Boy Panic!

Before visiting England last week, I made several mental notes of Duran Duran historical sites to visit (ok, I made an entire Google map of places). I assumed Nick, and perhaps Simon, would be in town and I fancied I’d bump into them if I walked around enough. Turns out, London is a large city and I was limited on time. I only made one significant Duranie stop on my travels and it left me in a bit of a boy panic!

Arriving in London by train, our first stop of the day was Oxford Street where my wife made for the shops and I ducked into the new Hard Rock Hotel. After admiring one of Bowie’s t-shirts and snapping a picture of an incredibly bland Phil Collins suit, I found the crown jewel of the property: John Taylor’s bass guitar as seen in the “(Reach Up for The) Sunrise” video. I took a nearby seat and enjoyed a cocktail before heading to the day’s main destination.

John Taylor’s bass guitar at the Hard Rock Hotel, London

The Savoy Hotel carries itself with the regal splendor of a property that knows how perfect it is from the architecture to the quality of staff. It is truly like walking into a different world as the noise and congestion of London fades behind you. With a few screenshots from the “Girl Panic!” video on my phone, my wife politely indulged my fandom and we explored the hotel in search of the famous colored lifts.

The lobby lifts were ornate, but green, so we headed down a corridor. Splitting up, I took a turn to a golden door for a lone lift. When it opened, the mystery of the red lift was solved. After a few pictures as bewildered staff walked by, we continued our exploration.

Roger gets (in) a lift

There were functions room everywhere so finding the right one seemed a bit hopeless. Summoning up my courage to not sound like an awestruck American, I asked one of the hotel staff about the band’s video. While not familiar with, certainly, the biggest day in the history of The Savoy, she kindly obliged my interest and I showed her a picture from the video. She immediately recognized the room and she whisked us through the correct doors. The room looked much like it did when Duran Duran filmed here. With a hotel this beautiful, you really don’t need to change much.

As we returned to the lobby, I was still curious where the blue lift might reside. Feeling a bit cheeky after my earlier success, I approach a member of the hotel staff in a small office area. She was also unaware of the Duran Duran video but was excited that I asked about the blue lift. We headed off towards a staff area and she let us see where Roger once took the best elevator ride ever! No luck on seeing the suite but maybe next time I’ll book it. Umm, about that, I’m going to need a raise. Amanda? Rhonda?

Question of the Day: Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The last winner: All You Need Is Now

Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety: 1st album or Seven and the Ragged Tiger?

Coming Soon
Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety?
1st album
Seven and the Ragged Tiger

One Last Post Before I Go

It’s Monday, the first day of our self-imposed sabbatical, and I’m already breaking it. *takes bow*

I just missed you all so much….

Ok, so I missed out blogging on Thursday. I have a few things left to share before I go.

Thank you!

First of all, thank you – all of you – for the kind notes, pictures, thoughts, and good wishes for my birthday. I had a terrific day, which is half of the reason I didn’t post a blog. (Our internet was also down for a good portion of the day, so there’s also that.) It was a very special day, and I can’t thank you enough.

What if your favorite band didn’t exist?

Second, I saw a movie over the weekend that I’d been curious about for a while, Yesterday. Simply put, what would happen in a world where no one remembered The Beatles?

The movie was cute, I suppose. There were also a zillion plot holes that really bothered me on most every level. The screenwriters seemed to take an insightful topic, and watered it down to be just another rom-com. The love story didn’t matter to me. I wanted to know more about the world without some key pieces of pop culture missing from the meta.

I thought a lot about what it means to love music so much that you want it to keep living. I’m 49 now, and many of the heroes I hold dear have left this earth. George Michael, Tom Petty, Ric Ocasek, Prince….I can go on and on, but you get the point. The music, at least for me, isn’t JUST about the people who wrote and performed it, although certainly that is huge. The music itself is what lives on. It is the gift left behind. The one thing we are able to hold on to once our heroes have passed. It’s food for thought, I suppose.

Change my mind!

Lastly, I am reaching out to any and all interested writers! As you know, Amanda and I are taking a break from now through the end of the year. However, we are also going to try a different style of post during our absence. We need YOUR help to make it successful.

