Category Archives: albums

30 years of Big Thing!

It is amazing how quickly life can take a turn. In 24-hours, I went from feeling happy and content to worried and insecure. The charter school where my youngest attends suddenly closed down. There is much more to the story – as there always is – but the bottom line is that we had to say goodbye this morning. It was emotional, and I still feel pretty raw.

I worked there for the past two years, and quit at the end of May in order to move….which hasn’t happened quite yet. It was very hard watching my colleagues and friends be treated as though they were criminals by the executive administration. Even more difficult was watching the kids faces as they looked anxiously to their parents this morning while being told by someone they had never met that they couldn’t go into the center. I was on a short list of people not allowed in the learning center at all, for any reason – which makes me laugh. I don’t even think I’m on Duran Duran’s short list for that kind of thing yet!

Those of us who worked there gave it our all. Blood, sweat and even tears went into each school year, and I am very proud of the work I did there. To this day, I can’t sneak into the learning center without small (and smallish) children running to give me hugs and tell me they miss me, which I cherish.  I miss being a part of their world each week. Sometimes though, regardless of how much heart, joy, love and affection someone puts into something, it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes things fall apart, no matter how much we work at them to succeed.

This is just one reason why I am thrilled to think about the 30th Anniversary of Big Thing today. Many fans talk consider the front side as the real genius of the album, but I believe the real gems are on the back!

The trifecta of “Palomino”, “Land”, and “The Edge of America” continue to rock my world to this day. Any one of the three could be entered into direct evidence for why Duran Duran should be in the Hall of Fame. Combined, they become the cornerstone of why I, along with so many others, are fans of this band.  Heartfelt, personal, poignant,  ground breaking are all words I would use to describe the project. Big Thing may be one of Duran Duran’s most underrated albums, but it is also among their best. Coincidence?

Sometimes, no matter how much heart and soul you put into something – the work goes unsung by the masses. Those losses are often the hardest to overcome, but they’re also teachable moments.

I’m hoping the same for my family in the coming weeks.

-R

How do we really feel about Autumn Albums?

I think we can all agree it’s been pretty quiet recently. I can appreciate friends who post topics to get a conversation started, particularly when it comes to Duran Duran.  Personally, I love surveys and polls. They’re fun little “litmus” tests for the fan community, and they’re fun to look back on from year to year to see if there’s been any changes.

One of my Twitter friends, @BoysMakeNoise (you should follow him!) likes putting together surveys. This week, there was a survey on Autumn albums. Each of the albums that Duran Duran has released in Autumn months was given a star rating of 1 to 5, and then that information was compiled to find out what album was most liked.  He ran the same survey last year at about the same time, and now we’d have a comparison.

2017 Results  (average rating)

  1. Red Carpet Massacre  (2.95)

  2. Medazzaland (3.06)

  3. Astronaut (3.73)

  4. Big Thing (3.78)

  5. Paper Gods (3.96)

  6. Notorious (4.00)

  1. Seven and the Ragged Tiger (4.07)

2018 Results (average rating)

  1. Red Carpet Massacre (2.99)

  2. Medazzaland (3.06)

  3. Astronaut (3.63)

  4. Big Thing (3.74)

  5. Seven and the Ragged Tiger (3.86)

  6. Notorious (4.06)

  1. Paper Gods (4.28)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I like to extrapolate information from results like these.  There were 100 participants in the survey. The number isn’t enormous, but I think it is fairly representative. Chances are, the people who participated are not simply “fair-weather fans”. These are people who know the band’s catalog, and know it well-enough to debate the components.

Astonishingly, the real movement here was between Paper Gods and Seven and the Ragged Tiger – one of the “Holy Trinity” albums. (First album, Rio and SATRT). Rarely do I ever see any of the initial three knocked out of the top three of any survey ever taken. They tend to be considered Holy Grail, virtually untouchable. The rest of the results stayed within a reasonable range of last year’s survey results, but most did vary.  Medazzaland, pinpointed at an average rating of 3.06 stars each year, was the only album with stagnate results.

Nostalgia at Work

It is rare to see any of the first three albums removed from the top of any “favorites” list. There are a number of reasons for this. The album was released in 1983, there was a reasonably huge tour to support it, and it came out at the height of their popularity. This album marked the end of the initial “Fab Five” era, and for that reason alone, even post-1980’s fans hold it close to their hearts. The nostalgia for this album is enormous, and that alone keeps it afloat.

