Category Archives: Daily Duranie Reviews

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

Drug (It’s Just a State of Mind) – The Daily Duranie Review

After a brief hiatus where we may or may not have forgotten to do a review…we’re back this week to review Drug (It’s Just a State of Mind).  At some point, we really will make it past the Big Thing album, we promise!

Drug was originally known as “Take Me” during the initial recording sessions for Big Thing, and is widely rumored to have created a fair amount of discord within the band. The tale goes that John preferred Daniel Abraham’s mix of the song, to which he was outnumbered and outvoted, and as rumor has it, he nearly quit the band.  Many of you probably know that Abraham’s mix was released as a bonus track on the CD version of Big Thing, and it did appear as a B-side on copies of “Do You Believe in Shame” that included the John Taylor picture sleeve. Coincidence??

That may be more than any of us ever thought about with regard to the song, so let’s move on to the review!!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

My first thought upon listening is that this song could have been on Notorious, with the background vocals and horns. Guitar is incredibly way way way down low in the mix, so it really functions as a rhythm guitar, and even then, very limited. The song is very synth-heavy, which is balanced by strong bass (both by a synth baritone sax and electric bass, courtesy of John Taylor). I struggle to understand why Duran Duran chooses to use their guitarist in such a limited fashion – something that goes on even today.  Regardless, the song is very funky, helped along by the slight Chic-like rhythm in the background as well as the well-placed staccato horn fills.

Vocals

The song is very background vocal-heavy, and at times it’s difficult to even hear Simon. I have to say that for the most part, it doesn’t work for me. I’ve never been a fan of songs that are so heavy on the female  backgrounds, and Drug is no exception. The female background voice serves as a sort of “whisper in the ear” or “devil on the shoulder” for the song, telling the listener to “use me”, “take me”, etc….and I have to admit that it is slightly amusing that the band would choose to make that voice female.  That said, I think the effect is used way too heavily throughout the song and tends to be a distraction.  Simon’s vocals are fine, just not prominent enough in the chorus for my taste.

Lyrics

There are times when I have no idea what the lyrics mean…and then there are songs like this. There’s no doubt that the song, at least on the surface, is about drugs. That said, I kind of think there’s more to it than just that. The song is also about how there’s a drug of some sort out there for every single emotion or state of mind they need.  “A hit to fit reality”…any thing they need to feel, they’ve got something to fix that. I think the song is also about how robotic it all was at this point for them. Going through the motions, doing whatever had to be done to get through it all. “It’s more than just an axe you’ve got to grind” It’s as though the life had gone out of it for them, and the only way to feel at that point was to take something to change their state of mind to get there. Once again, I like how the words can mean one thing if taken literally, but they also have the potential to paint a slightly different (and deeper) picture.

Overall

For me, the song is mostly a miss. I desperately wish the band would have used the guitarist more effectively (something I continue to wish for even today), and I think the more electronic nature of Big Thing really takes away from the full-experience of the BAND in general. It tends to become more of a showcase for synth, and while I love Nick as much as anyone, the one thing Duran Duran had going was a real balance between synthesizers and guitar, and that seems lost on this record. While there’s definitely some funk to the music, I’ve always felt the song is a bit boring, musically. The lead vocals are incredibly overshadowed by the female background voices, which do nothing to help the strength of the song; and lastly, could we have some damned guitar??

Cocktail Rating

2.5 cocktails!

Two and half cocktails

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

This is one of those songs that you can’t ease into it at all.  Right away, there are horns blaring in your ears, which does connect to previous Duran (i.e. the Notorious album, in particular).  The song is interesting in that there feels like there is a lot going on, instrumentation wise; yet, it is hard to pick out much beyond the synths, creating very much of a dance/club feel.  Of course, there are moments when you can hear the bass or various percussion but those are hard to separate from all of the keyboards.  Interestingly enough, if you watch live clips of this song from the Big Thing era and how they decided to perform it, there are a LOT of keyboards (Nick and an additional musician) and Sterling Campbell (drummer) works hard but there isn’t much going on with Warren and John at all.  John only adds some bass at the end, in fact.

Vocals

Every time I listen to this song, I think the same thing.  Too much!  I want some quiet or at least less vocals!  Perhaps, part of my problem is that I think there is just way too much backing vocals–whether those vocals join Simon’s or are by themselves!  I want to hear Simon and I don’t hear him nearly enough.  Then, at times, when I do, I find myself wanting him to articulate or enunciate his words more.  Overall, the lyrics don’t really work for me.

