Category Archives: Mad World

Book Club: Mad World (Spandau Ballet, The Human League and Heaven 17)

We are continuing on with our weekly book club, in which we discuss each and every chapter of the book, Mad World, one by one.  This is week 4 and this week we are discussing Spandau Ballet, The Human League and Heaven 17.  We invite you to read those chapters and then come discuss with us!

Spandau Ballet:

Amanda’s thoughts:

Isn’t one of the rules of being a Duranie that you are supposed to hate Spandau?  I learned early on that they were rivals, that they were fighting to be the top UK band.  Heck, they even fought in battle on the TV show, Pop Quiz.  Thus, I will wholeheartedly admit that I doubt I ever gave Spandau the chance that any band deserves. I looked forward to reading this chapter so it would give me a  different look at this band, from a Duranie, but not only a Duranie perspective.  Then, I read the introduction and learned how the name was a term Nazis used, but they didn’t know it at the time.  I have to look past that and the rivalry.

I adored the story that Gary Kemp told about the club scene in 1978, in which kids would dress up and go to watch each other.  There wasn’t a band that glued the scene together but they felt that there should be.  They would be that band.  As someone who has spent a bit of time in clubs with a similar feel, I related instantly.  Then, I read that others at the club also had creative ambitions and I am once again reminded about how creative this time period was.

Another theme I keep running into over and over again is the idea that these songs, these important songs were not written to be singles as they did not fit hit singles formulas.  We talked about how “Cars” by Gary Numan didn’t fit the single mold and neither did New Order’s “Blue Monday”.  Now, Spandau’s song, “True,” could be added to the list with its Al Green and Motown influence, its length and its placement at the end of the album.  Clearly, the formula for a hit song did not always matter.

One of the things mentioned in this chapter is how Spandau did not do as well in the States as they did in Europe.  Gary Kemp blamed it on the record company there that, according to him, “made a lot of mistakes”.  Tony Hadley, on the other hand, mentioned that the name was problematic with the Jewish community in the States.  He also didn’t think that “True” was representative of their work.  So, let me ask all of you this.  Could they have been bigger in the States with a different record company and name?  Based on the time period and their style, I have to say that I think they could have been.

Rhonda:

One thing you’ll quickly learn about me in this post is that I don’t follow the rules very well.  I loved Spandau Ballet, and have most of their albums. It never occurred to me until AFTER the DD reunion (from reading about the rivalry online) that I wasn’t supposed to like them, and by that time – I just didn’t care. The funny thing is that I never really put Duran Duran and Spandau in the same musical “camp”, so to speak, other than recognizing that both bands were from the UK.  All I really knew was that I liked their sound, and they dressed nicely. (Funny words coming from someone who relishes her jeans and t-shirts!) Admittedly, I didn’t know that Spandau had other albums before True until later on…but I’m thankful that I bothered to look at all, and if you know the band solely from True, it’s really time to expose yourself to some of their other music, because I think you’ll be shocked! 

Gary Kemp mentions their mystique, by saying that no record company had seen them, and that record companies weren’t even allowed into their gigs.  They had a documentary that Janet Street-Porter had filmed, and that was what record companies could view and decide if they were interested in the band. He compares that to YouTube today, and how no band really has that same mystique because anyone can film you and put that video up on YouTube for all to see.  It certainly does remove some of the curiosity factor, and I still say that media of all types today is meant for quick consumption.  Get it, absorb it, and move on to the next greatest thing. It will be interesting to see just how much of today’s music, today’s media, will really have a lasting effect in the same way that our music did for us.

What drew me to Spandau Ballet is that their sound was really quite different from anything else of that period. The band embraces that, as Gary mentions, “Spandau has two things that make us sound like no other band: Tony’s unique and powerful voice and Steve Norman’s amazing saxophone that we always like to include. It’s the sound of our soul, if you like.”   I completely agree with him – just as you can’t find anyone else that can harmonize like Simon; I don’t think you can copy Tony Hadley, or find anyone that plays like Steve.  The uniqueness of the bands during this period are what still keep them alive today.  There was never a real “formula” that any of these bands followed – and I think that is what kept it all feeling fresh and new for me.  It’s also where I cultivated my strong dislike of what I call the “Top 10 Hit Formula” that certain producers seem to really hang their hat on these days.  I’m sure it existed back then as well, I just didn’t pay it (Top 40 radio) much attention. 

