All posts by Jason Lent

Three To Get Ready

the lasting first impression is what you’re looking for – “First Impression”

The excitement of unwrapping a new cassette, CD, or vinyl record, and settling into a new listening experience retains its sense of excitement no matter how old we get. There is something magical about hearing new music from a favorite band and, often, the first three songs of the album are a strong indication of where you are headed together. The trio of songs that open U2’s The Joshua Tree and Prince’s 1999 are astoundingly good and a huge reason both are considered classic albums. Does Duran Duran have a trio on the same level? Maybe not but it made for a fun Duran Dissection project.

Duran Duran (1981)

The camera shutter of “Girls On Film” is certainly prophetic given Duran’s success in front of it on MTV and countless teen magazines. Then you get “Planet Earth”, a song that encapsulates a moment in time when all the various styles of the 1970s were coalescing into a new sound that would change the world. While “Anyone Out There” might have made it back into recent set lists because of the NASA show, it would be hard to find someone unhappy about it. Not necessarily single-worthy, “Anyone Out There” remains one of the strongest album tracks the band would ever record. 

Verdict: A- (I decided to use letter grades since Amanda is a teacher and we need more heroes like her on the front lines of education)

Rio (1982)

From the dark clubs of the New Romantic movement to the world stage, the more colorful sound of “Rio” is pop perfection and succinctly captures the spirit of the 1980s. The trio gets a little shaky, however, with the album version of “My Own Way”. No matter how much I love this album, there is always a voice in the back of my head telling Roger to speed it up on this song. I much prefer the Carnival remix and the night version to the original album version but maybe that’s just me. I also prefer the longer version of “Lonely In Your Nightmare” on the remixed US version of the album. The mood and atmosphere are allowed more time to capture your imagination. 

Verdict: B+

Seven & the Ragged Tiger (1983)

Nile Rodgers gets the A for his remix of “The Reflex” because the original is pretty flat overall. Given the anticipation for this record, it is a disappointing start. “New Moon On Monday” feels more fully realized but then the album loses momentum again with “(I’m Looking For) Cracks In the Pavement”. While not a horrible song, it isn’t essential to the album. One of the weakest opening runs of any Duran Duran album, it might have frightened casual fans away from the magic that awaits on side two. 

Verdict: C-

Notorious (1986)

A statement of purpose, the title song ring in a new era of Duran Duran that feels a little chippy (at least towards a flaky bandit). Then, “American Science” sways like a palm tree in the dark. Full of sophistication, the new Duran Duran were growing up faster than some fans; including me. The sexy “Skin Trade” should have faired better as a single and rounds out a thrilling opening suite of songs. The overall mood of the album comes through on these songs and all hold their own individually. 

Verdict: A

Big Thing (1988)

I sense that the title track is a love it or hate it moment in the band’s history. In 1988, I was definitely a little hair metal kid so the punch of it instantly appealed to me. Then, the band delivers two of their finest singles. I’ll argue all day that “I Don’t Want Your Love” and “All She Wants Is” are stronger singles than “The Reflex” and “New Moon On Monday”. OK, maybe I’m stretching it, but this album was criminally ignored by the industry. 

Verdict: A-

Liberty (1990)

I just waxed nostalgic over Liberty here so I’ll keep this brief. The first two songs are solid introductions to a slightly uncertain time for Duran Duran. That uncertainty turns into a hot mess on “Hothead”. I’ll leave it at that.

Verdict: D+

Duran Duran (1993)

Please, please let me know. Are we officially calling this The Wedding Album now? Despite the slight hypocrisy of the lyrics in “Too Much Information”, the song practically explodes from the speakers after the timid Liberty. Where would Duran have ended up had “Ordinary World” not turned the tide on their commercial free fall? I’d rather not think too hard about that. Unfortunately, “Love Voodoo” hints at some of the uneven music that follows on The Wedding Album

Verdict: B

Medazzaland (1997)

Experimental, bold, fresh. There are so many words to describe the mysterious Medazzaland album. The opening three songs are all of the above-mentioned adjectives and more. The album loses its luster the deeper you go but the opening trio lays to rest any concerns about Duran Duran bouncing back strong from the critical mess that was Thank You. It is hard to resist “Electric Barbarella” as a single. The percolating synths and guitars work well together. Its classic Duran Duran even if the video’s stab at humor fails to overcome the sexist premise.

