When I read the blog that was posted on dd.com, which you can find here, I couldn’t help but to realize that most of the reflections were very personal. John talked about how his daughter was born during the making of the album. Nick Egan talked about his thinking through the video shoot for Ordinary World. Comments from Simon included how he listened to the album as a whole for the first time. Of course, at the same time, everyone agreed that it was a special album that meant a lot to the band and their career. I don’t think there is any Duranie out there who could argue against that. We all know that Duran had lost a lot of the spotlight they had in the early 80s. Albums like Big Thing and Liberty didn’t get them attention, strong album sales or hit songs. The Wedding Album, on the other hand, did get them all three. For the first time in years, the band was back on the charts and back in the spotlight. It renewed their confidence and belief in their ability to write great, meaningful music. One could wonder what would have happened to Duran had they not had this. Would they have called it quits? We will never know. Nonetheless, we all can appreciate what the album did do for the band. Of course, it also affected the fans.
Based on a lot of the posts I have seen from fans, they are much like the band and their colleagues in the blog post on dd.com in that they are all related the album to themselves and their fandom. For many fans, this album was the one that brought them into the fandom. For those fans, there is no album that means more. I get that. I look back at Seven and the Ragged Tiger in fondest for the same reason. For other fans, they liked the band before but this one really made them a Duranie for life. Again, this album means a ton to them. Some fans just love the songs so much. Whatever the story is, the anniversary makes them think about what the songs and album means to them. I’m no different. In hearing that it was the album’s anniversary, I immediately thought about what it meant for me. My story is simple. It was the first time I saw the band play live. That said, my friend had to ask me to go. Duran wasn’t as much a central part as it is nowadays. I was more focused on graduating high school and getting ready to go to college. I went to the concert with 3 friends and had a good time. That said, as I am sure you all know by now, I didn’t leave the show having my inner Duranie awakened in a big way. Nope. I told my friend, “That was a good show but something seemed wrong. Not sure what it was but it didn’t feel right. I wouldn’t be surprised if the band isn’t around much longer. Maybe it’s time.” I know, I know. Blasphemy. Maybe I shouldn’t mention that in this blog post but it is true. That is what I said. Now, that didn’t stop me from listening to the album. None of the songs really grabbed me then. Later, I saw the beauty that Ordinary World was once I was able to relate to the meaning of the song. Now, as we all know, the songs that are most often played from this album (Ordinary World and Come Undone) are not my favorites and that is an understatement, of course, when it comes to Come Undone. I much prefer Too Much Information and Breath After Breath, which I think are too often overlooked. No, this album isn’t my favorite but it is important in my history as a Duranie and important in the history of the band. I can’t and shouldn’t ignore that.
Despite my experiences, I can appreciate the album and definitely celebrate the anniversary. I think it is important to look back at events and their significance. Maybe, this is the historian in me. Perhaps, it is that all of my history and social science classes have taught me that what happens in the past can and really does matter for the present. Does this album matter for Duran and their fans? Absolutely. Duran and its fanbase are where they are because of it. It was a big part of their story and their success as a band. If one is to appreciate the present state of Duran, one must acknowledge anniversaries like this. Thus, I’m thrilled to see everyone’s posts and tweets about it. I love hearing about what the album meant to different people. Likewise, I love that the band and their colleagues took the time to look back, to reflect, to celebrate this huge chapter in their careers. This reflection, this remembrance will, I’m sure, weigh in their minds as they begin to think about the next chapter.
It is interesting to me that on this anniversary I have noticed a few tweets from certain people like Simon, Dom, and Simon W (sax player). These tweets have made reference to being in Zurich. Now, of course, they could all be in different parts of Zurich. Maybe they aren’t with each other. That’s very possible, right? Sure. It has also been pointed out to me that TV Mania has gone quiet. Huh. Of course, this has led people to wonder if there is something going on and what it could mean. Now while I do appreciate the focus on the past, I won’t lie. The thought that the band or some of the band might be together excites me more. What I appreciate the most about the past is that it has led the band to NOW, the present. What excites me, what brings a smile to my face, what increases the bounce in my step is the FUTURE. I cannot wait to see what the band in its current form can come up with. Then, maybe in 21 or 22 years from now, we can rejoice in this upcoming album’s anniversary.