Over the years I’ve been participating in social media, I’ve been involved in more than one discussion about Seven and the Ragged Tiger. It is a difficult album for me, because I remember how much I adored it when it was released. The funny thing is that even in 1983, I don’t think I really “got” it. I can remember thinking how strange it sounded compared to anything else out at the time—and I liked it that way. Even today, I’m astounded by just how much is going on in every single song. There are no “empty spaces”.  There are layers upon layers of music and background effect. The question, is whether or not it was overdone, and that’s always up for debate.

I can see the first three albums in a definite progression. The first album was pretty raw and natural. In my opinion, that album remains the most uniquely untouched “Duran”. No egos, no fame, no fortune to muddy the picture. Rio, has far more finesse. A little more ego, but not too much. After all, they didn’t “hit” in the USA until much of Rio was remixed (Kershenbaum) and re-released here in the states. They were UK stars, but America was another challenge. Next was SATRT, and they pulled out all of the stops for this one. There’s a lot going on, and I don’t just mean musically. The band clearly had an ego by this time, and they felt like they had something to prove, with all the resources in the world to do it. I can hear the inner tug-of-war going on within the band, and if you listen closely – you can hear Simon tell you all about the struggles of fame, too.

The trouble is, at least in my opinion, as much as I loved this period of time – the album has its challenges. In hindsight, Seven and the Ragged Tiger is representative of the band’s excesses on nearly every level. Even so, I can’t quit it, and likely – neither can you.

What about Paper Gods?

In the other hand lies Paper Gods. Upon first glance, you might not even recognize that it’s the same band, particularly if you’re not a diehard fan. As I bow to my fellow nostalgia-nerds out there, I can’t help but say that Paper Gods is the better album. The quality of construction is there. It has all of the finesse of Rio, with the same quality of ingenuity that created Seven and the Ragged Tiger. On the same token, Paper Gods is not a one-listen album. In order to fully appreciate the music, it takes time. Once again, if you listen closely, you’ll even hear Simon tell you everything you need to know about their career. Paper Gods is truly a survey of their career, and a hallmark album. I believe these to be the reasons for the growth in the survey results for Autumn albums over last year.

In other words, it is not so much that Seven and the Ragged Tiger has lost a huge amount of favor with fans as it is that Paper Gods is becoming more beloved. I don’t think there will ever be a time when a significant number of fans won’t include SATRT in their top three or four list of favorite DD albums, much less Autumn album. The nostalgia for the time, paired with the album’s historic status (it was the last album with the original five until 2004) continue to keep it balanced on a narrow pedestal. Perhaps though, Paper Gods will occupy its own nearby pinnacle. Time will tell.

-R

Which Full Album Live Would You Prefer?

I like to check out set lists.  Before the Depeche Mode show, I spent time checking out the set list for this tour.  I guess I’m a little like those TV and movie fans who read spoilers online.  While in the case of Depeche or the Killers, I look at the set lists to have an idea of what they are playing.  Yet, in the case of Duran, I just like to know what they are playing even if I’m not going to be seeing them any time soon.  Naturally, then, I looked at the set lists from last week’s shows.  I like to see if there are any surprises and this time, there were!

At the Croatia show, they busted out a minute or so of the Universe Alone before diving into Save a Prayer.  As soon as I saw that, I wanted to see video since I never thought they would play that song from Paper Gods!  If you haven’t seen it, here is a little video.  The fans there were pretty excited!

Then, they played Face for Today at the Home Festival!  Here is a video of that:

This got me thinking.  How many songs from Paper Gods have they played live?  Let’s check!

Paper Gods?  Yes.  Last Night in the City?  Yes.  You Kill Me with Silence?  Yes.  Pressure Off?  Yes.  Face for Today?  Yes.  Danceophobia?  Yes.  What are the Chances?  Yes.  Sunset Garage?  No.  Change the Skyline?  No.  Butterfly Girl?  No.  Only in Dreams?  Yes.  The Universe Alone?  Yes.  Of course, they have not played any of the bonus tracks.  Ignoring those, they have played all but 3 tracks.  Is that common?  Was that the case of All You Need Is Now?  Astronaut?

For All You Need Is Now, they played every track except for the bonus tracks.  With Astronaut, they played all of the tracks except for One of Those Days, I think.  Red Carpet Massacre was a little different since they played the entire album in order on Broadway.  I was lucky to attend one of those shows, which definitely helped my appreciation of some tracks (Tricked Out!!).  Over the course of my fan career (is that such a thing?  Should it be?), I have also seen every track from the Rio album at some point or another, if I leave out b-sides.