This post is going to be called “Change My Mind”. Essentially, Amanda and/or I will come up with a topic, and it will be up to you – should you choose to accept the challenge – to change our mind in 100 words or less! So, for example, maybe the topic is “Hungry Like the Wolf” is an overrated song. Your job would be to make a compelling (and incredibly short) argument! We already have two brilliant writers ready to get their fingers flying, but it would be great to have a few more. If you’re at all interested, email us at dailyduranie@gmail.com. We’ll put you in touch with Jason, who will be the contact for this little game of ingenuity!

That’s more than enough from me for a while. I’m off to tackle real life for a while!

-R

Question of the Day: Sunday, November 10, 2019

The last winner was: Astronaut

Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety: All You Need Is Now or Paper Gods?

Coming Soon
Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety?
All You Need Is Now
Paper Gods

Question of the Day: Friday, November 8, 2019

Yesterday’s winner: Medazzaland

Which album would you prefer to see live in entirety: Astronaut or Red Carpet Massacre?

Coming Soon
Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety?
Astronaut
Red Carpet Massacre

Question of the Day: Thursday, November 7, 2019

Yesterday’s winner: The Wedding Album

Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety: Medazzaland or Pop Trash?

Coming Soon
Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety?
Medazzaland
Pop Trash

The Heart, The Mind, The Albums

a dialogue between the ego and the alter-ego

As a music writer who recently lost his primary publishing outlet, the kind offer from Daily Duranie to be their intern and write once a week really softened the disappointment. Over the last few weeks, I have dove back into every corner of my Duran Duran memories and music to establish a mental base of operations for future writing. I’ve listened to every album again and watched some DVDs that I had missed. In the end, I realized one thing about myself. I am a divided self. At least, I am with Duran Duran albums. 

When I think about Duran Duran albums, there is a friction between my critical mind (which reviews an album or two each week) and my nostalgic heart. If you asked either piece of me to rank the albums, the lists would look quite different. So, I had to make a list. It’s a guy thing. We like making lists and arranging our taste in some sort of hierarchy that proves how smart we are. We are aware of this issue and we are working on it. 

The Best Duran Duran Albums

Heart/(Mind)

1. (1.) Rio

Rio is never a debate. From the artwork to the videos to every single song, the album captured a moment in popular culture and convinced us the our lives could be a James Bond film in some way. The bass lines are the stuff of legend and the band never again found such a perfect balance between Andy’s aggressive guitars and Nick’s carefully arranged melodies. Every band has “that” album where they are in the zone but sometimes you get tired of it. Not with Rio

(What he said.)

2. (2.) Duran Duran

A formidable debut album. From the Buzzcocks’ 1977 Spiral Scratch EP to this sounds like an eternity but it was only four years from punk to post-punk to Duran Duran. The musical maturity is already there in the arrangements and the band still sounds young and hungry. If this and Rio were all they ever released, Duran Duran would be revered like Joy Division. 

(OK, not Joy Division. But this debut rocks harder than people remember. The later addition of “Is There Something I Should Know?” in 1983 actually disrupts the album with Alex Sadkin’s production sounding too bright and colorful amongst the Colin Thurston tracks. Rarely talked about by critics, this is one of the strongest debuts of the decade.)

3. (5.) Big Thing

Experimental with purpose and the proper dose of Warren on guitar has aged this album extremely well. “All She Wants Is” still sounds pristine with a low-end that can shake the room. From moody ballads to driving dance tracks, Duran Duran colorfully (those outfits…) flaunt the ease with which they juggle pop and art. 

(Your neon colored eyes were at this show in 1989 and the band was fading in popularity. This album’s lukewarm success further pushed the band asunder of popular culture so how grand could it all be? Well, it is pretty grand but “Drug (It’s Just A State of Mind)” sounds completely out of place and is a total duff. If only there was an incredible B-side that should have replaced it. Hmm.)

4. (14.) Arena

The opening drums of “Is There Something I Should Know”. Is anybody hungry? Switch-it off. Was I chasing after rainbows? So many lines ignite the memory of listening to and watching this concert. Hearing “Seventh Stranger” on the last tour with the footage from 1984 playing above the stage was truly special. 