If I go back in time to 1985, I was 10 years old but, like many of us, was a huge Duranie! My best friend, at the time, and I watched Duran videos all the time and squeed over pictures of John Taylor in magazines like Bop and Tiger Beat. I was, generally, a happy kid at that time. Yet, there was a huge black cloud on the horizon. My family was in the process of moving. We didn’t move that far–about an hour away from where we were but it was like moving from one world to a totally different world. When I became a Duranie, I was living in the Chicago suburbs. I had access to Top 40 radio that played Duran all the time despite constantly making fun of them and I had access to MTV. While Duran wasn’t super popular in my elementary school (Michael Jackson was king in my neighborhood!), there were enough Duranies around that I felt safe. That all changed when I moved to a small town. More to the point, this place didn’t have Top 40 radio and didn’t have MTV. I felt like I had gone back in time!
On July 13, 1985, my family, including myself, was doing what we always did on weekends that summer, which was to drive to the new house to take boxes and other items that needed to be moved. My dad was already living there as he was working in the area so he needed supplies. Plus, it would make the big move easier, or so went the theory. I so protested this trip. I, obviously, wanted to be watching Live Aid. Why couldn’t I stay at my friend’s house? I asked my mother over and over again. The response I got was simple: I had to help the family. I rolled my eyes, grumbled to myself and felt like I had lost a friend. It was like an additional kick to the gut. I couldn’t even watch for Duran!
Interestingly enough, we got back “home” right before Power Station came on! I didn’t miss them, after all! I was still upset about being forced to help make this move that I desperately didn’t want to happen, though. I remember my parents getting Chinese for dinner and I refused to move from the TV, in case Duran came on. For some reason, my parents didn’t force me away from the screen. I don’t even think I ate dinner that night. I think I kept thinking that Duran would make me feel better, but they didn’t. I almost felt worse after they came on. I don’t know why. I could say that I had a sense that something wasn’t right but I doubt it. My kid brain wouldn’t have been able to move beyond my own thoughts, life, problems. I probably didn’t even notice Simon’s bum note!
A little over a month later, the big and final move took place. That, of course, is another day that I’ll never forget in my life. I was walking around outside when a neighbor girl rode her bike up to me, which was actually very nice. We started talking and, of course, I asked her if she liked Duran. Her response, “Who?” She had never heard of them. The kids in the neighborhood spent most of their time making and playing game outside or riding their bikes. They weren’t glued to MTV like I had been. Now, I can understand how both cultures (and that’s what they were) had their positives and negatives but as a kid, I couldn’t see it. I missed my best friend and listening to the radio. I think, at that point, my Duranie-ness grew. I held on to it for dear life. As summer turned into fall, I tried to make friends but that didn’t go well. Neither side wanted to learn about the other person’s interests. No one wanted to learn about Duran, which I totally couldn’t understand. Soon enough, this divide between me and my new classmates grew and turned ugly as they found out that I was a religious minority in a small town in which everyone was the same religion (or so it seemed). The kids used this along with the fact that I wore a lot of black and red along with my black rubber bracelets (I wonder who else was dressing this way in 1985? Hmm…could it be…John Taylor?!) to make fun of me pretty frequently.
By 1986, I was pretty lonely as I didn’t have a lot of friends in my new town and my best friend from home had decided that Duran was done. By now, we knew that Roger and Andy left the band. It seemed to me that my feelings of dread on Live Aid were justified. Going back to the original analogy of how Live Aid was a turning point, it definitely was. It was for me and for the band. On July 13th, 1985, no one really knew what exactly was going to happen, but what did happen was significant. My life was changed and the band member’s lives changed, too. Thus, not a year goes by that I don’t remember that fateful day. I’m relieved I made it through this not-so-happy time in my life and I am so glad that the band was able to go on as well.
What about the rest of you? Is this a fateful day for you? Are there other days in Duran history that have personal meaning? I love to hear your stories!
