Category Archives: 1980s

Show Me My Youth

Yesterday, I found myself in a coffee shop with my former student teacher and a couple of students of mine.  As we sat, chatting, I found myself commenting on the songs being played as they were mostly songs from the 80s.  One of my students asked me how come I knew all the songs.  She assumed that I was someone with a beyond normal amount of knowledge about music.  I explained that I am nothing special and probably a ton of people my age could name the songs, too.

This statement, of course, led to more questions about why that would be the case.  I explained that in my generation we did not the options to pick and choose our music very much.  We had radio, video shows like Friday Night Videos and MTV.  In order to hear our favorite songs, we just had to tune in to one of those and wait.  This meant that we listened to a lot of songs/artists that we did not necessarily like but it also meant that our generation has a more unified cultural experience surrounding music.  We learned all of the songs being played at the time because we were a captive audience.  I explained to the kids that while this sounds terrible, it really wasn’t.  The music gave us something in common–a frame of reference, something to always talk about.  Now, as an adult, I feel like it unites me with others around my age.

As I left the coffee shop, I started to think about what my music would have been like if I had the choices to pick and choose the way kids today do.  Some people could just hear music right away and decide if they like it within seconds.  I have decided that I’m just not that way.  I need to hear songs a bunch before I really know whether or not I like it.  Then, of course, once I do decide that a song is fabulous–watch out because I will listen to it non-stop.  One example of this was Depeche Mode.  When I bought one of their albums as part of one of those Columbia House deals to buy 7 cassettes for a cent or whatever it was, I listened to it once and thought it was weird.  Too weird to listen to.  Then, I had a friend who talked about how cool Depeche was so I gave it a few more listens.  Soon enough, some of the songs got in my head.

Really, Duran Duran was no different even as a kid.  I probably heard a song like Save a Prayer at least twenty times before I got it in my head and decided it was fabulous.  It even took awhile before I would call myself a Duranie.  I liked a lot of their songs before I knew that I loved the band.  The same thing is true with new music of theirs that comes out today.  Sometimes, the first few listens don’t do it for me.  Whenever I try to respond too quickly, it doesn’t go well.  I think Rhonda would probably say the same.  This is one of the mistakes we made with the Paper Gods album.  We wanted to review the songs so badly, we forgot that we need time.  Now, in thinking about that conversation with my students, I have to wonder if the need for multiple listens is common among my generation.

My original belief that I am glad that I grew up when I did stands, at least when it comes to music.  While I am sure that there are a lot of songs and videos that I wished that I could have skipped to get to the next Duran track, I’m glad that I couldn’t.  I believed that I found a lot more songs and bands that way that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

-A

Palm Springs and Lost80s Live

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent the weekend in Palm Springs. The Lost80s Live concert was at Agua Caliente Resort and Casino again, but this time, I decided to stay off property. My husband and I stayed at a tiny little boutique hotel close to downtown Palm Springs called La Maison. I’m giving them free advertising here because it is wonderful. It’s more of an inn and less of a hotel because it’s owned by a couple that treat their customers like actual guests in their home. There’s a pool, just twelve rooms, and it is QUIET (very unlike my home). In a word, it was heavenly, and I would suggest that anyone who is traveling to Palm Springs check it out.

On Saturday night, we had tickets to the Lost80s Live concert. Let me first acknowledge that any time I drive to Rancho Mirage, or better yet the Agua Caliente hotel, I immediately think about Duran Duran. So, when I drove past a billboard advertising the “Best Entertainment” in Palm Springs, it was no surprise to me that I recognized the people on stage in the background photo. (John, Simon & Dom) I didn’t grab a picture because I was driving and my co-pilot is not that quick. I’m glad I’m not the only one that recognizes what or who deserves the label of “best entertainment”.  After getting to the hotel, we went to will-call and grabbed our tickets. In full disclosure, I paid about $65 a seat, and as such, we were not in the front row. That said, we were still in orchestra, just off to the far left – or John’s side – of the stage.

(Will there ever be a time when I stop referring to the sides as “John’s” or “Dom’s”?  Probably not.)

Our seats were much better than I had even thought, even though we were back in row J and off to the extreme left as you look at the stage. The angle of the seats meant that our view was perfect. The people in front of us didn’t block, and there was AMPLE room for dancing without bothering the people behind us.  I have to say, out of the venues I’ve ever been to – this one has amazing seat layout. There just isn’t a bad seat in the place, even if you’re way up in third balcony.

The show started right on time with TransX taking the stage. The one thing I’ll say is that many of these “bands” really WERE bands back in the day, but nowadays, it’s only one person left playing with session musicians. The bands on the bill were primarily one-hit wonders, with a few bigger names thrown in. They weren’t really “KROQ” or alternative bands, a little more mainstream or top 40. TransX, The Flirts, Pretty Poison all played two songs each, and to be brutally honest – they were fine, just not that exciting to write about.

Now things were beginning to look up. Berlin took the stage next, and although I have seen Berlin about ten times over the years, Terri Nunn always puts on a good show. Tonight was no exception, although she forgot the words to (ha ha ha) “No More Words” about 2/3 of the way through. “I have been singing this song for THIRTY YEARS and I can’t remember the words!!” she said as she laughed. Her backup singer/guitarist kindly obliged, and guided her back on course. It wasn’t horrible, and a mistake easily forgiven.  Berlin was given the chance to do four songs: “No More Words”, “Take My Breath Away”, “Sex” and “Metro”.

The next band was one of the couple I was most excited to see, as  Cutting Crew took the stage.  I didn’t realize that I was going to need to serious research in order to blog about some of these groups – but in this case, I did.

I have never seen Cutting Crew live before, but I own Broadcast, and admittedly – I still know every word to every song on the album.  I have vague memories of playing the cassette over and over again in my (dating myself) Suzuki Samurai (yes, the vehicle that was known for tipping over back in the 80s. Mine never tipped, despite my best…and very stupid efforts…to drive it like a sports car. Someday I’m going to have to find pictures of it and post them here).  Apparently, Duran Duran was not the only band to grace the crappy, cheap stereo system I had for that poor vehicle!!  Once I knew for sure who it was on stage (I didn’t hear anyone announce them), I jumped up out of my seat. To the best of my knowledge at the time, the band onstage were all a part of Cutting Crew, but that was not the case.

Nick Van Eede, the lead singer, said that they’d come all the way from the UK for 15 minutes, but that he hadn’t yet worked out how many miles per minute that meant. They played one new song – “Till the Money Runs Out”, and a precious two songs off of Broadcast: “I’ve Been in Love Before” and “I Just Died in your Arms”.  It has been a long time since I was driven to tears at a show (I lie. It was in San Francisco by the band I’m normally writing about here!), but I was. Sometimes I forget how much these songs shaped me as a person, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set. I hope Cutting Crew comes back to the US with more of what they’ve been writing – I’ll be there in a heartbeat. They could have easily played ALL of Broadcast and I would have happily stood there.

Naked Eyes took the stage next, and for me, the performance just lagged. I don’t know if it’s because it truly wasn’t as energetic or if it was because I wanted more from Cutting Crew…but that’s the way it goes.

Something strange happened next, as two of the guys who had performed with Cutting Crew came back on stage. I was very confused, because I didn’t know who they were – and I actually had hoped that maybe they’d sent Cutting Crew back out for more (keep dreaming, right?) Nope. This was Nick Feldman (the bassist) from Wang Chung, and Gareth Moulton, who is the guitarist (and a fine one at that) from Cutting Crew – moonlighting as the other half of Wang Chung. It’s getting to the point where I feel like a primer is needed before I go to these sorts of shows! They were truly the surprise of the night for me because they were awesome!  Whatever was lacking in certain artists and bands before, these guys made up for it in spades. They just had a spark that was contagious, and the entire audience was up on their feet. I loved their short set, as they treated us to “Dance Hall Days”, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”, and “Let’s Go”.  Such fun.

The last band to take the stage was Tony Hadley, whom I reviewed yesterday.  The show was a lot of fun, and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed I went. Going to see these bands reminds me of just how much a part of my heart belongs to music. Yeah, some of it is schmaltzy and uncool – definitely not as edgy as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Guns and Roses – but they are songs that I’ve attached to certain memories, and it was fun to revisit part of my past that didn’t necessarily include Duran Duran for a little while that night. Lost80s Live was a lot of fun, if you have the opportunity, I recommend the show!

-R

 

 

Today in Duran History – The Spit

Betcha think this blog is gonna be about White Lines….

WRONG!

On today’s date in 1981, Duran Duran played at The Spit on Long Island. That’s right folks, they played at what was a club named The Spit.  That’s friendly and fun for the very first show played in the US, isn’t?  This is was the band’s first visit to North America, where they thought they’d be IN New York City rather than driving away from it, and this was also the trip where John announced that they should be on the “expwee” (expwy = expressway) Yep, here in the US we devise the signs so that way visitors….and the occasional US resident…get lost. Welcome to America!!!

And to think that one show…at The Spit…started all that we know here in the states from this band.

-R

 

Today in Duran History – MTV and East Rutherford, NJ.

On today’s date in 1985, Power Station played the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  Funny aside about this show: during the encore, a man shows up on stage, sweeping. John goes over to confront the man and the guy turns to the audience and grins.  The “sweeper” is none other than Nick Rhodes!  He decides to “play” the encore with the band while jamming on his…you guessed it….broom.  There is also a rather well-known rumor that Simon and Roger also attended this show, thus creating a temporary five-some again, but this rumor is false.  (Thanks to Duran Duran’s wiki for this tidbit!)

ALSO on on this date in 2003, Duran Duran FINALLY received the MTV Lifetime Achievement award.  While I still think this felt very “thrown together at the very last second”…. we’ll take it, and we’ll celebrate!  Let’s watch it happen again, shall we??

-R

 

 

Today in Duran History – Power Station in Philadelphia and Girl Panic in Durham

On today’s date in 1985, Power Station played at Spectrum in Philadelphia. 

Also on this date, but in the year 2012, Duran Duran played at the Durham Performing Arts Center in none other than Durham, North Carolina!  This, my friends…was a great show, and the night began with a fantastic meet up at the West End Wine Bar just a couple of blocks away from DPAC in Durham.  Approximately 100 Duran fans came to the meet-up before the show and began the party with Stolen Leopards (a Duran-inspired drink created for that evening by the bar), mingling, and even a little Duran in the background and on TV screens over the bar as an appetizer for what was to come later.  It was a great time, and we continue to thank Karen Booth and Kim Buchanan for helping us organize and plan such a great meet-up.  Let’s do it again!!!  -R

Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC

 

 

Today in Duran History – Is There Something I Should Know?

Wanna feel old for a second?  Today is Andy Taylor’s son’s birthday.  Lovingly referred to by many as A2 in the community, today is his 30th birthday.  That’s right friends…THIRTY. I announced that he apparently miscounted the years and went about my day, because that “I’m 30” business is just nonsense.  Between that and Roger posting a lovely photo of VERY GROWN Elliot and Ellea to his Facebook yesterday, I’m just done.  

Back to business….

On today’s date in 1983, American Top 40 featured my very favorite Duran Duran song, Is There Something I Should Know at #7 on their weekly countdown.  Only #7???  🙂

Here’s the video.  Today hasn’t started off so great here, so I’m just going to take the opportunity to try and reset Wednesday – my least favorite day of the week.  Cheers!  -R

 

 

 

Today in Duran History – Top of the Pops

On today’s date in 1982, Top of the Pops aired the video for Save A Prayer. On this date, Save A Prayer entered their video countdown at #27. Think back, how many of you UK fans saw this particular show?

To refresh your memories, here’s the video from the show!

Additionally, on this date in 2012, a couple of people you might know saw Duran Duran play in Atlanta at Chastain Park.