It seems to me that one idea that has come up both in relation to the 40th anniversary and otherwise is the idea of Duran playing shows where they play an entire album.  Personally, I like that idea.  I think a lot of fans do.  Many fans might say that they would like them to play the entire Rio album.  I get that.  It is a fan favorite.  For me, though, I would choose an album that I haven’t seen most of the songs played live.  One of my favorite albums is the first album and there are lot of songs on that one that I haven’t heard.  Of course, I haven’t seen many songs off of Liberty, Medazzaland or Pop Trash.  In fact, there are VERY few songs off of those albums that I have seen live based on when I have seen Duran shows.  I missed the tours surrounding Medazzaland and Pop Trash.

I don’t have a good answer then to the question of which album I would prefer to hear live.  If my goal is to hear more songs that I haven’t before, then I should go with Pop Trash.  If I want a favorite album, then I should go for the first album or All You Need Is Now.  Interestingly, though, I think my final answer might be Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  I have only seen a few songs from that album–far less than the first album and it is one that I enjoy.  It might be a good compromise between the never heard and a big time favorite.

What album would you want to see performed in entirety live and why?

-A

Paper Gods – Which Is Your Favorite?

As I continue to kind of sort out my final thoughts on all things Paper Gods, I’ve been thinking about the album itself.  This album took a while to grow on me.  Amanda and I spoke about it on the way home from San Francisco, and she surmised that this was a ‘thinking person’s’ album.

I think she’s right about that. In my case, it wasn’t an album that reached out and grabbed me, but instead it kind of sat bubbling in my head, percolating away. For what seemed like months, I’d listen to the album on repeat in the car, and then I’d put it away for a bit. Then I’d pull it back out, and listen to it again on repeat. I would think about the lyrics, the meaning, the possible story, and the music itself.

There were a few things about the album that just didn’t sit well with me. I struggled with the idea that Dom was barely on it, for instance. Yeah, I’m loyal. I know he’s not an “official band member”.  Whatever. He’s been with them for so long, it sure feels like he’s official. It bugged me. I wasn’t totally in love with the feel of the album at first, either. It felt very electronic in parts, and oddly un-Duran Duran like in others. I kept listening. I did not want a repeat of Red Carpet Massacre – an album that I never really enjoyed – so I kept at it, trying to bond.

Somewhere along the line, I must have done just that. The songs no longer sound foreign to me. They no longer feel too electronic, or not DD “enough”.  I don’t even think about who played or wrote what song. They feel just right. Even so, I have favorite songs on every single Duran Duran album. I think we all must have tunes we enjoy more than others, and this one is no different. I also think that looking back on this tour has kind of given new meaning to at least a few of the songs I once struggled with.

When I think of Paper Gods though, a few songs come to mind: Pressure Off, Last Night in the City, and What are the Chances. I am certain this is because the band played all of them on tour, and so they come to mind easily. I also think about The Universe Alone, Planet Roaring, and Cinderella Ride. It’s kind of hard to pick a favorite from that list, but in the end it is purely sentiment that drives me.

While I know he didn’t write it, there’s no arguing that Dom owns the guitar solo in What are the Chances when he plays it live. He took something that wasn’t really his and made it so, and the album version is every bit as beautiful, of course. I feel just a teensy bit guilty that I had to remind myself on the way home from San Francisco that John Frusciante actually wrote the guitar part – I’d gotten so used to Dom doing it that I’d forgotten.  I’m not normally a ballad person, but on this album it’s the two ballads (What are the Chances and Cinderella Ride) that I love hearing most when I’m at home.  The words for both ring very close to home for me in completely different ways – which is something I can say for 99% of the album. The lyrics really hit me.

There is a lot to like on this album, and since it’s release, I’ve fallen in love with much of it. It may not have been an album that knocked me over upon first listen, but it is definitely one that made me think, reconsider, and ultimately embrace. It’s been a great ride.