Having now read Mad World completely through twice, one of the saddest things to read in nearly every single chapter (for me) is the “That Was Then, This is Now” section.  There seems to always be a tinge of wistfulness, perhaps sadness, and sometimes even a bit of lingering anger depending upon the band in question, and for me – Miss 80s Music Fan – it’s heartbreaking.  Maybe it’s just the idea of looking back on the full experience that sparks emotion for me, I’m not sure. Tony Hadley says something that I still find myself thinking about and considering as I sit to write this book discussion, “But we’re still old friends, which is great. We can all go and have a pint and a meal, and we’d all laugh and joke and tell stories. But it’s not the same, and it never will be.” 

When I think about that, I can’t really argue with Tony Hadley. Life experience changes your perspective, and things must have certainly changed since the 80s. When you reunite, I would imagine you come back to that proverbial table with all of that baggage, along with anything else you’re still dragging along for the ride. It can’t ever be exactly the same, but is it enough to build upon?  That would be my question.

The Human League:

Amanda’s reaction:

Right away, we learn that this chapter is going to be different.  Phil Oakey, the singer, refused to meet with the authors.  I so wonder why.  Perhaps, he will think differently now that the book has been published.

I like how Lori Majewski, one of the authors, points out that nowadays it is obvious what songs are about, but then, songs made the listeners work for it.  I agree and I loved working for it.  I still do.  I love trying to figure out what a song is about, which is probably one of the reasons I love Duran songs so much.  They aren’t obvious, even when they appear to be so.  It seems that Phil Oakey, himself, was like this, too, according to Martyn Ware who described him as “otherworldly” while being the “best chum” and “aloof” at the same time.  Now, I’m even more fascinated by him and his decision not to talk to the authors.

Likewise, I found their approach to lyrics so interesting.  The fact that they banned words like love, which led to topics like philosophy and science fiction.  It sure seemed like a way to push them past the usual.

Rhonda:

I really don’t understand why a musician wouldn’t want their story to be included in this book, unless they just didn’t understand what was being done. Sometimes I think that these musicians…INCLUDING my ever-favorite Duran Duran, just don’t get it, which is at least partially why this blog even exists. They don’t understand, and maybe sometimes they don’t/can’t care, that their music has resonated with fans so much that for many of us – their songs are as much a part of who we’ve become as people as say, our hometown, our high school, and the friendships we’ve made along the way. No matter…I wish Phil Oakey had participated, because his music and his voice made a difference in my youth.

That said, I love that Jonathan and Lori chose to include “Being Boiled”, because it is a great song – it’s dark and obscure, brooding and hypnotic.  The more I hear early New Wave, the more I know that is where my musical soul lives and breathes. Just as Lori said – I adore that unless you really sit down and pay attention, you’re likely to have no idea what the song is about.  I appreciate that the song lyrics weren’t so watered down and obvious back then.  I think that nowadays (not to sound so “Get off my lawn, kids!”, but seriously…) everything is so dumbed down, so EASY, the public gets so bored.  They’re not even given a chance to prove they’ve got brainpower in there somewhere.  

Martyn Ware explains the real gist of Human League, and I find it to be the case for many (if not all) of the bands I adore from this period. “Right from the start, we wanted people who listened to us to regard it as entering into our world, where we could, over a period of time, flesh it out with our artistic content. So it’s not just about music. It’s about lyrical content, it’s about the kind of films you watch, it’s about the kind of novels you read, it’s about the kind of visual art you like. It all fed back into a worldview.”  I don’t think that it’s necessarily a surprise to find that when I’m with fellow fans – Duran fans for instance, there are more than a few of us that like the same sort of books, or the same sort of art.  So many of these bands intertwined their visual presence with their musical presence. I always say the music of this period is three dimensional in a way that you just will not ever find again, and it’s precisely due to the reasons that Martyn Ware states.  