Verdict: A-

Pop Trash (2000)

A new century of Duran Duran began with “Someone Else Not Me”, a fine song but a difficult album opener. Bordering on 60s psychedelic folk-pop, the song challenged us to open our minds to what Duran Duran could sound like. The opening guitar and drums of “Lava Lamp” could pass for a Matchbox 20 song before Nick and Simon arrive while the swirling “Playing With Uranium” manages a decent chorus. I find that I enjoy Pop Trash in a single listen so any three song run from this album leaves me indifferent.

Verdict: C-

Astronaut (2004)

And then they were back. “(Reach Up For the) Sunrise” has a chorus worthy of a stadium. It is contemporary but without sacrificing the values of early Duran Duran. “Want You More!” is the sort of synth-pop gold that the band used to dispense with ease. LeBon’s voice sounds particularly strong on “What Happens Tomorrow”, a mid-tempo rocker the band seems determined to put on every album since the success of “Ordinary World”. This time, it works out beautifully.

Verdict: A-

Red Carpet Massacre (2007)

Opener “The Valley” suffers from confusing production. This song should be a distant cousin to The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” but it ends up trying to be something urban and hip. The title song and “Nite-Runner” are better examples of what the band was aiming for. It might have driven Andy to Ibiza and left me dreaming of what Reportage will someday sound like but this project has grown on me.

Verdict: B-

All You Need Is Now (2010)

Such an incredible album, the band hasn’t kept any of the songs in the set list since the tour ended supporting it. I’m not bitter. Yet. The title song is the best Duran Duran single since “All She Wants Is” and introduces an album that holds its own with the band’s best work during their imperial phase. “Blame the Machines” and “Being Followed” get the adrenaline racing with the perfect balance of synths and guitars. This is Duran playing to their strengths in every respect.

Verdict: A+

Paper Gods (2015)

One of the most instantly intriguing opening tracks the band has ever done. When the instruments come in, you can hear a little of M’s “Pop Muzik” buried in the DNA of the track. It’s an instantly likable blend of the band’s pop aspirations and art-school fixations. Of all the band’s albums, this one suffers the most from the sequencing. “Last Night In the City” is the sound of a screeching car crashing into a wall with some EDM blasting through the stereo. It feels out of place after the moody opener. “You Kill Me With Silence” feels like the appropriate follow-up to “Paper Gods” and doesn’t create such a disjointed listen. I could write an entire Daily Duranie piece on restructuring Paper Gods. Maybe, I will.

Verdict: C-

A Durandipitous Sunday Night

It is rare when Jason submits an article to Daily Duranie without a title…and when he does, I take full advantage. “Durandipitous” is my newest word creation. It’s not a word, you say? It is now. -R

I wasn’t going to go. The amount of Duran Duran shows coming through Vegas since Paper Gods was released had worn me down. It’s an emotional experience to dig deep into my soul and light the fuse of nostalgia. And tickets are getting out of hand in Sin City. The last pair of dates left a sour taste in my mouth with two predictable and pretty much identical set lists. I could miss this weekend and hold out for a new album and tour while saving up to someday get a seat up front. 


A visit to Jeff and Jason’s pop-up shop on Friday got my juices flowing. Then, the Duranies met up that night at a Tiki bar and the cocktails started to flow. I met Larry, who first saw Duran Duran in Miami, FL on the Big Thing tour. Same as me! If nothing else, the Daily Duranie party on Sunday was a must for me. There is something special about the Duran community these days. We are survivors, and the band’s continued success is our sweet reward. 
Playing StubHub bingo, I hit refresh about 5,733 times throughout the meet-up to no avail. If I was going to clean out my PayPal fun money for a ticket, it wasn’t going to be a standing room, obstructed view night. Honestly, seeing the passion and swapping stories about Duran was all I needed. Instead, there I was, watching everyone go into the show, ready to head home. Then, a Paper Goddess walked up and granted me a miracle. I was in. Not only that, I was sitting next to the curators of the pop-up shop and two of the most inspiring fans I know: Jeff and Jason. This was Durandipity! 


Opening with “Hungry Like the Wolf” is a masterful stroke. As much as I love a moody, art-pop opener like “Paper Gods”, the energy of a major single sets fire to the room. The casual fans are instantly on their feet, which is essential to a good show. I’m not sure if “I Don’t Want Your Love” counts as a major hit, but nobody sat down after the opener, and the energy was building.  While “A View To A Kill” isn’t Simon’s strongest vocal, he sells it like an exuberant uncle playing James Bond at Halloween. 


