Anyone Out There – The Daily Duranie Review

For those who are catching up, Amanda and I are doing a review for every song in Duran’s catalog.  It’s going to be a very long series that will hopefully recharge interest for some of the lesser-heard/lesser-known songs in their extensive catalog of talent.  😀  Today brings a review of the third song off of the first album – Anyone Out There.

Rhonda’s Humble Opinion

Musicality/instrumentation: It’s been quite a while since I’ve heard music in this genre where everyone just works together without screaming as though they’re dying to be heard.  Anyone Out There is a perfect example of a song where you can hear every single instrument, they all stand out on their own and you can pick out each part, yet when you the listener take a step back, there’s a vantage point where you hear the entire band as a single voice.  It’s balance.  Individually speaking, I want to point out that this is one of those songs where not only can I hear John’s bass – I can feel what he’s trying to convey.  John Taylor is a brilliant and unique bass player because of that ability to convey feeling.  Most bass players not only play a very simple bass line (not to ever be found in Duran’s music), but they just stand up and play.  Not so John.  During the sections of the song when he is featured directly, you can feel the determination in every note.  This is also a song that proves just how genius Andy Taylor is as a guitar player.  It’s not just about the riff, it’s recognizing his part in the band.  It’s about the lack of ego, it’s about the beauty with which it’s all brought together.  Of course I can’t forget to mention Nick and Roger.  There really isn’t a cleaner drummer out there during this period of time in this genre than Roger.  One of the things I’ve always admired of him is his total lack of ego and drama.  He is one drummer that doesn’t ever want to do a solo.  Fills are fine (yes, yes they are!), but he seems to recognize his role as rhythm keeper, and I think he fills that to a T.  For Taylor. (I’ll be here all week…ha ha ha)  What to say about Mr. Rhodes, other than there is no synth player out there that can orchestrate an emotion or atmosphere better than he, and Anyone Out There is as good of proof of that as any other, if not better.

Vocals: I have a confession to make.  When I was a kid, I loved singing along with this song, in particularly the chorus section.  I would play a game with myself where I would try to hit each harmony.  Let’s just say that while I can hear the notes, I am not a vocalist, and the world should probably be thankful I recognized that at an early age.  I also used to believe that the band must ALL be singers, because I couldn’t understand how Simon could sing all parts on his own at one time.  Yes my friends, I knew absolutely nothing about recording back when I was ten or eleven.  It never occurred to me that they could do more than one track!  Ah, the ignorance and stupidity of youth.  Naturally I have a little better of understanding over how it all comes together now – probably just enough knowledge to make me very dangerous, but I also recognize Simon’s talent.  He has a true gift of knowledge when it comes to harmony and depth of sound, and that is just one of the many things that makes Duran’s sound so unique.  When people talk about what would happen if Simon left or was unable to sing – this sound is what they think of even if they don’t quite articulate, and this song is a shining example.  Not only do his harmonies create a mood, they also fill the “void” (for lack of a better word) between the lines of instrumentation and his vocals.  As beautiful as it might be haunting.

Lyrics: There are a few songs that I listened to all the time when I was a brooding teenager, and this is one of them.  I can remember resetting the needle on my record player over and over, listening to this song, and it was due to the lyrics.  Who doesn’t feel like they’re not being understood when they’re a teenager?  (Hell, I don’t think I’m being understood NOW…but that has more to do with being a parent of two teenagers than it does being me….) I felt that the song was almost a mantra for me at eleven and twelve, and to this day it remains one of my favorites.  For me the song is about feeling completely isolated, unrequited, and misunderstood.  I have no idea what Simon really meant by it all, but regardless – it hit home with me in a way that few songs ever did.  If I really think about it, I can still feel that angst I once carried with me held so tightly to my heart, and to me that’s the very definition of lyrics that work.

Production: I can’t say it enough – why can’t we go back to production like this?  Sure there’s some on here.  I love the echo effect on Simon’s voice.  It’s slight, but it’s there – and it really works because it makes me feel as though he’s calling out, in much the way I’d like to go into my room, shut the door and scream…sometimes.  (can you sense my mood today?!?) It gives the song a particularly unearthly effect as though he’s calling from somewhere far beyond where we’re listening.  I love it.  Sometimes less is more.

Overall: Yes I’m biased, but I do think that this is one of the more underrated songs in the Duran Duran catalog.  It’s one of those songs that everyone listens to and yet very few actually feel.  It’s easy to put it on and forget about it in the background, which is why I love it so much and make an effort to stop and listen.  It’s one of their best, and I know they still have it in them to write like this.  Do yourself a favor and go put it on right now!

Cocktail Rating:  A completely biased 5 cocktails!

Amanda’s Thoughts:

Musicality/instrumentation:  One of the things I loved about this era of Duran’s music was how much it made me appreciate instrumentation and how that instrumentation could be used to create a mood, an atmosphere.  There are many songs and artists out there that seem determined to force a mood, a sentiment on an audience.  They are so determined that the lyrics are over-the-top obvious and that the instrumentation used is such that one can’t help but to feel a certain way.  While I’m sure that there are times and places for this, I always appreciated that Duran didn’t seem to do that.  They allowed the feeling to happen naturally (at least at this point in their careers).  This song always hits me in this way.  It creates such a dark, moody feeling without beating us over the head with it.  Rhonda mentioned about how she is reminded of her youth and I totally get that.  It creates a feeling of angst that many of us can relate to as we felt that way many, many times when growing up.  This feeling is created through instrumentation.  John’s bass really works to create a deeply felt layer of emotion that works so well when combined with Nick’s moody keyboards.  Roger’s drums are obviously complimenting John’s bass as well.  Then, there is Andy’s guitar.  I’ll be honest here.  I’m not the biggest guitar fan.  I like it fine but haven’t ever been drawn to that instrument.  That said, Andy’s guitar here blows me away.  I love how obvious is without being demanding.  If all guitar parts were like this in the world, I probably would have been more of a guitar fan! 

