Category Archives: Daily Duranie Reviews

I Believe/All I Need to Know – The Daily Duranie Review

We have some good news and some not so good news. First, we are back with another review! Unlike last time, there were not years in between. This is the good news. The not-so-good news is that we’re super late in getting it posted. This was to be Friday’s post, but due to a series of mishaps and illness, you’re seeing it today. Cheers!

The previous review focused on Lake Shore Driving, so you would think that we would move on to the Liberty album. However, we cannot forget about the b-sides of the Big Thing album. Interestingly enough, many of the extra songs during that era were what we might call remixes of sorts, such as Burning the Ground. You know, tracks that used previous Duran songs, mixed and mashed together in some new way. While we will tackle those in our own way eventually, we will be skipping them for now. For today, we’ll focus on “I Believe/All I Need to Know”.

Before we dive into what we think about the song, let’s give a little background to it. It was the b-side to All She Wants Is. According to Duran’s Wiki page, “On the aforementioned single, the song is listed as a medley, presumably referring to the two halves of the title, “I Believe” and “All I Need to Know”. “I Believe” comprises the main instrumental part of the song and can be heard on its own in bootlegged form on The Medicine. “All I Need to Know” however is so far not known to exist in any form.”

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

I love a balanced song. There is deep appreciation from me for a well-written piece of music. Not one instrument speaks louder than the rest, and the sum of all parts creates a gorgeous, delicate sound. The chords are what keep the song sounding full and lush, but they allow Simon’s vocals to take center stage. That’s how I would describe I Believe/All I Need to Know. The song is packed with instrumentation – everything from bass and drums (and a beautifully recorded hi-hat cymbal) to harmonica and a sampled piano on the keyboards. The guitar is there, but isn’t recorded as a lead guitar, it’s more rhythmic, which suits the song. I love that it’s not really one instrument (aside from vocals) that creates the full melody, which is unusual – even for Duran Duran.

Vocals

Simon’s vocals for this song really accentuate his range during this period. He goes from the lower, deeper notes up to soaring heights in the chorus. There’s no sense of strain, no falsetto, and he sounds incredibly relaxed. Say what you will about Big Thing, but this song fits incredibly well with others from that album, such as Land, Palomino and even Edge of America. He has a sort of melancholy to his voice here, and while it does sound easy and relaxed, there’s also a little bit of wistfulness which really lends itself well to the song. His vocal quality is at it’s best, and I find myself wishing that they would record more songs in this range. Simon sounds brilliant.

Lyrics

One thing I want to comment on before looking at the lyrics is that Amanda each read the lyrics and attempt to make sense out of them in our own way. That means that we don’t always (or often) come to the same conclusion of what they mean. That’s really the way lyrics are supposed to work, too. You (the listener) are supposed to find your own meaning to the words. This is is also why Simon chooses not to explain his lyrics, because he doesn’t want to influence whatever sense the listener gets out of them. In our case, we have certainly tried to explain lyrics, and we include our thoughts on the them in our reviews. For the most part, this is because we enjoy looking at the words ourselves, and we hope that we are not ruining the lyrics for anyone else in the process.

Funny thing about Duran’s lyrics. I don’t know that I ever really paid that much attention to them when I was younger. Maybe I did, and I just didn’t understand them. Or, more likely – I was too busy daydreaming to notice. Regardless, I sit here and read through the lyrics, realizing that a lot of their songs, at least in my ears after the first album, seem to have everything to do with their experience of fame.

The taxman’s in the pocketbook

The pressmen are at the bar

And all the world is at your door.

Just those three lines remind me of what it must be like for them. Unlike most of us who come home from a day’s work, they can’t get away quite as easily. Even in 1988, Duran Duran was an all-encompassing gig. By then, they’d already seen the world, toured it extensively, said goodbye to a couple of original members, and had reached the summit of fame. I think there’s a sense of the frustration Simon must feel in the lines:

I’m just the ordinary guy you used to know,

I’m not after your money,

or even your advice

I believe you’ll follow me,

it’s all I need to know

I read this as though he can’t really get away (although he sings of walking away…or maybe he’s telling other people to walk away!). There’s also a line about turning your head away now and don’t think twice, and I go back and forth about whether that’s a reminder to himself (which I could certainly see), or if it’s an admonition to the listener. Either way, I read the song similarly as I do others of this period – the struggle with fame. As I read them, it seems to be an ongoing theme in their lyrics, even during Big Thing, which takes place well after the insanity of the early to mid 80’s. While no, I wouldn’t say the lyrics are necessary of the same vague, poetic, obscure nature as say, The Reflex, I feel like I am able to have more of a connection to them. Perhaps because I’m better able to draw something out of them? I don’t know for sure.

Overall

I like the way the song conveys a certain feeling. for me, I get a sort of wistfulness, or even melancholy from it. The song feels easy, not at all angry or brooding – but maybe just a tinge sad. I don’t know that I’m surprised by that, given the time period of it’s writing. (although at the time, I am certain I would not have picked up on it!) Regardless, I appreciate the way this band has always been able to convey it’s feelings through music. I also like the simpleness of the sound. It’s a good, solid B-side for the album, although I personally think it could have been put on Big Thing and done very well. I saw somewhere that the band says that some of these extra songs that somehow escaped the album were made all the more special as a result – and I would offer this one in particular as a prime example.