Heaven 17

Amanda’s ideas:

The story about how the manager of Human League worked to kick Martyn Ware out of the band was pretty shocking and sad.  I wonder what the manager, Bob Mast, would say about it.  Did he really think that Phil could be a solo singer?  Did he think he would be better off without Martyn?  This story makes me sad since Martyn and Phil were such close friends.  Yet, obviously, he didn’t let stop him as he got a new singer within just a couple of days.  That’s impressive.  I wonder how many people could bounce back from being kicked out of their band and losing their best friend at the same time.

One thing that Heaven 17’s story highlights for me is the use of sides back in the era of albums.  The one side, Pavement, had songs written still as Human League and were more electronic and the other side, Penthouse, wasn’t.  I miss the album.  I do.  Even if I put a whole album on, unless it is vinyl, it isn’t the same as have an A side and a B side where bands could do exactly what Heaven 17 did here.

One thing about Heaven 17 that I was surprised by was that they didn’t tour and instead focused their money on videos.  I do love that they ended up touring with Human League in 2008.  That seems fitting.

Rhonda:

I definitely prefer vinyl to digital. It’s not even a contest…vinyl has a warmth to it that just cannot be translated to digital, never mind the more obvious fact that I miss having two sides to an album.  Maybe I’m just stuck in the 80s, in which case, that’s fine too. 

I am one of those people in the world that lets friend loyalty dictate certain things. I would never, for instance, even remotely entertain the idea of ditching a friend so that I could move up the business ladder.  That’s probably why I’m going to stay a blogger forevermore, so that I don’t HAVE to deal with office politics, and that’s just fine by me.  I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be kicked out of a band by a best friend…but yet this sort of backstabbing seemed to happen a lot back then.  It’s all about success and what you’re willing to do to get there. (My question remains whether any of these bands really know when they’ve gotten that success and whether they really ever enjoyed it once they were there – it all seems to be something people only see in hindsight!)

I liked Heaven 17 fine, and “Temptation” is probably their most recognizable song, but they weren’t on my short list.  For me, the big story here is how they were freed from the self-defined shackles of Human League in order to explore other influences.  I liked that they weren’t into the “fame” side of things: they viewed themselves as “valued artists and musicians”. The fact that they had a hard time breaking America because they wouldn’t tour with Coors is interesting. I wonder how many American bands would have sold their souls to be on that tour?  That’s one thing I find fascinating with many of the UK bands of this period: they stuck to their ideals.  

They toured again with Human League in 2008, and Ware says something that I believe is a common thread among nearly every band of this period, “We’re mates now, but I wouldn’t say there’s been closure.”  I swear I’ve read similar tales from every band in Mad World.  Maybe it is partially the British culture – maybe it’s easier just to sweep it all under the rug?  

Have something to add? Comment below!!

Join us next week as we discuss Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Bow Wow Wow and The Waitresses!

 

Book Club: Mad World (ABC, Devo and Echo and the Bunnymen)

Welcome to week 3 of our latest book club!  This time around we are tackling the book, Mad World, chapter-by-chapter.  The chapters we will be discussing feature the bands ABC, Devo and Echo and the Bunnymen.  Read and join in on the discussion!

ABC:

Amanda’s reaction:

I absolutely had to laugh at the story about how Martin Fry got involved in a band.  I loved that he was writing for a fanzine and went to interview a band before joining it.  So, if his story and author, Lori Majewski’s, story didn’t prove it already, there definitely can be a future after writing a fanzine.  Maybe, the same could be true for bloggers…

Martin starts his story by saying that he realized that he could never be as punk as the Sex Pistols or the Clash.  Instead, he loved disco and decided to focus on the opposite of punk.  I think a lot people can relate to this, whether it is about music of this era, music of another era or even another type of art form.  I think whenever anyone in the arts wants to be creative, there is a push to find a niche, a spot in which one could really make a mark instead of just following a trend.  It is interesting that a lot of bands of this era all seemed to have the same push and all focused on dance related music.  Martin goes on to describe a mania of sorts that seemed to exist in the UK at the time with these bands as they were all trying to make it and make it first.  Truly, this reminds me of periods I have studied in Art History class where artists are all hanging out with each other or near each other, developing similar styles and pushing creativity to a new level.  I always had a sense of this as a fan about the level of musical creativity at this time but reading this confirms it.

