Category Archives: guest bloggers

Guest Blog: Simon Le Bon Interview on Hawaii Public Radio

By The ’80s SLB Fan

On the morning of July 14, 2017, I checked out a Tweet from Duran Duran regarding an interview with legendary Duran Duran frontman, Simon Le Bon on Hawai’i Public Radio with host Dave Lawrence.  Duran Duran performed on July 16, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawai’i, and this was their very first concert performance in their entire music career in the Aloha state.  So I went ahead and click the link from Duran Duran’s Tweet in order for me to listen to my big ’80s crush’s voice on the interview.  I felt so excited.  I could not wait to listen to his voice!

Simon Le Bon discussed his music and acting during his youth, as well as his start with songwriting before he joined Duran Duran.  What really struck me (or I should say, ‘what really surprised me’) while listening to his interview about his youth are as follows:

Simon Le Bon’s Influence In Classical Music During His Childhood

Simon Le Bon started listening to classical music during his childhood in which he got influenced by his mother who liked to listen to that genre.  I remember my childhood in the ’80s when I started listening to classical music on the radio.  I got influenced by classical music from my father who, still to this present day, is a super fan of classical music from instrumental to opera.  I have no clue if Simon really loves listening to classical music these days, but I love classical music!  Every time I drive in my car or do house chores at home, I tune in to classical music on either FM or Internet radio.  Classical music is part of my blood and family history.  My grandparents from my father’s side, whom I never met, loved listening to classical music.  Even my uncle, my father’s older brother, loved listening to it.  Among my five older siblings, I am the only one who loves listening to classical music, and they do not.  Whether listening to any kind of music or learning how to play a musical instrument or learning how to sing, classical music is THE very first step in learning music.

Simon Le Bon Studied Playing The Violin During His Youth? Huh?

REALLY!!? NO WAY!!! I didn’t know he studied how to play the violin during his youth.  I thought he studied piano lessons during his youth, which is true as he did mention that during the interview.  However, I was so surprised when he included the word ‘violin’.  I hope Simon did not make this up.  I am just curious to find out how old he was when he started playing the violin and how many years he played that musical instrument.  I wanted to start studying the violin when I was either 8 or 9 years old, but I was not able to start taking violin lessons due to transportation & schedule issues.  My mother could not drive, and my father was working a 9-to-5 corporate executive job plus business meetings Mondays through Fridays.  I started studying the violin when I was 15 years old, and at the same time, I took orchestra class in my junior year in high school.  I had to take private violin lessons, take a trip with my fellow orchestra classmates to compete for high school orchestra competitions, perform during recitals and school events.  I played the violin for less than 2 years until I graduated high school in 1998.  That same year after I graduated high school, I stopped playing the violin when I started my freshman year in college.  Also, I learned from my father that my uncle took violin lessons when he was in grade school, but it did not last long for him either.

Simon Le Bon’s Influence In Singing

During the interview, Simon Le Bon discussed his influence in singing during his childhood, about his involvement in the choir, and about his amazing choirmaster.  Simon mentioned that his choirmaster taught him how to read music properly, how to learn the theory of harmony, and how to listen to his ears.  Simon fell in love with music, and it just came naturally for him.  I started listening to music on the radio and watching music videos when I was very young about 2 or 3 years old.  Even before I started attending preschool, I started singing in tune.  I even started picking up the microphone and started singing with the Karaoke machine in front of my family and relatives. Oh, dear! I remember having my family’s first Karaoke event in 1985, the year of Africa USA and Live Aid!  Even when I entered Kindergarten in 1986, I sang in music class in tune, while most of my classmates sang horribly and out of tune.  I was so involved in singing in music class from grade school up to my freshman year in high school that I joined the choir.  I didn’t take any voice lessons during my youth.  However, I ended up taking voice lessons during my junior year in college.  

My Opinion & What I’ve Learned So Far During Simon Le Bon’s Interview On Hawai’i Public Radio

In my opinion, I think the legendary Duran Duran frontman and myself have something in common when it comes to childhood influence in music.  The only difference is Simon Le Bon has a lot of experience, and he’s been performing professionally for a very long time.  During his youth, he got influenced by music, he started acting and became a thespian, and he even started writing poems and songs.  Songwriting is not my interest and skill.  And can you believe he even studied how to play the flute and a guitar when he was young?  Wow!  That’s what I really love about Simon Le Bon.  He is a super multi-talented individual.  I think talent not only comes naturally in a person, but it comes from a person’s heart. His mother was responsible for providing music.  She even strongly encouraged Simon to sing and join the choir.  Having very strong support from a talented individual’s parents is extremely important.  I think his mother deserves huge respect and honor for supporting his gifted talent.  In my side, I feel I did not receive enough strong support from my parents for my talents.  Even though my mother heard my singing abilities when I was young, still she did not do something to help me develop my talents more and encourage me to join a talent show or choir.  I just wish that my parents were so supportive of my talents just like Simon Le Bon’s mother.  I will discuss my other talents aside from my music talents on a later blog.  I hope that Simon Le Bon will read this blog and appreciate it, and I just want to say to him how I admire his special talent so much.  I also hope that I will meet him some day, and I really want to thank him so much for being truly Simon Le Bon.

The ’80s SLB Fan was born in the early 1980s and is considered to be part of “Children of the ’80s” and “Generation Y2K” movement.  Around 1983, she started listening to Duran Duran’s “Is There Something I Should Know?” on the radio when she was 2 years old.  That same year, she heard the beautiful singing voice of Duran Duran’s frontman, Simon Le Bon for the first time.  It took this girl several years until she was 19 while attending college which she ended up having a HUGE ’80s crush on Simon Le Bon.  She is residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, and she is an actor, extra, model, and novice voice actor (known as voiceover). She grew up in a family who loves music, and her top favorite musical genres are classical music, EDM, and ’80s music.  She official became a Duranie in 2000.  Visit The ’80s SLB Fan’s blog site at the80sslbfanblog.wordpress.com, where you’ll find her blogs dedicated to Simon Le Bon.

Buy the Concert Tickets

March 25, 2016. For most readers of this blog, that day kicked off Duran Duran’s 2016 North American tour supporting Paper Gods. For me, it was an unforgettable day for a different reason.

I am fortunate enough to have great tickets to three of the July shows for the Paper Gods (see you in Toronto, Boston, and Camden). So when Duran announced the Niagara Falls shows — just 1 week after I spent all that money on the July shows, mind you — I had a tough choice to make. Niagara Falls is only 1.5 hours from home, the shortest travel time to any Duran shows for me to date. Not to mention, the shows were on a weekend and kicking off the 2016 tour. That never happens for me!

But as much as I wished I could go to the Niagara Falls shows on March 25-26, I knew the right thing to do (financially) was to pass on them. I already spent too much money on the July shows. My best Duranie friend was going to one of the shows, and I’ll admit it was tough to stay excited for her. But of course I wished her good ticket karma on the presale and hoped to hear some great stories.

Then, on Wednesday evening, March 23, I came across a post on Instagram from Prince announcing two shows in Toronto on Friday, March 25.  Concert tickets went on sale the next morning. Holy sh!t. I knew that he usually announced shows only a day or two before the performances, and that was part of the reason why I followed him on Instagram and Twitter. But I never expected one this close to home. And by “this close” I mean 3 hours away. When I saw the ticket prices, I nearly fainted. These tickets were more expensive than almost any ticket I’ve bought for a Duran show. But hey, odds were low that I’d even get a ticket, so if I got one I’ll figure out the rest. And if it didn’t work out, I could still try to get a last-minute to Duran’s show that same night or the next night in Niagara Falls.

I’ve had good ticket karma for the last 6 months so I hoped it would hold out for just one more show. When I got to work Thursday morning, I promptly blocked off my calendar for 10:00 so that nothing would interrupt this chance (c’mon, you’ve done it too). In my 9:30-10:00 meeting, I exhausted my telepathic power to make the meeting end early. When it finally broke up around 10:04, I busted out of the room and went right to my desk to log in and try for a ticket. And then I got it: 4th row, just off to the left. (By now Ticketmaster must know I prefer John’s side.) I think I blacked out a little after I clicked “Purchase”.

My logical brain was saying “You chose NOT to see the opening night of Duran Duran’s tour but you spent nearly three times that amount on concert tickets for Prince? What happened to saving money and spending wisely?” But my heart was saying, “Life is Too Short, Buy the Ticket!” As much as I love the boys, I knew I needed to take this opportunity and see Prince.

Buy the ticket

I’ve seen this photo making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter, and it was my mantra when deciding to go to three Duran shows this summer. Trust me, I’m not well off financially. And I wish we all had enough money and the luxury of seeing every concert we want to see. But sometimes you need to realize what you want out of life and do what you need to in order to make it happen.

So as I drove along interstate 190 on my way to Toronto on March 25, I could see Fallsview Casino and Niagara Falls off to my left and I wished the boys a good show. It was a little heartbreaking to know they were this close and I wasn’t going to see them, but knew in my heart I had made the right choice. I reminded myself that on this day, I needed to keep heading north and see one the last artists on my concert bucket list. Little did I know that it would be the 2nd to last show he’d perform.

Today I mourn with the world at the loss of this gifted virtuoso. And I call myself fortunate to have been able to see him just a month before he passed away. You may think that my recollection is glowing only in hindsight; trust me, as soon as Prince walked out on stage, I knew I had no regrets in my decision to buy the concert tickets. It was an amazing, impressive, and entertaining performance that I’ll never forget.

-PamG

If Notorious and Big Thing Could Talk…

by C.K. Shortell

Sometimes, I think Duran Duran albums talk to each other. Specifically, they talk to their predecessor. I remember the first time I listened to The Wedding Album and hearing the line “You rescued me from liberty” in Love Voodoo, and wondering if I was reading too much into the lyric to wonder if Simon wasn’t taking a shot at the last album.  Or the beginning of “Hold Me,” when he starts with “This time…” — somehow I got into my head that “Hold Me” was one of the first songs written for Notorious and that line/ad lib was basically Simon’s way of expressing the uncharted territory the band was in, now down to a trio.  Additionally… all the lyrics to “Still Breathing,” which I took as a declaration against the previous lineup of the band. I can’t prove any of this, it’s just in my head when I listen to these songs and albums.

This topic circles in my head for a few reasons. First, we are between albums. Speculation abounds about the sound of DD14. We know the band never does the same thing twice. We also know that, on AYNIN, they finally felt comfortable “reclaiming” some of that old ground/sound. So what will happen on the next album? In what way will it be a reaction to what they did on AYNIN?

Additionally, Notorious, the album, has been in heavy circulation on my iPod for the last few months. I think there are a lot of parallels between Notorious and All You Need Is Now. Both feature very strong title tracks that will likely be a staple of the band’s live set as long as they continue to tour (I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that the song AYNIN will continue to be featured, but you never know).   Both were heavily anticipated after a pause in the band’s career in which it was uncertain what direction they would take. Both were heavily influenced/co-written by the album’s producer, and both featured a mix of guest musicians on other tracks (and in the case of Notorious, it remains the only Duran album that features the work of both Andy and Warren).

Why do I bring up these parallels? I am trying to draw conclusions about DD14, and I think we might gain insight by understanding the relationship between Notorious and its follow-up, Big Thing.

I’ve always viewed Notorious as being a very solid, “orderly” album, with perfect alignment between the A and B sides, the Hitchcock theme, and the neatly packaged video that tied back to the album artwork. Big Thing is the exact opposite. It’s noisy, disorganized, loud (at least the first half), moody (the second half) and unconventional. Notorious features a virtual all-star cast of guest musicians, including Nile Rodgers, Andy, Warren, and Steve Ferrone, not to mention the album cover featuring super model Christy Turlington. Big Thing boasts no such lineup—it is the truly the first (and ultimately only, as it would turn out) Taylor-Rhodes-LeBon collaboration, with Warren sprinkled in, albeit in a non-writing role.  On Notorious, the songs tend to follow the standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/outro format, which the exception of Winter Marches On. On Big Thing, it’s the exception when a song follows that format. Notorious is defined by its title track; the song Big Thing mocks itself and the music industry in general, and is probably one of the more forgettable songs on the record.

When John, Nick, and Simon hosted an hour-long countdown of their favorite Duran videos on MTV in 1988, they commented that on Notorious, they were very polite to each other and trying to figure out how to function as a band. Not so during the Big Thing sessions, where “we were all screaming at each other.” This is not surprising. The trio had weathered the uncertainty of the Notorious era; they had put out an album and toured and had success despite the loss of Andy and Roger (of course, they were no longer the biggest band in the world, but at least they knew there was still an audience for their music, albeit a smaller one than before).

So, with that out of the way, they pushed themselves creatively on Big Thing. What resulted was an album of disparate sides: the first consisting mostly of noisy, dance “house” music, and the second slower, moody ballads. Side one featured the hit single “I Don’t Want Your Love,” that is possibly the band’s most underrated and forgotten hit (and one of my personal favorites), and the follow-up single “All She Wants Is” which didn’t chart as well, but did see a lot of club play. The B-side is built around the lush anthem “Land,” one of the longer Duran songs in the catalogue that clocks in at just over six minutes. Preceding it are the haunting “Do You Believe in Shame?” and airy “Palomino.” I remember first listening to Big Thing and strongly disliking the second side, and then about a week later I had a strange tune stuck in my head…and it turned out to be “Palomino.”

Conversely, I did love “Edge of America” the minute I heard it, and still do to this day. And I always have considered “Edge of America” and “Lake Shore Driving” to be one song, even if they have different titles and are on separate tracks. It’s an unconventional way to end Big Thing but it works, as the Nick’s synths and Warren’s guitar bring the proceedings full circle to how the album started.

There are many other details about Big Thing that we could cover (the two different producers, the controversy over the mixes of “Drug” that highly annoyed John, etc.) but those can be left to another blog. The question is, how can Big Thing’s differences from Notorious inform us as to DD14’s differences from AYNIN?

For starters, I suspect that there will be more of a balance between ballads and dance songs on DD14. AYNIN was heavily skewed toward upbeat music (much like Notorious) with several well-placed slower songs to even out the album’s pacing. I think it’s natural for the band to be inclined to write some more moody material after an album as upbeat as AYNIN.

And speaking of the band…by all accounts, it’s just them, just like it was on Big Thing. Or at least it’s more of “just them” than the AYNIN sessions, which included Mark Ronson, Ana Matronic, Kelis, Owen Pallett, and Nick Hodgson, as well as newscaster Nina Hossain. There was a report that Ronson worked with them initially but every quote I’ve read since indicates that it’s just the five (Rhonda says four…because we certainly don’t hear much of Dom being there lately. Just saying..) of them in the studio.

Is this a good thing or not? I think time will tell. Duran has made some tremendous music when they close ranks and keep it “in house”—see Big Thing and The Wedding Album and Astronaut, at least as originally conceived. But therein lies my concern: Duran Duran also seems to make ill advised decisions when there is no outside producer to referee things. (I’m convinced that Ronson or even Timbaland—yes, Timbaland—or any of us, for that matter—would have told them to keep “Beautiful Colours” and “Salt in the Rainbow” on the Astronaut album.  As it was, they went through three producers on that one.)

Do you think I’m reading too much into the relationship between Notorious and Big Thing to infer anything from AYNIN and DD14? And are you worried about the apparent lack of an outside producer tied to this project?

438d2-ckshortellC.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, one of whom loves watching concert footage of the band.  When he’s not struggling to explain to a two year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.

 

Guest Blog: Careless Memories: Photo Exhibition, London 27 Nov-5 Dec 2013

Once again, Daily Duranie is everywhere…thanks to good friends both near and far!  Today we bring you a first hand account from our “Special Correspondent” Anu Lehtinen.  Anu was able to be in London (she’s from Finland) to see the pop-up gallery for Careless Memories, and she was kind enough to share her experience. Additionally, we have some fab photos from Byrony Evens, who was on hand for the arrival of the band to the gallery opening and book release party.  Thanks to Anu and Bryony!!

By Anu Lehtinen & Bryony Evens

photo by Anu Lehtinen

WOW! YES! The possibility to see never before seen photos taken during Sing Blue Silver tour, in a gallery – pure coincidence! A late November trip to London was planned well ahead, with gig tickets bought, but this time on the menu was Howard Jones, Ultravox and Simple Minds.


And then Duran Duran, Denis O’Regan and Olympus announced the collaboration for a pop-up gallery right in the heart of London for a week or so. It would be open from late November to early December. Definitely a MUST visit while in London. What a chance!

The address was clear when on Friday 29th eyes wandered to find the green entrance. Huge video installation was running in one window, the other contained two prints. The gallery was dimly lit. A humble sign hanging on the door said open. Another sign stating opening times was also on the door, but no information was written on it. Should we go in? Is it really open?


Few people were inside. I did not really notice any of them. Instead the rough industrial surroundings in a warehouse type of a setting complete with portable lamps, LED candles, familiar looking photos and large video screens – they all took my attention. This was a photo gallery setting – as quality art photos would and should be shown, getting all the attention they need. No fuss, no bling, and certainly no luxury. The stars of the exhibition were the black and white photos. Never before seen though? I’ve seen that… And that…And that. Was my memory playing tricks? There are so many photos from over the years. So many published from Sing Blue Silver. At first I felt like I must have seen them all.

Took a while to breathe and take it all in. There were about 40 photos. One video playing on 5 screens and one wall. The video was the same on all screens, but unsynchronized so that you have different picture on each screen at any given time.

Are we allowed to take pictures? No signs saying no. No one stopping them from being taken. As soon as I took the first photo, I realized how cleverly the lighting was arranged. Lamps, lit furniture and LED candles all made sure photos would have reflections. Perfect for the art and artist.

Behind a makeshift reception desk, a very helpful lady told that 90% of the photos were new

– as in not seen before. They had a familiar feeling since there was always more than one picture taken from every occasion, and only a select few made it into the Sing Blue Silver book. One of them being John’s huge stage grin. Other photos were merely just similar, not exactly what had been seen, so while many of these photos might be recognizable, most have never been seen. All photos were available for purchase. Most of the photos in the gallery had 25 prints for purchase, but some just 5.


I asked her about the video. These were still photos, and in some of the video the photos seem to have a 3D effect. She explained that it is an expensive technique available nowadays. Photos are broken down to layers, and these layers are then placed to form the effect. It is actually a 2½D effect. For full 3D, you would need 3D equipment to start with. That is an expensive technique used sometimes by companies. For this exhibition they wanted to try it for some photos.


And then out of the blue, she asked me a question, “Would you like to talk to Denis?” What? He is here? Would I really? This is his work. His photos. The subject just happens to be Duran Duran.

I asked him, “How difficult was it to organize a pop-up gallery?” “Very!” he said. Location is key. It was really difficult to find an empty location in central London that would be fitting for a gallery. And then everything needs to be done in the time frame when the location is rented – setting things up, marketing, opening. Some of the things take more time than expected. The flyers for this exhibition were printed in Italy, and they are not here yet (on Friday). They were expected to arrive on Monday or Tuesday.

He continued, “Then there’s two prints arriving later today (on Friday). Two photos are printed on huge acrylic sheets. Both are two meters wide. They will arrive later today and be in place tomorrow.

Anu with Denis O’Regan

“One other thing I thought about trying with the prints, was to print some as a work desk cover. The one with Simon, where there’s a lot of white – that could work nicely. You could have your laptop and papers in one part of the desk.” (I suggested that a similar setting was behind him, with Andy and black background.) “That’s true”, he said.  “The other one I had in my mind, is the contact sheet of John and Nick taken in France. That contact sheet from a photo shoot could really be a nice desk top.”


We talked a bit more about the book, promotion and travel. He found it amusing that some preorders had been made for a specific copy of the book – 7, 58, 60, 61, 62, 78, 80, 81, 82, and so on. Yes, we sometimes have our fixed specifics. Duranies!

Returned on Saturday to see the HUGE acrylic prints, and enjoy the peaceful exhibition once more. Impressive!

I do remember there was music playing softly in the background. What it was, I cannot recall.  I thought the choice would be pretty clear, but it clearly wasn’t what you might have expected…
And if that weren’t enough, we have some wonderful photos and video taken from the band’s arrival at the gallery opening and book release party, along with this short postscript from Bryony that everyone should give everyone a chuckle:

On the evening of the reception, 5th December: the band was due to arrive, and the very lovely and helpful door manager at the venue kept getting calls & texts to say the band would be arriving ‘in five minutes’, then when they didn’t was very apologetic. The fans had to explain to him that we understood completely, and even had a word for it: Durantime!

Nick’s arrival: (sorry this is a link but Blogger won’t let me upload it directly)

Anu Poukka lives in Helsinki Region, Finland. Her DD journey began in May 1982 with purchase of two LP’s – entering the record shop to buy Rio and only then realising that it was the second album of this fantastic Band! Nowadays she’s not sure which is more fun – touring with Duranies or the actual DD shows!










Bryony Evens has been an unashamed pop music fan for the last 30-odd years. Here’s all you need to know in musical terms: first album: Super Trouper by ABBA; first single: Rio; all-time favourite song: Dr Mabuse by Propaganda; favourite band: you need to ask?!; favourite solo artist: Liverpool’s elusive Thomas Lang; all-time perfect non-DD album: ABC’s Lexicon of Love; guaranteed mood-lift song: the 12” of Walk Out to Winter by Aztec Camera; compulsory-to-dance-to song: OT Quartet – Hold That Sucker Down (Builds Like a Skyscraper mix); favourite classical music: Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Rach 3 and Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances; first gig: The Sugarcubes; bands seen live most often: either Duran Duran or Misty’s Big Adventure; next gig: Glasgow’s A New International – truly a band to discover; best new album: Electric by the Pet Shop Boys. She loves to sing. She also plays the viola badly

Perfect Day – 4 November 2013 The MoMA VIP Experience

Bet you didn’t think we were gonna cover it, did ya???  Well…obviously Amanda and I couldn’t cover the MoMA event, as neither of us were there…but we had a couple “Special Daily Duranie Contributers” at the event that were more than happy to share their experiences with us, and the first of which appears just below.  Enjoy! (and go ahead and be envious…we certainly are!!)  – R

By MichDuran

First, thank you to Rhonda and Amanda for giving me the opportunity to write this blog.
Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend several exclusive Duran Duran fan events- I purchased VIP tickets, won radio contests, and was invited to be a guest for a Meet & Greet. Like many other Duran Duran fans, I’ve learned that having high expectations for these special occasions can lead to disappointment. How many times have we heard fans complain that a band member wasn’t in a good mood during a meet and greet or that the events started late, fans were rushed, and in general, things never measured up to what was advertised? Well, I’m ecstatic to report that last night, the American Express VIP Reception exceeded every expectation! From start to finish, the night was pure perfection.  
I know there was controversy over this event from the time the band posted the links for it on their social media pages. Links for the ticket sales didn’t work and emails from DDM announcing the sale were received hours after the near instant sell out. Some fans voiced concerns that “real” Duranies weren’t able to get tickets. However, I saw plenty of familiar faces on Monday night. There were probably no more than seventy five fans at the event and people came from everywhere – California, Washington State, Texas, and up and down the East Coast. It’s no wonder this event sold out instantly, at only fifty dollars a ticket and no other concerts or shows the past year, hard-core Duranies had tour money to burn.    
The night began at the serendipitously named Il Gattopardo restaurant. Gattopardo means Leopard in Italian. Not only was the restaurant perfectly named, but it was also located almost across the street from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Nick himself couldn’t have planned it better. As soon as we checked in, we knew this event was in a different stratosphere from past official Duran Duran fan events. Once receiving our requisite wristbands, we were immediately ushered into a private function room. The space, which was in the basement of the restaurant, featured a mix of high tables and low tables, some of which had reserved signs (more on those later). As you approached the tables, you looked up and discovered that the basement room opened and you were actually standing in a majestic skylight enclosed area between two tall buildings. Throughout the room, white jacketed waiters offered glasses of wine and champagne. If that wasn’t to your liking, there were two full bars with staff ready to mix whatever drink you’d like. Other white jacketed waiters circulated the room with a variety of canapés, some meat, some vegetarian, and even a mushroom risotto, all of the dishes I tried were delicious and filling. By the way, I did mention the open bar, right?  
As I said, my friends and I have been to VIP events before and like most Duran Duran fans, we’re used to the concept of Durantime. The reception was to be held from 5:30-7:15 pm. I had taken bets with my friends on what time we thought the band would show. We guessed times ranging from 6:25-6:45 pm and we expected that they would stay for about twenty minutes, line us up for group pictures, then be on their way. I‘ve never been happier to be completely wrong! Around 5:45, Wendy Laister, the band’s manager and of course, Nick’s cousin (you all knew that already) announced that the band would be arriving shortly. She asked that we remained where we were so that they could come to us. There were four professional photographers in the room who would take photos. There would also be members of the Duran team that could take photos with our own cameras. She requested that we not ask the band to sign autographs or to monopolize them by taking multiple pictures with our own cameras. 
Rumbles that John had arrived began around 6 pm. I spotted him shortly after that and soon we saw Nick, resplendent in his tuxedo with black feathered bowtie making his way around the room. Roger and Simon were also present. Each band member had a member of the Duran team nearby but there wasn’t a security person like Dave Casillas. What happened next was pure magic. The band spent the next hour and a half working the room. They began in different corners and spoke with every fan, posing for pictures with anyone who wanted them. This was what fans have wanted for years. Fans’ faces reflected the joy of the moment. This was the type of true VIP experience that Duranies have dreamed about.   While there were definitely waves of people centering around the band members, I don’t think anyone overstepped their boundaries. Fans were respectful and waited for their turn because we knew it would happen. There wasn’t that desperate feeling that if we don’t get up there, we’ll miss our chance. Yes, they were moving around the room, but you just had to say their names, and they would turn to you, smile and suddenly, you had your moment. The Duran support team were there in case a little more organization was needed, letting fans know “o.k. you’re next to get a picture with Simon.” but it was never chaotic and fans felt they were being helped, not hindered by Duran’s staff. 
As for the band members, they were truly rock stars. All were gracious. They smiled  and they were happy to answer questions. As the night wore on, they continued to greet fans and make sure that the entire room was covered. While they made their fans happy, Nick’s girlfriend, Nefer, and John’s family including his wife Gela and daughter Atlanta watched this all unfold from those reserved tables. Some fans did approach the tables and all those asked kindly posed for pictures as well. This was remarkably different from the stories I’ve heard in the past when John and Gela tried to dance at a club after one of the Las Vegas shows and fans were overwhelming. This time, while fans were ecstatic, they were never too intrusive. I think in part, it’s because we knew the band was being open and inclusive and we never felt that fear of missing out that often surrounds those moments when fans and band are in the same space. 
I asked more than one person in attendance and they all agreed this was the best fan event they’d ever attended. Fans spoke of how they’d waited thirty years to have that special moment with their favorite band members and how this was a night they’d never forget.   Smiles beamed in every direction. My own face hurt from smiling so much.   
Now for the good stuff: info about album #14. During the Q&A, someone had asked about the album and Simon quipped that it would be done when it was finished. Well earlier, I was there when a friend asked Nick and he believes the album will be out by the end of May, that’s what they’re aiming for. As for what this next project will sound like, Nick said this album is different from AYNIN. It’s more dance oriented, and while there is guitar, it’s less prominent than on the previous record. The band does intend to tour once the album is released, which they’ve stated several times recently. Hopefully there’ll be a tour to look forward to this time next year! I have no idea if the AMEX VIP Reception will be a blueprint for future events, but its success last night proves that the band can do these type of events and that they can be affordable for fans. No, we didn’t get a tee-shirt or a laminate but we got something so much more important. I have no idea if the band enjoyed the experience but it was clear in the faces and words of every fan there last night, that it would be remembered as one of the best nights in these fans’ lives.   

