Black Keys and White Stripes prove ‘less is more’
“@paulgmerry. Well, thank you. I only absorb from those that speak the truth.”
DJ Bob (@zczbob). September 1, 2013.
Is there a more insightful creative notion than less is more? The best
designers and most successful musicians have always worked to this principle. Less
is more is the forerunner to such modern recording studio advice as KISS – keep
it simple, stupid. How many times have you heard that the key to writing successful
rock/pop songs is ‘keeping it simple’?
last post, about how blues rock gave birth to heavy metal, demonstrated this
From power trios . . .
|Cream’s famous Disraeli Gears LP cover|
the band whose power blues in 1966 laid the foundation for Led Zeppelin, Black
Sabbath et al to build upon, were no more than a trio, consisting of electric
guitar, electric bass and drums. Motorhead, who spearheaded the second phase of
the heavy metal genre roughly ten years after Cream disbanded, are also a trio;
as are the rising hard rock/heavy metal band WEAK13, who also featured in the
previous post. Indeed, some of the most influential hard rock bands in history
have been simple threesomes. Nirvana, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and ZZ Top
immediately spring to mind.
. . . to power duos
|Jack White and Meg (White?): the White Stripes|
sometimes, as they say, three’s a crowd. And to continue on the theme, less is
more, two of the world’s hottest rock blues acts in recent years have been mere,
measly, plain and simple duos. I talk, of course, of the White Stripes and the
Black Keys, two hot American bands who have taken the genre of blues rock to
new heights. Some might call them garage rock bands, but doesn’t that somewhat
devalue the phenomenal talent on display?
the White Stripes and Black Keys hail from the northernmost extremities of the
United States. The Stripes are from Detroit, Michigan; the Keys from
|Black Keys: Pat Carney (left) and Dan Auerback|
Ohio. Both hail from rust belt states bordering the Great Lakes, not that you
can read much into that, not unless you argue that the colder the place, the
hotter the rock. And both are ferocious live, of course, pumping out dynamic
blues rock played on a single electric guitar backed up with almost primal
drumming: perfect examples of the philosophy that is: less is more.
could rattle on all day describing their individual music styles but most of
you are familiar with them already and don’t need me telling you what you
already know. If you’re not au fait with these two dynamic duos, here’s a
couple of links to acquaint you. First the Black Keys:
now the White Stripes.
The now defunct White Stripes, followed
by the Black Keys, are probably the most successful drum-guitar pairings since
T-Rex burst onto the scene, kicking off the whole glam rock genre in
|T-Rex mark 1: Finn (left) and Bolan|
their stunningly simple but throbbingly effective electrified boogie, Ride A
Londoner Marc Feld, abbreviated Bob Dylan’s name to become Marc Bolan,
recruited Mickey Finn on bongos and never looked back. Old underground fans
will remember T-Rex rising out of the ashes of Bolan’s unique and ethereal 60s underground
duo, Tyrannosaurus Rex. Going back much further, students of old blues will
know that the world’s first known boogie guitarist, the ultra-legendary Lead
Belly, was known to have played as a duo with
that other mega-legend, Blind Lemon Jefferson.
was just 17 and Lead Belly about 22.
come any hotter than that, even if they were never recorded, and even if blues
wouldn’t be named for another two years.
You can read more about blues’ amazing journey from Africa to the beginning of the twentieth century in the blue book on the left, How Blues Evolved Volume One.
The story of early blues pioneers like Lead Belly and Blind Lemon Jefferson, and the birth of modern blues, can be found in How Blues Evolved Volume Two, the red book on the right.
The blues history is in two volumes because the amount of photographs and illustrations included made it impossible to upload as just one volume.
How Blues Evolved in the UK is on the following link:
In the USA, please follow this link:
“Only made it half way through the sample and had to buy it.
As my favorite Brit Actor is fond of saying, Well done you.”
Bourbon to Beale (@bourbontobeale)