Category Archives: Big Thing

My Big Thing Story

Yesterday I blogged about Duran’s Big Thing album as it has recently had an anniversary.  I wanted to take note of when it was made, what singles and videos it had and more.  Today, though, I want to take it personal.  What was my relationship with this album and where is it today?

Before I dive into Big Thing, I wanted to provide a little context, a little backstory.  I had moved with my family in late 1985 from the Chicago suburbs to a small town in Illinois.  A lot of aspects of my life felt wrong then, including my Duran Duran fandom.  I missed my best friend and a fellow Duran fan.  In my new town, no one knew who Duran Duran was and they certainly didn’t care.  I tried desperately to hang onto my fandom but it was tough.  Heck, I even attempted to persuade new acquaintances that they should love Duran like I did.  Thus, I loyally purchased Notorious as soon as it came out, but a lot changed in the two years that followed.

In between the Notorious and Big Thing releases, MTV arrived in my new home town.  My new friends and I were glued to the channel.  We couldn’t get enough, despite our growing annoyance with Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody that played on continuous loop.  One day, I happened to catch a world premiere video.  Of course, the big event was the brand new video for I Don’t Want Your Love.  My reaction?  It felt instantly like Duran.  While the video wasn’t as cool or as exciting as some of their previous ones in exotic locations with story lines, I still liked it.  I even recorded the premiere on my VCR.  Yet, it didn’t catch my attention for long.

By 1988, I was on an island surrounded by people who were not into Duran Duran in any way, shape or form.  My classmates played a lot of hair metal bands.  While I never got into that, my love for Duran had waned.  I couldn’t share it with anyone.  My video watching became a lonely, solitary activity, which was no fun.  I soon realized that it almost made me sad to watch this new Duran video as it reminded me of better, more fun times.  I hoped that MTV would feature Duran like they once did, in order to convince my peers that Duran was the band to love.  Unfortunately, while the video was played a lot, it wasn’t enough.  My new friends weren’t open to the band.

My fandom began to sink as I didn’t even buy the album for a long time.  By the time All She Wants Is was released, the band was out of sight, out of mind, for the most part.  When I heard about the band touring, I didn’t even look at the dates or try to go.  After all, we now lived about an hour and a half from the closest concert venue and I knew that I would have no one to go with.  Emotionally, it became easier to dismiss the tour as something I wasn’t interested in rather than really think about how cool it would be.

Of course, at some point, I did buy the album.  In fact, I bought it used as one of those used cd/book/dvd stores.  Now, of course, I know each and every song, but I wouldn’t say that I ever really bonded with it, not like I have with other albums.  This has nothing to do with the music.  It has more to do with the context of when the album came out and where I was in my life at the time.

That said, there are clearly some quality music on it.  For example, The Edge of America is one of my favorite Duran tracks of all time.  The song captures a lot of what I see and feel from some of my students, a helplessness and anger directed at a country who has done harm too often in its history.  Speaking of history, I’m not sure that this album was a highlight in Duran’s catalog, not because of the music, but because like in my own life, this time period represented more of  Duran’s slide away from being the biggest band in the world (commercially and fame wise).  The tour, for example, was a massive one but had some moments that many fans look at now and question like the decision to feature dancing during All She Wants Is.

In many ways, Big Thing represents a period of real change and adjustment, I think, for both the band’s career and for me personally.  It may not represent the biggest commercial or critical success for the band, but it represents many qualities that I love about Duran.  They were not afraid to try a new direction or be influenced by the musical world at the time.  Their persistence remained despite all who wanted to shut the door on them.  The album was necessary for them to make the albums of the future.  Similarly, I continued to battle and had to push through to find a new me in my new town.

Perhaps, by placing Big Thing in Duran’s history as well as mine own, my appreciation for it will only grow.

-A

Big Thing Facts and Stats

Duran Duran tend to release their albums in the fall.  It isn’t always the case but happens a lot of the time.  The month of October, in fact, has seen three album releases over Duran’s career.  The first album they released in October was Big Thing in 1988, followed up by Medazzaland in 1997 and Astronaut in 2004.  In celebration of these birthdays/anniversaries, I thought it might be fun to take a look at each of them starting with Big Thing.