MichDuran’s history as a Duran Duran fan can be summed up as follows: Duranie since ’83, John Girl, DDM’s Michduran, COTBG #171, Duran Trivia Snob, and New England Leopard Lady. She is lucky to have met the best group of fans and friends in the world and she is so glad most of them were with her on Monday night. Her ultimate Duranie dream is to see the band live in their hometown of Birmingham. If she ever wins the lottery, there will be a private concert in her new beach front back yard, admittance depends on knowing the correct name of the instrument Simon plays during The Chauffeur. This blog is dedicated to Susan Grace, our Duranie angel up above.

Greatest, Part deux!

  
 By C.K. Shortell
I remember, when Greatest came out in 1998, that I had mixed emotions. I was happy to finally have a complete retrospective of the band’s career that included the 90’s hits. I was also glad that Liberty and Medazzaland were represented, although in the case of the latter, I would have picked “Out of my mind” in lieu of “Electric Barbarella.” But, these feelings aside, I was a little depressed about it. I wondered if the band would ever have another hit again, and I certainly hoped that there were many more Duran albums in the future.
 
Fifteen years later, and the mixed emotions remain. I’m thrilled that the band continues to write and perform, although I wish more people heard their music! That being said, I thought it would be a fun exercise to look at Duran’s body of work since 1998. What if you were tasked with coming up with the track list for a second Greatest compilation? What would you include, and in what order?
 
Here’s what I came up with:
 
1. Nice: I wanted to do more than just make a list of my favorite tracks from the last four albums; I felt like this “Greatest II” album should tell a story, and the main story of 2000s Duran Duran is the reunion of the original lineup. “Nice” is not only one of my favorite songs (from any Duran lineup!), but I think it was one of the earliest tracks written for Astronaut. It is – my opinion – the best song on Astronaut, and it certainly was a highlight on the tour. If I were trying to influence a casual fan who had stopped listening to DD in 1985 and get them back into the band, this is the first song I would play.
2. Runway Runaway: In the late April “Take 5 with Elisa Lorello” Daily Duranie blog, she is quoted as describing this song as “musical chocolate”. I couldn’t agree more and I don’t even know how to expand upon that (but I’ll try). This is my favorite song off AYNIN.  Its hook is as good as any in the Duran catalogue; it sounds like a lost orphan from Seven and the Ragged Tiger. It eschews the typical pop song structure by sticking the bridge right after the 2nd verse – thus not over-exposing the best part of the song. It also has a subversive quality that reminded me of Big Bang Generation, i.e. a musically upbeat song whose lyrics deal with darker subject matter. If I were trying to convert and/or catch up someone on new Duran, this is where I’d go, right after Nice.
3. Falling Down: I’m going to duck now while you all throw things at me. (Pauses…) What can I say? I love this song. I find myself continually putting it on CD mixes. I don’t like the “beat boxing” or breathing effect or whatever you call it at the beginning, but beyond that, I think it’s very much to 2000s Duran what Ordinary World was to the 90s. I will occasionally hear this on satellite radio in a store and smile, and regret that it didn’t fare better on the charts. As far as RCM goes, this is one of the highlights (in fact, it might actually function better as part of a compliation CD such as this one; it always felt a little forced on RCM, which we know it was, given its late inclusion.).
4. What Happens Tomorrow: I would include the longer version (with the “silent icy river” third verse). A powerful song about hope in the face of adversity – it doesn’t get more Duran than that.
5. Girl Panic: Represents the best of their collaboration with Mark Ronson, and sounds even better live. Will likely be a staple in the live set for years to come as it fits in seamlessly with the older hits.
6. Instant Karma: I know, I know – it’s a cover. How can I included this to the exclusion of so many other songs? For starters, it’s a great coer. It also represents the band’s last officially release work with Andy. But this isn’t about nostalgia; I really do enjoy this song and think it’s catchy enough, and good enough, to include on this list.
7. Pop Trash Movie: One of my all-time favorites. I realize this is a “TV Mania” song (but then again, aren’t most of the songs on Pop Trash and Medazzaland?) but it’s my favorite off Pop Trash and a classic Duran ballad in the tradition of The Seventh Stranger.
8. Leave a Light On: Another beautiful, haunting ballad, clearly influenced by and modeled after Save a Prayer. My favorite slow song off of AYNIN.
9. Beautiful Colours (“New” Track!): Yes, I’m a brat and a hypocrite. I can’t stand “Greatest
compilations that include new material. That being sad…if this is the only way that “Beautiful Colours” sees the light of day, then so be it. I would force them all in the studio, make them “get the lyric right”, fix up the bridge a bit (more guitar,please) and then release this as a single to promote the Greatest II compilation.
10. Tempted: For all the negatives associated with the Red Carpet Massacre album, I vew this song as one of the diamonds in the rough. It’s catchy, upbeat and contemporary, and for some bizarre reason I continue to like it.
11. Someone Else Not Me: When they were promoting Pop trash, Simon described this as “the best song we’ve written in ten years.” Not so sure about that, but it is a very strong Duran ballad. I think Pop Trash should be represented on this compilation and the best two tracks are this one, and as noted earlier, Pop Trash Movie.
12. Mediterranea: From its exotic title, to Dom’s guitar riff that somehow captures the yearning and mournful nature of the lyrics…this is another one of those AYNIN tracks that sounds like it could have come from the Rio sessions. This song transports you to a beach, and I think became and “instant classic” the minute most fans heard it for the first time.
13. Sunrise: I considered making this the first song but wanted to lead off with Nice. This song was not a hit on any mainstream radio charts (at least in the U.S.) but it did get extensive club play (reached #1 on the Billboard Club Chart in 2004), and continues to be in rotation on various satellite radio stations. Most importantly, it is the most recognizable “new” song (i.e. post 1993) at Duran’s live shows.
14. All You Need is Now: What more can I say? This song represents all that is good about the Mark Ronson collaboration, the inclusion of Dom in the songwriting process, and the current state of the band and fan base. I don’t even think it’s the best song on the album, and at times, I’m not convinced that the chorus and verses even belong together (referring to the music, not the lyrics), but…this is Duran and in the second decade of the second millennium. What a fitting way to close out the “Greatest II” compilation.
So what do you think?  I know, I know – how could I exclude The Man Who Stole a Leopard? How dare I?  Fine.
15. The Man Who Stole a Leopard (Available only on the special Easter Island Limited Edition version of the Greatest II CD): I will try to be objective. What I like about this song. That the band took a risk and decided to do something artsy. I will never object to that. I also like the end of the song when the guitar kicks in. And I do think it’s cool how the crowd gets into it on ADITM. However, I can say that I don’t like the faux news report. It kills me that the same band made me sit through that 25 minute film before the start of the show last summer (all in the name of art) would provide such pointless exposition in the form of that news story gimmic. But to each his or her own. If you live on Easter Island, you get this on your Greatest II compilation.
So…Leopard aside…what do you think? Am I crazy? On crack? Even as I write this I can think of songs that I excluded with bother me – e.g. Playing with Uranium, Being Followed, The Valley…so please, set me straight in the comments section and give me your own take on how a “Greatest II” would look!
C.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, both of whom love watching concert footage of the band.  When he’s not struggling to explain to a three year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.   