I don’t listen to this song often enough. It is one of those songs I fail to think about or give enough appreciation to in their catalog. I don’t know why that is – but I’m going to fix that and add it to a playlist.

Cocktail Rating

4 Cocktails! 4 cocktails rating

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation:

Listening to this song, more intensely than I normally do, I realize that there really is no lead in. The next thought that follow quickly after is how this really is a classic Duran Duran song. I love that all instruments are present with some taking on more noticeable moments like the keyboards after the chorus. I also really enjoy the fact that the bass creates a strong steady undercurrent throughout the whole song. It makes a strong foundation, allowing the other instruments to come and go as they need. In many ways, it has the feel of more old school Duran songs as opposed to the more dance-orientated songs on Big Thing. It doesn’t feel like the ballad tracks from that album either. It is a good go between in terms of tempo and overall musical vibe.

Vocals

Whenever I think about this song, the vocals are the very first thing that comes to mind, especially the chorus.  While I love the deep vocals of the verses, there is something so smooth about the chorus that really catches my attention.  Perhaps, I like the contrast between the slower, deeper vocals of the verses as opposed to the lighter, more melodic aspects of the chorus.  Of course, the backing vocals here help to add to the lush feel of the chorus in the second half of the song. It is like the emotions and the voices build up until so much just bursts through.

Lyrics

You know what is funny?  I have listened to this song countless times and even sang along with it a lot and never really looked at the lyrics.  The line that always grabbed my attention is, “I’m just the ordinary guy you used to know.”  Now that I have really examined the lyrics, I cannot help but to wonder if this wasn’t the lyrics of a very specific story.  It sounds like someone who used to be trusted and connected with someone who broke that trust, but is now pleading their case and hoping for some understanding.  Could this be an experience that Simon had?  Someone else in the band?  Maybe the band member wasn’t the one asking for understanding but the one who determines if there would be a new understanding.  The line about not being after one’s money could definitely be a person trying to reassure a band member.  So, what do I think of these lyrics?  I don’t know that they excite me like many Duran lyrics that lend themselves to interesting interpretation or act as poetry.  Yet, they don’t turn me off either.  

Overall

Overall, I really like this song. Musically, it fits well within the standard Duran catalog with the balance of instrumentation. I believe the music is enhanced with the quality of Simon’s vocals. The only area that I question is the lyrics. While they are not bad, they are almost too specific for my liking, but do fit in well for a b-side.

Cocktail Rating:

3.5 Cocktails

LakeShore Driving—The Return of the Daily Duranie Review!

Don’t ever assume we’re done…even when years go by in between reviews! Yes, it is true that approximately three years and eleven months have gone by in between the review of “Edge of America” and “Lakeshore Driving”, nevertheless, we are BACK and the reviews will continue until we’re done!! Be on the lookout for them twice a month, on the second and fourth Fridays!

To those who have not previously had the pleasure, an introduction is necessary. Basically, we challenged ourselves to review the entire Duran Duran catalog. (we don’t know what we were thinking. It is in line with agreeing to write daily, we suppose…) Granted, neither of us are music critics (but isn’t everyone a critic?), neither of us have been trained in music journalism….but that’s never stopped us before. Why now? We’re also not unbiased. (Hey, that’s a double negative, isn’t it? Damn.) That said, we try to be hard on the band, but we’re unabashed Duranies. Say whatever you will.

A couple of extra things, just to be clear:

1. We are not employees of Duran Duran.  They aren’t holding us in duress, nor are they telling us what to say and write. (We’d bet that sometimes though, they wish they could…or at least, could shut us up!)

2.  We pay for our own music. That said, anytime they want to send us music, we’re all for it. We can be bought. (Ok, ok…Just kidding about the being bought part!)

We review each song using the same guidelines of musicality/instrumentation, vocals, lyrics, and all of that put together – or overall. Then, at the end, we assign it a cocktail rating. Why cocktails? Have you not met Amanda or I yet???

1 cocktail :  It’s really not our thing and honestly at this point, the band should be sending US cocktails just to keep listening.

2 cocktails: It could really use work.  There are problems in most, if not all, areas of the song/album.  It’s not making our ears bleed, but it’s close.

3 cocktails: It’s not bad, but it’s not great either.  We aren’t going to turn it off, but we might not actively listen either.

4 cocktails:  We’re liking what we hear!  It reminds us as to why we’re still fans after all of this time!

5 cocktails:  AMAZING!  Can this band really get much better?!?  This is the Duran we know and love!

Of course, we may even do half cocktails when necessary! 

