Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bob Brozman: King of the Slide

I love the sound of the slide guitar, I always have, and probably always will. There is something truly primal and visceral about it, that has nothing to do with purity of tone, the hallmark of classical and popular western music. The slide is dirty, inprecise, and mimics the tonal attributes of the human voice. In other words, perfect for the blues.

Now, I love the old masters like Son House, Tampa Red, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, etc. I also love the new masters, like Eric Clapton or the Allman Brothers (although the electric blues will never be what the acoustic blues are for me). Let me say, technique wise, Bob Brozman blows them all out of the water. He plays in half a dozen tunings on his National guitar with the bottleneck he made as a child of 13. He realised many years ago that all the good music happened on the frontiers of colonialism, so he not only plays the old African American blues, but he is a master of the laptop dobro style, Hawaiian style, African style, and of all things, Okinawaan style (don't worry though folks, this album is just blues).

I bought his complete instructional series on the bottleneck blues (published on homespun tapes). Apart from some of the best slide instruction I've run accross, one thing he said really stuck with me. He says that the obsession with purity of tone and vocal timber that you see in North American popular music comes directly from europe. He calls this the "Classical Burden". For those who don't know, classical is by far the hardest style to play on any instrament. It takes decades to be good and its all about technique and precision, improvisation and grit being totally and completely not allowed. That isn't nessicarily a bad thing, but it is far from the be all and end all of music. In fact, the european classical tradition is the only one I can even think of where that applies. Go anywhere else in the world, and it is the exact opposit (in his words "Listen to some howlin' wolf, his voice sounds like boulders running down a mountain of sandpaper"). In the African tradition, they believe adding grit upps the emotional intensity (for example, they often put bottle caps in the resonator of their marimbas, an African folk instrament). They believe that technique and precision is great, but it is emotion that a musician should strive for.

Just guess where I stand.

So, listen and enjoy. There are no passwords yet, and if you guys would perfer I use rapidshare or something else, just let me know. I'm kinda new to this whole thing, so comments are definately appreciated.

I will leave you with what he tells new guitarists " That way is down, that way is up, you are never more then a two frets away from a good note, and if it sounds good to your ears, its good music, and never let anyone tell you any different. Music is about enjoyment, which is why in every language I've run accross its "Play music", not "Work music""



highbrowser said...

I've heard a lot of slide guitar through the years, but never Bob Brozman. Keen to give it a listen, but I'm flummoxed by the password stage. Is it your http address or "google_ninja?" Neither worked for me.

Btw, class tastes.

High Browser

google_ninja said...

try this

Basically, what happened is somewhere in between my last two posts (which is like a month), blogger somehow lost that note on the side that said the password for archives. Since It had been so bloody long, I started putting up new stuff, but just remembered the password was the url. Turns out, the old password had the trailing "/", but the new stuff I've put up doesn't.

Real sorry for the inconvenience, hope you enjoy Mr. Brozman as much as I have. Very soon I'm going to put up his newest release, which one of the oddest blues albums I've ever heard.

PapaShura said...

Bob rulez!!!
People, take Bob's albums here: