All You Need is Now, out on CD in 2011

On this date in 2011, All You Need is Now came out on CD…for those of us who still like actual, physical, music to have and hold.

I’m having a difficult time with the idea of that happening seven years ago today. Is that even possible?

I can remember driving down to Best Buy that day. Originally, I wasn’t going to get a copy. I’d already heard the album, I’d already reviewed it, and I didn’t see a point. But the night before, something stirred in me. I had to have that CD! So, I got up in the morning, took my kids to school and made a quick trip down to our local Best Buy.

I searched the shelves, hoping to find the treasure. It was the Best Buy “Exclusive” edition I wanted, and I looked to no avail. There was no way they could have already sold out, so I asked a sales associate to look it up. Sure enough, they’d gotten a whopping three copies in stock. Ok then, where were they, I wondered?  I had two sales people crawling on their hands and knees, going through shipment cases before finally one of them sat back triumphantly with a copy in hand.

I marched over to the cashier and walked out of the store with the last CD I ever purchased at a Best Buy. (I just order off of Amazon now and have it sent to my house if I really want a CD! Yes, I could truly come a hermit if I wanted.)

I know that a great deal has been said about All You Need is Now. Those who once proclaimed its greatness now talk about it as though it was “just” a Rio reboot. I have a tough time seeing it quite so simply. Regardless of what the band and others might say, I love the album. I like that they tried to provide an answer to what Rio or a follow-up might sound like in 2011 – in some sense. I still believe it was the perfect bridge between Red Carpet Massacre and Paper Gods.  And, since I’ve already spent some of my week being unabashedly biased – I like that Dom received writing credit for a lot of it.  So there.

I fell in love with All You Need is Now from the very first listen.  It is an easy album to like, and there are times when I miss that easiness. Sure, technically speaking, Paper Gods is probably a more superior album. I can admit that. However, when it comes to me and my moods – sometimes I just need a little All You Need is Now.

And by the way – there is NOTHING that makes me smile more than when I watch this video. That alone is worth its weight (and mine) in gold.


40-year old anecdotes

The other day, Herald de Paris published an interview with Andy Wickett.  I had seen a great deal of headlines posted by Duranie friends about this piece of work, but I hadn’t read enough of the article to make comment until today.

As a simple introduction for those who may not recognize the name, Andy Wickett was one of the lead singers of Duran Duran prior to Simon. I know, I know, it is difficult to believe that such a time existed. Last year, Mr. Wickett released (the article calls it a “monumental” release. I’m not sure I’d characterize it quite so strongly, but whatever) demos of songs he recorded with Duran Duran prior to Simon.

Funny thing is, I’ve had those demos for probably at least ten years now. I bought them as a bootleg type of thing online, so last year’s monumental release wasn’t exactly new.

In any case, Andy explains that before Duran Duran, he was in a band called TV Eye. There is a little history between TV Eye and Duran Duran, as they shared the same Cheapside squat for a while – I believe one band was upstairs and the other downstairs (or something like that). At the time, Stephen Duffy was the lead singer for Duran Duran, and at some point, he and Stephen basically switched bands. Andy began singing for Duran Duran and Duffy for TV Eye.  According to Wickett, he brought a song with him from TV Eye called “Stevie’s Radio Station”. Duran Duran loved the song, and “Stevie” eventually became “Rio”.

Andy Wickett recalls writing the melody for “Girls on Film” one night, although the lyric that Andy had written it as “Girls IN Film”, which Nick suggested he change.  It was recorded as a demo, which Nick and John later touted to EMI and A&M. According to Andy, both companies loved his voice and wanted more songs like Girls on Film.

At this point though, Andy left the band for “personal reasons”. Upon leaving, he wanted payment for “Girls on Film” since he helped write it, and in turn he was offered £600 if he would sign a waiver, ultimately releasing the band from further payment to Mr. Wickett. He signed the document, and later found out from his attorney that he could not fight and/or win a case for royalties against EMI.

If any of this back history interests you, I would steer you towards John Taylor’s brilliant autobiography, In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran. He writes about the band’s entire history, since of course he, along with Nick Rhodes, were the founding members. Best to get the details straight from the person who was there the entire time, I’d say.

However, the point of the article that fascinates me this week, is the claim from Andy that Duran Duran’s managers offered him £10 to give Simon 20 minute lessons – having him sing “Girls on Film”.  He comments in the article that he believes he influenced Duran Duran’s vocal style, since the managers paid him to teach Simon how to sing like him. He says they used a lot of his lyric ideas and song titles such as “Sound of Thunder” and “To The Shore”, and that “they”  influenced the Durans and Stephen Duffy.

He goes on, citing that DD and their management came to see him perform with Xpertz, a reggae band he’d joined after leaving Duran Duran. The Xpertz had a song at the time named “All The President’s Men”, and on Duran Duran’s next album they had a song titled “El Presidente”.  Take that for what you will.

Personally, I hesitate to extol anything as fact from someone whose best memory of being in Duran Duran is “lots of fun white stuff”.  I mean, sure – there was a lot of cocaine during the 80s. John Taylor himself may have mentioned that a time or two. But that’s the best memory he could manage? Not the songs? Not even performing?

The truth is, I have a difficult time with Andy Wickett, not that I’ve ever met him. I know fans who have and swear he’s the sweetest. I’m sure that is true. For me, the dilemma is simple: Andy is someone who could have easily profited heavily from some of the band’s earliest songs. He has intimated in the past that he felt the band knowingly cheated him out of money (never mind that he was not coerced into signing his name on a legally binding waiver, but did so willingly). It is troublesome to attribute everything he shares as fact without considering that he just might have an axe to grind. Regardless of whether truth, nonsense or likely somewhere in between, I cannot forget the entanglements of history when I read some of the things he says in interviews.

There are several people who probably feel as though they’ve been screwed by Duran Duran over the years, for one reason or another. That’s the cost of being in a successful band, I suppose. It also means that many people want their share, and are willing to say whatever it may take to make someone think twice about them and their contributions, however distant or prominent they may have been. I’ve personally seen and heard things from various ex-band members over the years about albums as recent as Paper Gods and All You Need is Now that just seem petty, yet the band still maintains some level of professional decorum with those people. It is something that I don’t know that I could do half as well.

I was not around during the days of TV Eye, Cheapside, or even the Rum Runner. I have no idea if what Andy says about giving Simon vocal lessons is really true – but I suppose anything is possible. If I genuinely thought that Simon would answer me seriously, I might ask. The thing is, at this point—it doesn’t even matter. Simon is the lead singer of Duran Duran, while Andy Wickett is marketing his new album, Creatures of Love, by retelling 40-year old anecdotes.




Denying the reunion of the original five, 2001.

I think I must be on the topic of rumor this week or something…

As I was looking at our Day in Duran History spreadsheet (yes, we actually have one!), I noticed that on this date in 2001 – there’s an entry that says “ denied a tour with the original five on this date”.

I laughed.

The real story is that the day prior –  March 19, 2001 – broke a story about the original five (Simon, Nick, John, Roger & Andy…in case you forgot!) touring together. DDHQ, or, was quick to announce on this date in 2001 that such rumors were completely untrue.

Except of course they weren’t.

Turns out, timing is everything. Now, I don’t know how found out the news before DDHQ was ready to make the big announcement, but I suspect it went a little something like this:

Management calls a promoter, perhaps forgetting to have them sign a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) before getting them under contract to put together a tour for Duran Duran.  It could have been that they actually did have them sign one, but as the promoter contacts venues who may be interested in contracting a gig with the original five members of Duran Duran, who haven’t performed together since the 80’s – the news was expertly leaked to a news site. After all, HELLO, this story was huge!

Hell, I’d have taken out a full-page ad in a newspaper at the time.  (note to DDHQ – I’m much better at keeping secrets now, I promise!)

Moving on…

Said news site does their job and broadcasts the news on the ‘net. Even without social media, it takes almost no time before this headline reaches Duranies around the planet, who begin to fall off of  chairs while typing the word thud on message boards and forums around the world. Meanwhile, DDHQ is found taking Advil, Tylenol and/or Paracetamol, while needing a lie down with a cool compress.

It is decided that, rather than admit to the Fab Five reuniting and losing full control of the narrative, and how it will be unfolded to the world, it is best to deny the story completely.  The words saying as much are posted on for all to see.

Meanwhile (most) Duranies skip the Tylenol, Advil and Paracetamol and go straight for shots of whatever hard liquor is available. Vodka shots, anyone??

Or maybe that’s just MY version of the story.

Of course, we all know how this turned out, don’t we?  It would be two years before the band actually started to do shows together, but yes – the original five DID reunite – and it was a bright and beautiful time to be a fan.

This story is also why, even when DDHQ denies, or even better, full-well ignores rumors and questions about rumors, fans don’t necessarily listen – in fact I’d argue that it just forces fans to do more sleuthing and investigating on their own. I suspect that this might where the “relationship” between DDHQ and fans started to go really wonky, although there were certainly signs of that prior to 2001.