As you may have guessed, this week we press on to finish Big Thing by taking a good look (and listen) at Lakeshore Driving. As the final song on the album, it takes over from where Edge of America leaves off, quite literally. Does it pack a punch, or leave the listener dazed and confused? Read on and see just how many cocktails this one earns!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation:

Obviously, the most forward-sounding instrument is the guitar, which for me is a breath of fresh air. I love the hard-driving, rock guitar as the track starts out. It contrasts beautifully against the far lighter, almost playful, keyboards. It reminds me of the way it used to be when the guitar and keyboards would have a sort of tug-o-war quality about them, and I admit I had to remind myself that this was actually Warren playing. It’s not like the rest of the music he plays with Duran, that is for sure. Then as you keep listening, you get this wonderful second track of guitar that comes out. It is very Nile Rodgers-esque, similar to the style heard on Notorious. It is a jam session that comes to life, without being overly indulgent. I don’t hear a lot of bass or drums, unfortunately. The guitar tracks are so forward that it’s difficult to hear anything else as the song continues on. I’m not really sure I’d call it balanced, but by the same token – I don’t know that it really needs to be. In fact, perhaps the unbalance is what really works for the track.

Obviously there are no vocals or lyrics for this one, so we’ll move on….

Overall

I do love the track. It isn’t crazily long, but I like the fact that we’re hearing what this band can really do if left to their own devices. I enjoy that Duran Duran doesn’t always play by the rules. Sometimes, in hindsight, I think they’ve forgotten how to just play. I miss that. I love the feeling that this song just sort of “happened”, and it is a great placement at the end of the record. The tension and sound just continues to build and build, which is a great effect, because I just feel like I’m being swallowed into this whirlpool of sound – it’s an excellent song to listen to when you just need to stop thinking! Towards the end, the sound is full, and it’s easy to think it will never end, until it does. The effect of it just abruptly cutting out is crazy – it’s like you’re floating along grooving away and then there’s just, nothing. You drop like a 50 pound brick back into the harsh reality. This album quits, genuinely leaving you wanting more! So rude, but so good, too.

Cocktail Rating:

Four and a half cocktails!

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

Before I dive into specifics, I have to acknowledge the pairing of this song with Edge of America.  It is truly rare for me (and I’m guessing countless other Duranies) to listen to this song by itself despite having its own unique track number.  After all, there is little time in between the two on the album and when they played the two tracks live, it felt like a brief pause rather than a complete change in song.  I’m sure that it was done deliberately even though the two have very different feelings.  After all, Edge of America is more introspective and softer while Lake Shore Driving is an instrumental and one driven by guitar. While I didn’t see this song performed live, I have seen clips in which Warren would come to the center stage by himself to play, clearly giving the guitar the spotlight.  That isn’t to say that it is the only instrumentation present but it definitely overshadows the rest.  You have to listen closely to hear the bass, for example.  So the question is – is Warren’s guitar and its prominence something appreciated or not?  While it is different, I’m not sure I’m a fan. When I think of the best Duran material, it is that fight for balance between the instruments in which some instruments rise to the surface for a few notes before another takes over.  That isn’t this. It could have been but it feels like so much guitar to me when I would have preferred more rhythm section, for example.

Overall

One aspect of doing reviews that I missed was taking the time to really listen closely to a song. In many cases, I learn to appreciate a song more. As I began to type this review, I starting pondering where this song is located on the album and how it is connected to the song, Edge of America. I never really thought that much about it before now, but in writing this review, I think I get it. The Edge of America gives listeners a sense of despair, of hopeless. It leaves you with the idea that the country is not meeting the needs of its people and the emotion that is left, the emotion that can be expressed is anger. “Learn to love your anger now. Anger here is all you possess.
Welcome to the edge.” That song has always reminded me of many of my students who face an incredibly uphill battle. One student, in particular, pops in my head. This kids was the youngest of a bunch of boys. All of his siblings have ended up in prison as his single mother had struggled with substance abuse and making enough money to provide for her kids. This student was bright and he soon realized that so much was going against him. As he recognized this, his anger grew. Eventually, it became his only emotion. Why share this story? I feel like Lake Shore Driving is the anger, the anger that follows the sadness, the despair. I saw it with that particular student and many others. What does this mean in terms of my review? Simple. When I listen to the song on its own, I think of it as this overbearing guitar driven track. When I place it in context, it means more. I can appreciate it more.

Cocktail Rating:

3 cocktails!

A Durandipitous Sunday Night

It is rare when Jason submits an article to Daily Duranie without a title…and when he does, I take full advantage. “Durandipitous” is my newest word creation. It’s not a word, you say? It is now. -R

I wasn’t going to go. The amount of Duran Duran shows coming through Vegas since Paper Gods was released had worn me down. It’s an emotional experience to dig deep into my soul and light the fuse of nostalgia. And tickets are getting out of hand in Sin City. The last pair of dates left a sour taste in my mouth with two predictable and pretty much identical set lists. I could miss this weekend and hold out for a new album and tour while saving up to someday get a seat up front. 


