Duran Duran History for today, December 15th goes all the way back to this date in 1981, when Duran Duran played at the Arts Center in Poole, UK. Were you there? This date was included on their Careless Memories tour….just before many of us in other parts of the world (myself included) had ever heard of the band…
On another note, on this date in 2010, Duran Duran’s video for All You Need is Now debuted on Sky News. I could go for a little video about now on this Monday morning. Shall we?? -R
I have history on the brain. Yes, part of the reason, is because I am teaching history this year. Part of the reason could be that we do a daily Duran Duran history blog post. Yet, this week really made me think about history. Why? Obviously, there was this little rumor this week about Lindsay Lohan in connection to the next Duran album. Any and all news and rumor should be making me think about the future, right? This one didn’t. It made me think of the past, specifically recent Duran Duran albums and their reactions from fans.
First, I thought about this time of year four years ago. Think back. What was going on three years ago in December? I’m sure that many of you guessed it. The Duranie universe was all excited! We had a new single in All You Need Is Now along with the video that accompanied it. The digital copy of the album was about to drop. Each and every day was filled with some new piece of information, new interview or new video clip, etc.. Social media was hoppin’ and many, many Duranies were spending hours upon hours hanging out on Twitter and/or Facebook. Life seemed really good and the future was definitely bright. While I’m sure that there were some fans who weren’t all that excited or didn’t like what they had heard so far, those fans were few and far between. In general, most fans were pretty thrilled with the state of Duranland, at least from what I could tell.
This, of course, is not how I think of the Duran sphere when I think back three years before that. 2007 saw the release of Red Carpet Massacre. Like the release of All You Need Is Now, there was plenty of news to share and discuss. In contrast, though, from the AYNIN era, the discussion wasn’t overwhelmingly positive. Instead, debate was the most common occurrence on message boards, then. While some were excited by Red Carpet Massacre and the working relationship between Duran and Timbaland and Duran and Justin Timberlake, others weren’t. The fans who liked RCM, I’m sure, probably felt like they were doing a whole lot of defending the band and the album whereas the critical fans kept trying to explain why and how this album was so bothersome to them.
As I return to the present, I try to place this rumor in the context of recent Duran history. It seems clear to me that rumors like the one we had this week fit way more with the RCM era than the AYNIN era. Clearly, if the rumor turns out to be true, there are some fans who would like Lohan to be on the album or would be okay with it for whatever reason. There are many other fans who would not for the reasons brought up this week and more. From what I saw, the discussions already started forming the same camps as fans did in 2007 over Timbaland. Some fans instantly defend the band or try to find/point out the positives. The less-than-excited fans try to articulate why this rumor bothers them so. Not fun.
Is this the normal ebb and flow of Duran Duran and Duran Duran fans in that, for one album, the fans (in general–not everyone but most) love the album, but then question the moves made for the next one? If so, then, perhaps, one just needs to accept that as part of being a Duranie. For me, personally, I hate the fact that unlike AYNIN, there seems to be little excitement. There seems to be a lot of debate and some concern. I so wish that wasn’t the case. Now, in fairness, perhaps, this concern and debate will change once facts are known. Maybe part of the problem is that the album has taken so long to be finished that people couldn’t sustain excitement but that it will return with the release of #DD14.
Until then, don’t blame me for being wanting to be stuck in the most recent Duran history with All You Need Is Now away from Lindsay Lohan and the cast of thousands that supposedly have worked on DD14. Just send me to the eagerness of a Mark Ronson produced, very Duran Duran sounding album.
On this day in 2011, Simon and Nick appeared on the late night TV talk show, Chelsea Lately. I included a clip that I found on YouTube.
What did you think of it? I adored the fact that Simon had no idea about the show. Even more than that, I really adored that Chelsea was a fan as was her sister, but was still able to be cool around the band. Of course, Simon makes an interesting statement about how America is the band’s “heartland”.
Sometimes, I think Duran Duran albums talk to each other. Specifically, they talk to their predecessor. I remember the first time I listened to The Wedding Album and hearing the line “You rescued me from liberty” in Love Voodoo, and wondering if I was reading too much into the lyric to wonder if Simon wasn’t taking a shot at the last album. Or the beginning of “Hold Me,” when he starts with “This time…” — somehow I got into my head that “Hold Me” was one of the first songs written for Notorious and that line/ad lib was basically Simon’s way of expressing the uncharted territory the band was in, now down to a trio. Additionally… all the lyrics to “Still Breathing,” which I took as a declaration against the previous lineup of the band. I can’t prove any of this, it’s just in my head when I listen to these songs and albums.