It seems to me that some people have jobs and/or lives that pretty much provide a constant stream of activity. At times, this constant stream might become a little more busy than normal or a little less busy than normal but it never or rarely reaches extremes. Then, there are those who have extremes. These people are either extremely busy or not busy at all. I think the band is in that category. They have times when they have tons of things to do, when they can’t find more than a few minutes to sleep and catch their breath. I’m sure that doing a lot of promotional work and/or touring would be like this. Then, of course, now-a-days they also have the chance to relax some. These stretches are or seem to be longer than what a usual vacation entails. I think my life is in between the constant stream and the extremes. During the school year, I’m consistently busy and then when I have added campaign work, that consistently busy extends to being insanely active. Of course, then, I do have summers, which aren’t completely off with classes, professional development, curriculum planning, etc. Nonetheless, summers are very different than the rest of the year. As I’m facing an extreme shift in activity level like the guys do after a tour or something equivalent, I wonder how they adjust. What advice would they give the rest of us? How do they find their new normal? What if their last project was horribly unsuccessful? How do they use their time off to regroup?
Let’s face it. Duran Duran, overall, has been a successful band but they have had projects, times that have not been as successful as they would have liked. In some cases, when they have regrouped, the results have been more than they hoped for. For example, the Liberty album wasn’t exactly what they had hoped for, both musically (not saying all the songs were bad but…) and commercially. Goodness, they didn’t even tour that album! How did they pick themselves up off the ground and give themselves the energy, the courage to try again? Why didn’t they decide to call it quits? Obviously, they were not only able to keep going but they were able to make an album (Wedding Album) that resulted in commercial success and converted a whole new generation of Duranies! Likewise, Red Carpet Massacre wasn’t the success that they thought it would be but they kept going and made the fabulous All You Need Is Now.
I don’t have the answer to this question about how they continue forward after facing a roadblock. Do any of you? I would honestly love to know their secret as I could use a little of that now myself. Maybe then, I would be able to comment on Duran news or move forward to find my new ordinary world.
Andy Wickett was the lead singer after Stephen Duffy and joined the band in the summer of 1979. He had previously been a member of the band, TV Eye. During the time that Andy Wickett was the lead singer, the band recorded their first demos. Here is one of those demos. As you can tell, this one has a VERY familiar title!
Some of the other demos included Working the Steel, Reincarnation and See Me, Repeat Me, which was an extremely early version of Rio.
Andy Wickett wasn’t in the band long, though, as he left by late 1979. By 1981, a legal agreement was made between the band and Andy. As the band paid him some money for his rights of the song, Girls on Film.
Stephen Duffy, on the other hand, was the lead singer before Andy. Unlike Andy, Stephen had more contact with the band after he left. If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you might have read about his involvement in a little project known at the Devils, which you can read about here.
While neither lead singer lasted beyond 1979, both had some impact with the band. Andy left the band with the skeleton elements of Girls on Film and Stephen impacted the early Duran sound. I think it is good for us to know that other singers were around before Simon. I can appreciate what they gave and then appreciate that Simon and the rest of the band found each other in 1980!
*****Edited to add that there have been some Duranie alerts regarding US shows! I wouldn’t be surprised if the other half of the Daily Duranie would cover some of this in tomorrow’s blog!*****************
Before I analyze why/how Rio became a favorite, I think a little history lesson is due. Duran Duran started the Rio album in January 1982, not even a full year after the release of their first single, Planet Earth. The album was recorded in London and was produced by Colin Thurston, the same producer as their first album. Of course, before the album was even released, the band traveled to the island of Sri Lanka to film a few videos: Hungry Like the Wolf, Save a Prayer and Lonely in Your Nightmare. From there, they began a tour of Australia and Japan in April. Of course, the album was basically done by that point as Nick even stayed behind in London to finish the mix. He would travel to Sri Lanka after the rest of the band. By the time the album was released on May 10th, the band had an album cover that featured Patrick Nagel artwork and had already released My Own Way and Hungry Like the Wolf as singles. The Rio album did well in many places, the UK and Australia, in particular, but did not do well in the US until after MTV began airing their videos. The album was, in fact, re-released in November 1982. Then, it peaked at number 6 on March 12, 1983. Since the release, the album has reached double platinum status (2 million copies sold).