-R

The Ranking of the Albums

For the last couple of weeks, we asked fans to identify which Duran album is their favorite, second favorite, third, etc. all the way to the least favorite.  Based on the results, Duran’s albums ranked in this way:

  1. Rio (The favorite)
  2. 1st Album/Self-Titled
  3. Seven and the Ragged Tiger
  4. All You Need Is Now
  5. The Wedding Album
  6. Paper Gods
  7. Notorious
  8. Astronaut
  9. Big Thing
  10. Red Carpet Massacre
  11. Liberty
  12. Medazzaland
  13. Pop Trash
  14. Thank You

Of course, these results are based on those people who participated.  We had lots more people vote on the first day when the favorite album was asked with a lot less participation when we got to the 10th or 11th favorite.  People stated that they had a hard time remembering what was left on their lists.  I could relate, which is why I had to write my list down!

Not Surprising:

These results do not surprise me.  While I might find one or two placements interesting, I was definitely not shocked to find Rio at the top.  It routinely tops the list when we have asked this question before or something very similar to it.  In fact, 46% voted for Rio at the top.  Interestingly enough, the lowest placement it had in this set of polls is second.  Everyone who participated loves this album.

The bottom of the list did not catch me off guard either.  I knew that Medazzaland, Pop Trash and Thank You would be near the bottom.  It was really just a matter of which one would be where.  I recognize that many fans get frustrated by this as they feel that Rio is overrated and albums like Medazzaland are far underrated.  While I definitely feel that Rio gets a LOT of love and perhaps too much love, I have to recognize that the fans who participate feel the way they do.  If everyone who loves Medazzaland participated, maybe the results would be different.

Slightly Surprising:

Three albums did not get chosen for ANYONE’S favorite, which were Thank You, Pop Trash and Red Carpet Massacre.  I really didn’t think that Pop Trash or Thank You would be favorites.  Some fans defend Pop Trash but those fans are louder in their support over Medazzaland.  As for Thank You, it is a covers album.  Duranies, apparently, prefer the songs the band writes themselves.  Now, Red Carpet Massacre, on the other hand, does surprise me a little.  Every time we bring up this album and mention how divided the Duran fan base was, people come on to tell us about how great the album is and how much they love it, claiming how it was dealt with was the problem.  If that is the case, someone would have chosen it as his/her favorite.  No one chose RCM or Thank You until the 4th favorite album was mentioned.  Clearly, those albums are not generally loved.

I watched the placement of the post-reunion albums carefully.  Obviously, I just mentioned that Red Carpet Massacre placed the worst out of the four.  Astronaut was not that much better at 8th favorite.  Paper Gods picked up the 6th favorite and All You Need Is Now landed in the 4th spot.  The first three favorites were the first three albums.  This tells me that most Duranies became fans then and prefer the early 80s sound.  After the 80s were chosen was All You Need Is Now.  Think about that.  The fan favorite after the three albums of the early 80s, after the band’s most popular era was that one.  It was not the latest in Paper Gods.  Nor was it the one produced in part by Timbaland or featured Justin Timberlake.  Dom was on that album, not Andy.

What does this tell me about Duran fans?  As much as many fans appreciate experimentation, the general sound fans love is the 80s sound found on the first 3 albums and AYNIN.  As the band considers going back into the studio, perhaps, they will think about that.

What do the rest of you think about the results?

-A

The Survey Says…

Last weekend, I did a little blog in which case I questioned the depth of fans’ Duran Duran collections, which you can read here.  In that blog, I asked fans to participate in 4 surveys, including the Duran albums they own, albums they heard completely, side/solo projects they own and side/solo projects they have heard completely.  As people participate, one factor became obvious.  I should have probably listed the extent of the side and solo projects.  For example, Power Station had two albums during their existence.  Thus, the results might not be as accurate as they could be. That said, this was all in fun so not a big deal.

Duran Duran Albums Owned:

For this survey, the question was asked:  Which Duran Duran albums do you own?  The results surprised but also did not surprise me.  The most commonly owned album?  Rio.  I would expect everyone who identifies as a Duranie to own that one.  Here are the results by most owned to least owned:

Rio
Seven and the Ragged Tiger
The Wedding Album
Self-titled/Arena/Paper Gods
Astronaut/All You Need Is Now
Notorious/Red Carpet Massacre
Greatest
Big Thing/Decade
Thank You
Liberty
Medazzaland
Pop Trash
Live from London
A Diamond in the Mind

I will describe my reaction to this list tomorrow, including when/where the big drops in ownership were.