He goes on to discuss the meaning behind the song, “Poison Arrow” and how many people could relate to the idea of having someone walk away from you.  Yet, despite his attempt to write songs from the heart, he felt that he was “hiding” rather than “showing” in his writing.  I can relate to that.  While I might try to be open in my writing, I never quite feel like I get there.  What is interesting to me is that he thinks that songs are more open now.  I’m not sure I agree with that, especially with the number of songs written by one person and sung by another.

Rhonda:

Admittedly, I was surprised to read that Martin Fry was a fanzine writer. Lori Majewski wasn’t kidding when she said (to me) not to sell that (stuff) short!! Who knew??  

I think that much of the 80s for bands was finding a way to insert themselves into the narrative that was already being written.  No one wanted to sound like everyone else, and plenty of bands were willing to take chances in order to find a way for their voices (or music as the case may be) to be heard. I don’t think there’s any denying the disco influence in ABC’s music – particularly what can be heard in “Poison Arrow”, but others as well.  I also should probably come clean and say that this particular song was never a favorite during this time period for me, but again – that’s really the one thing about the 80s that I adore: no two songs really sounded the same. Yes, it was all a type of dance music (and even I spent a fair amount of time dancing to “Poison Arrow” over the years at various clubs), but that’s pretty much where the similarity ends.  Look at Spandau Ballet or Haircut 100…both are bands that Martin Fry mentions as being of the same musical vein, yet they’re incredibly different, and within those bands themselves, every album they released was different from the last.  You can’t help but applaud that.  

Devo:

Amanda:

Quite a quote to start the chapter on Devo about how society was “devolving into a state of passive, drooling idiocy” and how anything was okay as long as “it was wrapped in a bright package”.  To me, this summarizes the exact criticism surrounding New Wave, that it was just a bright package.  Yet, Devo was created to express the outrage about this.  I had no idea.  I had also heard/read somewhere about how “Whip It” was really a criticism about society and culture, but didn’t make all the connections until reading this chapter with the connections to propaganda.

As someone who is fascinated by social activism and social movements, I find it incredibly fascinating that the disillusionment of the late 60/early 70s protest movement in the US helped the members of Devo think about how to really create change.  Instead of doing what most activists do, they decided to use the system itself to try to change things.  More specifically, they wanted to use advertising and marketing to affect change.  To me, this is a very radical notion.  Their radicalism clearly continued in not only how they performed but also the relationship with their audience.  They didn’t like the people coming to see them and vice versa.  It is like they wanted to create anti-fans.

Rhonda:

Mark Mothersbaugh said that their goal wasn’t to piss people off…and I have to take a little issue with that. When you’re making statements like what Devo did, taking stances and trying to create some awareness and force some change; your goal is 100% to create emotion, cause a reaction.  That’s what art is all about, isn’t it?   That IS the goal, so for him to say that…well…I’ll admit I’m not completely buying it.  Gerard Casale goes even further, saying “If these people hate us, we’re on the right track because we don’t respect them either.”  Not that I think they were wrong for feeling that way, but it’s been my own personal experience that having no respect for people (particularly the audience you’re performing in front of) does very little to diffuse anger. 