Vocals:  I really think that Simon’s voice was made for songs like this.  His voice can be so deep and full of emotion.  In many ways, Simon does angst well and we still see this today with songs like Before the Rain.  His vocals here add to the mood created by the instrumentation.  It amazes me how well they all fit together to form such a perfect package.  Of course, one part that I feel necessary to mention is the chorus.  I absolutely adored and still adore the chorus.  I love how it sounds like many voices echoing this question.  It completely adds to the feeling.  In my mind, I can picture the isolation that a lot of people, particularly adolescents, feel at some point in their lives.  Am I the only one?  Is there anyone out there like me?  The chorus seems to show that there are countless voices asking the exact same thing at the same time.  Genius.

Lyrics:  These lyrics definitely fit the song.  They are like fitting that last puzzle piece in so that the complete picture could be understood.  I have often wondered how Duran;s music sounded to people whose native language wasn’t English.  As a kid, I didn’t understand how someone who didn’t speak English would like them.  How could they sing along, my ignorant child brain wondered.  This is a song, though, that I did think that all people could get.  The mood was obvious and ran throughout the song.  Once the lyrics were understood, it would become even more clear.  The lyrics aren’t tricky or subtle.  They just really seem to come off the top of Simon’s head and used to express common emotions.  There isn’t anything fancy here and doesn’t need to be.

Production:  I am going to feel like a broken record when it comes to production on this album.  I’m always impressed by the producer’s ability to bring out the best in every member and his ability to create that balance.  While I think that Andy shines, for example, in this song, the song wouldn’t be as great without the rest of the band.  The producer had to have had a hand in creating this ability to allow one member to shine without taking away from the others.

Overall:  This song is absolutely fabulous.  Yet, for some reason, I always have to be reminded about how great the song is.  If there is any negative here, it is that.  The song doesn’t immediately stand out above the rest.  Now, maybe, that is because is part of a brilliant album.  Maybe it is because of where it is on the album (between Planet Earth and Careless Memories).  Perhaps, it is because that mood of loneliness isn’t one that people want to be reminded of.  I don’t know.  Of course, this issue could just be mine and mine alone.  I wonder if it would stand out more to me if I saw it live.  I bet it would since it is so good!

Cocktail Rating:  4.5 cocktails!

3 thoughts on “Anyone Out There – The Daily Duranie Review”

  1. They really should play it live more often. Of course this comes from the same “someone” who begged and pleaded for Secret Oktober to be played…and I LOVED EVERY LAST SECOND OF IT…even if the rest of the audience just looked perplexed. They need to get themselves some B-sides and figure it out, darn them. 🙂

    I'd love to hear it!! -R

  2. I second this… I just listened to the MTV's 1982 New Year's Ball bootleg on Andy's website. Freaking fabulous! I want it on my iPod. Talk about Simon's young vocals. The few “flubs” just make it real to me.

    But I digress. I had actually forgotten about this song. I had gotten so many songs from the different singles compilations I thought I had everything, but no. Listening to it again was almost like listening to it for the first time all over again. I just love the first album to pieces. It was the first album I bought because I loved the music. (Though Rio was the first one I owned – a birthday present from the friend who introduced me to DD.)

    It's not an accident that these reviews have a common theme: balance. Each member being 'equal' – no one trying to outdo the other. I really give Andy a lot of credit on how he handled the guitar when it would be so easy to overpower every other part. He never did that. Someone wrote in that survey that Andy was just an “average guitarist” – oh so wrong! It took everything in me not to reply to that comment. Just like singing softly takes more control than belting it out, playing a controlled guitar takes real talent. I often wonder if that's why Andy did a cover album where he got to let loose.

    Ah. Roger's drumming… it just gets better and better… when I listen to the music that came out after he left, it's just not the same. Maybe some of that is psychological on my part, but to me he just has a special gift. (When you get to Careless Memories, I'll have more to say about some things!) I really hope to get to hear him and his son do a DJing gig sometime. Where I grew up and where I live now there really aren't any clubs. A DJ is a guy you pay a couple hundred bucks to play canned tunes at a birthday party. I really have no concept of what a “real” DJ does.

    Wasn't Secret Oktober yummy live? The fans at the show in St Augustine screamed like banshees when their first chords rang out. Speaking of SO, it's the only song I can think of right now where I can't pick out the guitar – or even the bass. I don't know if that's the perfect blending, or if John and Andy sat that one out. I didn't think to pay attention at the concert. ~Betsi

  3. Average my ass. Andy Taylor is anything BUT average. It really, really pisses me off when people don't give the guy credit because he was 1/5 of what made that band what it became. Give him his due, you know?

    I love Secret Oktober, and I will never ever forget hearing them play it live even though I stood there completely flummoxed with my mouth wide open through at least the first 30 seconds of the song in Brighton. I was so shocked, and yet so thankful! I hope the band knows that!! 🙂

    -R

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