This topic circles in my head for a few reasons. First, we are between albums. Speculation abounds about the sound of DD14. We know the band never does the same thing twice. We also know that, on AYNIN, they finally felt comfortable “reclaiming” some of that old ground/sound. So what will happen on the next album? In what way will it be a reaction to what they did on AYNIN?
Additionally, Notorious, the album, has been in heavy circulation on my iPod for the last few months. I think there are a lot of parallels between Notorious and All You Need Is Now. Both feature very strong title tracks that will likely be a staple of the band’s live set as long as they continue to tour (I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that the song AYNIN will continue to be featured, but you never know). Both were heavily anticipated after a pause in the band’s career in which it was uncertain what direction they would take. Both were heavily influenced/co-written by the album’s producer, and both featured a mix of guest musicians on other tracks (and in the case of Notorious, it remains the only Duran album that features the work of both Andy and Warren).
Why do I bring up these parallels? I am trying to draw conclusions about DD14, and I think we might gain insight by understanding the relationship between Notorious and its follow-up, Big Thing.
I’ve always viewed Notorious as being a very solid, “orderly” album, with perfect alignment between the A and B sides, the Hitchcock theme, and the neatly packaged video that tied back to the album artwork. Big Thing is the exact opposite. It’s noisy, disorganized, loud (at least the first half), moody (the second half) and unconventional. Notorious features a virtual all-star cast of guest musicians, including Nile Rodgers, Andy, Warren, and Steve Ferrone, not to mention the album cover featuring super model Christy Turlington. Big Thing boasts no such lineup—it is the truly the first (and ultimately only, as it would turn out) Taylor-Rhodes-LeBon collaboration, with Warren sprinkled in, albeit in a non-writing role. On Notorious, the songs tend to follow the standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/outro format, which the exception of Winter Marches On. On Big Thing, it’s the exception when a song follows that format. Notorious is defined by its title track; the song Big Thing mocks itself and the music industry in general, and is probably one of the more forgettable songs on the record.
When John, Nick, and Simon hosted an hour-long countdown of their favorite Duran videos on MTV in 1988, they commented that on Notorious, they were very polite to each other and trying to figure out how to function as a band. Not so during the Big Thing sessions, where “we were all screaming at each other.” This is not surprising. The trio had weathered the uncertainty of the Notorious era; they had put out an album and toured and had success despite the loss of Andy and Roger (of course, they were no longer the biggest band in the world, but at least they knew there was still an audience for their music, albeit a smaller one than before).
So, with that out of the way, they pushed themselves creatively on Big Thing. What resulted was an album of disparate sides: the first consisting mostly of noisy, dance “house” music, and the second slower, moody ballads. Side one featured the hit single “I Don’t Want Your Love,” that is possibly the band’s most underrated and forgotten hit (and one of my personal favorites), and the follow-up single “All She Wants Is” which didn’t chart as well, but did see a lot of club play. The B-side is built around the lush anthem “Land,” one of the longer Duran songs in the catalogue that clocks in at just over six minutes. Preceding it are the haunting “Do You Believe in Shame?” and airy “Palomino.” I remember first listening to Big Thing and strongly disliking the second side, and then about a week later I had a strange tune stuck in my head…and it turned out to be “Palomino.”
Conversely, I did love “Edge of America” the minute I heard it, and still do to this day. And I always have considered “Edge of America” and “Lake Shore Driving” to be one song, even if they have different titles and are on separate tracks. It’s an unconventional way to end Big Thing but it works, as the Nick’s synths and Warren’s guitar bring the proceedings full circle to how the album started.
There are many other details about Big Thing that we could cover (the two different producers, the controversy over the mixes of “Drug” that highly annoyed John, etc.) but those can be left to another blog. The question is, how can Big Thing’s differences from Notorious inform us as to DD14’s differences from AYNIN?
For starters, I suspect that there will be more of a balance between ballads and dance songs on DD14. AYNIN was heavily skewed toward upbeat music (much like Notorious) with several well-placed slower songs to even out the album’s pacing. I think it’s natural for the band to be inclined to write some more moody material after an album as upbeat as AYNIN.
And speaking of the band…by all accounts, it’s just them, just like it was on Big Thing. Or at least it’s more of “just them” than the AYNIN sessions, which included Mark Ronson, Ana Matronic, Kelis, Owen Pallett, and Nick Hodgson, as well as newscaster Nina Hossain. There was a report that Ronson worked with them initially but every quote I’ve read since indicates that it’s just the five (Rhonda says four…because we certainly don’t hear much of Dom being there lately. Just saying..) of them in the studio.