Big Thing Facts:
Released on October 18, 1988
Produced by Jonathan Elias, Daniel AbrahamDuran Duran
Had 12 tracks included

5 different songs were released as singles:

  1. I Don’t Want Your Love (everywhere)
  2. All She Wants Is (everywhere)
  3. Do You Believe in Shame (everywhere)
  4. Big Thing (UK and Mexico)
  5. Too Late Marlene (Brazil)

Peak chart position:

  • I Don’t Want Your Love–#14 in the UK and #4 in the US
  • All She Wants Is–#9 in the UK and #22 in the US
  • Do You Believe in Shame–#30 in the UK and #72 in the US

Personnel:
The band at that time was made up of John, Nick and Simon.
Warren played guitar on tracks 1, 4, 6, 9, 11 and 12 (half of the album)
Chester Kamen played guitar on tracks 2 and 3
Steve Ferrone played drums on tracks 1, 2, 4, 6 and 9
Sterling Campbell also played drums on the album

Videos:

Three videos were made from this album:

I Don’t Want Your Love

All She Wants Is

Do You Believe in Shame?

Interview:

Here is a long interview with the band, Warren, and the back-up singers from 1988.

The Tour:

The band began touring this album began with the Nine City Caravan Club Tour, in which they toured small venues starting in October 1988.  It was followed by the Big Live Thing Tour in November 1988.  Then, they added the Big Electric Theatre Tour starting in March of 1989 before ending with some festivals in August 1989.

Beyond all of the facts, Duranies have memories of this album.  I would love to hear your Big Thing story.  When did you buy the album?  What did you think of it?  What do you think of the single choices?  The videos?  Did you see the band play tour?  If so, how many shows did you see?  Tomorrow, I will share my Big Thing story.

-A

The Edge of America — The Daily Duranie Review

This week, we are moving on to review The Edge of America, off of the Big Thing album. The Edge of America is a relatively short song, at 2:37, which blends into Lake Shore Driving (another song for another review). The word is that originally The Edge of America was a longer piece of music at one point, but during the course of recording morphed into what is now Lake Shore Driving.  Let’s look at how The Edge of America works as a song and fits into the vernacular of Big Thing.

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

I love the simplicity of the beginning of this song. Vocals and keyboard chords mark a particular poignant point on this album. While still very simple, the keyboards and vocals work together to make the moment intimate and special, which I really like. This continues through to the first chorus, where some percussion, bass, guitar, and stronger piano join in. One thing I really appreciate on this album as a whole is that when vocals are meant to be the highlight, the music allows – there’s no “struggle” to be heard. This has as much to do with engineering and production as it does writing – but it really shows the maturity of the band at this point in their career.

Vocals

It is on songs like these, when just hearing the emotion in Simon’s voice nearly brings me to tears, that I am reminded of Duran Duran’s potential. When they are good, they are really that good.  I love the way his voice makes me feel as though he’s singing only for me – and he’s pouring his heart into it. I can’t find a single thing to complain about here, except that the song is so short. I could listen forever.

Lyrics

This is one of those hallmark Duran Duran songs that only the most diehard fans ever really hear, unfortunately, because this is definitely on my top ten list of Duran Duran lyrics. While doing a little research before writing this review, I noticed that there are tons of different interpretations online of what this song means. I think it’s one of the more “genius” pieces of lyric that the band has done because it could mean a variety of things to people depending upon their own life experience, and isn’t that what we really want as writers?? I’ve read it could be about the band’s fall from the tops of the charts; about war; about how America treats it’s veterans. Personally, when I hear this song I think it’s adulthood and how all of those childhood dreams, fairy tales, and aspirations we once had in our hearts tend to wash away to a very gritty reality that we have no choice but to acknowledge and recognize. I love the line, “Learn to love your anger now, your anger here is all you possess, welcome to the edge”. There have been moments, rather recently, where I have literally sung this song at the top of my lungs while listening in the car, and yeah, it’s helped! This song can mean a variety of things, and I appreciate that Simon allows listeners the freedom to think and identify as we wish. It’s funny because when I was younger, I was desperate to know that I had the “right answer”. Somewhere along the line, I discovered that it really doesn’t matter. Music is for everyone. There are no right or wrong answers unless you’re not listening at all.

Overall

I confess, this is my very favorite song off of Big Thing. I still think it’s too short, but it continues to be one of my anthems in life, and therefore my biased self thinks it’s near-perfect. Truthfully, it is difficult to do this review without considering Lake Shore Driving, since the two songs are combined by a driving guitar that I dearly love – alas, that review will have to wait for another week or two.