Guest Blog (gig reviews!): It was the hottest day in July….

By Bryony Evens

Last month there were two live Duranie experiences for sweltering Londoners: Joanne Joanne, the all-female tribute band (strapline: ‘We don’t do Rio’) and Dom Brown’s Blue to Brown set with his dad, Rob, and their band. I went to both, and here’s my review of the gigs, plus a few pictures and videos.

The first gig – Joanne Joanne – was on a Saturday night, so with it being a weekend there was an opportunity for a few Duranie friends to travel to London to see the gig. It was lovely to see Sarah and Eileen, whose husband drove them up from Kent and joined us for the show, and George who lives in London anyway. We all had dinner at my place then headed off to Camden Town for the gig. The first people I bumped into were half the band getting dressed up in their stage gear in the loos (yep, it was a small venue!), so I wished them luck. I’d actually met the singer in the loos at a another gig couple of week’s previously – it must be a thing! There were quite a few people in the audience who I recognised, some from other Duran shows/events, and some from other gigs around London.

They started with most of the band on stage playing the opening of Planet Earth, with one joining in after the other, until ‘Simon’ came onstage to start singing. They’re all great musicians and play very well together. They don’t stand on stage in the same order as the boys, but I wasn’t sure if that’s just because it was a really small stage or because it’s what they prefer. There was an interesting mix of them talking about the songs as though they were the original band in a spoofy sort of way, and chatting about their own arrangements of them, which was fascinating. They don’t play Rio because Duran do, and someone has to play the other songs; however, I noted that they played the album version of My Own Way, rather than the single version which Duran relegated to the ‘must never be played again’ pile many years ago…

I don’t remember the exact setlist or order, but it was amazing to hear some of my absolute favourites live again, including Hold Back the Rain and Last Chance on the Stairway. I think I’ve only ever heard Duran play Last Chance as part of the electro-set on the RCM tour, so that was brilliant! I’m pretty sure this list will be all the songs they played, but if you were there and I’ve forgotten any, or I’ve accidentally added some they didn’t play, please comment below!

Planet Earth
Last Chance on the Stairway
Hold Back the Rain
Anyone Out There
Faster Than Light
Late Bar – they’re recording this as their first single
New Religion – this was perhaps the most energetic of the night and was very good indeed. The band said on Facebook afterwards that it’s their favourite to play live.
Careless Memories
Friends of Mine
The Chauffeur

Two videos I filmed so you can see what they’re like live – there are better videos on the band’s Facebook page and on YouTube though if you look for them!

In summary, it was fantastic to hear these beloved songs played in an upbeat and fairly rocky way, in a small venue, with a packed audience of music enthusiasts (except for the big pillock in front of me – ugh!) Sadly they’ve just announced their next gig on 23rd August – when I’ll be at a gig in Glasgow, but if you’re in London and have the chance to go, take it – they’re brilliant!

A very short snippet of Faster than Light
A very short snippet of Last Chance on the Stairway 

 ******************************************

The second experience was much stranger. The music was very straightforward the but the venue and clientele? Well…

George and I headed to the Voodoo Vault at the Embassy Club in Mayfair. All the tables were out on the street, leaving an empty restaurant inside. At the end of the empty room there was a door, leading into the dark. We followed a twisty-turny staircase down into the basement and as our eyes adjusted to the gloom, we realised Dom was standing at the bar right next to us. He’s quite small close-up, and was welcoming some friends. We beat a hasty retreat and tried to find the ladies – the place was  a bit of a rabbit warren but we eventually found them back up the stairs and down into another basement.

On our return to the venue, we queued up at the bar for a looooong time, eavesdropping Dom’s conversation with his friends (not really any way of avoiding it, we weren’t being rude, honest!) and eventually got served, for a vast price and including a service charge, despite having had to wait 5 minutes plus and having no table service! The menus were all photocopied and it looked like the venue had been kitted out really cheaply to look expensive. Some of the decor was pretty cool though, like the mirrored pillars with the strings of lights inside, but these did add to the general disorientation one felt in the room. It was also freezing with air conditioning, when the decor seemed to lend itself to being a hot-as-Hades dive bar…

We took our seats to one side in a sort of booth, so George had her back to the stage. We weren’t sure what to expect but it wasn’t too long before Dom, his dad and the rest of the band took to the stage. From where we were, the drummer was round a corner in an alcove so we couldn’t see him, but there was a bass player and keyboardist backing up Dom on guitar and Rob as singer and bongo player. The musicianship was faultless and Rob is a very entertaining frontman. He had a proper bluesman’s hat, and a stream of amusing patter, dealing with things like the sinking bongos and getting folk to sign up on the mailing list with wit and a gruff sense of humour. His voice is properly gravelly and suited the music perfectly . Sorry Rhonda, I’d never listened to Blue to Brown before going to the gig, so I can’t tell you what they played or if it was anything you particularly wanted to hear. However, great blues played live is the best way to hear it, I reckon! George and I both agreed that there was one track which particularly stood out for us – don’t know which one, I’m afraid, but it might have had a girl’s name in it?

By the time the band went into some cover versions (the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd), there were a few people dancing, including an older couple who obviously really loved the Stones. Dom’s rendition of Voodoo Chile by Jimi Hendrix was a particular highlight for me. About half way through, some girls came to stand near us and one was doing really weird dancing right in front of the band, hitching up her skirt and not in time with music at all. In fact, the audience was quite a mixture of people who were obviously fans of the band and there for the music, and some who didn’t seem to know quite what was going on. The strange wavy girl was escorted away from the dance floor by friends towards the end of Blue to Brown’s set, though there were plenty of other people up and dancing and obviously having a great time.

I didn’t think I’d be able to face Rhonda if I didn’t take any pictures, so I did my best with my phone camera in the dodgy lighting. Sorry they’re not better!

In short, the music was great, though next time I’d like to be in a proper music venue with a good view of the stage to see what all the musicians were doing. My view of Dom’s guitar was blocked by something between our booth and the stage, which was slightly annoying. However, it was a free gig and the band obviously enjoyed the chance to play up a storm together live. I think I later discovered the reason for the strangeness – I mentioned it on Facebook and a friend told me that the venue is ‘a notorious coke den for the rich’. That would certainly explain it, so next time, I expect Dom to break into White Lines Don’t Do It!

https://twitter.com/dombrownmusic
https://www.facebook.com/BluetoBrown
www.bluetobrown.com

Bryony Evens has been an unashamed pop music fan for the last 30-odd years. Here’s all you need to know in musical terms: first album: Super Trouper by ABBA; first single: Rio; all-time favourite song: Dr Mabuse by Propaganda; favourite band: you need to ask?!; favourite solo artist: Liverpool’s elusive Thomas Lang; all-time perfect non-DD album: ABC’s Lexicon of Love; guaranteed mood-lift song: the 12” of Walk Out to Winter by Aztec Camera; compulsory-to-dance-to song: OT Quartet – Hold That Sucker Down (Builds Like a Skyscraper mix); favourite classical music: Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Rach 3 and Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances; first gig: The Sugarcubes; bands seen live most often: either Duran Duran or Misty’s Big Adventure; next gig: Glasgow’s A New International – truly a band to discover; best new album: Electric by the Pet Shop Boys. She loves to sing. She also plays the viola badly.