If I came for one song, it was “Anyone Out There”, which had surfaced at some recent shows. The excitement of hearing that turned out to be just the start. I never expected to hear “Astronaut”, but the opening synth of “The Chauffeur” is when I officially lost my mind. It is the one classic that I never heard live, and I had not seen it on many set lists. The video cut out a few times so maybe the video engineer was even caught off guard. It didn’t matter, the pocket of Duranies that I saw the show with were singing at the top of their lungs and there were hugs and hi-fives all around. Next to “The Seventh Stranger” earlier this year, it is probably my favorite live Duran moment so far. 


The surprises continued with a rocking “(Reach Up For the) Sunrise” with the “New Moon On Monday” snippet, but the “Planet Earth” mash-up with David Bowie stole my heart. As a music critic, my fandom often finds itself in conflict with the more honest and rationale side of my brain. This Duran Duran show more than satisfied both sides of my being. The band sounded energized, playing with a little swagger instead of going through the motions and the set list was a gift to fans. What a night!


The recent NASA show obviously served as an impetus for this short run of shows, but the thematic arc of the set represented more than that for me. As cartoon spaceman flew around the screens above the band, I kept picturing MTV moon men; the award given at the Video Music Awards in the 1980s. Perhaps they still give them away but I can’t be bothered to go see what MTV is up to in 2019. Still regarded as a video band by many, the band have proven to be so much more and all the moon man imagery of this tour playfully pokes anyone who would disagree. 


It’s hard to choose a favorite set list from a band but Sunday night in Las Vegas is probably it for me. It delivered surprises and the band seemed to have an extra gear that, honestly, isn’t there every show. When a set list changes night to night, musicians cannot lapse into muscle memory and it leads to a better performance. I see enough shows to feel confident in that assessment. I count myself lucky to have been there singing “The Chauffeur” on Sunday night and even luckier to have found a tribe of so many amazing Duranies, especially one Paper Goddess who made it all possible. Thank you. 

Back to the Sugar Shack: Liberty Turns 29

Another Duraniversary popped up this week on the socials. Has it really been twenty-nine years since Liberty arrived, somewhat uncomfortably, in our lives? Often dismissed as the band’s worst album, it was a difficult album for me to grasp upon its release. The 80s were over, that much was clear and where the new decade was headed remained unclear. Caught between decades, Duran Duran’s Liberty remains an important piece of the band’s history, and might even be a more consistent listen than the commercial juggernaut that followed it.

As far as album openers go, Duran Duran has done far worse than “Violence of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)”, and it made for an effervescent first single. The 12” single was a wonderful introduction to the band’s new direction. The artwork and the video clicked for me, and I was excited about the album. Ultimately, it never wormed its way into my bloodstream like previous albums had. Some of this was the new decade and exciting new bands arriving on the scene. However, Duran Duran also bears some responsibility for putting forth an album where insecurity and over-confidence lock horns.

Overconfidence or insecurity?

The over-confidence comes through in the guitars of Warren Cuccurullo and the lyrics of Simon LeBon. Playing against the melody, as if to prove a point, Cuccurullo’s work disrupts the otherwise perfectly pleasant “Liberty” while LeBon’s socially charged lyrics on “Hothead” are all a bit silly coming from a band that capitalized on the decade of excess better than most. While the band revisits that sentiment a bit on “Too Much Information”, the song rocks so hard that I give them the benefit of the doubt. A cola company is sponsoring the war? Well, they also sponsored your biggest tour. We are winking at each other, right? 

The insecurity comes through whenever LeBon tries to sing about sex. Unless your Prince, rhyming jism and catechism sounds creepy and desperate. “Take Me To Your Water” doesn’t exactly conjure pastoral images of an English countryside and “Read My Lips” unfolds like a drunken come-on by a once cool geezer in a once trendy club. Listening almost three decades later, I hear a writer trying to recapture his mojo by becoming edgier. While it worked in 1990 for Madonna with “Justify My Love”, LeBon’s poetry was never meant to be so direct and explicit.

Liberty and The Wedding Album, side-by-side

It isn’t hard to pick “Serious” and “My Antartica” out of this album as the crown jewels of Liberty. I’d trade “Ordinary World” for “My Antartica” in a set list each and every show. It is more “Duran” than “Ordinary World” even if it didn’t re-ignite their commercial fortunes. The sophisticated “Serious” ranks up there with some of the best music on Notorious and still sounds like a hit single to me. Having hung my heart on the importance of Andy Taylor’s guitar, the rock-n-roll stomp of “First Impression” remains an absolute high point even if the song is, ahem, a bit like this Lords Of the New Church song (https://open.spotify.com/track/3Em6rJJUdozR2qj6jnAZ5u). If nothing else, it finally gave Sterling Campbell’s youthful energy room to move.