So, how come the album found so much success and managed to capture many of the fans’ place for the ultimate Duran Duran? The first and most obvious answer is that the music is good. Great. Fabulous. Many fans will say that they don’t hear a bad song or a filler on the album. As we all know, it is an album mixed with ballads like Save a Prayer, more atmospheric pieces like the Chauffeur, and more rockin’ songs like Hungry Like the Wolf. This album is what every other piece of Duran Duran music is compared to now. I think back to right before All You Need is Now came out and the statement that Mark Ronson made that got quite a bit of attention about how AYNIN is the real follow-up to Rio. Yet, I think there is way more to it than just the music. After all, many of us got introduced to the Duran Duran not through the music but through their videos.
I, personally, don’t remember the first Duran Duran song I heard. I don’t remember the first video I saw either but I can tell you that, as a kid, the videos were what got my attention. I remember a time when I was really, really horribly sick as a kid. My poor mother was staying up with me to take care of me. Back in 1983/84, there wasn’t much TV on at 3 in the morning and we watched MTV. I remember seeing the video for Save a Prayer over and over and over that night. Not only did I think the song was beautiful, not only did I think the band members were cute, the images shown were such that they were hard to forget. My goodness I think I still get goosebumps at the end of that video when they are all standing there looking up in front of the enormous statue with bare feet. I wasn’t sure what it meant but it had to mean something, I figured. Of course, I thought the same about Simon’s lyrics. I wasn’t sure what the heck he was singing about but they always made me think, made me want to figure them out. Anyway, the videos of this album really captured my attention and clearly captured others’ attentions as well since there was a very obvious connection between those places that had MTV and Duran Duran album sales. If you had MTV, you bought the album. If you didn’t have MTV, you didn’t buy the album. It was as simple as that. Yes, it helped that MTV didn’t have a ton of videos and that they aired Duran over and over and over again. We were also a captive audience. If we wanted to see videos, we had to see a lot of Duran videos. Many of these videos or images from these videos are still used today. It seems to me that 98% of interviews with Duran shows the image of the band on the boat during Rio or Simon running through the jungle in HLTW. At this point, you can’t separate these images from the music. Speaking of images, that album cover is still very popular and well-known. Do all of these images add to the specialness of Rio? I think they do.
The Rio era also saw two really important things take place. First, their popularity exploded during this time. Duran Duran started becoming a real household name, a name that got real attention in places beyond the UK, Australia and Japan. Duran got real worldwide success with this album. Second, for many of the original Duranies, this is when people became fans. It seems to me that whenever you become a fan, that time seems to be the best, most important time for that fan. Thus, if someone became a fan in 1993, s/he is not probably going to say that Seven and the Ragged Tiger was his/her favorite era. No, one’s favorite era is the time when that celebrity caught your attention and caught your attention in a way that was no longer easy to walk away from. A special memory is created then.
So, what is it that makes the Rio album so special? Honestly, I think it is the combination between the music, the videos, the images, the worldwide popularity and one’s own personal fandom. No matter the reason, it is hard to argue that Rio hasn’t made its mark with Duran Duran, with their fans and with the public at large. It is one of those must-know, must-own albums.
This part of the game started with two album tracks off the self-titled first album: Sound of Thunder and Friends of Mine. It seemed that most people preferred Friends of Mine. Yet, when thinking about Duran Duran, Sound of Thunder has a more significant history. I’m sure that I’m not telling anyone anything new but it was the very first song that the Fab 5 wrote together. The legend has it that the band wrote the song as soon as Simon came and auditioned. On top of that, I remember reading, maybe in an Ask Katy question, that Sound of Thunder captured the sound that they hoped to create. After all, Duran Duran was designed to be a combination of punk and disco, right? I have heard that John wanted to combine the sounds of Chic’s Good Times with the Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant. Apparently, they thought that Sound of Thunder did that the best. As for Friends of Mine, I do know that Georgie Davis is a real person who was sentenced to prison and recently got out, I might add. Yet, that story doesn’t strike me as much as Duran’s first song or the perfect combination of influences does. Thus, in terms of sentimental value, Sound of Thunder wins the competition, hands down. What do you think, Duranies? Would you still vote on Friends of Mine? Obviously, that’s cool if you would. You might just think that the song sounds better.