Cocktail Rating

4.5 cocktails!

4.5 Cocktails

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation:

Musically, this song maintains a simplicity as the song starts off  with soft keyboard sounds to ease the listeners into the song.  Of course, more instrumentation joins in only to go back to the focus on the keyboards only and back.  In this way, the instrumentation mirrors the lyrics, which discuss both anger and resignation.  Clearly, though, the instrumentation is held in the background more, allowing the vocals to take center stage.  Of course, the end leads right into the next song, leaving the listener wanting more.

Vocals

Simon’s vocals here are exactly what they should be.  They are crisp, clear and convey the message of the song.  It almost feels to me that he is acting as the conduit to millions of others who are telling their stories through him as the emotion is so pure, so unforced, so natural.  He isn’t just Simon but he is the spokesperson so many others who need to have their stories told.  Magical.

Lyrics

These lyrics are some of the most important lyrics that Simon has ever written, in my opinion.  They are filled with a social commentary but is such that they could apply to many, many issues, especially issues that the U.S. confronts or needs to confront daily.  I have written about how this song seems to speak of my students before here in this blog post.  I wrote that blog in 2013 about how my urban students are filled with nothing but anger and that the nation seems to have turned away from them.  I could write the same thing now in 2015.  Many of my students are still angry, even though I work with older kids now and am teaching history as opposed to special education.  I still feel as though the nation has turned its back on them and on educators as I mentioned in that blog post.  To me, this song, lyrically, is what I experience on a daily basis at work as I see so many of society’s struggles walk in the door in the form of city kids.  This is when Simon is at his best–when he is able to really say something that others can really relate at the core of their beings.

Overall

This is my favorite song off of Big Thing and one of my absolute favorite Duran Duran songs ever.  I like the simplicity of the music and how it allows the vocals and lyrics the room to be as beautiful and passionate as they are.  The only thing I would change, if I could, would be to make the song longer.  I never want the song to end.

Cocktail Rating:

4.5 cocktails!

4.5 Cocktails

Flute Interlude & Interlude One (Big Thing) – The Daily Duranie Review

Yes, we know it’s been a few weeks since we reviewed something from Big Thing…so today we’re trying to get back on schedule! Remember the 33 second pieces of music that pop up on Big Thing, first between “Palomino and “Land”, and then again between “Land” and “Edge of America”?  This is our super short review of both “Interlude One” and “The Flute Interlude.”

Since these interludes are pretty short – we’re not going to structure this review like most others, as you’ll read below. It’s a quickie!!

Rhonda

Each interlude is each incredibly short, as in, “Yawn for too long and you’ll have missed the entire thing.” To be fair, they are snippets that, unless I am paying rapt attention – I don’t even notice. I feel badly about that, because obviously the band felt strongly enough about each of them to include on the album, but it just doesn’t add enough power or punctuation to “Palomino, “Land”, or “Edge of America”, for me to really sit back and notice.  It begs an answer to the question of why they may have been included. Each piece is very experimental in nature, and likely the most experimental bits of music the band had included on an album to the date of Big Thing. “Interlude One” has a very cartoon-like sound to it – reminding me very much of something I’d heard on one of the Chipmunks albums I had as a kid.  I don’t really hear how the sound helps to usher in “Land”, but perhaps if the music were slowed down I’d recognize something. “Flute Interlude”, however, sounds much more comfortable in it’s musical place.  I can see how it fits right between “Land” and “Edge of America”, because if you listen to the fade-in, it begins with flute – very light and airy in nature, which truly isn’t that dissimilar from “Land” in some respects.  This flute is very much layered with other sampled sound effects, and then it fades back out as an electric guitar fades in, thus signaling the beginning of “Edge of America” – which, I don’t want to give anything away since we’ll be reviewing that song soon – but it’s a song with a pretty hard-edged guitar.  So the “Flute Interlude” serves the purpose of blending those two seemingly juxtaposed songs together.  It ends one statement while beginning another. I struggle to say the same for Interlude One, to be honest. Even so, I like the way the piece seems to snap a listener out of daydream at the end of “Palomino”, opening the door for “Land” to begin.  While I do like the way the pieces seem to not only mark the end and the beginning with a sort of punctuation mark, I still stand by the fact that if I’m not paying full attention, I almost don’t even hear them most of the time. The punch isn’t powerful enough, and so I have to wonder if it was really that necessary or effective. I’m left feeling that if the idea had been developed for just a little bit longer, perhaps a little more given to the length, the interludes would have met a fuller potential.