Duran Duran Albums Heard Completely:

Ownership is different than having heard albums.  For example, some fans might have heard various albums but never bought or no longer own certain albums for whatever reason.  Unlike albums owned, there are not huge gaps between albums heard and albums heard a lot less.  Again, here is the list of which albums people have from the most to the least:

Rio/Seven and the Ragged Tiger
Astronaut/Paper Gods
Notorious/The Wedding Album/All You Need Is Now
Self-titled/Red Carpet Massacre
Big Thing
Medazzaland
Liberty/Thank You/Pop Trash

Like the first survey, the results surprised me and did not surprise me.  More reactions from me to follow on tomorrow’s blog.

Side/Solo Project Owned Completely:

Like the previous two surveys, the results both matched and did not match my expectations.  When I made the list, I left out Warren’s solo work simply because I forget about him (and I’m not really a fan).  Perhaps, if he had been included, the results might have been different.  Here are the most owned to the least owned by fans:

Arcadia
Power Station
John Taylor
Neurotic Outsiders
Devils/Simon Le Bon
Andy Taylor
TV Mania
Dom Brown
Freebass

Side/Solo Project Heard:

For this question, I asked fans which side/solo projects they have heard completely, have heard some of, and have heard none of.  Let’s start with the ones fans have heard completely from most to least heard:

Arcadia
Power Station
The Devils
Neurotic Outsiders
John Taylor
Simon Le Bon
TV Mania
Andy Taylor
Dom Brown
Freebass

Have heard some of from most to least:

Simon 
Andy
John
Power Station
TV Mania
Dom Brown
Neurotic Outsiders
The Devils
Arcadia
Freebass

Have heard none of from most to least:
Freebase
Dom Brown
Neurotic Outsiders/The Devils/TV Mania
Andy Taylor
Simon Le Bon
John Taylor
Power Station/Arcadia

All in all, I found the results fascinating.  I will dive into the results and give my reaction in tomorrow’s blog.  Before I do, what do you think of the results?

-A

You Have to Make a Choice

Last week, I blogged about diffuser.fm’s ranking of Duran Duran albums, which you can read here.  While I wrote the blog, I began to wonder if all Duranies who read this blog own all of the band’s albums.  The hypothesis that I created in that blog is that there are some Duranies who do not actually own all of the band’s albums.  For example, I suspect that there are some who don’t own Medazzaland and Pop Trash.  Instead of just guessing that, I figured that I would create a survey to find out if my guess is accurate, which is below.  In the survey below, please click on all the albums you OWN.

Are there fans who don’t own the albums but have heard them?  Let’s find that out!

Beyond the band’s albums, I also wonder how many of the band’s side and solo projects fans have, too.  Maybe they have heard more than they own?  I want to know that, too, so I created more surveys to find out!

After I give everyone a chance to participate, I will do another blog to share what I learned or what I think I learned.  Of course, if you have predictions (and I bet you do!), please share them!  What will we find out with these surveys?

-A

P.S. If I have forgotten a side/solo project, just let me know.  I’ll add it with a separate survey.

Its a New Religion: Rio and the Self-Titled Debut

I’ve noticed that Amanda has been telling her own stories regarding each album lately, and so I’ve decided to join in.  Perhaps you’ll decide to share your own – and we certainly encourage that!

I’m going to start with the first album…and actually Rio… since that seems to be the best place to begin! This is going to require some memory on my part.  I cannot guarantee I’m going to get the chain of events completely accurate, but it is how I remember it!

As I’ve mentioned previously, the very first time I heard Duran Duran was on KROQ. What you don’t know, is that I stumbled onto the station by accident, really. I’d overheard girls—popular girls— talking about KROQ at school. I had no idea what it was, or why the station was cool, but I was desperate to fit in. If I remember right, I’d heard the call letters way before I knew what the number was. I never actually asked anyone at school because I was too shy to bother. It was just one of those things I kept in the back of my mind, and once I finally saw where the station was located, I ran home to find it.

I remember trying to find 106.7 on the radio dial. Back then, as I’m sure many will remember – the dials were touchy. I didn’t have a digital display telling me what station it was on, I had to go by this orange little hand that would move as I turned the dial on my radio, and it wasn’t completely accurate. So I’d fidget with it, get it to tune in, and then wait to see if I had the right station.  Finally I must have gotten it, because Rodney on the ROQ was on, and he was introducing this band that he swore we’d hear more from.  The band was Duran Duran and the song was Planet Earth.

I liked the song immediately, but at the time I was far more astounded that I was actually listening to the right station, the one everyone else – or at least everyone who I thought mattered – was talking about. I went back to school and reported it to my group of misfit friends. One of the girls in this group knew all about KROQ and Duran Duran. This is where my memory gets wonky, because I can’t remember how long it was between that time and when they really became popular. In my head it wasn’t that long, but I’m not sure.