Is this a good thing or not? I think time will tell. Duran has made some tremendous music when they close ranks and keep it “in house”—see Big Thing and The Wedding Album and Astronaut, at least as originally conceived. But therein lies my concern: Duran Duran also seems to make ill advised decisions when there is no outside producer to referee things. (I’m convinced that Ronson or even Timbaland—yes, Timbaland—or any of us, for that matter—would have told them to keep “Beautiful Colours” and “Salt in the Rainbow” on the Astronaut album. As it was, they went through three producers on that one.)
Do you think I’m reading too much into the relationship between Notorious and Big Thing to infer anything from AYNIN and DD14? And are you worried about the apparent lack of an outside producer tied to this project?
C.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, one of whom loves watching concert footage of the band. When he’s not struggling to explain to a two year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.
On this date in 2011, Duran Duran played at a private party for Paper Magazine. The party was called “Beautiful People” and took place at the Hudson Hotel in New York City. There is much to be found out about this party with a basic search on the internet. First, according to the article here, the party cost $2000 to attend and featured quite a guest list. This article had a couple of pictures of Duran and a short clip from their performance. It is funny that when I think back to this time period, I don’t think we mentioned this show at all on the blog. I suspect that a big reason that we didn’t is because there was SO much to talk about then. There was so much going on in Duranland that we couldn’t talk about everything! (Well, I suppose we could but…we had to sleep sometime!)
Right now, a big part of me misses the action, the excitement, the daily news about Duran Duran. The other part of me can’t imagine that right now. I am completely swamped in real life, which is why the poll about how old you were when you first saw Duran hasn’t gotten done. That said, if there was something to talk about, if there something to get excited about, if there was something to be working on and working on seriously, I would not hesitate to act. Why? Simple. It would bring me joy. Happiness. Something to look forward to. Something to focus on. Until then, I thought it might be fun to take a look back by reading the actual article from Paper Magazine, which you can find here.
It was an interesting read, for sure. A number of topics were addressed including Mark Ronson vs. Timbaland, social networking, Andy Taylor and more. Read it and then ask yourselves–three years later, does everything they say still seem current or do you think a lot of things have changed?
Remember when the band did promotion and we would anxiously set our DVR’s or wait for postings of their interviews and performances on YouTube?? Remember hearing that they were playing on a TV talk show, so you’d manage to get down to the studio where they were filming and wait in line so you’d have just the perfect viewing spot? I look forward to getting the last minute notices that they’re going to be on one show or another again…even if most of the time, I can’t run off to be there. I don’t mind catching them on YouTube or even on my DVR. It’s just about seeing them and hearing them again, you know?
While nearly all of the late night talk shows have now left LA almost guaranteeing that the band won’t have to come to La-La-Land and stay for any great length of time (something I’m sure that most of them applaud)…there are a couple of holdouts (Jimmy Kimmel and the fairly new Arsenio Hall show), and there’s still the Ellen show, which is shown here in the middle of the day. I applaud that, since of course, I still live in So Cal along with a reasonable handful of other Duranies. On this date in 2011, Duran Duran appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show, promoting All You Need is Now. I was not there that day, but I remember the date. For some reason, this appearance feels particularly long ago to me…. Anyone else there that day??
On this day in 2011, the album, All You Need Is Now, was released on CD in the United States. As a big fan of this album, as someone who truly embraced her fandom during this era, I cannot help but to look at this date, this anniversary and smile widely.
In thinking about this day, I actually went back to read the blog post from that day, which you can read here. The blog post from that date features my partner-in-crime, feverish and anxious to get her hands on the physical album. It tells how the local Best Buy had to search and search for their TWO copies of the exclusive edition. Re-reading this filled me with joy–not that Rhonda was sick or that she struggled to get the album or, even though, it was funny, which it was. No, what made my heart beat a little harder was how excited she was, I was, the entire Duran world was. There was new Duran music!!!! We all wanted this so desperately and, finally, the very long wait was over!
After the smile fades, I feel a wave of sadness. I won’t lie. I miss the band. I miss the excitement of the AYNIN era. I miss it all. Instead of focusing on what I’m missing, though, I would rather hear about what your physical album release day was like. Did you, too, search at Best Buy? Did you struggle as much as Rhonda did?
On this date in 2012, Duran Duran played at Sevens Stadium in Dubai. This was the first date after a month long break from touring. After Dubai, the band went on to East Asia to play dates in Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong. Anyone go to this show? How was it?
Here are a few clips from the show that I could find on YouTube:
Hungry Like the Wolf-
I have to say that seeing clips like this make me miss seeing the band live.