Daily Duranie Atlanta 2012253924_10151139979077733_1623041373_nBy far, this show goes down on record as being the steamiest show I’ve attended. Chastain Park is a beautiful outdoor venue in a very unique setting. The park is basically in the middle of a neighborhood and the venue is dug down into the ground (I’m sure that helps with the noise). On this particular date, it had rained quite a bit throughout the day, and being that it was summer, it was quite warm and very humid. So, when one entered the venue that night, you could see the “fog” (seriously, it was steam) settling into the venue like a steam pit. Water dripped from the roof of the venue down the necks and backs of the people in the first several rows. No, my friends, it was not very “refreshing”…but as we rocked out with the band that night, we forgot all about the steam and heat! Good times! -R

 

 

Today in Duran History – Cadiz, Spain

On today’s date in 1989, Duran Duran played at the Puerto Reel festival in Cadiz, Spain.  This was one of several festivals that the band played during this summer.

Not that I would ever dare suggest one buy a bootleg, but in my search for information regarding this appearance, I saw that there is actually a bootleg of this gig.  Live and learn!

-R

 

Book Club: Mad World (Animotion, Band-Aid and Afterword)

This is our final book club for the book, Mad World.  We will finish by discussing the last three chapters on Animotion, Band-Aid and the Afterword by Moby.  Perhaps, we will also include a little bit of what we learned along the way.  I hope you throughly enjoyed the book and the book club as much as we did!  Jump in and join us!

Animotion:

Amanda:

Truly, this was an unbelievable chapter and story to read.  As I read it,  I almost thought that I should be keeping a chart about who did what, when, why, etc.  There were so many statements and moves made that affected Animotion that it was hard to keep track.  Clearly, VERY clearly, the band members, themselves, did not have control over their band.  Much like the lyrics to the song, there is a desperation underlying all of the agreements and moves made by the individual members.  They seemed to want to succeed so badly and the little taste that they had made them want more.  This desire was so strong that they made some questionable decisions.  Unfortunately, those decisions didn’t seem to put them in a better spot in the long run.

Before I dive into the chaos that was the Animotion story, I have to acknowledge what I knew before hand.  I knew that Michael Des Barres co-wrote this song and that it did very, very well for him.  In fact, before Power Station, this seemed to be his big claim to fame.  I never once thought about the actual band who performed the song.  I was just happy that Michael experienced such success and I guess I assumed that the band must have as well.  How naive am I?!  The band’s story shows or reminds that one should never ever assume when it comes to the music business.

Right away into Animotion’s story, I know that this wasn’t going to go well when the song, “Obsession,” sounded nothing like the rest of the album and didn’t match the sound they were going for.  It seems to me that it never ends well when ONE song or ONE album goes against the rest of an artist’s catalog.  When the band heard the song, one member loved it and thought it was the direction they should be going and the other wasn’t so sure.  Perhaps, part of the problem was that the band wasn’t really on the same page to begin with and weren’t comfortable with each other.  Yet, of course,  reservations were pushed aside as the song moved up the charts.

After that, behind-the-scenes became complete chaos.  There was the producer trying to run the show and get in between band members.  Then, the record label pushed new songs at them and when the next one didn’t do as well, the label backed off support.  A new A&R man comes in filled with hate over everything they had done before.  Likewise, new managers determined that key members needed to go and be replaced by Cynthia Rhodes.   It seems to me that member, Astrid Plane, summed it up best on page 307 about what it was like to be them then, “You were nothing.  You were an item that was going to be on a shelf to be sold, and if they felt like you weren’t sales-worthy, then [they’d] toss you in the trash.”  I am left just shaking my head at how horrible and upsetting their story really was.  I wouldn’t want any other band or artist to experience something like this, but I suspect their story really isn’t all that unique.

Rhonda:

Unlike Amanda, I was pretty naive about who wrote “Obsession”.  Of course I know the song – it’s difficult to claim yourself as New Wave fan without acknowledging the song (purely as an aside, my younger sister continues to sing this song to me at the oddest moments, whenever the timing makes sense…to remind me of my Duran Duran fandom. Thanks, Robin.), but I really never thought about who wrote it.  I guess you could even say that I didn’t care, because I really didn’t.  I just knew the song to be one of those overplayed-to-death songs from the radio.  I don’t know that I ever really think about that kind of thing as a music consumer. (except when it comes to Duran Duran and their various guitar players over the years) I was shocked when I read this chapter though. If there was ever any question about how the industry REALLY works – how incredibly unfair it can really be, or how it will chew you up, spit you out and then come back later for more – this is the chapter to read.  