Guest Blog: Favourite Band Member and Being a Young Duranie

By Sian:

Duran Duran and John Taylor’s bass playing have always been a big inspiration to me.  I’ve loved 80s music for about as long as I can remember.  Most of the time, I did not know that it was music from that specific period that I loved so much.  In 2010, I finally became interested in music, thus, the beginning of my Duranie life!

John is my favourite.  I love him and his bass playing.  I understand how he got his inspiration from Chic!  I love the bass-lines from 70s disco music and I can see the influence it had on him.  John is a really big idol for me.  I hope I can meet him one day.  I did nearly get the chance to go to the Manchester signing for his book but the tickets were sold out.  My dad did try to get tickets from eBay but they sold for over £200.  I don’t think my dad was that eager to spend that much on me!  Haha!  I would have told him how his bass playing made me want to play bass.  Also, I would say that I literally adore the outfit he wears on the Sing Blue Silver tour.  I plan to make a dress based off it.  It’s so cool!

Andy is a close second behind John as my favourite.  I don’t understand why he gets hated on sometimes.  I even made a video on youtube.  (Ok.  I thought only my friends would see it, but turns out I got through to more people than that!)  You can find it here.

That video is from when I had my John Taylor fringe.  I doubt I’m the first Duranie to do that!  But, yes, I do love Andy.  He’s brilliant.

It’s quite interesting to be surrounded by fans that saw Duran in the 80s.  They were there to see them from the beginning to their highest point in fame, all the way up to now.  I feel like I’ve missed out on quite a lot, but, then again, I am quite lucky to have the extensive length of their discography at my fingertips.  I’d also feel quite bad, if I knew that my idol was addicted to cocaine, at the time I was idolising him, too.  I’m so glad that John and Andy are over their drug and alcohol problems.

It’s kind of fun to talk to older fans, too!  They have some funny stories!  My friend Katie, her mum said that she nearly wrote into ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ to ask to ‘ride on a horse on a beach with Simon Le Bon like he had in the Rio video’.  She never sent the letter off.  I think she’s glad she didn’t now that she knows about ol’ Jimmy Sav.  (Daily Duranie asks for more of explanation of this for us non-UKers!) 
I like to kind of ‘connect’ with 80s Duran Duran, if you will, by collecting merch from certain parts in their career, such as old magazines.  It’s great to read those as I can see what the band was doing at that certain time!

I’m a big fan of art and drawing, so naturally, I draw lot of doodles of the band.  Here is my personal favourite painting I have done of John (please ignore the ‘arty’ angle, it was a phase.  Haha!  ):

Duran Duran has helped me through a lot.  Funny story.  I ordered the full set of the Topps 1985 stickers from eBay and I randomly took them to one of my check up sessions with my doctor at CAMHS.  I gave him one of Nick to stick on my case file.  Now my doctor wants the rest of the band!  Now, I give him one every time I go for a check up.  He has Nick and Simon so far!

Bio:  Sian is a 17-year-old Duranie from the Manchester area.  She spends most of her days staring into the face of John Taylor to the point where his face is imprinted on her mind.  She is studying art and design and hopes to become an illustrator. 

Guest Blog: Now I Finally Get It

By C.K. Shortell

If you had asked me in the mid-80’s if I still expected, nearly three and a half decades into the future, to still be treated to new Duran Duran albums and new Star Trek movies, I would have probably said no. As huge as Duran Duran was, even as a teenager, I knew these things don’t last forever. Iconic bands like The Police, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles had not managed to survive—for various reasons—and there was no reason to think Duran would be any different. Likewise, as much as I loved Star Trek and enjoyed both the syndicated reruns and movies, the cast was aging and there was no guarantee that the studio would continue to fund a sci-fi “space opera” franchise based on a cancelled 60’s TV show. And yet here we are, nearly halfway through 2013, and I’ve just seen the new Star Trek movie, and am anticipating a new Duran album within the next 18 months. That is amazing when I stop and think about it.

In a recent blog, Amanda wrote of her experience in seeing Star Trek: Into Darkness on opening night with friends and family. Her descriptions and emotions about this element of Trek fandom were spot on. I was lucky enough to see Star Trek VI on opening night while in college and I’ll never forget that experience. As she has written about before, there are many parallels between Star Trek and Duran Duran fandom: for every Duran lineup change and different musical direction taken, there are different Star Trek television shows and casts and movies that spark as much debate in the Trekker fandom as any argument you’ll find here in Duranland. However, for me personally, a different type of Star Trek and Duran Duran connection hit home over the last few weeks: balancing affection for the “old stuff” with gratitude and acceptance of the “new stuff.”

If you’ve read my previous guest blogs or posts or tweets, you know that I am a huge fan of Duran’s 90’s era. I am also a huge fan of their original work—like I always say, I’m like the guy in Office Space who “celebrates their entire catalogue.” I am not in the “Andy camp” or the “Warren camp” or the “Dom camp” but really find a lot to like from all eras and lineups.  Maybe that puts me in a completely different camp, or maybe it does tilt me more to the new stuff because I’m putting it on a par with the classic Duran, and die hard classic Duranies would never agree that anything has come close to matching the ’81-’85 output. Regardless, my point is that I have always kept an open mind about the “new stuff” and have tended to like most of it. 

Then there’s Star Trek. Seeing the new movie opened my eyes to a very curious thing: I realized that when it comes to Star Trek, I am exactly the opposite: I most certainly do not like the “new stuff” as much as the original. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying I didn’t like Into Darkness or the 2009 Star Trek movie. It’s great that J.J. Abrams has brought Star Trek back from the cinematic and pop-cultural graveyard. I think the new cast is good (not great—but good) and obviously the special effects are the best that the Trek franchise has ever used.  And I also think Abrams and his writers have gone out of their way to acknowledge the rich history of Star Trek in these films, whether it’s through a line of dialogue, a reference to something obscure from one of the television series, or even the way a shot is framed that mimics similar shots in the old movies.

But it’s not really Star Trek to me. The new movies seem strangely shallow in comparison to the earlier ones. The new films seem built around a handful of action sequences, and the underlying plot that drives the action is filled with holes and implausible coincidences and actions (even for a sci-fi movie!) (e.g. how Kirk comes to command the Enterprise in the 2009 film and how he happens to find Scotty and Spock Prime; the whereabouts of Scotty in Into Darkness, to just name a few). And while I like the cast, in many instances they seemed to be just caricature of the original actors (e.g. Scotty’s overdone accent, McCoy’s constant one-liners).  