A visit to Jeff and Jason’s pop-up shop on Friday got my juices flowing. Then, the Duranies met up that night at a Tiki bar and the cocktails started to flow. I met Larry, who first saw Duran Duran in Miami, FL on the Big Thing tour. Same as me! If nothing else, the Daily Duranie party on Sunday was a must for me. There is something special about the Duran community these days. We are survivors, and the band’s continued success is our sweet reward. 
Playing StubHub bingo, I hit refresh about 5,733 times throughout the meet-up to no avail. If I was going to clean out my PayPal fun money for a ticket, it wasn’t going to be a standing room, obstructed view night. Honestly, seeing the passion and swapping stories about Duran was all I needed. Instead, there I was, watching everyone go into the show, ready to head home. Then, a Paper Goddess walked up and granted me a miracle. I was in. Not only that, I was sitting next to the curators of the pop-up shop and two of the most inspiring fans I know: Jeff and Jason. This was Durandipity! 


Opening with “Hungry Like the Wolf” is a masterful stroke. As much as I love a moody, art-pop opener like “Paper Gods”, the energy of a major single sets fire to the room. The casual fans are instantly on their feet, which is essential to a good show. I’m not sure if “I Don’t Want Your Love” counts as a major hit, but nobody sat down after the opener, and the energy was building.  While “A View To A Kill” isn’t Simon’s strongest vocal, he sells it like an exuberant uncle playing James Bond at Halloween. 


If I came for one song, it was “Anyone Out There”, which had surfaced at some recent shows. The excitement of hearing that turned out to be just the start. I never expected to hear “Astronaut”, but the opening synth of “The Chauffeur” is when I officially lost my mind. It is the one classic that I never heard live, and I had not seen it on many set lists. The video cut out a few times so maybe the video engineer was even caught off guard. It didn’t matter, the pocket of Duranies that I saw the show with were singing at the top of their lungs and there were hugs and hi-fives all around. Next to “The Seventh Stranger” earlier this year, it is probably my favorite live Duran moment so far. 


The surprises continued with a rocking “(Reach Up For the) Sunrise” with the “New Moon On Monday” snippet, but the “Planet Earth” mash-up with David Bowie stole my heart. As a music critic, my fandom often finds itself in conflict with the more honest and rationale side of my brain. This Duran Duran show more than satisfied both sides of my being. The band sounded energized, playing with a little swagger instead of going through the motions and the set list was a gift to fans. What a night!


The recent NASA show obviously served as an impetus for this short run of shows, but the thematic arc of the set represented more than that for me. As cartoon spaceman flew around the screens above the band, I kept picturing MTV moon men; the award given at the Video Music Awards in the 1980s. Perhaps they still give them away but I can’t be bothered to go see what MTV is up to in 2019. Still regarded as a video band by many, the band have proven to be so much more and all the moon man imagery of this tour playfully pokes anyone who would disagree. 


It’s hard to choose a favorite set list from a band but Sunday night in Las Vegas is probably it for me. It delivered surprises and the band seemed to have an extra gear that, honestly, isn’t there every show. When a set list changes night to night, musicians cannot lapse into muscle memory and it leads to a better performance. I see enough shows to feel confident in that assessment. I count myself lucky to have been there singing “The Chauffeur” on Sunday night and even luckier to have found a tribe of so many amazing Duranies, especially one Paper Goddess who made it all possible. Thank you. 

Record Store Day 2019

As the lights go down on another Record Store Day, Duran Duran have finally delivered a record worth the 5am wake-up call and four hours in a queue with other like-minded music fans. After last year’s disappointing EP Budokan, it was time for Duran Duran to deliver something of lasting excitement to their fans. This year’s package is an exquisite reissue of the band’s 1984 performances at the ridiculously named Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena. While the packaging alone makes it an essential piece of Duran Duran history, a few quibbles keep it from fully capturing the excitement and energy surrounding the band in 1984.

My first thought when I saw the announcement was, how different can it be from Arena? To put that to the test, I spent an afternoon flipping between the vinyl and an original CD version of Arena. Right away, the mix was noticeably different with regards to the synths. Nick Rhodes can be heard much clearer on As The Lights Go Down compared to the original Arena. However, when compared to the 2004 remastered version, the live performances sound pretty similar. Playing giant sheds, the sound quality remains a challenge but the mix on this release goes a long way to capturing what even the audiences might have missed under the din of screaming fans.

Where the album stumbles resides in the sequencing. The opening of “Tiger Tiger” builds in intensity and you can visualize a dark arena ready to erupt when Roger hits the first floor tom on “Is There Something I Should Know?”. Just like the tour, it is followed by Simon asking “is anybody hungry?” followed by a roaring version of “Hungry Like the Wolf” that sounds as good today as it did when it first the airwaves. Breaking the order of Arena, “Union of the Snake” follows which provides a more authentic concert experience. On the 1984 tour, the band typically followed “Hungry Like the Wolf” with the three singles from Seven and the Ragged Tiger

At each Oakland show, “New Religion” followed “Union of the Snake” so apart from skipping “The Reflex” and “New Moon On Monday”, the show unfolds much like it did at the time. However, then the show becomes a bit jumbled with “Save A Prayer” appearing far too early on the record followed by “Rio” which paired with “Girls On Film” at the end of each Oakland show. It really doesn’t belong in the middle of the record given how important it is to the band’s popularity. It would never have appeared mid-set in 1984 so it’s an odd choice to slip it into the mix here. On the remastered Arena, it was wisely included with “Girls” at the end of the CD.