But, really, is Liberty a more consistent listen than the wedding album as I hypothesized earlier? Side by side, I find about six songs on each that I am excited to hear more than a few times a year. The production of Liberty is, even by the band’s own admission, dreadful. The rumor of demos being out there on a bootleg sounds tantalizing (someone hook me up!). Much like the fabled Reportage, a different production might have yielded a far different result for the album and the Duran Duran story could be totally different. However, the wedding album has some filler on it and the cover of “Femme Fatale” should have been enough to sink the whole idea of a covers album. 

For your reconsideration

Without Liberty, the band would not have been forced to reconsider everything. Commercial flops have a way of doing that. Returning with a hit single in “Ordinary World”, the confidence of a band rejuvenated was enough to sell us on an album that wasn’t a huge artistic leap from Liberty. If anything, revisiting Liberty on its 29th anniversary makes me appreciate how important it was in shaking up the band. We learned that Campbell was not a good fit, that LeBon’s lyrics were best when shrouded in metaphors, and that the band could write sophisticated pop songs when they didn’t push too hard to fit into the foreign landscape of a new decade. For their so-called worst album, that is a pretty fabulous outcome! 

Still In My Heart: Remembering Live Aid & The Power Station

By Jason Lent

Another Live Aid comes and goes and, as always, people have their annual chuckle about Simon LeBon missing a note during Duran Duran’s indifferent performance on the momentous day. For me, Live Aid arrived only four days after my first rock-n-roll concert and my ears were still ringing. As much as I wanted to see Duran Duran, it was The Power Station that had me glued to the television. A few nights earlier, my father took me to the outskirts of Florida civilization to witness John and Andy’s side-project at the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium. The excitement of seeing The Power Station certainly made it easier to accept the splintering mess that Duran Duran had become.


Duran Duran had played the Hollywood Sportatorium, affectionately called the Vomitorium for its lawless behavior, a year prior in March of 1984. Being a school night, I wasn’t able to convince my parents that it was the most important night of my life and I had to be there. They chalked it up to being a music crazed eleven year-old but I was serious. I knew Duran Duran were at their peak and I’ve always regretted missing that tour. My dad came through in 1985 and we stood in line for tickets as soon as the unexpected Power Station tour was announced. 


The videos for “Some Like It Hot” and “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” were colorful, sexy, and rocking. The album was an instant favorite for me whereas Arcadia’s album has taken years to fully win me over (and it has). For a first concert, I could do far worse than The Power Station and my excitement built and built as we drove down a one lane highway towards to Florida Everglades in the middle of empty fields. While South Florida eventually paved its way west into the Everglades, in 1985 the Sportatorium sat alone on the edge of civilization. We were on an adventure in my 12 year-old mind!


The decrepit arena lived up to its reputation. A few weeks earlier, a Robert Plant concert was postponed due to rain which wouldn’t be that odd except the Sportatorium was actually indoors! The crumbing ceiling was a sieve. Upon arrival, we climbed up the side of the concrete box to section 117 after a stop at the merch table to buy a concert program which I still have to this day. The scheduled support act Spandau Ballet had pulled out due to someone blowing out a knee and, I think, The Bongos might have opened the show. Can anyone confirm that? I just learned they had a song called “Barbarella” so there’s that. Regardless, I don’t remember the support act and the arena’s acoustics were a sound engineer’s nightmare so it could have been Poison and I wouldn’t have noticed.


Thinking back on concerts in the 1980s, I really miss the way they started. The excitement of the first song felt bigger back then from Jon Bon Jovi shooting from under the stage to Howard Jones’ mime winding up an audience. The opening riff of “Murderess” is still burned into my memory. As the curtains pulled back, Andy Taylor’s guitar sliced through the clouds of pot smoke and enveloped my entire being. This was rock-n-roll! I was hooked for life.  


The setlist was a mix of somewhat odd covers and the entire debut album. One of the biggest memories of the night was Miami Vice star Don Johnson joining the band on stage for a cover of  Rod Stewart’s “Some Guys Have All the Luck”. One of the most interesting songs would have been The Velvet Underground classic “White Light/White Heat” but I don’t remember it and I wouldn’t have known the VU back then. The Animotion cover of “Obsession” that DesBarres cowrote was a bigger deal to me on that night. Looking back at the setlist, I’m surprised that there were only two Duran Duran songs played (“The Reflex” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”) but I was so overwhelmed by the concert that I left on a high. 