Everyday, I post a “today in Duran history” fact. Earlier this week, I posted something that had happened in 1988 or 1989. This particular fact prompted one of our facebook friends to comment that if she could go back to see any tour, she would like to go back to see this one. As I read the comment, I pondered. If I could go back to any time in Duran history, when would I want to go? Why? Right away, I knew that I wouldn’t necessarily go back to 1988/1989. First, I was sort of around then. I was a fan then. Could I really express my fandom? Nope. I was living in a small town and knew that I couldn’t push my parents into driving up to the city to see shows. Yet, I am not sure I missed that much. Big Thing isn’t my favorite album and…their looks wasn’t really what I like. Let’s face it. John Taylor was thin. Super thin. Simon’s hair was all over the place. Even Nick’s look wasn’t his finest, in my opinion. On top of that, from the shows I have seen from that era on DVD, there were some interesting choices made. Perhaps, things like the dancing done during All She Wants Is was cool then, but now…I don’t think so. Thus, if 1988/1989 wasn’t the era to go back to, which one was and why?
My initial thought or reaction to this was to go back to 1984. After all, who wouldn’t like to say that they saw Duran plan at Madison Square Garden in New York City at the peak of their popularity?! I think that most of us who weren’t able to be there would have wanted to be there. Plus, who wouldn’t like Duran all over the media from TV to magazines. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? This could be especially great to be an adult as I am now, as opposed to the kid that I was. I could afford to buy all the magazines and merchandise. I could go for those great seats at iconic venues like MSG. Yet, I would hesitate to go back to that era. Fans were young. There was mass hysteria. While it would be fascinating to study fandom then, I think I would also be frustrated by some/a lot of the behavior. We have all watched those scenes in Sing Blue Silver with the fans passing out at the show or being totally smushed in order to get as close as possible. We are all aware that the band couldn’t often hear themselves play because the screaming was so loud. Then, what about those fans trying to get into their limo? Pretty crazy, to say the least. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the band then. While I would love the exposure, I would be frustrated by the hysteria. So what era would I want to go back to?
I have two answers, one that seems obvious and one that doesn’t. The obvious answer is simple. I would love to go back and live in Birmingham in 1979/1980/1981. Who wouldn’t? There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the music scene then seemed just awesome. I love so much of the music of that era. In fact, that was one of the coolest things about being in the UK for the tour that didn’t happen in May of 2011. We were lucky enough to be in Birmingham on one of the nights in which Only After Dark is held, which works to recreate some of the scene of the Rum Runner with the music of that time. I loved it. So, the music would be a strong reason to pick that era. Of course, though, the biggest reason is to be a witness to the formation of Duran Duran. I would love to see them before they became famous, before they became what they are today, before fans screamed for them. Like Rhonda, I’m incredibly fascinated by the relationship between us (Duranies) and them (Duran Duran). How were they with their first fans? How were the first fans with them? How did the fame, the screaming, the hysteria affect both groups? Besides all of that, wouldn’t it have been so cool to see them up close at the Rum Runner?!?
The second choice of eras that I would like to go back to would be the era of John Taylor’s solo days (1997-2001). Like the Big Thing era, I was obviously a fan then. Yet, I wasn’t part of the fan community then. My life didn’t allow for fandom. I was too busy trying to start my career and pay my bills. This era wouldn’t interest me much on the Duran front. Medazzaland didn’t knock my socks off and neither did Pop Trash. Those albums didn’t feel like the Duran that I knew and loved. They felt different. That said, I wish that I had been following John’s solo career. It is no secret that I adore his solo work, in all seriousness. I feel very fortunate that I was able to collect everything despite not really being around then. Anyway, I’m well aware that he played very small venues. I would have loved to have seen him then and in those small clubs.
Would life as a Duranie be different during those eras? Of course. In the first one, fans would have been very small in number, if any. In the second one, there would also be very few fans around. In that case, for many fans, their lives as Duranies had come to an end and they were busy with their own lives. I think I would have enjoyed that significant difference in the fan community. However, I do feel very lucky to have had the peak of my fandom since 2005. I would even go further to say that the peak of THE peak of my fandom has been since 2010. I have had a ton of fun the last couple of years and have gotten to do so much. The future, though, could be even better. Goodness knows that Rhonda and I aren’t backing up or stopping. We are moving forward to do more. Duran Duran 14 could be the best album. Their tours and live performances seem to be getting better and better. On a personal level, I have a lot of Duranie friends whom I could see on tour, which could make the next tour the best tour. My point here is simple. While I would have loved to have been around in 1979 Birmingham or in 1998 Los Angeles, I feel lucky to have been around since 2010.
What about the rest of you? Which era would you want to go back to and why? Are there eras you would want to avoid?