The album reaches an emotional peak with “The Seventh Stranger” and “The Chauffeur”. The moody darkness of the songs hints at the deeper essence of the band which was plastered over by the media at the time. Hearing them live again, the fans aren’t the only ones who remember how meaningful they were. Revisiting the tapes of the shows to prepare this release apparently inspired the band to dust off “The Seventh Stranger” for their 2019 tour dates. Having seen two of the shows, I can attest to the emotional waterfall it created in the audience.

The final side of As The Lights Go Down ends strong with the expected hits that dominated the end of their 1984 shows. “Girls On Film” sounds especially good on this record. Best of all on this release, the energy of the show is not disrupted by studio single “The Wild Boys”. While it made sense commercially to tack it onto Arena, it never made much sense wedged in the middle of the album. Having a more full concert document from 1984 is an absolute treasure and the beautiful artwork takes you back to the Sing Blue Silver era when we were all under the spell of Duran Duran. 

Could the band have done a little more for Record Store Day? I’m looking at a wasted slab of vinyl that makes up the D side so, yes. There were at least two more live songs from that tour in the vault: “The Reflex” and “(I’m Looking For) Cracks In the Pavement” which surfaced as b-sides. A little editing of the title to As the Lights Go Down (live 1984) would do the trick since they weren’t recorded in Oakland. Add those songs to the release and move “Save A Prayer” and “Rio” to where they would have appeared during the tour. Then we would have the most complete reminder of the Sing Blue Silver tour. But as the lights go down in my music room tonight, I really don’t care. I’m watching a beautiful pink disc spin me right back to being an eleven year old obsessed with the coolest band on earth. 

Jason Lent Guest Blogger thumbnail

Jason Lent (Velvet Rebel Music) is our newest Daily Duranie Contributor! You will be seeing more of Jason’s contributions, and we are thrilled that he agreed to write with us! He discovered Duran Duran on MTV in 1983 and a lifelong musical love affair was born. In 2010, he left a job in Hawaii to tour with Cowboy Junkies as a music writer and his work has appeared in various online music outlets. He currently resides in Las Vegas managing a music venue while trying to learn John Taylor’s bass line from Rio.

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

Land – The Daily Duranie Review

We continue our attempts to review every single song in Duran Duran’s catalog with the song “Land” from Big Thing this week. There is surprisingly little information out there about “Land”, other than no demos seem to exist (at least not that anyone outside of the band has gotten their hands on!), which may indicate that it was one of the final songs written for the album.

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

Personally, I think this is one of the prettiest songs Duran Duran has ever written – so there’s my bias right off the bat! The song opens with what might either be a muted guitar or keyboard, and background vocals, which is very unusual and immediately draws the listener in.  The one thing I really love about the music for this song is that even though there is plenty of music to “fill” the space, it also feels simple, clean, and unforced. Yet, there is a lot going on in the song. There is both acoustic and electric guitar, synthesizer, bass, drums, and even what I think is soprano sax going on in the background along with flute! I really love that the guitar solo is in the background tends to blend even though you can hear it soar – it gives a filmy texture to the music that really works for the song and doesn’t detract. Duran Duran achieved something very special with this song because what could have ended up feeling very overdone and incredibly busy still has an “easy” but lush feel, and communicated exactly the right mood. I also enjoy those open, quiet spaces that just set the song off right.

Vocals

I really like that the song opens with the background vocals – it is an usual way to open, and it draws my attention and alerts me to pay attention! Simon’s voice sounds relaxed and clear with a beautiful roundness that I miss when he sings higher in his range.  In this song, the vocals continue to build from those first moments into a soaring chorus, and then immediately come right back down to about where they began. Another effect I like is that if you listen closely to the second verse – you can hear a background track of Simon actually whispering the lyrics, which is ultra-cool and makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Lyrics

There’s no arguing that these are some beautiful lyrics. When I listen to the song, it reminds me of the sailing that Simon enjoys – and perhaps it’s about his leaving his family behind.  He loves to sail, but he also loves home, and to him – that is his family.  “I need your love to land” Reminds me a bit of traveling in general – it’s always fun to go, and it’s always nice to come home again. Home is comfortable, it’s love, it’s the anchor to the rest of our lives. I kind of think that is what Simon was trying to convey here.  The lyrics aren’t necessarily all that difficult to understand, they don’t feel very abstract, but the message is, once again – beautiful.

Overall

There’s really only one word I need to describe “Land”, and that’s “beautiful”. This is one song that I can put on and drift away somewhere in my thoughts. It’s relaxing, and I think the band completely outdid themselves with the instrumentation on this one. Out of the entire album, this is the song where I can hear the most growth and maturity from the band, and it’s a shame it is stuck in the middle of the “B” side on an album that didn’t really allow the song to shine as it might have otherwise. I wish they’d play it live because it really deserves the highlight.  “Land” is a song that I didn’t really discover or fully appreciate until adulthood, which reminds me why Amanda and I decided to do these reviews to begin with – to reacquaint ourselves with the full catalog. We hope our readers are enjoying the journey with us!