Lyrics

The question with these lyrics is a simple one?  Are the lyrics about drugs?  They sound like they are but could they be about something else?  Could it be about quick fixes?  Could it be about society’s obsession with taking pills for every ailment under the sun rather than being patient and seeing if the ailment goes away or if something else could be done about it?  The one thing to note about the lyrics is the amount of repetition.  The song basically has about the chorus repeat about 4 times with 2 verses that are basically the same minus a few lines.  My point is simple.  While the lyrics could be a metaphor or a larger statement about society or something deeper than just drugs, they are too short and lack variety.

Overall

I wish that this was a song that I liked more.  It has a lot of energy as there is a lot going on from the non-stop keyboards to the lead and backing vocals to the repetitive lyrics.  That said, I feel all elements aren’t quite right.  Keyboards are too dominant.  The vocals don’t work for me as I miss Simon.  Likewise, the interesting part of the lyrics are lost by the lack of variety.  Clearly, the song isn’t a favorite.

Cocktail Rating

2 cocktails!

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Paper Gods – Daily Duranie Reviews

As a treat, Amanda and I decided that we’d do the review of Paper Gods as another video, the link is below.  We tried to be succinct with the actual review; but this is a warning to get yourself a snack and a beverage, and don’t blame us for being willing to dig a little deeper into the meaning of Paper Gods!

-A & R

 

Through the Barricades – Spandau Ballet at Pacific Amphitheater

Last night I joined about 8,000 of my newest friends to see Spandau Ballet in concert at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, California. I don’t want to brag (actually I do), but Spandau says that it was one of the best if not the best amphitheater show they’ve done.

First of all, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to this venue, and they’ve completely improved the gates leading from inside the fair. What once felt like a back alley was open and inviting, which is nice. The amphitheater has it’s own set of unique problems though, some of which are that it’s attached to a fairground, not permitted to run year-round, and there’s some nasty rules about noise, curfews and horrific fines if a band should happen to go past their time-limit.  Even so, I love it when bands play here…especially when those bands are named Spandau Ballet, Tears for Fears, or Duran Duran.

I recently saw Spandau (by recently I mean earlier this year and you can find my review here), for a show at the Wiltern Theatre in LA and it was fantastic, far exceeding any expectations I may have had. I was a fan who had never seen them live, and I still can’t quite believe my luck at having them play twice in a single year. From what I could gather between the LA show and last night – they have an amazing, fun-loving, and supportive fan base, and it’s a shame it had gone thirty years (according to Tony Hadley, whom I’m assuming knows these things) since their last show in the OC, otherwise known as my backyard.  So, I was curious to see how their shows might differ, especially after long months of touring. Would fatigue get the best of them? Would their music feel a bit tired, or polished?

Once again, Spandau blew me away. In retrospect, the show in LA felt almost a bit stiff compared to the warm, friendly and loving nature of the show last night. While the band certainly interacted in LA, it couldn’t even compare to having Tony Hadley and Gary Kemp decide to literally go play Empty Spaces in the audience….only to follow that up with a brief sing-a-long a cappella version of Gold before going back up to the main stage. We were treated to Steve Norman getting right down to nearly eye-level as he played sax with those in the front rows, quite possibly giving Krista Blade (Richard Blade’s – the KROQ radio DJ and 80’s music guru wife) the show of her life.  Martin and Gary Kemp traded sides of the stage several times throughout the show as well. But it wasn’t just those moments that made the show feel special or intimate. Tony Hadley commented not just once, but several times as to how great the audience was; and I have to say – in all of my years of attending shows, I have NEVER heard an audience sing in quite the same way as we did last night. We sang along to Gold and of course True…and no matter where Tony would hand off the singing of a line to the crowd, it was picked up and beautifully finished with enthusiasm. I think in a lot of ways, True is sort of Spandau’s Hungry Like the Wolf, and rather than the song being tired or boring, which let’s face it – by this time is absolutely a possibility; the band has worked to give it new life and make it something that the fans can sing together with the band as sort of a sentimental moment. It worked beautifully.

The crowd was willing, open, warm…and even had a few self-named superfans present. One such person was in the front row. I noticed him throughout the show because he knew every word to every song, which made me smile. He danced and sang right along with the band, and reminded me of the time someone announced to Amanda and I that they’d never seen more enthusiastic fans at a show. (I don’t really want to know what we must have looked like that night….) In any case, the band went offstage from their main set at precisely 10:01 by my watch, and came back out to do “Through the Barricades”, which has got to be the most romantic song ever written (and I adore Steve Norman’s sax on this one). It was about this time that I glanced down to the front row and noticed that the guy I’d seen earlier was wearing some sort of, well…hat and feather get-up. It was canary yellow…which I’m assuming he wore because he was insistently hoping that the band finished with “Gold”.  They did…but not before Tony Hadley had to turn away from said superfan because he was laughing and couldn’t sing. I have to give the guy credit, he wore that little number (and I’m sorry I don’t have pictures – I was too busy enjoying the song!!) for the entire song, and then the band literally pulled him onstage during their goodbyes as Steve Norman carried him…yes CARRIED him in his arms.