What I find most interesting about Devo, through reading this chapter and other things I’ve seen over the years, is that listeners must keep in mind that this is a band that sees what they do as performance art – and rightfully so.  While they are definitely making their own statements about the world, they follow that up with the movies they created, and their own special brand of propaganda.  You can’t forget that this is a band who was highly influenced by the Communist propaganda of (then) Soviet Union and China, and they saw what they were doing here in the US as the American version of all that.  Say whatever you will about “Whip It” or any of their music for that matter, they were an intelligent band who knew how to broadcast their message back in that day, cleverly disguising it as something quite different (S&M, etc.) from what it really was mocking. And now, every time I see a Swiffer commercial that uses the song…never mind Disney being the “geniuses” they are known for being in the industry and using child stars to create Devo 2.0. I have to smile just a little.  If people only knew…

Echo and the Bunnymen:

Amanda’s thoughts-

I admit it.  I simply adore this song so I was very excited to read more about it.  The introduction to the band is dead on the money, I think.  Echo and the Bunnymen was all about despair, for the most part.  Then, my mind gets blown when I find out the truth behind the “him” in the song.  It isn’t about Ian McCulloch, the lead singer, but about a higher power.  As he talks about the lyrics, I could see that, but I would have NEVER guessed that in a million years.  Perhaps, this is partly because this song entered my life when I was dealing with a difficult relationship and I associated the song with the relationship.

The other thing that this chapter made me realize is how each city in the UK, during this time period, seemed to have its own culture.  I love how Liverpool’s scene is described as filled with a mixture of lost souls whereas previous chapters talked about places like New Order’s Manchester.  It fascinates me, in a broad, social science way about how this musically creative time period had all these artists who had a broad consensus about things like influences, the desire to be unique, etc., while having smaller geographic areas had what seems more like their own subcultures.  Fascinating.

Then, I absolutely adore the story of their first show.  I wonder if all bands/artists had shows in which something like failing equipment happens or something similar.  Yet, they managed to turn the show around and fell into a “flow”.  Lesson there, clearly, is that one moment of failure isn’t failure.

Rhonda:

So, Echo and the Bunnymen.  I must have been the one person out of my group of friends who was not completely bowled over by this song. I don’t know what it was, I don’t know why…I just know that while everyone else was writing “Echo and the Bunnymen” on their Pee-Chee folders, I was still writing interlocking DD’s all over mine, along with a few Spandau Ballet’s, TFF’s and of course a bunch of DM’s. I suspect I just didn’t want to fall in line with my friends. And truthfully, The Killing Moon didn’t really speak to me (back then) in the same way as Blasphemous Rumors or The Hurting, and no – I really don’t know why. So when Ian McCulloch says it was the greatest song ever written…I’m sure my friends from high school would all agree, but I’d still be waving around The Hurting or Mad World and calling it genius.  I love the song now and I wish I had taken the time back then to really listen to the lyrics, but I was honestly more keen on Lips Like Sugar and Dancing Horses then, and more of a Killing Moon fan now. Funny how that works.

One thing that makes me a forever fan of this band?  One simple fact: Ian McCullough is easily as irritated by Bono as I.

Til next week – happy reading!!!

-A & R

Book Club: Mad World (Gary Numan, DD and New Order)

Welcome to week 2 of our little book club on the book, Mad World!  Last week, we discussed the foreword, introduction and the first artist, Adam and the Ants.  This week, we move on to the next three, which are Gary Numan, Duran Duran and New Order.  Like last week, both of us will give our thoughts and would love to hear yours!

Gary Numan:

Amanda’s response: This is definitely one of those chapters that really shed light on how this song was made, the story behind the song.  I knew that Gary Numan had a history in punk until he discovered the synthesizer in the studio.  Yet, even his decision to try it and redo his work to be more electronic seems very punk to me.  After all, one of the messages of punk was that you didn’t need to be a musician in order to form/join a band.  Anyone could do it!  Gary, obviously, took that idea to heart with using synthesizers.  I had to laugh that he would make up answers when asked about synthesizers by the press since he really didn’t know much about them!  I also appreciated learning that the song was written so quickly and on a bass, no less!  How funny is that considering that it is such an electronic song?!  In many ways, as was pointed out, he was lucky to have success with this song since it really didn’t fit the typical radio format, especially by being almost an instrumental and being about a road rage episode, of all things. The other part to the Gary Numan story caught my attention was the interaction with the record label when he shifted his songs from punk to more electronic punk.  I wasn’t surprised that the label wasn’t happy.  I had to laugh that they couldn’t afford to send him back to the studio so they had to go with that.  I suspect that things might be very different now with record labels.