While it is really neither side’s fault – DDHQ did need to protect their ownership of such a huge breaking story, and fans had the right to be excited by such a bombshell announcement – I think it makes it difficult to work together at times, and perhaps that alone is part of the problem.  Are we (fans) really just a problem that needs to be handled, or are we people who can be trusted to be there when it counts? I’m not quite sure. Regardless, the distrust is palatable, and pretty unfair, both ways.


Tales of Duranlore

Over the weekend, I heard a Duran Duran song I’d never heard before.

Think about that. We’re in between albums, I think I’ve heard everything the band has recorded…so how is that possible?

It turns out, the song I heard is one of Duran-lore, which means it’s a song that some people have long-held as existing, while others swore it did not. In actuality, it is a song that I believe eventually became Seventh Stranger.  That happens during the writing and recording process. You start with what you think is one song, and eventually, it ends up being something else entirely.

Reminds me a little of what Amanda and I have experienced with writing a manuscript. We started with one thing, switched it up and came out with a completely different version that we are now working on which will become something altogether new. Trust the process, so they say! Let’s write a book, it’ll be fun…

ha ha ha

Back to the case in point, I’ve seen a great many things written, asked and implied about this particular song. I’m not posting the link here because my point here isn’t to anger the powers that be or disturb the masses. I don’t honestly care whether the song is real or fake (although based upon the stories I’ve been told – I wholeheartedly believe the people who took the time to explain and share with me). What I find far more interesting is something I’ve titled “Duranlore”.

I grew up in the USA, and as I’ve said before, my world didn’t extend much beyond Glendora or Covina, California. Public transportation where I lived was something you didn’t take unless you wanted to get mugged, or had no other choice (meaning my mom wouldn’t let me step one toe onto any bus!). So I didn’t have the experience of going into Los Angeles or hanging out anywhere outside of my little neighborhood. It comes down to the fact that I’ve got no great 1980s fandom stories to share. From what I gather, that wasn’t the case for my friends in the UK.

I hear so many great stories, or lore, from my friends there. They had a much different experience when it comes to Duran Duran back in the 80s. To me, they were exotic and completely untouchable.  I couldn’t relate to them. They were very enigmatic and otherworldly. They didn’t seem real. I suspect that half of my curiosity about them, even as an adult back during the reunion tour, came from the fact that I’d never even been anywhere near them. I suspect that may be the case for many other fans as well. Yet my friends in the UK knew them and are still familiar faces to the band. They were frequent sidewalk-outside-the-studio visitors.

I can’t help but be envious. I don’t know what that level of recognition or having that type of history feels like.  In contrast, I spent my days between albums going to school, watching MTV, doing normal kid things, I suppose. I didn’t really think or hear about a Duran Duran album until news came out about it on the radio, on MTV, or in one of those teen magazines. That isn’t to say I didn’t spend time being a fan. My albums received ample play, but that was about as close as I could really get to experiencing the band.  In all honesty, my “story” with Duran Duran really didn’t get started until much, much later in life.

Not so for my UK friends. I am always equal parts amazed, impressed, and envious, that so many of them have known one another since childhood.  They met from hanging outside of the studio (or band members homes)!  I love that. They have an entire story that I can’t even relate to, or be a part of, because they met when they were so young and grew up with this band in a way that was impossible for anyone outside of England to really understand. When I say I’m envious, that’s the truth. I’m not jealous of them—I wouldn’t want to take any of that away from them—I just wonder what it must have been like. So, I tend to ask them a lot about it whenever I get the chance.

When I saw the link to this song over the weekend, I listened with the same sort of giddiness I do when I get a new Duran Duran song. The thing is, the song has been around for a while. It’s not new to YouTube, and I know there have been questions about it before. I certainly had questions of my own, and in many ways I’m embarrassed to say that I’d never heard it before. So many die-hard fans have – it’s one of those songs “everyone” knows about. Here I am, Ms. Blogger-lady, and I hadn’t yet. Awesome.

Those who remember Kitty will know that she posted it on her now defunct website, Gimme A Wristband. John has said in the past that the song isn’t Duran Duran (although I am not an expert in sound engineering, it sure as hell sounds like Duran Duran to me). Katy has said this song doesn’t exist (which to be fair, it really doesn’t anymore because the song eventually became something else anyway). Yet my friends, who were there at one of the (many) places the band recorded Seven and the Ragged Tiger album – know it’s real. It is one of those songs that, the more it’s denied, the more it has become something of a treasure. My friends were able to tell me the story behind the recording itself. The quality of the recording is, well, not good – it’s been cleaned up quite a bit so one can hear it – but it’s still pretty muddy sounding. There’s a reason for that. It was recorded through a drain pipe.