What I can tell you though is that I didn’t buy a Duran Duran record right away. Instead, I heard them a lot on the radio – but it wasn’t the first album I was hearing. It was Rio, and it hit BIG here. By then, it wasn’t just KROQ playing them – it was every station. I want to say that Marsha – the girl in the group that had already known who Duran Duran was – invited me to go with her to buy their album at the record store.  This was a major thing for me because I didn’t really own much in the way of music beyond KTEL records: a few Shaun Cassidy albums and a copy of Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog.

We got to the store (Wherehouse records!), and I remember looking at the Duran Duran albums…but here is where my memory fades again. You see, my very first DD album wasn’t their self-titled one. It was Rio. I bought Rio first, only to find out later that there was an earlier album. (which I then bought, of course!) I can’t remember if the first album was there on the shelf with Rio and I just didn’t know what it was (obviously when I’d heard Planet Earth I didn’t know what album that was from or much else about the band). One might wonder why I wouldn’t have bought both if I saw them, and I can only guess:

  1. I must have only seen Rio?
  2. I only had money for one album and had to choose?
  3. (and this is the one I’m leaning towards because of my memory) The stores only HAD Rio at the time because that was the album that was huge on the radio, and it was later that we got the self-titled one with Is There Something I Should Know on it rather than To The Shore)

I know that it wasn’t long after I’d bought Rio that I then either bought the first one or it was given to me for a holiday or birthday or something. I also remember seeing Carnival in the stores around this same time, but…in my frugal thinking back then…I couldn’t understand buying an album that I already had all the songs from. Yes, I’ve spent time kicking myself (at least up until I actually bought Carnival myself).

At first, I can tell you that I liked Rio far more than I did the first album. To me, the first album was “weird”.  I liked some of the songs on it – like Planet Earth and ITSISK, but I wasn’t a big fan of GOF. What’s more, later on I discovered that one of my KTEL records had GOF on it. It was actually a song on the B side that I tended to skip!!  (Ha, that’s a true confession!)  Clearly, in the years since that initial purchase I’ve changed my mind! But yes, it was probably Rio (and HLTW if I’m being honest) that made me fall for Duran Duran.

My favorite song on Rio was New Religion, although Rio ran a close second along with yes, HLTW.  When I went back and got the self-titled album, I can remember being incredulous that it came out before Rio because it wasn’t until after Rio came out that we heard ITSISK. I just wasn’t aware of the chain of events, I guess.

So, my favorite song on the first album was – yes – ITSISK. I wasn’t aware until years later that the real first album didn’t even have that on it, it was just pressed that way for the US. Live and learn, I suppose.

Someday I’ll have to tell you about the first time I saw their videos with my friend Marsha.

-R

 

My Own Way: Album Ranking

Welcome to Monday. It is my first day back after a nearly a week of festivities, and so I’m going to start slow…by doing my own ranking of albums.

In full disclosure, I read diffuser.fm’s take on Duran’s career, as well as Amanda’s, prior to making my own choices. Both gave me a little more to think about, but neither swayed my decisions. I know we’ve done this before, but as Amanda mentioned, I haven’t even considered it since Paper Gods came out.  Why not revisit?

My own countdown is devised so that I mention the album and the reasons for where it sits. Some albums may have a paragraph, others might have a sentence or two. I left Arena off of my list completely as it only has one studio song on it and if I were to rank live albums I would do them all.

I’ve learned that I cannot hem and haw around while I am ranking things or picking favorites. I feel a little like I’m mowing down the field of Duran Duran albums as I go through the process, quickly deciding what should go where and why – but I go with my first instinct, my gut, and don’t look back. I do fine as I begin, but somewhere around #8 I start worrying, but remind myself to go with  my gut. I look back over the list as I’m finishing and realize that for now – today even – it’s how I feel. Tomorrow?  Who knows.  That’s kind of how it’s always been for me as a fan.

Perhaps it’s really gotten to the point that I identify so closely with their career – each album marking a particular point in my own life – that it’s difficult to be objective anymore. I don’t know, but I tried. I’m sure I’m not the first fan to be stumped by ranking albums or picking favorite songs. In fact, I know I’m not!