Then, yesterday, I asked about Last Chance on the Stairway and Hold Back the Rain. Many people talked about how Hold Back the Rain was played at a gig where it was actually raining. Some mentioned about how NASA used it in the hopes of keeping a storm away in order for the space shuttle to land. Yet, a few more mentioned about Simon wrote the song about John. Here’s a clip from a documentary that explains the story:
Like the story behind Sound of Thunder, as a Duranie, I can’t ignore it. It tells so much about the band. It shows how much Simon cares about John. It shows how far John Taylor has come. It shows what life must have been like for them at this time with the partying and the women. This history, this feeling speaks to me. Of course, many people have personal connections to Duran songs. Memories, feelings become attached to songs. I can’t help but to think of touring life whenever I hear this song. Specifically, the lyrics: “No time for worry cause we’re on the roam again”. For me, then, the personal connection combined with the Duran history puts this song way at the top of my list of favorites. Of course, I think it sounds good as well! 😉
Maybe, my desire to know the story behind the song is strange. Perhaps, I’m the only one who cares about stuff like this. After all, I do have a history degree so I do tend to think about what is historically important. Obviously, in my opinion, both Sound of Thunder and Hold Back the Rain are important to the Duran story. What do you think? Do you think the story behind a song matters? How much does it matter? Does it change the way you view a song? Does it change how much you like or don’t like a song? Then, do you think these two songs are important in understanding Duran Duran?
A little background on The Devils is probably necessary…and it’s the beginning, which is a very good place to start. (Be careful or I’ll start singing Do Re Mi from Sound of Music. A frightening thought by any means.) In 1978, Nick Rhodes and Stephen Duffy started writing music together, and ran into John Taylor who was performing with a group called Dada. At some point later Stephen walked to art college, and met up with John Taylor, who was not doing anything at that time – and Duran Duran was born. The music that we know as The Devils is basically the first album that Duran Duran would have made had the original original original (yes, that wording IS necessary at this point) stayed together. (does anyone else ever get the feeling that the constantly changing lineups is just part of what makes Duran Duran, Duran Duran?!?) This my friends, is why every Duran fan on the planet, every single Duranie, should know The Devils. No, of course you don’t have to like what you hear and I’m the last person to condemn anybody for not loving something Duran has done…. but I do think you have to know where they started to truly appreciate the band they’ve become.
I’ve posted both parts of the EPK that Nick and Stephen produced – they’re on YouTube. (and I’m extremely thankful for that!) For the first EPK, my advice is to watch the whole thing through, and then take special care to listen from about 13:20 to the end again several times. The song is called Big Store, and if you don’t hear Duran Duran in there, listen again. I have a deep appreciation for the dark and innovative sound…if only they had more clarinet in there…
(psst, Nick!! I’m free…and I can really play clarinet!!)
One of the more amusing and interesting things on this first EPK are the slides that are interspersed throughout. They are from John’s geography field trip, and there are several from streets in Birmingham. What tickled me personally was that I could actually identify several of these shots and where they were taken. I guess that first trip to the UK back last May was beneficial in many ways!
On the next EPK, it opens with Dark Circles. This song would have EASILY fit on the first album. I love it dearly, and what’s more – it reminds me of why I fell in love with Duran Duran in the first place. Then we get to hear what Nick coins as being “the most goth sound on the record”. This is the darkest, scariest song that I think I’ve ever heard, and chances are – I’m going to have nightmares with this song as the soundtrack for the rest of my life. I think you’re right about the goth thing Nick, and the video makes it even scarier!
(note to self: do I really ever hear music in my dreams?? Good question!)
I’m not sure how much Duran I hear in that particular song, but Nick’s innovative mind is right there, and Stephen’s voice is downright haunting. Take a listen to Barbarellas and even the Tinsel Ritual, and really look at those old slides – that was the Birmingham from which the band emerged in 1978. (which is really not all that unlike the town *I* came from here in the states, which is probably why I felt so at home walking around.) They have come very, very far.