My reaction bugged me because I wanted to like Star Trek: Into Darkness more than I did.  And I felt a little ashamed—shouldn’t I just be happy that someone is still making these movies, and that they are doing well and maybe drawing in a new generation of Star Trek fans? So what if there are more explosions and gratuitous action sequences—that’s par for the course for today’s action/sci fi movies. Maybe this momentum could even lead to a new television series – the possibilities are endless. As I devoted way too much time to this train of thought, my self analysis took another turn and that’s when it hit me: I was exactly like the Duranies who feel that nothing will measure up to the early albums.
For all these years, whenever I would read criticisms of the latest Duran project (going all the way back to Notorious), I would get highly annoyed. Why were people constantly comparing the new album to the classic ones? Those were in a different time and place. Didn’t they—the fans, the critics, the general public—get that? Did they really want Duran to regurgitate the same sound over and over? Couldn’t they stop being so closed minded about the new songs? It’s still Simon singing! There are still synths! Probably too many synths! It’ll sound awesome live! Give it a chance!

And yet here I was, making exactly the opposite arguments in my head and having the opposite reaction when it came to the new Star Trek film. 

Somehow, I had become so enamored of the “new stuff” and so sick of the earlier material that I had forgotten how good it truly was. I had become too dismissive of the magical quality—yes, I said magical—of those first three Duran albums. I was too caught up in whatever moment I was in, whether it was rocking out to Proposition (see Andy! You didn’t have to leave! Lots of guitar! You could still be here playing this!) or savoring the piano in Palomino or clinging to the hope of Ordinary World or dancing to the end of the millennium with Big Bang Generation. 

I’m not doing a 180; Medazzaland is still one of my favorite albums and I think I could argue that AYNIN is their best album (another day…not today!).  But now I won’t be so incredulous that someone I interact with on twitter or some message board can’t see the haunting beauty that I do in Pop Trash Movie or admit that The Valley kicks ass live. It’s fine. I get it. It’s not your Duran Duran; it’s not the same sound or magical quality that got you hooked, and nothing can ever replicate that. There was something so unique and special about the original lineup that we hold dear, and they set an impossibly high standard. You can hate the new stuff. I may not agree with you, but after seeing Star Trek…I get it.
 
C.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, both of whom love watching concert footage of the band.  When he’s not struggling to explain to a three year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up. 

Guest Blog: Flip it to the B-Side

Recently, Rhonda and Amanda offered the topic of regret as one to guest blog about.  As I pondered that, I actually thought of two regrets that I think are intertwined.  It all begins with a simple question:  How often do you listen to music?  I mean really listen–put on headphones, close your eyes, and take it all in?What has struck me recently is the fact that, as an adult, I never just listen to music.  It’s always in conjunction with other activity.  Music is on in the car, or on the iPod while doing yard work, or at work.  In fact, the only time in the last ten or so years that I can recall just listening to music would be when I’ve been on an airplane.  I can’t count that, though, since when I fly I also try to ward off thoughts of crashing into mountains, engines bursting into flames, etc.  (Yes, I hate flying.)

Thirty years ago the opposite was true:  I was listening to music, and doing nothing else, all the time.  I didn’t get my walkman until 1986 and the first cassette I popped in was Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  I will never forgot how blown away I was by the experience.  And even without the walkman, I had spent hour listening to all of the early Duran cassettes, as well as So Red the Rose, on my boom box.  And then I would make mix tapes and listen to those.  Listening to music was its own activity back then.

I’ve tried to tell myself that there is not that much of a difference between sitting in a dark room with headphones on versus going for a walk while listening to your iPod, but it still isn’t truly the same.  I remember imagining videos for every song on So Red the Rose back in 1985; today, I can easily go for a walk or mow the lawn and completely lose track of the playlist and wonder how I missed certain songs that had played.

And thus does my first regret spawn a second one:  Not only do I miss the days of listening to music for listening’s sake, I miss the distinctive sides that you’d find on a record or cassette.  One of the elements of those childhood and teenage listening sessions was appreciating and analyzing how different each side of the cassette was.  It was a different experience listening to the B side of those early Duran albums.  You could generally expect to find more of the radio friendly songs on side A, while side B tended toward the slower and darker material (R.E.M. took this to another level when they used to actually name their sides, e.g. “Memory Side” and “Time Side”).

I realize that it’s the songs, and not the format, that make side A differ from side B.  And certainly, in the Duran catalogue, the difference is more pronounced on some albums than others (more on that in a second).  But there’s nothing like that unmistakable hiss you would hear just as the cassette was about to run out.  And that longer delay because you either had to flip it or hit the “reverse” button if you were lucky enough to have a walkman that could do that.  It felt like an intermission…like the band had just rocked out to Hold Back the Rain and were taking a break, and after a moment, were returning as the first haunting notes of New Religion began to play.

The first song on the B side was always a big deal to me.  It set the tone for the second half of the album; it also served as an interesting comparison to the album’s opening track.  NIght Boat might be the greatest opening track for a B side in the entire catalogue–until New Religion!  Of course, even though it’s not officially Duran Duran, Arcadia’s The Promise is another heavyweight track that would seem out of place in any other position on the album.  An exception to this would be Seven and the Ragged Tiger–I think the way side B ends, with Tiger Tiger and The Seventh Stranger, is more distinctive and memorable than how it begins, with Union of the Snake.

The last Duran album I bought on cassette was Big Thing, which is the poster child for albums with disparate sides (even down to the producers–one for each side!).  Astronaut, while not completely mirroring the slower tempo and darkness of Big Thing’s B side, probably comes closest of all subsequent Duran albums to offering such a stark contrast between sides.  And yet therein lies the problem, for Astronaut is a CD and there are no “sides.”  I would assume that Astronaut’s “A” side ends with Nice (track 6)…but that would place “Taste the Summer” as the B side opener.  I think Finest Hour is much more appropriate as a “B” side opening track..but without the cassette, who can say for sure?  I can’t speak to any aspect of sides or themes when considering The Wedding Album, Thank You or RCM, which seem to all go on and on for one continuous side.  Pop Trash Movie serves as a natural breaking point on Pop Trash, and the sequence of slow song/fast song/slow song that pervades most of the running order is distinctive.  Notorious’s two sides represent perfect symmetry:  both sides’ lead tracks echo Hitchcock movies; both penultimate tracks are slow; and both final tracks rock the house.  Medazzaland actually does have a natural break in the middle with Silva Halo, and the B side gets darker and more experimental (and more awesome…if that’s possible–from the first side.  Sorry–I will try to contain my love for that album…!)  Likewise, Liberty breaks evenly with its only slow song, My Antarctica, and gets more of an edge on its second side (with a very underrated and solid “Downtown” closing out the proceedings).

Which bring us to All You Need Is Now.  I tend to think of it as Duran’s first three sided album.  Side one ends with Girl Panic; side two ends with Runway Runaway, and side three consists of Before the Rain, Networker Nation, Early Summer Nerves, and Too Close to the Sun.  I’m sure a lot of this is due to the nature of the album’s release (first on iTunes, then the full physical release, then the subsequent “special editions” with more tracks” etc.)  It also has to do with how I listened to it–although Before the Rain was part of the iTunes 9 release, I tended to keep replaying Runway Runaway and not really getting BTR until I had the physical version of the CD with other material.

I’m curious what you think–do you find the time to just listen to music?  Or is it next to impossible to do so when you’re juggling jobs, families, and other obligations?  And when you think about the different sides of Duran Duran albums, what stands out for you?

C.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, both of whom love watching concert footage of the band.  When he’s not struggling to explain to a three year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.