Yesterday, Duranland celebrated an anniversary. It was the second anniversary of the physical release of the album, All You Need Is Now. As soon as this became a topic around social networking, I immediately began thinking about everything that happened, everything I experienced related to this album. As I tweeted to Duran’s twitter, in some ways, the release of the album felt like yesterday and, in other ways, it felt like it has been in existence forever. Certainly, since the album was released, the band has been through quite a lot. On a personal level, I, too, feel like I have been through quite a lot.
Thinking back to the Duran universe before AYNIN was released, I remember the usual excitement over an album release but I also remember an underlying nervousness. After all, the band’s previous release, Red Carpet Massacre, created quite a divide within the fanbase. Some fans loved it and others hated it and all that it represented. I think it is safe to say that many fans were anxious to put that chapter behind us, if it meant that the fan community could come together in celebration over Duran music once again. For many fans, RCM felt like Duran had turned their back on who they are and what their music should be like, for whatever reason. On top of that, they seemed as far away from the fans, emotionally, as possible. Their paid fan community in DDM was shrinking rapidly and there was no interaction with fans online from the band. It seemed to me that Duranland was not the happy place, for many fans, during the RCM era. Perhaps, it wasn’t a happy place for the band, either. Out of this, AYNIN came about. For many of us, Mark Ronson was the perfect producer as he not only was a fan but knew how to get the best out of the band. As more and more of the music came to light, many fans seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. It was, indeed, save to return to the fold. It was safe to be a Duran fan once again. Then, by the end of 2010, the band was reaching out to make connections with fans in ways that I never thought they would by appearing on twitter and facebook. The release of the album, in many ways and for many fans, felt like the dawning of a new day. The clouds had moved on and the sun was shining brightly on all of us.
Then, of course, there were lots of wonderfully fabulous moments, including amazing shows, a live DVD documenting the tour, the Unstaged performance on youtube, playing at the Olympics, and so forth. Yet, it wasn’t always a smooth ride, especially when Simon lost his ability to reach all notes and shows had to be canceled or when Nick got sick at the end of the last leg of the tour. Those moments were tough as many worried that the end of Duran was near. Of course, these challenges, in the end, perhaps, taught us all the real meaning of “all you need is now”. We were reminded to “stay with the music” and to “let it play a little longer”. Many of us adopted this philosophy as we decided our tour plans and opted to embrace the now and to live without regret. Thus, for many within the fandom, this era represented a new beginning as the fans felt loved and connected with a band making some of the best music in decades. This feeling was so strong that it was able to endure those long, challenging months when the future of Duran’s career and Simon’s, in particular, were in question.
Was my story surrounding AYNIN similar to most in the fandom? In many ways, it was! The blog began in September 2010, a few months before both the digital release and the physical release of the album. The album, obviously, gave us plenty to talk about. Now, that we have started talking, I don’t see an end in sight. I won’t lie. Like many in the fan community, I felt this sense of renewal with the album and was thrilled that I had this place to express it. Duran Duran was back, I believed, with every fiber in my being as soon as I heard it. On top of that, I was motivated to take any and all opportunities to embrace the now. What this meant, of course, is that I did as many shows as I could over the course of the AYNIN tour. I even traveled to the UK twice! Looking back, to the shows, I don’t regret one single moment. I don’t even regret the first trip to the UK when we all found out that Simon was unable to perform. In many ways, that trip solidified, strengthened, reinforced my love for the band as I truly knew how much they meant to me when I had to face a possible end. Then, of course, the return trip, the one filled with shows, was a dream. It was the best tour I could have imagined with amazing performances and meeting and getting to know so many new friends. That’s truly the other piece to the past two years since AYNIN came out. This album, the tour that followed and their social networking presence brought me in touch with so many new people, so many fabulous people. I have friends now that I didn’t have two years ago. With every new friend I have because of the band, I thank them. I thanked them a lot in the last couple of years. Of course, since starting the blog and since AYNIN, my friendship with Rhonda remains as strong as ever. We faced this whole period of time together as best friends, as “business” partners of sorts and as fellow fans.
Truly, my feelings of love toward the band has never been higher than they were during this era of All You Need is Now, which is truly saying something as there were other times that I thought would never be beat. Those Astronaut shows of 2005 were pretty amazing. Yet, I now realize that those were just the warm up for what I, what we all experienced since the very end of 2010. I know that I will always look back with fondness on this era in Duran history and in my history as a Duranie. At the same time, my hope, my belief that the next era will be just as special, if not more so, remains strong. After all, I learned the lesson of AYNIN well. I learned that the now really does matter the most.
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!