Cocktail Rating: 2.5 cocktails!  Two and half cocktails

Amanda:

These interludes are so short.  Of course, it won’t be the last time that Duran includes super short instrumentals on their albums.  Yet, unlike songs like “Return to Now” on All You Need Is Now, these don’t grab my attention in the same way.  I’m not sure why.  The length?  The instrumentation used?  The fact that they are both so experimental vs. more classical, in nature?  Anyway, I always welcome these reviews so that I take the time to REALLY listen and pay attention.  When I listen, I am grabbed by the most obvious aspect of both, which is how the volume starts out slow and gets louder until it changes again towards the end.  As far as “Interlude One” goes, once there is enough volume, you notice how random the instrumentation/sounds are.  It almost reminds me of a record being played on the wrong speed combined with some extra keyboard sounds thrown in for good measure.  It isn’t the most pleasant of sounds, really, as the track is really pretty jarring.  What is interesting, then, is its placement between two slower tracks of “Palomino” and “Land.”  Did they do that to break up the quietness found in those songs?  Did they worry that those songs would be missed or overlooked otherwise?  “Flute Interlude,” on the other hand, comes after Land and before “The Edge of America.”  While “TEOA” is somewhat of a slower tempo, it isn’t as ballad-like as Land and Palomino.  What is interesting is that this interlude ends with a lot of guitar and “The Edge of America” features a lot of guitar.  Is that the connection or the reason for this song’s placement?  Like the previous interlude, this song builds in volume and intensity.  It almost feels like a rapidly increasing heartbeat.  As it grows in intensity, the flute is very much present as is other instrumentation until it is not, leaving only guitar and some additional sampled sounds.  In general, I much prefer this one over “Interlude One.”  The instrumentation is just much more pleasant.  While it is still somewhat jarring at the end, it is not like the sounds of a record being played backwards, which is what the first interlude reminds me of.  Both of these very short tracks, though, remind you that the band really was experimenting with sound in a very different way than they ever had been before.  Overall, these tracks are interesting but still can be easily overlooked.  More importantly, I’m not sure that they really enhance the album much, especially “Interlude One.”
Cocktail Rating:  2.5 cocktails Two and half cocktails

Big Thing – The Daily Duranie Review

We are finally onto a new album!!  Next up is Big Thing, and this week we will review the title track. Big Thing was released in 1988 and reached #15 in the UK and #24 in the US.  Big Thing also marks the first full album with Warren Cuccurullo, although he was not a full songwriting partner at this point, and became a full-time member only after the band finished the Electric Theatre Tour in promotion of Big Thing. Were his contributions evident, and how did the band really change between Notorious and Big Thing?  Let’s take a deeper look!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

This is SO different from Notorious, I have to wonder if it’s even the same band, and in many ways…it is not. They definitely turn the corner from funk into something entirely different.  Plenty of people characterize the album as the band’s foray into House Music…and while I’m not quite sure I’d call it House, it’s definitely leaning in that direction at times. Big Thing reminds me much more of aggressive dance music, and definitely doesn’t seem like the same band who wrote Rio or Girls on Film. I almost feel as though they were really trying to erase the band (for teenyboppers) they once were by going after a more mature, aggressive, sound.  I like the way the sound starts out with drum beats and then the chanting of the chorus with a plenty of guitar riffs in the background. The song has a ton of texture, and I do enjoy the way the juxtaposition of the rock, almost experimental-souding guitar feels against the synthesizer loops and even a horn section. I will say the latter 1/3  of the song is so filled with layer upon layer that it really begins to be frenetic cacophony…if you’ve got any sort of anxiety this song will send you over the edge.  This is the first full album where Warren Cuccurullo participates, and his influence is evident with the soaring hard rock guitar riffs. It adds an edge that has been missing to the music since the first album, which I applaud here.

Vocals

I have to say, I like the chanting of the chorus. It’s so different compared to their other albums, and it opens Big Thing perfectly. I like the way the song feels like call and response in certain sections. Otherwise, I think Simon’s vocals are well-matched to the song. This isn’t a song meant for mellow lyrics, and while I think Simon strains a bit in the higher sections of the verses, in some odd way it works for the song.