A few days later, I spent a Saturday shifting from the living room couch to the front lawn to kick a soccer ball around awaiting the Duran Duran and The Power Station slots at Live Aid. The Power Station came out swinging at Live Aid, perhaps trying a little too hard. DesBarres runs all over the place while John and Andy play everything a little too fast. Tony Thompson, always a massive hitter, fills the stadium with ease but he was certainly thinking ahead to his set with Led Zeppelin a few hours later.


Next up was Duran Duran and it was quickly apparent that there was trouble in paradise. Roger Taylor looks completely sick of being in Duran Duran and the other four are clearly operating from two different camps. Andy Taylor sounds like he wants to bury Simon and Nick under a wall of distortion and John looks a bit ragged from his lifestyle. This is not a healthy band and Andy’s disgusted look to the stars when Simon misses the infamous note was a portent of what was to come. The fallout of Live Aid changed Duran Duran, and me, forever.


What happened after Live Aid comes back to me in pieces. I definitely didn’t buy Andy Taylor’s Thunder out of loyalty to Duran Duran but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the singles. The Power Station concert had opened my ears to dirtier guitars just in time for the rise of glam metal on MTV. When Notorious arrived, it was such a break from where Duran Duran had left off that it pushed me deeper into the world of Whitesnake and David Lee Roth, both of whom I saw at the Hollywood Sportatorium before it was torn down to the disappointment of absolutely no one. 


I finally saw Duran Duran in 1989 at the Miami Arena, which replaced the Sportatorium for us in South Florida. Empty seats and a lack of energy is what little I remember from the night. It was a difficult time to love Duran Duran but a lot of the songs on Big Thing and Notorious have aged better than Seven & the Ragged Tiger for me. Maybe The Power Station saved Duran Duran from themselves. It gave Andy an exit strategy, it finally forced them to address the divide that formed between the five men, and it forced Duran Duran to find a new sound in the aftermath. The Power Station also lit a fire in my soul for rock-n-roll that burns to this day. Other people have “cooler” first concerts to brag about but I wouldn’t trade that night in 1985 for any of them. 

Jason’s Power Station ticket from 1985!

Record Store Day 2019

As the lights go down on another Record Store Day, Duran Duran have finally delivered a record worth the 5am wake-up call and four hours in a queue with other like-minded music fans. After last year’s disappointing EP Budokan, it was time for Duran Duran to deliver something of lasting excitement to their fans. This year’s package is an exquisite reissue of the band’s 1984 performances at the ridiculously named Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena. While the packaging alone makes it an essential piece of Duran Duran history, a few quibbles keep it from fully capturing the excitement and energy surrounding the band in 1984.

My first thought when I saw the announcement was, how different can it be from Arena? To put that to the test, I spent an afternoon flipping between the vinyl and an original CD version of Arena. Right away, the mix was noticeably different with regards to the synths. Nick Rhodes can be heard much clearer on As The Lights Go Down compared to the original Arena. However, when compared to the 2004 remastered version, the live performances sound pretty similar. Playing giant sheds, the sound quality remains a challenge but the mix on this release goes a long way to capturing what even the audiences might have missed under the din of screaming fans.

Where the album stumbles resides in the sequencing. The opening of “Tiger Tiger” builds in intensity and you can visualize a dark arena ready to erupt when Roger hits the first floor tom on “Is There Something I Should Know?”. Just like the tour, it is followed by Simon asking “is anybody hungry?” followed by a roaring version of “Hungry Like the Wolf” that sounds as good today as it did when it first the airwaves. Breaking the order of Arena, “Union of the Snake” follows which provides a more authentic concert experience. On the 1984 tour, the band typically followed “Hungry Like the Wolf” with the three singles from Seven and the Ragged Tiger

At each Oakland show, “New Religion” followed “Union of the Snake” so apart from skipping “The Reflex” and “New Moon On Monday”, the show unfolds much like it did at the time. However, then the show becomes a bit jumbled with “Save A Prayer” appearing far too early on the record followed by “Rio” which paired with “Girls On Film” at the end of each Oakland show. It really doesn’t belong in the middle of the record given how important it is to the band’s popularity. It would never have appeared mid-set in 1984 so it’s an odd choice to slip it into the mix here. On the remastered Arena, it was wisely included with “Girls” at the end of the CD.