(How many live albums are really not that “live”? Probably most. How many of those also “live albums” include a studio recording mid-set? “Wild Boys” drops out of the sky into the middle of a concert and nobody thinks this is weird? When you can actually hear John’s bass, the songs sound better but the original version of Arena sounds like it was mixed in a soup can.)

5. (7.) Seven & the Ragged Tiger

As a kid, the build-up to the video premier of “Union Of the Snake” felt as exciting as watching the Space Shuttle launch. Lizard people in a desert. An underground society of freaks. The song and video ushered in the band’s most saturated time in popular culture. Soon after, “The Reflex” brought Duran their first US #1. As good as the singles are, the desolate “Seventh Stranger” remains the masterpiece here.

(Nile Rodgers saved this album by fixing “The Reflex”. There are three songs in the middle of the album that I have always confused. As I try to hear them in my head, “(I’m Looking For) Cracks In the Pavement” is the one I like best and the one that isn’t about dice is the one I like least (at a loss for what it is called right now and I listened to this cassette every day for a year when it came out). This album is inconsistent and the band sounds stressed that the fans might catch on.)

6. (4.) Notorious 

I wasn’t ready for it when it arrived but this and Big Thing really stand-out in the band’s career. The band really fought themselves out of a corner with Notorious and established themselves as musicians, not teenage heart throbs. The musical talent was always there but the band sounds more focused and precise.

(Notorious was when Duran Duran stopped trying to be James Bond and took a deeper interest in the relationships of our beloved 007. “Skin Trade” is as sexy as Duran has ever been. Even with Andy gone, the guitars are still keeping Mr. Rhodes’ more pretentious proclivities in balance yielding a mature and confident Duran Duran. Song for song, there is a consistent quality to the album where every song serves a purpose.)

7. (3.) All You Need Is Now

Without a doubt, my favorite Duran album post-80s. Mark Ronson keeps it simple by focusing on what works best. They might not be hits in a commercial sense but fans of a band know when a song is a “hit”. The title track and “Girl Panic!” were top-shelf singles in any decade. An unfair criticism but the fact that we don’t listen to albums on repeat day after day anymore probably makes this slightly under-appreciated by me. 

(Slightly under-appreciated?! Song for song, this belongs in their top three. The artwork, the analogue synths, the stellar guitar work of Dom Brown, and an arsenal of hooks makes this an unforgettable Duran Duran album. What is harder than following up a massive debut album with an even bigger one that conquers the world? Recording an album two decades later that holds its own with the first two.)

8. (6.) Medazzaland

Mid-period Duran Duran without a Taylor was a little uncertain but Medazzaland remains an experimental delight. The video for “Electric Barbarella” might stir debate but the song sounds futuristic and kitsch. They even erupt like Tesla on the chorus of “Who Do You Think You Are?”. A few anonymous tracks drift-by but the album never loses its grip on you. 

(Not releasing it in the UK was a tragedy. The UK audience would have appreciated the cold electronics. While not exactly Bowie’s Low, the band’s experiment pays off with a strong collection of songs. Warren colors between the lines when he needs to and enhances Nick’s digital landscapes. Best experienced as a whole, Medazzaland sounds like a place we should visit.)

9. (11.) Red Carpet Massacre

The follow-up to Reportage (apparently), suffers from a case of uncertainty but there are some genuinely killer dance tracks on here. Hearing “Tempted” live sent me back to this album and I found more than I remembered. Simon’s voice on “Box full o’ Honey” sounds exquisite, for one. “Dirty Great Monster” sounds like a lost Cheap Trick gem and “Last Man Standing” is the sort of album track that can carry an album beyond the singles. 

(Parting ways with Andy should have ignited a spark of swagger from the band but they sound content to the let the high-priced producers do the driving. Timberlake really brings little to the party besides being popular at the time. He is a once-in-a-generation talent but the collaboration was stale. Chasing a more “authentic” club sound only reminds us how important Roger Taylor on real drums is to the Duran Duran formula.)

10. (8.) Liberty

Unfairly maligned for some misteps like “Hothead”, there is some really great material on Liberty. Every critic said the lead single was a terrible choice but I actually dig “Violence”. The second side of the album definitely loses some focus but the first half proves worthy of frequent listens and “My Antartica” is nothing short of beautiful. 