Lyrics

I have heard of these lyrics meaning one of two things to fans: the first being all about marketing and exploitation, and the other being sex. Sex is the go-to, easy answer here. With lyrics like “Lick it up, suck it up, stick it outside”…Simon didn’t give us much room to go elsewhere, did he? That said, I think that was the point, really. Let’s face it – “sex” is his pat answer for lyric meanings, and I’m assuming at this point that his feeling is that anything can have a sexual connotation. He’s probably right. That said, I can see the exploitation  and marketing angle as well. The chanting of the lyrics are almost as though they’re reciting what they’re being told…it’s almost robotic in a way. “This is temptation (station), power rotation (to station)” , it’s like they’re “selling” themselves and their music to get air play.  “So glad you came around, this time you won’t be wrong, You’ve got to turn it on, and you’re not the only one”…I personally think this song really is all about the business of getting their music heard.  That Simon, he’s a smart one with his lyrics… I say well-done.

Overall

I like this song, and I think it’s a fantastic album opener.  I like the way it’s a huge departure from the overall sound of Notorious, and that the band was willing to take a chance with their music and try something new. I think the song is cheeky and yet there’s still a message to hear for those who want to dig deep enough to find it, and I like that Simon was smart with his writing.  I welcome Warren’s addition to their music, and I really liked the hard edge he brought to the table here. The one negative I have for this song is the last 1/3 of the song is incredibly noisy with far too much going on, but I think that has more to do with the artistic choices than production, meaning it’s what the band wanted. I just don’t know that it translates all that well.

Cocktail Rating

3.5 cocktails! 3.5 cocktails

 

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

This song is one that I struggle to even think about the instrumentation because the lyrics and vocals are so dominant, so noticeable.  Nonetheless, I attempted to focus on the instrumentation for the purpose of this review.  The song doesn’t allow you to just get into it slowly.  No, it right away starts with drums.  In fact, drums are pretty much present throughout, creating pretty aggressive instrumentation.  Guitars are there, too.  Keyboards, on the other hand,  do not feel like as major of an instrument in this one.  While this song is very different than the previous album, horns are still present.  Perhaps, they function as a transition of sorts.  The question then is this change from funk to more aggressive music a welcome change.  It definitely catches your attention and let’s everyone know that, once again, Duran Duran has changed.

Vocals

Where to start with the vocals on this one?  Clearly, this isn’t your usual Duran.  Instead of Simon singing, we have layered vocals during the chorus with each line being almost shouted or chanted.  The vocals are much more aggressive than what can be found on most Duran Duran songs.  What is interesting to me is that the lines that are less chanted give a sense that something untrustworthy or sneaky is happening.  Is this helped by the lyrics?  Absolutely.  Truly, there is a lot going on here vocally.  In fact, there is so much going on that you could probably listen to the song a bunch and still not catch it all.

Lyrics

If the vocals for this one don’t catch your attention, the lyrics probably will.  I don’t remember where I heard that this song is supposed to be about the attempts bands/artists make to get a song to chart or to move up the chart.  This meaning seems to fit, especially with lines like, “Move it up move it out move up the line.  This is temptation power rotation.” The lyrics definitely make me think that getting a song to chart is a lot of hard work and that you really have to convince people, which makes sense considering the work they attempted to do with the previous album, Notorious.  Obviously, the lyrics are built around a couple of principles.  First, there is a lot of repetition here, whether it is “get…get…get” or “bang…bang…bang”. Then, there are a lot of lines built around the idea of rhyming.  These are important for the vocal style that this song exhibits.  That said, while I understand why the lyrics are the way they are, I can’t say I’m a huge fan.  Could they be about radio play?  Sure.  Are they also written to imply sex?  Sure.  To me, both interpretations seem too obvious.

Overall

This song is so very different than most of Duran Duran’s catalog and certainly very different than Notorious.  While that isn’t bad, in and of itself, I’m not sure if this style really works for them.  To me, it feels like they were trying too hard to be something so different, so contemporary.  What makes it worse is that I think this song hasn’t aged well.  Maybe, it was great or had the potential to be great in 1988 but now it just sounds aged.

Cocktail Rating

2.5 cocktails!

20c1c-twohalfglasses

If Notorious and Big Thing Could Talk…

by C.K. Shortell

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?

438d2-ckshortellC.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.