That’s the good stuff right here. Imagine a kid taking the time to bend down, and getting what had to have been a horribly distorted recording of a song coming through a drain pipe, just because she was a huge fan! Yet the story doesn’t surprise me one bit, given the fan in question.  I can’t imagine that she actually thought she’d be answering questions about that song and the way she recorded it thirty years later!

I went back and forth about whether or not I’d write about this song here on the blog. It comes down to this: for me, the true importance isn’t about whether the band says it’s real or fake, or what song it is…or was at the time. I wasn’t there to confirm it all, but I believe the people who took time to explain to me how it is that they have a recording of a Duran Duran song that was never released. It doesn’t matter what DDHQ has said in the years since, because they weren’t even there at the time.

No, the point that sticks in my head is the fact that these kids were so into Duran Duran that they spent their spare time (and probably some school time too!) sitting at the studio. They met one another, they became friends, and they experienced the same sort of fandom that many of us had to wait until we were adults to fully experience and enjoy. Think about how so many of us will wait hours in a hotel lobby just to be able to say hi to the band. Then think about the people we’ve met while waiting.

It is from these same friends of mine (ha ha ha) that many of the stories of how Duran Duran’s history all really happened and unfolded comes from.  With all due respect to management, for the die-hards, it’s not about the “story” that they want out there in the general public. After all, that bio and image is a highly polished veneer that is expertly applied to the raw, organic reality.  I think the real “stories” or Duranlore, particularly those that fans are most interested in, come from the fans who were actually there. They aren’t the ones who need to project a certain impression, or put on airs because the reality doesn’t match the pretty PR image that gets albums sold.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely a place for the image created by a hard-working management team, and I have ample respect for that. But there’s also the reality that comes from fans who have been there since day one, or close to it. Rarely does a management team stick with a band from beginning to end. Some fans do, though, and some lived close enough to actually see it happen. The tales of Duranlore these fans share aren’t always pretty, and they’re certainly not polished, but yet – it’s the oral history of people who, in spite of it all, are still fans forty years later.

That says something, doesn’t it?


Just a Perfect…Weekend or Two!

I am happy to report that my dad is home!  My mom, my niece and I picked him up this morning.  He is a million times better than he was but it will take him some time to fully get his strength back.  While he finishes recovering, I can start to return to my normal life.  It, too, will take me awhile to get back to normal as everything got pushed to the side.  One of the things that I find happens when something like this takes place is that my mind cannot focus on anything besides my family.  I look forward to thinking about other things besides worry, status updates and doctor visits.

It has been so crazy that I haven’t been able to keep track of days, times, etc.  I have noticed that my partner-in-crime has posted a couple memories on Facebook, reminding me of where we were last year on this date.  Oh, yes, March 18th is one that I definitely want to remember.  In fact, this is one of those dates that my Duranie self should always remember as two incredible weekends happened on this date.

In 2005, 13 whole years ago, I was in Chicago seeing Duran play at the All-State Arena.  It was the first show I ever saw with Rhonda and it led us to where we are today.  I tend to think of that weekend being the first bookend to my fandom.  While I had been a fan before that (duh) and had even seen the band in concert before, that weekend in 2005 changed it all.  In many ways, it was the perfect weekend.  No, it did not feature front row seats or a meet and greet with the band.  Yet, it was so much fun that I became addicted to this fandom thing and to touring.

What made it so fun?  It was definitely a combination of factors.  First, I knew a bunch of people attending this show and called them all my friends.  Most of us were staying at the same hotel, resulting in multiple late night parties.  We ended up closing the hotel bar both nights and still were not ready to call it a night as hotel rooms became gathering places for late night/early morning conversations and laughs. The strong connection carried over to the concert venue as the show was enhanced by engaging looks and acknowledging moments with each other.  Okay, it didn’t hurt that we were in the 3rd row in front of John Taylor, either.  Then, of course, Rhonda and I along with some other friends continued the fun the next day at the show in Milwaukee.  By the end of the night, Rhonda and I were so ridiculously tired that we ended up laughing at nothing for hours.  When Rhonda left that Sunday, we both knew that we had found touring partners for life.  I knew that I had found something so fun that I would do a lot to experience it all over again.

Fast forward to 2017, a full 12 years later, and Rhonda and I found ourselves at another weekend.  This time, it was closer to Rhonda’s neck of the woods in California.  While we might have been surrounded by different friends, it was still an amazingly fun weekend with great shows, late nights, partying and more.  I wouldn’t say it was the same at the weekend in Chicago but it was just as good, including more amazing seats.  My addiction had been fed.  In fact, it was such a great weekend that I thought to myself that if that weekend was the last tour, it would provide the best bookend possible to this touring thing.  It didn’t become that touring bookend as more shows followed, but I would have been more than okay with that.