Cocktail Rating

Five cocktails! 5 cocktails

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

The song starts out with very soft instrumentation hidden behind the chorus of vocals.  You can hear what sounds like some beautiful soft guitar with keyboards.  I like how the notes the keyboards plays holds on for a long time until the sound just fades.  Bass and drums are present along side the other elements of the instrumentations during the verse.  If that wasn’t enough, some sax can also be heard, very quietly, in the chorus and to transition back to the verse.  Overall, the music is definitely designed to be quiet, calm, and somewhat serene no matter which instrument one focuses on.  No instrument is meant to be loud here.  This softer instrumentation allows of the vocals to stand out for the majority of the song.  Perhaps, the only time that the instrumentation takes the front seat is during the bridge when different instruments are heard, including what sounds like an acoustic guitar solo and some percussion that reminds me of a slight Middle Eastern musical flavor.  This instrumentation is very unique in the Duran catalog and definitely enhances this song to musically be something different and something special.

Vocals

The song begins with a lovely female chorus, featuring Carole Fredericks, Yvonne Jones and Beckie Bell, that lets the listener know that this song is going to be a very different Duran song but one that is soft and beautiful.  Simon’s initial vocals reinforce this idea as his vocals are so soft that they are almost breathy.  The words are gently sung with little need to finish the ends of the words.  Instead, the focus is to move smoothly to the next word, next line.  Even the chorus, which features a stronger vocal doesn’t spend a lot of time clearly saying every word.  Simon’s vocals in this song remind me again that his vocals can and do become another instrument as the vocals are perfect to match the music and the mood of the music.  I especially love the very breathy end to the song with the repetition of the line “love is land”.

Lyrics

This is not a song that I typically focus on the lyrics as I usually pay more attention to soft music.  Plus, the line that always sticks out in my head is “Your love is life, for love is land.”  This line, especially in isolation, means nothing to me.  Yet, this line takes on a more significant meaning when you glance at the entire song.  There are many references to leaving (“my ship will sail”, “Before I leave”) and this leaving appears to be through travel (“Standing, across the ocean stream”).  Could it then be that land isn’t a noun but a verb, as in to land, to make a step on new ground?  Could it be that this is a reference to commitment?  Could it be the opposite?  Could it be that one person in a relationship is leaving the other?  Maybe.  The first line about being sorry could indicate that.  No matter the actual meaning as the lyrics still meet my general requirements as I want lyrics that make me feel or make me think.  Lyrics like this with a potential metaphor definitely makes me think.  I would go so far as to say that the lyrics match the mood of the music, too, with a soft, slightly melancholy feel.  Well done, Simon.

Overall

When I think of the individual parts of this song, everything seems to be working.  While the instrumentation might be different, it is really beautiful as are the lyrics and the vocals.  Yet, I struggle to give this song a 5 cocktail rating.  I think that, for whatever reason, when I want to listen to a ballad, this one does not come to mind.  There is something that allows it to fade into the background too much.  Perhaps, this had nothing to do with the song but with the listener.  The ballads of Duran’s that are my go to are ones that I have made a personal connection to and this song I just haven’t.  On paper or in this review, it is fabulous but it hasn’t totally hooked me yet even with the additional, focused listening for this review.  That said, I suspect that if I had a chance to see it performed live, it might push me to that 5 cocktail rating!  😉

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

Daily Duranie Video Review for Pressure Off!

Anyone see any good videos lately?  Anyone??  Anyone??  Bueller?  Obviously, we might have taken some time to watch a certain little video for Duran Duran’s Pressure Off a time or two thousand.  Then, of course, we took some more time to bring you all another of our ridiculous, why-don’t-we-ever-stop-talking video reviews of it!  While we could go on and on here in writing, we won’t.  We’ll just let the video speak for itself…after all, we talk enough for the video AND a written blog.  (Yes, it seems we are always very wordy!)  Enjoy!  snort

Now, you probably want to watch something much more…fun so we thought you might enjoy seeing Pressure Off again for the 38,456th time and then the 38,457th time and the 38,458th time…You get our point!

-A&R

Palomino – The Daily Duranie Review

Palomino is on the “B” side to Big Thing. It is one of their dreamier ballads and may not have gained much notice from casual listeners, as it was not released as a single.  The song was derived from another called “Welcome to the Edge,” during recording sessions, and has an entirely different set of lyrics.