Rhonda:  I read that Lori Majewski didn’t know much about Bowie in 1980…Ziggy Stardust could have been just about anything back then and it wouldn’t have made a difference to her.  I completely agree. I’m actually surprised I stumbled onto Duran Duran, given my own sphere of influence. (My parents were Elvis and The Beach Boys fans. It’s a miracle I heard anything else while growing up) So when I heard “Cars” on the radio – like Lori, it seemed really far-out there, and totally original. However, I can honestly say Gary Numan was never one of my favorites, although I do love this particular song. For me, “Cars” is synonymous with 1980.  

Like Amanda, I chuckle at the idea that his label wasn’t necessarily in favor of the new musical direction he chose (like at all!), but because the label had no money – they had to go with what he’d completed. I don’t know for sure what a label would do now, but I suspect the album would end up shelved…and a new producer would be “suggested” for them to work with. *coughs*  

One thing Gary says that I find both telling and interesting is that he comments …”suddenly you’re doing TV shows with people you’ve loved and admired for years, and now you’re one oft hem, but you don’t feel like you’re one of them – you feel like an intruder that snuck in the back door.”   I really liked that sentence, because I can imagine how weird that must feel to go from being a fan –like any of us — to suddenly being included with those people as a group.  I wonder how many other bands and artists out there recognize that feeling? 

According to Gary Numan, “Cars” took him 10 minutes to write the instrumentals, and another 20 to write the lyrics.  That’s working mighty fast. I know that sometimes, the very best writing I do is what just flows out. It’s not always that way of course, but when it is – it goes really fast.

The other point of interest is that “Cars” was written completely on a bass.  I would have never, ever guessed that. Here we are, reading about one of the most recognizable pieces of electronic music out there – and it wasn’t even written that way.  I must applaud that.

Lastly, his description of what the song means to him really spoke to me.  “I used to think that the car was a tank for the civilian. You could sit inside your car, lock your doors, and it would keep you safe. It puts you in a little protective bubble. You can maneuver through the world, but you don’t really have to engage.”  I think he was really visionary with the way he saw such a simple thing. Many might say that the vehicle just takes you from place to place, and perhaps that’s true…but it is very much how he describes it here. I live in Southern California, not terribly far from LA. We LOVE our cars here – many of us spend hours upon hours a day in them. I always found the idea of taking trains and buses to be strange (as I was growing up), because you’d be forced in such a small area with so many people you really didn’t know.  I’ve probably evolved a little bit since that early thinking – but my car is still my haven. It’s where I blast my music (when I can), and it’s where I do much of my thinking. I don’t have to engage there, which for me is like a vacation at times! 

Duran Duran:

Amanda’s reaction: Right away, during the introduction to this chapter, I find something that pops out at me.   The quote on page 35 that catches my attention, “They saw it as their duty to live out the lifestyle they depicted in their wildly overproduced videos.”  Duran is described on the same page as “bathed in decadence and debauchery”.  Hmm…  Were Duran’s videos overproduced?  Sure.  Did Duran seem to have a jet set lifestyle filled with “decadence and debauchery”?  Absolutely.  Did they see it as their “duty” to live like the videos showed them to live?  Duty is the word that sticks with me.  Duty represents to me an obligation, a requirement.  I’m not sure I agree that they thought this was their duty.  I’m not saying that they didn’t present a lifestyle, a fantasy.  I just don’t know that they thought it was their “duty” to do so.  I could see a means of promotion.  Of course, as I type this, I start laughing.  Here I am…criticizing one word just like people often do with this blog overlooking the entire point.  Moving on…

I thoroughly enjoyed Lori’s comments about how Duran chose her.  I could completely relate, especially when she said, “I have lived for them, lied for them and questioned my own sanity over them.”  Yes.  Yes, I most definitely relate.