Thank You

I just never felt they hit their stride here. While some songs, such as Perfect Day or Lay Lady Lay are so silky smooth you can’t help but enjoy them, others, such as 911 is a Joke, make no sense at all.  Then there’s White Lines, which is great live, but on the album it tends to fall flat. I can’t fault the band too much for trying something few other bands of their calibre have done, but it just does not rank high on my list of favorites.

Red Carpet Massacre

Anyone who knows me probably saw this coming, and I’m sorry for being predictable. I don’t think this album can or should be swept under the proverbial carpet and forgotten – because it is how we got here, to this place we all currently occupy. I can certainly see and hear the parallels between this album and Paper Gods. I’m glad they tried out some of the things they learned from RCM over again to get them right.

Pop Trash

I would characterize Pop Trash as the fast food of Duran Duran’s career.  Perhaps fitting? While the album is nowhere near “bad”, I never felt that there was a lot for me to sink my teeth into and devour.  It lacks the depth of some of their other work, which is why it ended up in this place on my list.

Medazzaland

Ah, Medazzaland.  If there were any album that had changed for me over the years since it’s release – it would be this one.  I just didn’t get it when it first came out. In fact, I listened to the album in full one time before shelving it for many years. Lately though, I’ve listened to it, and I’m finally starting to get it. No, I’m still not a fan of the title track (sorry Nick), or Silva Halo, but I do really like Big Bang Generation, Who Do You Think You Are, and Midnight Sun. There’s a lot hiding amongst the shadows on this album, and I think it’s worth a revisit.

Liberty

How can I rank this above Pop Trash or Medazzaland? 2am drives from Hollywood, that’s how.  Our personal experiences shape our listening choices, and for me – that’s why Liberty works. It kept me awake many times during college and beyond, so I’m going with it.

The Wedding Album

I have to admit that I agree with Amanda – while there are two songs on this album that are iconic for Duran Duran, the album as a whole isn’t nearly as impressive as others (which I recognize is tough to do when you’re Duran Duran and have had so many successes).  So it’s not that I think the album is bad – it’s that the band has too many great ones!

Astronaut

Oh yes I did rank this one about The Wedding Album. Please see the line about personal experiences.  For me, this album is all about the Fab Five. I can’t ignore it, I can’t get past that, and it was a dream come true for me. Yes, it’s pop. Sure, there are songs on it that I didn’t love and I still take it personally that they didn’t include Beautiful Colors, Salt in the Rainbow and Virus on it. Even so, I’ll take it.

Notorious

I am pretty sure that at one point or another, I ranked this lower on my list. Again, I didn’t get it. But just a week ago, I pulled the album out and gave it a good listen. What is most remarkable to me about Notorious, is that it came after Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Those albums were hugely successful. Then they had two band members leave, and rather than sticking with what they knew, they took the opportunity to blaze new territory. It was like deciding to take a giant left turn out of nowhere. As a child, I had little respect for that sort of thing. In fact, I don’t think I really understood.  Even as an adult I sometimes get caught up in what I think DD should be or should sound like – but I’m working on it.

Big Thing

Another album I didn’t really get until adulthood. The first half is as dance music as I’d expect from DD, and the latter is the culmination of some of their finest songwriting moments. The emotion that comes across threw the B side of this album is astounding, and in my opinion, it is the best DD album that no one has really heard.

Paper Gods

Here’s the thing about Paper Gods for me – I like it. I don’t know that I love it, although I’ve tried. It ticks a lot of the boxes for plenty of people, but it is also an album that I really needed to come to terms with. I didn’t fall in instant love, but I would say I’ve grown to respect each song and the work that went into making the album overall. I can’t fault an album that hit top ten, if only for a brief, shining moment.

Seven and the Ragged Tiger

This goes bad to personal experiences for me. This album is my seventh grade wrapped in vinyl. Awkward, sometimes overdone, but still well-loved. Sure, it might not be their best songwriting, but I love it all the same, and that’s why it is near the top of my list. All I have to do is hear the opening notes to Union of the Snake and I’m back on the lawn with my friends at recess, gawking at the latest edition of Tiger Beat. For me, those memories are priceless, and that is what makes music so powerful.

Rio

I know what you all are thinking.  Yes, I really did put Rio third. The trouble is, it could easily be second. Or first. The final three on my list here are probably interchangeable, if not completely tied. I cannot think about Duran Duran without thinking about Rio. If there were ever a reason why Hungry Like the Wolf is played at every single DD show – it is because of Rio. Try as we might, we simply cannot separate Rio (the album) from the band, in the same way that we cannot separate HLTW from them either. I get it. I may not always like it, but I get it. And I respect it.