Truly, I realize how lucky I have been.  Not only is my Dad better and back at home, but I have had the good fortune of having some amazing weekends with friends and Duran Duran.


March 2018 Katy Kafe with Simon

Before I dive into the highlights and my thoughts regarding this month’s Katy Kafe, I want to thank everyone for the thoughts and well-wishes for my dad.  All of the comments have helped me to keep going in order to be there for him and my mom.  Again, I thank you.  Now, on to the Katy Kafe…

This particular one features Simon answering fan questions, twenty of them in fact!  As always, this is not a word-for-transcript.  Instead, I’m just sharing the highlights along with some of my commentary.  If you want it all (and I know you do), get yourself over to DuranDuranMusic to listen for yourself!  This means that I am not going to cover every question but  will pick out the most interesting to me.  I’m also going to divide them into band related questions and Simon only questions.

Duran Related Questions:

Question:  Does Simon write lyrics all the time or just when an album is coming up?

Simon stated that he does often write down phrases that could work as song lyrics all the time but tends to do more when an album is coming up.  It just happens naturally.  One aspect of songwriting that he focused on was on titles.  He mentioned an artist who had a friend name one of his pieces, which he thought was so fascinating.  At times, being given a title has worked for him like Rio, A View to a Kill, Girl Panic, and Electric Barbarella.  (Note to self:  That could make for an interesting daily question. Which title is better?  Or what is a title that would make for an interesting Duran song.)

Question:  Why is Last Chance on the Stairway not played live?

Simon focused on the middle part of the song that features a vibraphone that he would have to relearn.  I suspect some fans would love for him to do just that in order to hear it live!

Question:  Which DD song from the 80s should get a 2018 make-over?

He suggested Late Bar or My Own Way but commented about how fans really aren’t that keen with changing songs.  (I have to admit that is true.  I remember freaking out a little with the changes done to Too Much Information live in 2015.  To my credit, I actually liked it a lot once I got used to it.)  Katy and Simon focused on changes to Hungry Like the Wolf in 1993.  Simon wants to know which is better:  album version or the live 1993 version of that song.  Answer on Twitter via #AskSimonMarch.

Question:  What was Simon’s favorite DD video to shoot?

Simon really like the ones filmed in Sri Lanka because it was so amazing being there.  He enjoyed the action shots from Hungry but loved the relaxed feel of Save a Prayer and how there was more band in that one.

Question:  What was the inspiration for Cinderella Ride?

Simon talked about someone who helps the sick and the poor, especially in the back streets of London.  (Now I’ll have to relisten to it through that lens!)

Question:  When does the band celebrate the 40th anniversary?

Simon thinks that July 16, 2020 would be a good day as it will be the 40th anniversary of him being on stage with the band for the first time!  (NOTED!  I will keep that date open!)

Question:  Which song would you never get tired of performing?

Simon said that the song has to be something that he could sing in a wheelchair like Come Undone or Secret Oktober. (!!!)

Question:  What does it feel like to be a band that is so loved by many for so long?

Simon loves the music and the guys in the band.  “We look out for each other,” he stated.  Being a part of Duran has made him feel “useful.”  (I get that.)

Simon Only Questions:

Question:  Has the SYN track, “Closer to Your Bed” ever been released?  If so, where can people hear it?

Simon does not think that it has but maybe it should be.  He went on to share that when he was 12, he made a 4 track record when he was part of the church choir.  His old choir master has a clean copy and thinks it should be released.  Simon is considering doing that as a fundraiser in which the proceeds would go to the church choir.  Would people be interested in buying a copy?  If so, tell him again on Twitter with the hashtag #AskSimonMarch.

Question:  Who should play him in a movie?

Simon suggested Aaron Johnson, Ryan Gosling, or even Margot Robbie.

Question:  If he could take out a giant billboard, what would it say?

Be nice.  (Aww…)

Katy must have said a number of times that this is one of the best Kafes they have ever done.  I cannot disagree.  As I stated earlier, I didn’t include everything because there was so much.  Some of the questions I didn’t cover here:  One thing Simon has tried but wouldn’t do again, which 80s peer is he still in contact with, whether or not the duet with Isabelle Adjani would ever be released, who should cover a Duran song and which song, and more.  I, for one, applaud the questions as they were super interesting and loved hearing Simon’s responses.  I look forward to more Kafes like this one!