(The modern-pop of “Serious” and the fierce “First Impression” showcase a band considering future paths. At the time, it was easy to call this indecision but I think it was borne from curiosity the more I listen to the album. The myth that Wedding Album “saved” the band implies that Liberty was a catastrophe. Nothing is further from the truth.)

11. (12.) Wedding Album

The first time I heard “Ordinary World”, I was crossing the railroad tracks near Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, FL. I remember it that vividly. Duran Duran was back! Three classic singles and some interesting filler made for a respectable but overrated album. 

(No matter how successful “Ordinary World” was to the band, it still doesn’t sound like a classic Duran Duran song. While the liquid grace of “Come Undone” and the attitude of “Too Much Information” were dynamite, the rest of the album is far less coherent than Liberty.)

12. (9.) Astronaut

Andy Taylor’s guitar tone has a unique frequency that just soothes my soul. His style is a breath of fresh air after Warren’s antics on the fretboard (and in the bedroom). Even if there was only the reunion tour, it was worth it but the band took the time to deliver new material that often reminds you of their best work while not quite getting there.

(I would have liked to see them hit the studio after a reunion tour while the juices were flowing but “What Happens Tomorrow” and “Nice” will always make my Duran playlist. Rest of it is somewhat forgettable but I enjoy it when I listen to it.)

13. (10.) Paper Gods

Living in Vegas, you build up an instant distain for anything that smells like EDM. So, “Last Night In the City” will always be an album killer for me. The ballads lack the necessary hooks and the best songs from this period were relegated to b-side status. Paper Gods took too long to record and there were too many cooks in the kitchen. 

(Not nearly as bad as I think. “Sunset Garage” could almost slip into a Motown playlist while “Danceophobia” is a legendary band having a laugh. The bold title song shows confidence at the front of the album and the band sounds ready to keep the party going for at least another decade.)

14. (13.) Thank You

What they should have covered.

(The critics were savages when this came out but the production is quite good. “Perfect Day” is full of grace and “White Lines” captures the paranoia of the original. Still, it could have been much better than it is. )

15. (15.) Pop Trash

This was mostly trash.

(Yep.)

Question of the Day: Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Yesterday’s winner: Big Thing

Which album would you prefer to see live in entirety: The Wedding Album or Thank You?

Coming Soon
Which album would you prefer to see live in entirety?
The Wedding Album
Thank You

I Know You’re Up To Something

Hello friends! How is Tuesday going for everyone?

Lately, I’ve been having more and more difficulty with blog topics. The mind is blank, and while at one point I could spin a little creativity in a matter of moments, now it takes hours. Far too long, actually.

Somethings got to happen

When this happens, I realize it’s for a reason. I need a break. I took one last year when my family moved, but it wasn’t a REAL break, obviously. I noticed that Amanda was experiencing some stress too, and mentioned to her that I think it’s time. As we know, the band is fairly quiet, and with the holidays coming – I can’t imagine that will change.

So, we’re taking that break. Beginning next week and going through until the first of the year, our schedule here on the site will be changing. There will still be posts, both from Jason on Wednesdays and occasionally from Amanda and I on Fridays as we continue to do reviews (our next one is Violence of Summer next Friday!). Additionally, the Question of the Day will continue, but be scaled back to Tuesdays and Thursdays. Should anything “big” come up, rest assured we’ll be writing about it, whether it is Amanda, Jason, or myself. I am sure that by January, we’ll be chomping at the bit to return to our normal writing schedule.

Somethings got to get me up

I’m looking forward to having a little more time to work on some other projects I have waiting for me, and it seems like this might just be the calm before the storm of 2020. Who knows?

We’re not going away, though! Unlike other websites and blogs, we don’t write once a month, or even quarterly. For Daily Duranie, it is DAILY content. We’re tired! Everyone needs a breather once in a while. That’s all it is, and since the holidays are creeping up, it feels like the right time. We’ll be back during the first week in January, rejuvenated, recharged, and ready…almost (but not quite) like Electric Barbarella.

See what I mean? It is obviously time for a vacation when I write cringy things like that…. wow.

-R

Question of the Day: Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Yesterday’s winner: Seven and the Ragged Tiger

Which album would you prefer to see/hear performed in entirety: Big Thing or Liberty?

Coming Soon
Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety?
Big Thing
Liberty

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!