All You Need is Now

It pains me that the band left this song, and many songs from this album, off of their set list this past year. For me personally, this album is easily as iconic as Rio. It describes the band, and their relationship with their audience, to a T. To think that Duran Duran wrote this album during their third decade together simply blows me away. It is an album that never got it’s justice, and it is still one of my very favorite.

Self-titled Debut

I really don’t think it is all that surprising that one of my favorite albums is the one that started it all for them, and for me. I love the rawness, the lack of expectation, and the realness of the music. There is no ego here, no trying to outdo what has already been done. It is simply music from  a band ready to take it’s place in the world.  This is an album from Duran Duran before they were DURAN DURAN, and it is the most real we’ve ever gotten from them. that is why it remains number one for me.

My choices weren’t all that surprising, but the exercise was fun. I don’t anticipate others to agree with me – in fact, you shouldn’t. We all have had our own journey, and that is what makes it all fun.  I’m no music expert, and I only have my own taste to rely on, so by all means make your own list and have fun with it.

-R

 

 

Duran Album Ranking Reaction

Earlier this week, diffuser.fm posted a little article entitled:  Duran Duran Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness, which you can read here.  The article ranked Duran’s 14 studio albums along with Arena.  Here’s how they were ranked (obviously I would read the original article to read all of the explanations for why they placed the albums where they did).

  1. Red Carpet Massacre
  2. Liberty
  3. Thank You
  4. Arena
  5. Pop Trash
  6. Astronaut
  7. Seven and the Ragged Tiger
  8. Big Thing
  9. Notorious
  10. Paper Gods
  11. Medazzaland
  12. Self-titled
  13. The Wedding Album
  14. All You Need Is Now
  15. Rio

Before I dive into what I think about the list, I am surprised that the author included the live album of Arena.  Why list one live album but not the others?  After all, Duran has released three live albums (Arena, Live from London and A Diamond in the Mind).  Plus, those live albums do not include any new material with the one exception of Arena with the song, Wild Boys.  Still, does one new song mean that it should be included?  I would have not have included it.

What They Got Right:

I think many/most Duran fans and critics would list Rio high on the list.  I’m no exception.  Clearly, that album features a tremendous number of gems on it.  It set the stage for Duran-mania and the commercial success that went along with it.  While the album included a number of actual singles, many more could have been.  That said, if I were to rank the albums, I don’t know that I would have personally listed Rio at top but it would definitely be on the list.

Speaking of an album that was high on the list, I totally agree that All You Need Is Now deserves to be near the top.  At the time it was released, I knew that it was something special and time has not diminished that thought.  It feels like essential Duran to me and one that I still go back to often.

On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised that Red Carpet Massacre was placed at the bottom of the list.  While I’m not sure I would personally rank it at the bottom, it definitely needs to be closer to the bottom.  The reasoning given on the article is how the collaborations with producer, Danja, didn’t gel.  I might say the opposite.  To me, the collaborations with Timbaland didn’t gel.  Nonetheless, one of the reasons that album will always leave a bad taste in my mouth is how much it divided the fan community.  Life wasn’t fun in Duranland, then.

What They Got Wrong:

Probably the most shocking pick was placing Medazzaland in the number five position.  It was ranked higher than Big Thing, Notorious and Paper Gods.  Seriously???  The reason it was ranked that high?  It featured “electro-experimentation” as well as “subtle hidden gems”.  While I don’t hate the album and agree that there are some good songs on it, I wouldn’t rank it above Big Thing or Paper Gods.  That experimentation was interesting, for sure, but did not and does not feel like essential Duran to many fans, including myself.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that many Duran fans don’t even own it and some might not have even heard all of it.

The next paragraph will probably result in hate mail but I’m going to say it anyway.  Why is the Wedding Album third???  Above the self-titled debut?  Really??  Again, there are some good songs on that album, but I feel like the album is a bit over-rated.  People always claim the brilliance of Ordinary World and Come Undone for the reason for believing this album to be so great, but what if those songs weren’t included?  Would they still think that?  Then, imagine people like me who don’t like Come Undone and is tired of Ordinary World.  The album doesn’t have as much to offer then.

Overall:

I appreciate article like this.  They make me think.  It has been awhile since I have taken the time to really look at the albums and rank them.  I haven’t done it since Paper Gods came out.  Perhaps, it is time to revisit this idea through some daily polls or other activities.  What do the rest of you think?

-A