  1. Spandau Ballet loves their fans. A LOT…and they’re definitely not too cool to show it.

  2. Steve Norman can carry a full-sized man. So my hope of someday having him show up and carry me away is still on!!!  😉

  3. I don’t suppose my showing up in a wolf-suit to a Duran Duran concert is really going to help anything…so no one need worry.

  4. I wish I’d bought tickets to see them in San Diego tonight.

  5. It’s not REALLY cheating on Duran Duran. It’s training for the next tour…I swear!!

One last thing: prior to the show, Richard Blade did a DJ set with his buddy (and Duran Duran fan), Steven Wayne.  Steven actually played the songs, and Richard always likes to do the trivia and contests.  The coolest part of his set before the show was when he dramatically said a line from When In Rome’s song “The Promise” (the point was to guess what song the line was from), and Clive Farrington, the lead singer of When in Rome, was planted in the audience with a microphone. He came down on the stage and actually SANG the song. Gotta tell ya, When in Rome was another favorite band of mine from way back when, and I nearly fell out of my chair when literally he rose up from his chair to go sing RIGHT DOWN THE AISLE from me.  He still sings with stunning beauty, and I can cross one more thing off of my lengthy bucket list.  I felt bad for him because people continually stopped him throughout the show for pictures, but I didn’t need any….the memory of having him sing is going to stick with me for a long, long time. Loved it.

 

Too Late Marlene – The Daily Duranie Review

It’s review time again!! This week, we are moving on to Too Late Marlene. This song, along with several others, stand out in solid contrast from the previous reviewed tracks on this album that seem to be in more of a “house” type genre…did the contrast help or hurt the album and/or song?  Let’s find out!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

I love the way this song opens with just a simple piano/synthesizer loop. It’s got a very smooth-jazz feel to it, and just feels easy, which is  of course in wonderful contrast to the frenetic, “rave” styling of songs like All She Wants Is or even Big Thing.  You can’t help but take a deep breath and slow down for this one. The drums and percussion on this are near-perfect with plenty of subtle high hat. The point is to feel it, but not necessarily be jarred awake by it. I also have to comment on my favorite part of the entire song – the sax solo. It is GORGEOUS. Short, simple and to the point, it really drives home the jazz feel to this song, and I appreciate the simpleness to the instrumentation. There aren’t a lot of layers going on and that keeps the music clean and true.

Vocals

Simon’s voice is excellent on this one. Yes, I know – we all think he’s excellent all of the time, but I would say especially so on this one. Deep, full and easy, this is when Simon is at his best. No special effects needed here, there’s no need. I also really appreciate the female backup on this one, it adds just enough to keep the song lush without taking away.  If only they could all be like this… (then of course it wouldn’t be Duran Duran, would it?)

Lyrics

Hear my words: this is a gorgeous song. I love the lyrics because they describe just about every single relationship I’ve ever had. Dream or reality, fantasy or real-life…I love the way this song describes relationships. I like that this person is described as coming out of nowhere, and that he thinks he knows the person well enough to show a little bit of himself…because when you’re beginning a relationship, there’s always this little sense of being unsure. Yet further in the song the lines “Send down your rain, then who’s to blame, then you’ll understand it’s much too late to change.” and then very clearly “I won’t leave”…it’s kind of his “No matter what, I’m staying” statement. I love it. Yes, deep down I’m a sucker for good relationships and happy endings. Poetic? Maybe not…but I don’t think poetry is what necessarily makes a good song.

Overall

For being included on an album that is well-documented as being the band’s foray into house and club/rave music….this song sounds (delightfully) more similar to Save a Prayer than say, Big Thing.  I really love the way it slows down, and I must admit that it has always been a standout on this album for me by far. The bass and rhythm does a terrific job balancing out the melody, and the song is just incredibly well-written and recorded. This song reminds me, and probably any fan who has listened to it, that yes, this really is the same band who came to us with Save a Prayer…and about the time this was released, we really needed that reassurance that yes, even though this band likes to try new things and at least partially recreate their musical “space”…they’re still the same.  So. Much. Talent. I wish they’d include it in their show every once in a while, just to freak out all of the Duranies in the audience. You know, for kicks?? The band would see all of our jaws hit the ground in surprise…and I’d practically start swooning at the sax solo. Who doesn’t want to see that?!? In all seriousness, it’s a great song, definitely among the best on this album, and yet it’s severely overlooked, which is a shame.

