that in Please, Please. My parents used to put on records every single night at home and I'd watch them dance in our living room. 🙂 Anyway, I went from classical music to Shaun Cassidy and Rick Springfield. I don't think I got into heavy rock of any kind until I was in 8th grade and discovered AC/DC.

    If I had to guess, I would say that this is the reason why I loved Andy's guitar playing and why I love Dom's as well. It's more like what I like. I'm not exactly sure how I ended up as such a huge Duran fan – I never loved disco or glam rock or any of that until they came along. Who knows. I'm just glad they found a guitarist that I can respect and appreciate beyond the band, because if he ever left – I'd still be a fan and follow him!

    -R

  3. For the longest time, I thought that no one would be able to measure up to Andy Taylor. Even though I still enjoyed the band, I thought that Duran just wasn't the same without him.

    I've changed my mind in the last year or so. I think that Dom is Andy's equal in every way. Isn't it about time that he was made an official member of the band?

  4. Why thank you for that mini lesson. I know zero about the technicalities of music, and wouldn't know a 12 chord progression if it hit me over the head. Musically speaking, I know what I like…I fall into the classic Brit-Pop category, starting with Duran, worked through the Smiths, the Cure, Oasis on it goes…I took a bit of a swerve in the 90s and and did the grunge thing, Pixies, NIN…

    I pulled out Arcadia's So Red the Rose lately…def. not on the topic of heavy guitars. But what ever “it” is they are doing — is happening again in some of the Alt rock scene today (the same “it” that happens on The Chauffeur and the Seventh Stranger).

    I hear it in Arcade Fire for sure… “it” (I call it magic, but that is because I know nothing about music!)

    What always struck me with the early Duran music that I grew up with..was the song writing. Compared to the crap that played on the radio, Simon wrote poetry, and that fed my young angst-hormonal ridden mind more than anything. I swear if I hear another Chicago song again [expletive]

  5. I think “magic” is a very good word, because when this band does it right – that's exactly what my ears feel.

    I listened to Before the Rain the other day – and I don't just mean put it on for background noise, I sat down and really listened. That piece is stunning from start to finish, and Simon has never sounded better. It's funny because when the album first came out, I wasn't sure about that song. It took a while to grow on me, and then seeing it live – well, there's just no comparison to anything else they've done, and for me – the song is Simon at his absolute best.

    There are very few songs that end up on my short list of favorites, but I think I've got room for that one right next to Dom's Day Turned Black. 🙂

    -R

  6. Hello,
    I just found your blog this past weekend and am in awe! You and Amanda are so knowledgeable about All Things Duran. I have been a DD fan since 1983 but have yet to go to a concert. When they played Durham,NC last week it was practically in my backyard as I live in Greensboro, NC but was unable to attend. Had considered going to the AC show and visit family afterwards as I am originally from NJ but have been working crazy overtime. After reading your blog I am determined to go to a DD show on their very next North American tour. I am so impressed with the fans that have actually met the band and it makes me know that it is possible for me to do so as well. I've been especially wanting to meet JT since forever and Simon too! Thank you for such an interesting and vibrant blog. I truly look forward to reading more!

    Tonia

  7. Hi Tonia and welcome!! Glad you found us! The Durham show was honestly one of the best shows I've seen….and I am *sure* it had absolutely nothing to do with being in the front row on the rail OR the handsome guitar player in front of me. NOTHING! 😀 The show itself was full of energy though, and I really hope you have the chance to see one for yourself. They are worth the time, effort and money.

    As far as meeting the band goes, you should probably get your advice and tips from someone else. Amanda and I have the worst luck in that department. (although Amanda has done remarkably well on her own. Coincidence?!? Hmm…) Regardless, we have a great time before, after and during the shows, and I think any fan should try to go to at least one show if they're able…and hopefully we'll have a meetup at the show you're attending – because those are great fun too!! At our meetup in Durham we had around 100 fans show up, it was great fun, and I am hoping that fans were able to meet other fans and build more friendships along the way as a result, because these Duran shows and this fandom is meant to experience with friends. 🙂

    Thanks for commenting!! -R

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!