And now that you’ve come up to breathe after that long trip down memory lane, here’s some Neurotic Outsiders to wake you up!
The Neurotic Outsiders is a band that John was in during the time he was not a member of Duran Duran. The other members included Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, along with Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum of Guns n Roses. I feel as though this band held much of his healing – as of course did his solo work. In some ways it seems as though Neurotic Outsiders helped him see that being in a band could still be fun. Their music was as much hard, dirty rock as The Devils was all about art, experimentation and the bridge between punk and alternative in 1978. If there was ever to be a cosmic opposite to The Devils, Neurotic Outsiders would be that band.
The next one is live….
Sorry for the quality, but to get a good idea of what Neurotic Outsiders was like I think you have to see them. I have to say, they rocked it, and I love that about them.
What is fascinating to me…and should really be to the rest of you as well, is that yesterday we asked if you’d rather listen to Arcadia or Power Station. To the best of my count, Arcadia won that question by a landslide. So far today, however – Neurotic Outsiders fans far exceed those of The Devils. One could argue that The Devils and Arcadia are similar types of music, very “art school”, very experimental; and of course conversely, Power Station and Neurotic Outsiders are both rock, although Neurotic Outsiders comes from a far heavier place. So, is it that The Devils just isn’t well known? Is it that Simon isn’t singing?? Even better – what about John Taylor fans out there?!?
Watch the videos, take notes, because at some point, there might even be a test! Enjoy!!
I have some ideas of essential elements or objectives that need to be taught. One element is obviously video since video did play such an essential part to their commercial success and did grab so many fans’ attention. It is a part of Duran that has existed from the first single to current times. Another element that needs to talked about, I think, is their commitment to the complete package. Duran isn’t just music or video. They are a complete package from artwork to fashion. The images they created from their album covers to their merchandise are long lasting and captured our attention. I would, obviously, include all of those fabulous photographs of the band members, themselves. Then, of course, we have the proof of their success. This objective would include information about album sales, awards received, and media attention. While the fans could be a part of this object, I think we deserve an objective all by ourselves. While we had direct impact on their commercial success, especially “back in the day”, we are still an essential part of the story by continuing to follow them, buy their products, and more. I also think there needs to be an objective on Duran’s philosophy. While Duran has never clearly come out to state a “philosophy” or “mission”, I think that there is one. After all, this is the band that declared that they wanted to be playing when the bomb dropped in their first interview. It is also the band that states frequently at shows that they are the band “designed to make you party”. Clearly, the band isn’t about politics!
Now, that we have the goal of proving Duran is great and our objectives of their musical spectrum and quality, video, packaging, commercial success, fans, and philosophy, we have to decide how to present them. In education, this could be called the procedure. One way, we could present the material would be through the differing musical styles. Thus, we would pick songs that both represent a certain style of music and represents one of the remaining objectives. For example, Save a Prayer might be used to showcase their ability to write and play ballads while also showing the use of video. Another way, we could present the objectives could be through the band’s story. Their story now spans over thirty years and I’m willing to bet that each major piece to their history could be explained through their music. Thus, lesson one might be on forming the band. I could then explain how the different members came to join the band. I could play the song, Late Bar, to showcase this time in their history and also lead the students to questions regarding their philosophy through analyzing the lyrics. Hopefully, they would get that an all-night party means that they wanted for everyone to have a good time! A later lesson could be how the critics did not appreciate them despite or because of their commercial success, which would be accompanied by the song Notorious.
In case you are all wondering, I have put together a list of songs that best represent Duran’s history and those essential elements that make up who Duran is. I could share it, if people are interested. What I would like to know is how you would teach Duran Duran. Would you just focus on the music? If so, what songs would you include? Would you focus on those other elements that I referred to as objectives? Maybe you would talk about some of those elements but not all of them. Perhaps, I forgot something essential to understanding Duran. Would you then organize the lessons like I would, through Duran’s history and music? If not, how would you do it? Then, I would also love to know if anyone has tried to actually teach someone about Duran. How did you do it and how did it go?