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?!?