The album reaches an emotional peak with “The Seventh Stranger” and “The Chauffeur”. The moody darkness of the songs hints at the deeper essence of the band which was plastered over by the media at the time. Hearing them live again, the fans aren’t the only ones who remember how meaningful they were. Revisiting the tapes of the shows to prepare this release apparently inspired the band to dust off “The Seventh Stranger” for their 2019 tour dates. Having seen two of the shows, I can attest to the emotional waterfall it created in the audience.

The final side of As The Lights Go Down ends strong with the expected hits that dominated the end of their 1984 shows. “Girls On Film” sounds especially good on this record. Best of all on this release, the energy of the show is not disrupted by studio single “The Wild Boys”. While it made sense commercially to tack it onto Arena, it never made much sense wedged in the middle of the album. Having a more full concert document from 1984 is an absolute treasure and the beautiful artwork takes you back to the Sing Blue Silver era when we were all under the spell of Duran Duran. 

Could the band have done a little more for Record Store Day? I’m looking at a wasted slab of vinyl that makes up the D side so, yes. There were at least two more live songs from that tour in the vault: “The Reflex” and “(I’m Looking For) Cracks In the Pavement” which surfaced as b-sides. A little editing of the title to As the Lights Go Down (live 1984) would do the trick since they weren’t recorded in Oakland. Add those songs to the release and move “Save A Prayer” and “Rio” to where they would have appeared during the tour. Then we would have the most complete reminder of the Sing Blue Silver tour. But as the lights go down in my music room tonight, I really don’t care. I’m watching a beautiful pink disc spin me right back to being an eleven year old obsessed with the coolest band on earth. 

Jason Lent Guest Blogger thumbnail

Jason Lent (Velvet Rebel Music) is our newest Daily Duranie Contributor! You will be seeing more of Jason’s contributions, and we are thrilled that he agreed to write with us! He discovered Duran Duran on MTV in 1983 and a lifelong musical love affair was born. In 2010, he left a job in Hawaii to tour with Cowboy Junkies as a music writer and his work has appeared in various online music outlets. He currently resides in Las Vegas managing a music venue while trying to learn John Taylor’s bass line from Rio.

Thank You, You’re Welcome (Part Two)

Having “covered” who would do some amazing Duran Duran songs in Part 1, I’m ready to take a deep breath and assess Thank You. Was it the worst album of all-time as some snarky critics have said? Of course not. Something called nu-metal locked down the top spots years ago. However, it was a misguided album born from good intentions. Let’s try to figure out what went wrong.  

David Bowie’s Pin Ups seems to be the logical impetus for this project given the song choices. Bowie’s decision to cover The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd, and The Who was unexpected and Bowie knew that. Coming off Aladdin Sane, Bowie was at the peak of his creative powers and Pin Ups remains one of the most challenging and rewarding covers albums of all-time. It isn’t a stretch to think a band which emerged from the New Romantic scene born, at least partially, from Bowie’s artistic vision would try to emulate the project. 

Duran Duran were riding high after “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone”, so they had some creative and commercial freedom when they undertook Thank You. History has shown that the band often does their least interesting work in such situations. From Seven & the Ragged Tiger (saved commercially by a remix of “The Reflex” that wasn’t on the album) to Paper Gods, the band’s follow-up to a truly special album has been uneven at best. Thank You falls into that category but imagine what could have been if they took a slightly different path. 

Thank You Redux

1. Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel – White Lines

Such a fun cover that it has to stay. The band’s roots in NYC club culture via Birmingham justify this crossover into hip-hop. They could have taken this somewhere special, though, if they had paid respect to Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern” at the same time since that is where Melle Mel “borrowed” the song from.

2. I Wanna Take You Higher David Bowie – Fashion

As much as “Ashes to Ashes” makes sense, “Fashion” would be a more fitting Duran Duran song. John Taylor’s bass guitar would suit this track and Warren’s guitar playing fits the solo like a glove. You HAVE to have at least one Bowie song on the album, right?

3. Lou Reed – Perfect Day

A surprisingly well conceived cover of Lou Reed that pays homage without trying to change who they are as a band. It has a beautiful polished sound and LeBon’s vocal works. There is a hint of despair in his voice and the production keeps every instrument in their lane. There is restraint in the playing that would have served the band on the rest of the album. 

4. Watching the Detectives Roxy Music – Both Ends Burning

Another field day for John Taylor on bass and an appropriate nod to one of the biggest influences on Duran Duran in Roxy Music. All these years later, Duran are inducting Roxy Music into the rock-n-roll hall of fame because the connection is so strong. If you listen to “Planet Earth”, you can hear some influence from this song on Siren. A lesser known Roxy song works well here because the most popular stuff would be difficult for Duran Duran to re-invent in a unique way.