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation:

Aside from some background synthesizers, the song opens only with Simon’s voice, and it makes you feel as though you’re in the beginning of a dream. I really like the background sounds of what sounds like drumsticks being hit on the floor or on metal just for timing. The guitar doesn’t really come in until the second stanza of verse, and even then it is used very sparingly, only to add a bit of texture…and then during the chorus you hear bass and drums to round out the rhythm.  During the break, the synthesizers come in with some random (and echoed) partial note successions – not quite a real solo, but not really melody either, just very unique, and it works. This is a case where not one instrument aside from Simon’s vocals are the highlight – everything else is perfectly balanced, and yet there is an incredible amount of tracks and layering. I think the song is a perfect example of how Duran Duran felt comfortable with musical “quiet”. The spaces were as important as the notes, and the result is a beautiful number.

Vocals:

All I can think of to say right now is how much I wish they’d play this song live. Simon’s voice is incredible, and as I listen with my earbuds I would swear I could feel him whispering words in my ear.  There is no straining, and the dynamics he uses – going from singing loudly to dramatically whispering – really add to the song. There are really no critiques I could make here, except to say that this is Simon at his finest.

Lyrics:

According to an old Ask Katy found on Duran Duran wikia – the chorus lyric comes from a quote from Picasso.  Apparently when Picasso was asked during the height of his blue period what he does when he runs out of blue, he replied, “Why, I use red instead.”  I love this anecdote…and it is a great example of where Simon seems to get his inspiration. (From everywhere!!) As for the rest of the lyrics, I am not sure what they mean. I know what I draw from them – and the line “If there’s secrets she has to be party to,” kind of makes me think of hiding something.  How this person puts on an act, maybe pretending to be happy and content when in fact she’s not – and during the moments when she’s able, she runs free. I especially like the line Simon uses from the Picasso story “When I run out of blue, give me red instead, now let me run.”  That line speaks to me and reminds me of when I escape reality once in a while.  I love the lyrics because I don’t necessarily understand what Simon was really trying to drive home – but I’ve found my own meaning for the song.  (Yes Simon, your lyrics are for thinking people, which I love most about this band!)

Overall:

Here’s the strange thing about Big Thing and this song in particular…I don’t think I really appreciated the B sides until I was in my thirties. I’m not sure if it’s life experience or my tastes have generally changed, but when I listen to this song, I just wonder what critics are missing. (Brain cells, most likely.) Everything we want from Duran Duran is evident right here.  There is so much here to like, and really nothing I can find fault with – typically I might complain about the lack of guitar, bass and drums, but in this song it feels natural and perfect as is.

Cocktail Rating:

5 Cocktails!5 cocktails

Amanda:

Musicality/Instrumentation:

The music is very subtle and is very much in the background in the beginning of the song.  The music reminds me almost of wind chimes until some more instrumentation comes in around the minute mark.  Even with the addition of guitar, bass and percussion, the music remains subtle and calm until the chorus kicks in.  Then, there is more of the full instrumentation that we are all used to.  The song has a definite balance with keyboards getting a little more of the spotlight in creating some of those extra sounds that are heard, especially in the bridge.  The music, no matter if it is quiet and subtle in the beginning or more full-blown instrumentation, is very beautiful.  I like how the music changes from quiet to louder as it works to keep one’s attention in a slower number.

Vocals:

I really love the vocals on this one from the humming to the beginning to deep, breathy verses.  I’ve always been a fan of Simon at his lower range and a lot of this song seems to hang out there, at least in the verses.  The chorus also has a nice touch with the backing vocals.  It adds a layer that deepens the song.  The only part of the vocals that I have never been sure of is the “talking”, “chanting” said in a rather abrupt manner in comparison to the rest.  I just think those parts work to break the mood a bit too much.  Other than that, the vocals are fabulous.

Lyrics:

This is one of those songs that could be about a woman.  It could be about a horse.  It could be a metaphor for something completely different.  It is a beautiful lyric that really matches the mood of the song.  Of course, the focus on colors makes sense after knowing that it comes from a quote from Pablo Picasso.  The quote came after he was asked about what he would do when he runs out of blue and Picasso said that he would use red instead.  Beyond the focus on color, it does definitely bring up a sense of culture outside of the Western world with the mention of “Arabia” and the sense of a desert.  I almost get the sense that the song could be about mother nature hearing all of humanity’s secrets and needing humans to speak for her and for her needs.  I adore lyrics like this one.  Not only are they beautiful by just reading them in a straight forward way, but they also make me think.  They make me wonder what is it all about.

Overall:

Palomino is one of those songs that could be easily missed on an album.  It could be one that floats into the background, easily ignored.  Yet, that would be a mistake.  It features really subtle but beautiful instrumentation that coincides with the poetry of Simon’s lyrics and his deep vocals.  There isn’t much that I would change about this song other than maybe the way the word “talking” and “chatting” is said in the song.  I like that the lyrics make me wonder while it creates a mood of calmness.

Cocktail Rating:

 4.5 cocktails!
4.5 Cocktails

 

Do You Believe In Shame – The Daily Duranie Review

We don’t know about anyone else, but it feels as though we’re doing twice as many reviews as normal these days….and we are NOT complaining one little bit!

