Category Archives: Birmingham

Wasn’t Long Ago…

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?

-A

Duran History 101

This morning, I was treated to a new Daily Duranie “Would You Rather” question on Facebook.  The question was “Would you rather listen to The Devils or Neurotic Outsiders”.  Two completely different sounds from completely different ends of the musical spectrum.   Many, many fans had distinct favorites between the two, which is natural – I wouldn’t have expected any less!  More alarming, however were the comments from those that had never heard of either one.  I know how that can be – you get involved in real life, you don’t pay attention to every single thing that goes on.  It happens.  That said, I simply cannot stand by and not do something to remedy the situation properly.  So today, we’re going to have ourselves a little Duran history, thanks to a couple EPK’s and videos I found on YouTube. (thanks to Nick Rhodes, Stephen Duffy and John Taylor of course!)

A little background on The Devils is probably necessary…and it’s the beginning, which is a very good place to start.  (Be careful or I’ll start singing Do Re Mi from Sound of Music.  A frightening thought by any means.)  In 1978, Nick Rhodes and Stephen Duffy started writing music together, and ran into John Taylor who was performing with a group called Dada.  At some point later Stephen walked to art college, and met up with John Taylor, who was not doing anything at that time – and Duran Duran was born.  The music that we know as The Devils is basically the first album that Duran Duran would have made had the original original original (yes, that wording IS necessary at this point) stayed together.  (does anyone else ever get the feeling that the constantly changing lineups is just part of what makes Duran Duran, Duran Duran?!?)  This my friends, is why every Duran fan on the planet, every single Duranie, should know The Devils.  No, of course you don’t have to like what you hear and I’m the last person to condemn anybody for not loving something Duran has done…. but I do think you have to know where they started to truly appreciate the band they’ve become.

I’ve posted both parts of the EPK that Nick and Stephen produced – they’re on YouTube.  (and I’m extremely thankful for that!)  For the first EPK, my advice is to watch the whole thing through, and then take special care to listen from about 13:20 to the end again several times.  The song is called Big Store, and if you don’t hear Duran Duran in there, listen again.  I have a deep appreciation for the dark and innovative sound…if only they had more clarinet in there…

(psst, Nick!!  I’m free…and I can really play clarinet!!)  

One of the more amusing and interesting things on this first EPK are the slides that are interspersed throughout.  They are from John’s geography field trip, and there are several from streets in Birmingham.  What tickled me personally was that I could actually identify several of these shots and where they were taken.  I guess that first trip to the UK back last May was beneficial in many ways!

On the next EPK, it opens with Dark Circles.  This song would have EASILY fit on the first album.  I love it dearly, and what’s more – it reminds me of why I fell in love with Duran Duran in the first place.  Then we get to hear what Nick coins as being “the most goth sound on the record”.  This is the darkest, scariest song that I think I’ve ever heard, and chances are – I’m going to have nightmares with this song as the soundtrack for the rest of my life.  I think you’re right about the goth thing Nick, and the video makes it even scarier!

(note to self: do I really ever hear music in my dreams?? Good question!)

I’m not sure how much Duran I hear in that particular song, but Nick’s innovative mind is right there, and Stephen’s voice is downright haunting.  Take a listen to Barbarellas and even the Tinsel Ritual, and really look at those old slides – that was the Birmingham from which the band emerged in 1978.  (which is really not all that unlike the town *I* came from here in the states, which is probably why I felt so at home walking around.) They have come very, very far.

And now that you’ve come up to breathe after that long trip down memory lane, here’s some Neurotic Outsiders to wake you up!

The Neurotic Outsiders is a band that John was in during the time he was not a member of Duran Duran.  The other members included Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, along with Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum of Guns n Roses.  I feel as though this band held much of his healing – as of course did his solo work.  In some ways it seems as though Neurotic Outsiders helped him see that being in a band could still be fun.  Their music was as much hard, dirty rock as The Devils was all about art, experimentation and the bridge between punk and alternative in 1978.  If there was ever to be a cosmic opposite to The Devils, Neurotic Outsiders would be that band.

I hesitate to include this next video, primarily because it’s a Duran song being covered….but I must because I really kind of like what they did with it.  Get through the first verse before you judge, and yes – the video is not an official one.  Ignore the video and just listen.  

The next one is live….

Sorry for the quality, but to get a good idea of what Neurotic Outsiders was like I think you have to see them.  I have to say, they rocked it, and I love that about them.

What is fascinating to me…and should really be to the rest of you as well, is that yesterday we asked if you’d rather listen to Arcadia or Power Station.  To the best of my count, Arcadia won that question by a landslide.  So far today, however – Neurotic Outsiders fans far exceed those of The Devils.  One could argue that The Devils and Arcadia are similar types of music, very “art school”, very experimental; and of course conversely, Power Station and Neurotic Outsiders are both rock, although Neurotic Outsiders comes from a far heavier place.  So, is it that The Devils just isn’t well known?  Is it that Simon isn’t singing??  Even better – what about John Taylor fans out there?!?

Watch the videos, take notes, because at some point, there might even be a test!  Enjoy!!

-R