5. Lay Lady Lay New York Dolls – Lonely Planet Boy

I never hated this cover but the guitar tone was “Come Undone” all over again. Dylan influenced everyone so there is no need to point it out. I’m leaving T. Rex out of the discussion since the band (i.e. Nick) would have never allowed them to cover it in the wake of The Power Station. This New York Dolls song is begging to be turned into a synth-pop dance song like Duran pulled off with Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging”. 

6. 911 Is A Joke Blondie – Fade Away and Radiate

Yeah, it is cool to namecheck Public Enemy to earn hipster points but no, just no. The band owes a huge debt to Blondie for bringing dance music into punk and for giving the band a support slot when Duran Duran were trying to crack America. This moody track from Parallel Lines has enough texture to satisfy Nick and Warren in equal measure. And why not bring in Clem Burke on drums for this cover? 

7. Iggy Pop – Success

It works. Only Duran Duran could turn an Iggy Pop song into a Gary Glitter stomp. Given the band’s commercial highs and lows, it could almost be the theme song for their career. Turn it up!

8. Crystal Ship The Normal – Warm Leatherette

The band already showed how good this sounded during a tour and this is the most seminal track in the history of synth-pop. The Doors cover sounded like a cloud of pot smoke which isn’t the Duran Duran way. Bonus connection: Grace Jones covered this once.

9. Ball of Confusion Japan – Gentlemen Take Polaroids

Let’s see. Nick Rhodes “borrowed” his look from Japan’s David Sylvan. The Japan albums were a direct precursor to Duran Duran’s sound with funky bass lines and sweeping synths.  And, best of all, this cover would be a cheeky nod to “Girls On Film” which, for all I know, was a concept lifted from this Japan song. Too close to home? Perhaps, but Duran Duran earned their success and a little nod to Japan is warranted.

10. Thank You Sister Sledge – Lost In Music

Don’t touch Zeppelin. Every instrument in Zeppelin comes from the opposite place of Duran Duran. There has to be a shout-out to Nile Rodgers somewhere on Thank You Redux and I think “Lost In Music” would keep the band in a safe place for a disco cover. This could be played loud with a hint of the “White Lines” sound they had at this time. Turn it into a real rocker without losing the dance vibe. It would be dangerously fun live. 

11. Drive By

It doesn’t fit into a covers album and I need to save space so this album will fit on vinyl. 

12. I Wanna Take You Higher Again ESG – My Love For You

Maybe a little obscure at the time but ESG’s influence has come full circle in music. They have been sampled (mostly illegally) by hundreds of rap producers and their funky dance sound influenced everything from post-punk to house music. Rather than Public Enemy, Duran Duran can point to ESG as an influential band on their modern mix of funk, rock, and dance music without sounding so desperate. Duran Duran could have a lot of fun with this track especially if Nick added some melodic synths over the melody

Thank You, You’re Welcome – Part One

The inexplicable decision to record Thank You in the wake of a commercial resurgence continues to perplex me whenever I revisit it. Duran Duran have a few solid covers to their name but few of them made it onto Thank You. If they had either released a covers album on par with David Bowie’s Pin Ups (a tall order for any artist) or put out a new studio album with a few hit singles to maintain their momentum, the 1990s might have gone much differently for the band. What should have Thank You sounded like? That is a question I plan to address in part two of this essay. For now, I am more excited about the idea of younger bands wearing their Duranie influence on their sleeves.


The recent cover of “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Muse is far more significant than has been noted. The 2014 tribute album Making Patterns Rhyme was a beautiful collection of ethereal covers but apart from Warpaint (and veteran Moby), the artist list was more underground and obscure. Muse are playing sold-out arenas right now. They are one of the few rock-n-roll bands who can do that in today’s industry. And they covered “Hungry Like the Wolf” without a hint of hipster irony. If you haven’t heard this slice of sonic gold, check it out here:


Muse joins The Deftones, and Eagles of Death Metal, as contemporary bands willing to fly the Duran Duran flag with sharp covers. The influence of the band can be traced through almost every sub-genre of popular music today and popular culture’s retro fetish has again made Duran Duran fashionable. It gets me excited for what happens tomorrow. Here is my list of twelve dream covers of Duran Duran songs.


1. Peaches – “Girls On Film”


The current live version of the song by Duran is what I’m imagining with a Peaches cover. Her ability to deconstruct gender roles makes this a lyrical feast for her to dine on. Check out how she balances guitars and electronics on “Boys Wanna Be Her” and you hear some of Duran’s DNA percolating beneath its surface.


2. Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) – “First Impression”


OK, we have to get MCR to reunite for this to work but I can see that happening in the not too distant future. Regardless, Gerard Way’s solid solo album would have been a good home for this cover as well. Slathering the lyrics in some teenage angst would give it a stronger narrative punch. I can see the band playing a goth prom with young kids “turning on the animal” and knocking over the lockers as they run out into the night. 


3. The Killers – “Planet Earth”


This seems so obvious it may have already happened and I missed it. The vocal line suits Brandon Flowers perfectly and the rhythm track would be a rollicking fun ride with Ronnie Vanucci Jr. pounding the skins. The influence of Duran Duran is all over Hot Fuss and it’s not like The Killers are making interesting music at this point (Wonderful Wonderful? Umm, no and no.). 


4. Kacey Musgraves – “Lonely In Your Nightmare”


She would own this! Strip it back to an acoustic ballad with a little steel guitar playing behind her. As a country artist, she has confounded expectations at every turn and a Duran Duran cover would be another unexpected move. She could probably sing any Duran song and make it work but these lyrics seem to best suit her style.


5. Let’s Eat Grandma – “Come Undone”


When Let’s Eat Grandma take the stage at Coachella in April, they will convert even more listeners to their unique alchemy of glitchy synths and soaring pop. Covering this song demands a complete re-invention because it is hard to top the original. Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth were born long after the song was a hit so they could shatter it and re-arrange the shards into a beautiful new prism. 


6. Sunflower Bean – “Do You Believe In Shame?”


Julia Cumming’s voice and bass tone are in this song’s sweet spot. Sunflower Bean can shift from Blondie disco-punk to Fleetwood Mac balladry in seconds so they could take this in a few interesting directions. One of Duran Duran’s most beautiful songs, it really deserves to be revived and shared with new listeners.


7. The 1975 – “New Moon On Monday”


I don’t know why but I can see this video already with Matty Healy looking mysterious on crowded London streets. The nonsensical lyrics (A lizard mixture? Help us out, Simon.) are no problem for Healy. He could sing anything and teenagers would go crazy. The 1975 already borrow a lot of their aesthetic from the 1980s so this wouldn’t be a creative leap for them to tackle. 


8. Robyn – “Electric Barbarella”


Nobody makes dance music like Robyn and this song would be the perfect companion to her classic “Dancing With Myself”. Sprinkle a little Swedish electro-pop fairy dust on the song to give it a stronger kick drum that shakes the walls and you have a hit song. Hearing Robyn whisper “princess of my dreams” would leave us begging for more.


9. IDLES – “Wild Boys”


Last year’s Joy As An Act of Resistance won IDLES critical acclaim and a legion of positive-minded punk fans who are ready to kick toxic masculinity in the face. Never an easy vocal for Simon LeBon, IDLES could reimagine it as a working-class anthem for young men trying to do right by this world. 


10. Garbage – “Pop Trash Movie”


OK, Garbage probably don’t need to cover Duran Duran but their recent version of Bowie’s “Starman” was a sheer delight. The only band on this list to have also done a Bond cover, Shirley Manson would bring this song to life. Manson would sell the narrative, too. She knows exactly what this song is trying to say and she could deliver it with more force than Duran Duran. 


11. St. Vincent – “Too Much Information”


Annie Clark’s immense guitar skills and anti-establishment attitude would suit this better than Duran Duran. No soda company will ever sponsor a St. Vincent tour. She would turn it inside out with a less linear version, I believe. Her and Dua Lipa covering this at this year’s Grammy Awards would have been a joy to see. 


12. Pale Waves – “Night Boat”


Pale Waves straddle the border between dark pop and dreamy gothic atmosphere which makes “New Religion” the perfect tune for them. They would slow it down to a glacial pace, perhaps, and take it from Birmingham to Manchester where the heavy clouds of Joy Division could strip it of any color. Pale Waves are finding success injecting irresistible pop songs with darker, more artistic tones. Sound familiar?

Jason Lent Guest Blogger thumbnail

Jason Lent (Velvet Rebel Music) discovered Duran Duran on MTV in 1983 and a lifelong musical love affair was born. In 2010, he left a job in Hawaii to tour with Cowboy Junkies as a music writer and his work has appeared in various online music outlets. He currently resides in Las Vegas managing a music venue while trying to learn John Taylor’s bass line from Rio.