This week, we are going to dive right into “Do You Believe in Shame”. This was the 19th single from Duran Duran, as well as the third and final single off of the Big Thing album.  The song only made it to #30 in the UK, #72 in the US and a whopping #14 in Italy, in spite of the single’s extra-long running time (it runs 4:24 – well beyond the “magic” 3:30 of a typical radio single). As most know, the song was dedicated to three special friends in the Duran Duran “family”:  record producer Alex Sadkin, Andy Warhol, and Simon’s childhood friend David Miles.  The song also had its share of controversy in a legal challenge due to the melody resembling that of Dale Hawkins’ “Suzie Q”.  The writing credits were changed, although Duran Duran has continually insisted they never intentionally copied, instead claiming that the similarity is due to a basic blues progression pattern found in both songs.

There will be no blues progression test at the end, or a determination of copyrights, but let’s jump in and see what the song has to offer!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentality

This is a song that I often forget about until I hear it, and then I wonder why I don’t listen to it more often. There is a strong drum beat to begin with, and you barely notice the other instrumentation (synthesizer, bass, and guitar of course) until after the first chorus, which is a little unusual for a Duran Duran song. I appreciate that particularly in this song, the instruments act as more of a backup for the vocals rather than trying to compete with Simon’s voice….the vocal message being more important than the music here. That said, there is still balance here. The synthesizers are really no more or less prominent than the bass or the guitar, and all are kept at rather subdued levels.

Vocals

Simon outdoes himself for this song, keeping his voice in the lower portion of his range, and singing with all of the emotion one might expect for a song such as this. The timbre of his voice is gorgeous and full, and reminds me of just how talented he is. As much as I love the rest of the song, the brightness he reaches with a bridge about midway through the song is in direct contrast has an almost hopeful quality, which really gives the song even more dimension. Definitely one of the best and under appreciated Duran ballads, particularly vocally.

Lyrics

There are very few Duran lyrics that swell up the emotion as well as this song for me. It isn’t easy to have people die, and I think that everyone experiences regret about things they should have done or should have said, even under the best of circumstances, and this song conveys those feelings perfectly.  Lines like “So why your eyelids are closed, Inside a case of rust, And did you have to change
All your poets fire into frozen dust”  convey an eerily familiar feeling for me, an make the ever-present feeling in the pit of my stomach surge back to life.  Anyone who has ever lost anyone should be able to find that emotion here in this song.

Overall

I think part of the reason I don’t listen to this song more often is because of the intense emotion it conjures up for me. That alone makes it a brilliant piece of work.  The music and vocals work together beautifully, and I appreciate that the song is subdued without losing emotionality. This isn’t the type of song you dance to, yet the band has played it live and it’s gone over brilliantly.  Do You Believe in Shame is a fine example of the depth that Duran Duran is capable of, something that I feel continues to be completely missed by media.  Their loss.

Cocktail Rating

4.5  cocktails!

4.5 Cocktails

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

The song’s instrumentation, to me, is such that it is definitely felt rather than heard.  It works to create quite a mood of melancholy and does not appear to have significant changes throughout the song.  Yes, there is clearly, musically, a chorus but isn’t that much different the music of the verses.  The instrumentation clearly has all of the usual Duran instruments present but none is front and center.  The instrumentation works in the background.  When there are slight changes or additions, particularly keyboards, they work to make the song, the feeling more intense.  Truly, the musicality of this song matches the focus of the song.  It really feels like grief that is  ever present.

Vocals

I want to love Simon’s vocals here but…I don’t.  While I appreciate that Simon also wanted his vocals to represent the grief and match with the instrumentation, I find myself wanting something different each time I listen to it.  I have a hard time picking out the words and, while I know that I’m getting ahead of myself here, they are too good to miss.  They are too beautiful not to be understood and I always struggle to understand each and every line.  I do love the part about 2/3 of the way through when he declares how selfish he is.  The power of that section is great and I wish the entire song sounded like that.  All this said, I do give him credit for truly sounding like he is grieving in this song.  He definitely channeled everything he was feeling with the loss of his friend, David, when he recorded this.  I give him a ton of credit for that.

 

Lyrics

When I think of Duran Duran songs, I struggle to think of ones that we know truly relate to a real life experience of Simon’s.  Most of his lyrics tend to be some broad observation of some aspect of society or relationships or they tend to be more poetic.  I don’t often think personal when I think Simon’s lyrics.  These lyrics are very personal and yet they truly do capture what grief is like.  It is a song, lyrically, that everyone can relate to.  Everyone has experienced loss and the classic five stages, many of which Simon alluded to here.  Yet, like the best of Simon’s lyrics, he describes the emotions he felt in such a poetic beautiful way.

Overall

This is one of those songs that touches everyone who hears it.  It captures the experience of grief and loss well.  The instrumentation makes the listener aware while the lyrics explain the complexity of grief with confusion, angry, sadness as well as the attempt to move on.  The only part of the song that doesn’t work as well as it could is the vocals, in the verses, in particularly.  The lyrics and the message loses a  little bit when the vocals aren’t easily understood.  That said, it demonstrates the depth of Duran and the band’s ability to really create a mood with their music.

Cocktail Rating

4 cocktails!

4 cocktails rating