I knew the history of the song, Girls on Film, and have even heard the demo featuring Andy Wickett, assuming the demo heard here is legitimate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76qS-tEJvZQ

I also knew that Simon wrote the song with exploitation of women and models in mind.  I like that he said how he wanted the song to be fun, but filled with substance.  Of course, there is some sexuality in there, too.  I think that is the thing that drew me to Duran—fun with substance.  It isn’t mindless.

I found it really interesting that John Taylor found himself self-conscious about his bass playing as time went on, resulting in what John described as his “playing practically disappearing”.  I love that Mark Ronson was the one  who could convince John to play like he used to.  I am thankful, for sure.  On a similar note, I found it interesting that Roger wanted to sound like Chad Smith, the drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers when he came back, but that John pointed out that he couldn’t play with Chad Smith.  This is fascinating in light of the news that Duran will be playing with the former guitarist of RHCP.

Rhonda: I love reading what the band thinks of their own music. I mean let’s face it: I have a blog and I will openly tell anyone what *I* think of their music on any given day: both good and bad; but the band doesn’t always have that same luxury. That said, I did laugh when I read John’s opening statement (in the book) about the band. While I would agree that the critics didn’t always know what to do with them – I can’t truly say it’s because the band was perfect. I think it was because the band was too damn pretty for critics to actually listen to the music and take the words seriously.  Perfect?  Probably not.

Simon says that he wanted the band to be edgy, not too soft – and fans know that whenever Simon is asked about lyrics, particularly lyrics from earlier in their career such as those from GOF, they are about sex.  Well, Simon doesn’t disappoint here, does he?  I’d never given some of the lines from this song much thought. I knew the song was about the modeling industry and much of it being the clichés that Nick describes, but it’s not a song I really mull over much – given the video and all, it seems pretty well cut and dried in that respect.  It wasn’t too terribly long ago that someone responded to one of our posts here – the subject of the post was the image of the band and how at times, that has put them in a very odd juxtaposition for their fans (and themselves).  The person who responded reminded me that the their branding, at least initially was basically sex. The band were branded as sex objects. (probably another reason why critics have had such an issue)  The teen magazines, the videos, even the songs and the explanation of lyrics at times have made them to be  unattainable, untouchable, sex objects. I suppose that worked, and probably backfired at times for them as well.  My “problem” as a fan is that I see so much more than that in the band. It was and is great hook I suppose, but just as Simon’s lyrics ALWAYS cry out to be understood beneath what you see on the surface, I feel the band themselves are very much the same. 

I’d also like to comment that just as Nick sees that the band is in their fourth decade as “absurd”…so do we. Where did that time go…and how is it that only now in my forties am I seriously writing a fan blog?!?  We can all be absurd together, Nick. 

New Order:

Amanda’s thoughts: I adore how Jonathan Bernstein described the song, Blue Monday.  The idea of it being a “black cloud hanging over the dance floor” is so very fitting to me.  In my younger days, I used to spend quite a bit of time dancing the night away in “goth” like clubs and this song would always come on.  It didn’t matter if it was retro night or not, it would get played.  As soon as the first note would start, I always wondered why the DJ would play something so upbeat sounding.  Yet, as soon as those lyrics started, I remembered.  It isn’t happy.  Not at all.  It is like misery decided to dance.

Again, this seems very fitting to me for a band that used to be Joy Division and sang songs like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” with a lead singer who died from suicide.  Then, the last piece of the puzzle to understanding this song is added when I read that this song was the band’s response to the negative criticism that they were receiving after Ian Curtis’s death.  Truly, it all makes sense now. I thought it was interesting when Peter Hook mentioned how people were either Joy Division fans OR New Order fans.  They were not both.  I haven’t found that, in my experience.  I would say that I’m a fan of both.  Granted, I choose to listen to one over the other, depending on my mood.  I wouldn’t choose to listen to them both at the same time or mix them up like I could with Duran Duran and Arcadia.