Animotion was never one of my favorite bands from this era, and I wholly admit that this particular song had everything to do with that. I suppress a bit of a chuckle when I find that this song wasn’t even their typical sound. It sounds nothing like their music at all, actually. That’s a real problem for this band – because if you’ve got an audience wanting to hear more like “Obsession”, and you’re used to writing something much more similar to say, early Police or Fleetwood Mac, that audience is never going to follow you.  Instead, you’ve got a band here who literally floated to the top of the charts on a song that they didn’t write – therefore making nearly NO money on the song (even to this day, it’s the writer of the song – Michael Des Barres – who continues to see handsome royalty checks on this one), and there’s not any way to bring those fans of this song to their back catalog.  It is really THAT different.  I read stories all the time about bands who are/were famous and yet haven’t a penny to their name(s), and mostly I want to scoff and laugh because really – is that possible?  The answer is yes. Yes it is.  If you can’t/didn’t write your own music, I’m not entirely sure that you want to “just” be the performer, and especially not after reading this chapter. 

I’d like to share a quote from Bill Wadhams, followed by a quote from Michael Des Barres.  It’s easy to see that they are two sides of the same coin – two products of the machine.  

Wadhams says, “I go on YouTube and see Michaels Des Barres performing at SXSW, and he prefaces ‘Obsession’ by saying, ‘This is a song that I wrote that made me a bloody fortune.’ The year that ‘Obsession’ [was a hit for Animotion], each member of the band made about $50,000; the next year, just about nothing.  Whether it’s fair or not, it doesn’t matter because I don’t know that Michael Des Barres ever sang a song that was an international hit. I wonder whether he would trade having been the singer of the hit song for the money, if he would’ve been able to walk out on stage, sing ‘Obsession’, and have people go, ‘That’s the voice, that’s the hit that we love.’ (308)

Des Barres says, “It’s put my kid through college, [supported] two wives, and more besides. One song enters the lexicon of American consciousness, and it will take care of you for the rest of your life.”  (308)

Astrid Plane, singer for Animotion, finishes the chapter by adding, “We are still in debt to the record company to this day.” (308) 

Band-Aid:

Amanda:

Lori Majewski’s introduction in this chapter instantly brought me back to my elementary school lunch hour.  Why?  Simple.  I, too, experienced endless debates between Band-Aid and USA for Africa. While her debates might have been about which had bigger stars, mine focused on who was first.  No matter how many times and how many ways I tried to explain that Band-Aid was first, that they had started it, my classmates didn’t believe me.  This was obviously long before the internet so I couldn’t prove it to them but I so wanted to.  In reality, below the surface of the debate, it was more about which was better:  New Wave or Motown?  Duran Duran or Michael Jackson?  You see, unlike so many in 1984, I lived in an area where it wasn’t cool to be a Duran Duran fan.  Michael Jackson was the one and only king there.  Even now, I have to admit to loving the comments Nick Rhodes made in this chapter about the differences between Band-Aid and USA for Africa.  He seemed to be spot on, to me!

While I knew the story behind the song and how quickly it was put together, reading Midge Ure tell about it makes it all the more real.  They truly put the song together so quickly from writing to recording to getting it airplay.  He tells how easily it could have been horrible and that “it wasn’t that bad”.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I can’t imagine a holiday season going by without listening to the song and hearing it played somewhere.  It lives on.

Of course, the real story of Band-Aid isn’t so much the song itself or the bands involved, but what was pointed out in the introduction.  It marked the end of the party.  The first half of the 1980s, the New Wave era, ended with this song  and what followed with Live Aid and other charity events.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I wish the New Wave era, musically, continued forever as I loved it so.  Yet, I know that, sometimes, it is good for something to be shorter lived.  It wasn’t around long enough to get completely run down and sucky.  I still have mixed emotion about the worldly awareness that followed.  While I’m a political person, I have never chosen music that is overtly political.  I like artists to be smart, thinking and feeling people but not preachy.  Did Band-Aid change people and the industry to become preachy?  Maybe.  It is hard to say but things definitely did change after that.