Cocktail Rating

5 cocktails!!

5 cocktails

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

This song is so clearly different than the first three song on the Big Thing album.  It is slower with less intensity.  It reminds me of how long dance songs featured in clubs are intense, intense, intense for long minutes before there is a break in the middle of the song to give people a chance to catch their breaths before the intensity picks back up again.  Anyway, in this song’s case, the most notable instrumentation is those keyboards, which are really beautiful.  Of course, the rhythm section works well to create a solid framework.  The song does not have a lot of extras–it is allowed to be simple and clean.  The one significant extra is the sax solo about two-thirds of the way through. Its placement in the song is where typically a bridge is placed and functions in a similar way.  The use of the saxophone is definitely something Duran has done throughout their career with positive results.  While the instrumentation is beautiful and creates a calm feeling, the question becomes:  is it too calm?  Too quiet?  Does it get lost in the shuffle of the rest of the album?

Vocals

Simon’s vocals are something special here, aren’t they?  They are very smooth with little straining even when hitting the higher notes of the song.  I appreciate that he demonstrates such a range in this song as well.  He is able to transition from lower notes to higher notes with ease.  As for the background vocals, generally, I like them but I’m not fond of the additional “too late”s that come in by the backing vocalist.  To me, it distracts and takes away from what Simon and the instrumentation is able to do.

Lyrics

This is one of those songs that I would have to stop and think really hard about the lyrics besides the chorus.  It isn’t one that people learn the lyrics to easily.  The words don’t get stuck in one’s head beyond the chorus.  I just never really stopped to listen and consider them.  I think the beauty of these lyrics is that everyone can take some part, some line, some verse and relate to it in some way, in terms of their own lives and their own dealings with people and relationships.  For example, the line about how “the ice is thin” is one that everyone can relate to as we have all had relationships (romantic, friendship or otherwise) that could crack at any second.  That said, I always wondered why they settled on the name, Marlene.  It isn’t the most common of names and there is a part of me that always wondered if the name doesn’t hurt how much people could connect to the song since a name implies something individual rather than universal.

Overall

There are songs that we have reviewed that I think are both beautiful and are ones that people choose to listen to a lot.  Then, there are songs that people think are fun and want to listen to but don’t show off the band’s skills in a significant way.  This song, on the other hand, is a beautiful song.  Yet, I fear that it is one that gets overlooked frequently by many Duranies because of the slowness, because of the poetic lyrics, because it wasn’t played over and over in the way that other ballads from their catalog have been.  While the instrumentation is beautiful as are the vocals, I do think the use of the name and the female backing vocals, at times, impact, at least, my enjoyment of the song.  That said, this is exactly the song that was needed to break up for the intensity of side A of the Big Thing album.

Cocktail Rating

4 cocktails!

4 cocktails rating

All She Wants Is – The Daily Duranie Review

This review finds us examining the song, All She Wants Is. This song was the second single off of the Big Thing album and peaked at number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart (but spent a total of 13 weeks on the charts in some fashion). Should it have done better? Should it have even been a single?  Read and find out what we think then share your thoughts!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation:

I’ve always thought it was interesting and unique how the song begins solely with tracks of Simon’s voice, slightly out of sync. The instrumentation grows from there, with drums and background percussion, then a distorted guitar, some bass and keyboards following. Oddly, for this song, the instrumentation is rather simple by Duran Duran standards. I like the roughness of the guitar – because here you’ve got a sound that is very much “club-like”, almost like house music, and yet Duran Duran adds a soaring rock guitar “solo” (so to speak) right over the top.  Risky? Maybe, but it works brilliantly for a song that could otherwise be boring.

Vocals:

I like the way Simon opens up the song with the monotone “chant” of  “all she wants is”.  I agree with Amanda when she says the song reminds her of Big Thing – I think it’s because of the chanting.  Out of all of the songs on Big Thing, this one reminds me most of House or Industrial club music that was popular in the 1990’s. (am I dating myself?? Goodness…) Vocally for Simon, I don’t think the the song is particularly difficult – it’s within his range, and really the song is far more a testament to the band’s willingness to take risks and try new styles than it is about vocal ability for Simon.