Rhonda:

The holiday season just isn’t so without this song.  Like Amanda, I wish the New Wave age had gone on longer – I didn’t graduate from high school until 1988 and it could have easily continued that long without complaint from me. I will never forget hearing the song for the first time, or the glee I get each and every time I hear it on the radio during the season.  This single song sums up much of my entire music experience during my formative years.  To this day I smile every time I hear Simon sing his lines, and while I know the song is for charity and it’s purpose was to galvanize the community into support for Africa – to me it’s about so much more. It’s a musical era. It’s my history. It’s the capstone of New Wave, and it was a song ever created for a charity (sometimes I wonder just how much of that message gets lost amongst the noise).  

I don’t know if I like what happened following the release of this record so much.  For me, music changed after that. I won’t even mention the US answer to this song, suffice to say that there have been many attempts to copy what this song tried to do. There is something really kind about “Do They Know it’s Christmas”, and I think that feeling was completely lost after that with “other” attempts. It became production and big industry business. Maybe that’s why I’ve always stuck to British bands….

After that record though, music started having some sort of a conscious, and bands tended to forget that the purpose was to entertain, not preach.   And of course, New Wave as I knew it really ended.  But at the time, when this record came out – I had no idea. I listened to it nearly non-stop during that 1984 holiday season. Ignorance was bliss, and trust me – I was indeed full of bliss that holiday. 

Afterword:

Amanda:

Moby does a good job in expressing how New Wave was different–international, gentle, escapist.  I felt all those same things.  I felt that way living in the Chicago suburbs and later even more so when I moved to small town, Illinois.  I longed for anything that wasn’t small town American focused, jean wearing, beer guzzling, hard rock that was all the rage by the time I found myself transported to what seemed like another planet.  I still miss it but there was a desperation then in my youth that led me to reject anything and everything popular for a good number of years.

This book brought me back to my childhood and the music I loved so much.  It reminded me why I fell in love with it and truly what was so good about it.  I loved the imagination and the creativity that everyone seemed to bring.  There was uniqueness in every artist despite having common influences.  As the kid, the music seemed carefree and fun.  Of course, the book also shed light on the stories behind  the music and many of those stories revealed the good, the bad and the ugly.  I learned how quickly some songs were written.  I also learned how easily band members can grow apart even when they were the best of friends.  The music industry might have been kinder then, in general, but still was a thorn in people’s sides too often.  Yet, despite everything that happened to each of these bands, their music remains.  Like Moby, I’m definitely thankful.  I’m also ready for the sequel!

Rhonda:

I don’t think I grew up in a particularly small town, but even so, New Wave was my escape from reality. I was a typical junior high school band nerd. My friends were either band members, or they were also nerds. We didn’t know how to dress, make-up was still a mystery, and awkwardness was probably my FIRST name at the time. The popular girls at my school loved to pick on me, and music was how I escaped the ridicule. I think to some extent, it still is.  Back then I’d come home from school, and the first thing I’d do was turn on the TV in search of music video, or I’d run to my bedroom, flop on my bed and hit my stereo. I didn’t want to hear or see pop – I wanted bands like Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, INXS, Depeche Mode or nearly any other band mentioned in this book. (coincidence? Probably not!) I didn’t have an allowance, and money wasn’t “free-flowing” in my parents house, so I can remember waiting for KROQ to play certain songs so that I could tape them from radio.  The audio quality would be terrible (back then I literally had to take my tape recorder and face it towards one of my radio speakers to make it work, and I nearly cried with joy the day my parents finally bought me a “boom box”…good Lord…) I always loved the boys who were less football, more introspective, and if they played in a band – all the better.  So when I read Moby’s afterword, I find myself nodding in agreement. His story really isn’t much different from my own.  New Wave WAS my adolescence and it did make life bearable. I don’t know what I would have done without it. 

Like Amanda, I’m ready for the sequel. This book was everything I’d hoped, and much, much more.  If you haven’t grabbed your copy yet, I urge you to give it a try. I loved this book so much it’s earmarked and red-lined, with notes in the margins and sadly, a few pages have even come out of the binding at this point. I daresay it’s been well-consumed.

-A & R