Lyrics:

I think the song is fairly obvious in that it’s about women who have to use whatever means possible to get ahead in the world.  Rather than focusing on the task at hand, they’re thinking about the goal farther down the line. This is a song that I can sing word for word, but I never really THINK about the words at hand. The band has always been very good at that – giving rather benign words to even the most controversial of subjects so that the listener can find whatever they need to find (or not find) in the lyrics.

Overall:

This is one of those songs that is easy to use as a club mix because it can blend well with other songs. That said, it is also easy to tune it out because of the fact it is incredibly repetitive throughout, but it has also earned its way as a crowd pleaser with the DD catalog for many fans. It does grab your attention, and is by far the best representation of industrial or house music within their catalog. Who knew Duran Duran could pull that off?!? Lyrically, it is easy to forget what the song is really about, which is unfortunate. I think the lyrics tend to get lost within all of the “All she wants is” chanting. My favorite part of the entire song though is the guitar – that saves it all for me because it is so different and really very unexpected within this genre. Overall however, this song has never been a favorite of mine, although I give high props to the band for going this route and trying something so different. Duran Duran is nothing if not versatile and willing to take risks.

Cocktails:

3.5 cocktails!

3.5 cocktails

Amanda:

Musicality/Instrumentation:
Like the first track on this album, it is difficult to even think about the music/instrumentation, especially in the beginning because the vocals are SO front and center.  It is really interesting, though, when you do focus on it to realize how minimized the instrumentation is for the first 15 seconds or so.  Then, of course, there is more instrumentation and then a few seconds after that even more.  The music builds and it creates a level of intensity, musically.  Once the song gets going, a couple of elements stick out to me.  First, there is the clapping sound that showcases the song’s rhythm.  Then, the instrumentation, especially guitars, sounds distorted in a way, creating almost an industrial feel.  Yet, the top layer of drums remind me of drums that would be found on Notorious.  The effects create a very danceable sound, even if a bit darker than the usual Duran sound.

Vocals:

Immediately, this song reminds me of the song, Big Thing.  You can instantly tell that they are from the same album/era.  Before the music totally kicks in, there is the chanting of “All She Wants Is” done with quite a bit of vocal effect.  Then, of course, there is the female moaning done mostly in the beginning but some towards the end, which definitely implies this something is sexual in nature.  This is a much more in your face sexuality than the Duran in the past.  Yet, Simon’s vocals during the verses remain smooth, easy.  The song ends with the chanting chorus, moaning and more creating a bookend to the beginning of the song, showing that the chorus really does dominate.

Lyrics:

This is one of those songs that I sing every word when I hear but never really thought about what the lyrics might mean.  When I stop and really look at them, it seems to me that it is about a woman who is trying to figure out a way to make it in the world.  Perhaps, this person is all alone and looking for that special job or that break.  Until that happens, though, she is left to do what she must do.  Could she be a prostitute or something similar?  I suppose it is possible with lines like, “You’ve been pulling ‘em by the hand inside”.  Yet, clearly, she wants so much more than she has.  What I find interesting is how easily the chorus and the repeating of the phrase “all she wants is” really works for Duranies and for fandom, in general.  It seems to me that the goal could have been to lure people, fans to the song by getting them to think it is about the band and about how Duranies want them.  Yet, of course, when you actually look at the lyrics, it has nothing to do with that.  They did the same thing with Big Thing.  Clever.

Overall:

This song definitely matches the other tracks on side A of the Big Thing album.  It has in-your-face vocals and lyrics that catch your attention.  Is it the most intellectual song?  Probably not.  Is it the most fun song in the Duran catalog?  Probably not.  Nonetheless, it is one that catches your attention and one that you can sing along with.  That said, it has also easily pass beyond the fun to the annoying.  I tend to appreciate the song more after not hearing it for awhile.

Cocktail Rating:

3 cocktails!

three cocktails

Video Review of Duran’s Pressure Off

We have often threatened to do video blogs.  Today, we decided to make that threat a reality.  Why today?  Simple.  A certain song by a certain band was made available.  Yes, that’s right.  We finally could hear Duran Duran’s Pressure Off in its entirety.  Therefore, Rhonda and I took the time to listen to the song for the first time together and then did a video of our brief review.  How did the band do?  How did Nile Rodgers do?  What about Janelle Monae?  Do we think it could be a hit?  Will be a hit?  Should be?

In case you have not heard it yet, here are a couple of places to check it out yourself:

X-Box
Rdio
Google Play
Vimeo

Duran Duran also posted that it will be available via Amazon UK and US but isn’t so far as of this post.

On that note, here’s what WE think of the song.  Listen to the song, watch our review and then share your review!

-A