I found the relationship between Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook fascinating.  Clearly, these two did not see eye-to-eye and had both a personality conflict and a musical one as well.  Peter claimed that Bernard wanted to turn down the bass.  Yet, the claim that is made is that this conflict is what helped to produce quality music.  Hmm…this sounds a little familiar.  After all, Duranies know that there was always tension between guitar and keyboards in Duran.  Many of us might say that tension is what made those first few albums so great for Duran.  This leads me to wonder how many other bands have the same sort of tension.

Rhonda: As Peter Hook mentions – there are Joy Division fans and New Order fans.  I am truly a New Order fan.  I knew almost nothing about Joy Division except that Ian Curtis was originally in the group and committed suicide, a fact that seems to define the band(s), unfortunately. In my case, I knew about New Order and fell in love with “Bizarre Love Triangle” before I ever even knew who Ian Curtis was.  Sure, I was probably just very uninformed, but I also think it allowed me to just enjoy the music. No judgment. No pretenses. Freedom.  I never knew of the internal struggles. The grief, or lack thereof.  I didn’t know Bernard Sumner OR Peter Hook, and I think that in a lot of ways – the saying “Ignorance is bliss” probably applies, and I embrace that, because I just enjoy the music. Period.

I can’t even THINK about New Wave in the 80s without Blue Monday or Bizarre Love Triangle coming to mind. For me, these songs are part of the framework of ME, so I’m thankful they were included in this book.  

As I read through this chapter, admittedly I had difficulty keeping it all straight. Peter Hook calls New Order “New Odor” (which feels so incredibly sophomoric), and yet I get his frustration, so I don’t want to say he’s being immature. I think he describes where it all resides in his head and heart brilliantly.  “Because of the group that I loved and put 32 years into, I’m fighting them tooth and nail. This is a divorce.”  I think that as a fan, the only real thing I can focus on IS the music here.  Hook says it best when he talks about “the largeness of this thing we’ve created” and how it’s being ruined with the petty squabbles. On the outside, I can see that. If I were in the middle of it all though, I’d imagine I’d see it quite differently.  The only thing I can really do is love what they created, and think about the fact that nearly every band I’ve ever loved has had this crazy internal struggle—there’s got to be something to that, hasn’t there?

While we have absolutely no problem chatting amongst ourselves, we really hope that some of you will join in – many opinions are way better than just two! -A & R

Daily Duranie Book Club – Mad World (Foreword, Introduction, and Adam and the Ants)

Welcome to the first post of the book club on the book, Mad World!  As Rhonda mentioned last week, we will, generally, be discussing about 3 chapters a week.  I will give my thoughts and Rhonda will give hers.  Then, we hope that others will chime in with their thoughts!  Ideally, it would be great to get a good discussion going that lasts beyond the day of a book club post.  I love discussions like that as I learn more and see things differently from hearing points from other people.  This week, we will take it slow with the foreword, introduction and the first band, Adam and the Ants.

Foreward:

Amanda’s Take:

I suspect that the foreword might catch Duranies attention since it was written by some guy named Nick Rhodes.   As soon as I begin reading this, I’m reminded of how Duran Duran opened my world up to so many other bands, artists, genres, etc.  I was a little kid when I heard Duran for the first time and became a fan.  I knew VERY, VERY little about music.  My family wasn’t big into music.  I could tell you a lot more about visual artists or politicians than I could music.  Yet, my personality is such that when I get into something, I want to know everything.  I devour everything and anything I can find.  I was that way as a kid and I am that way as an adult.  Thus, I remember reading about Duran’s influences and wanting to check out each and every one.  I borrowed Chic’s album from the library, for example, as soon as I had heard of them.  I am so thankful for Duran for opening my eyes and EARS to so many artists, especially at a young age.  Perhaps, that very fact is why music came to be such a big deal for me.  Likewise, it seemed like music was a big deal for many of my peers, too.

Back in the early 1980s, it felt to me that everyone was listening to the same music.  We all were on the same page even if we had different favorites.  Every song was known by everyone or so it felt.  Nick mentioned about how music was important for his generation, too.  He captured what I have always felt by saying the following about music, “It was an important voice in our culture, a way for our generation to express its singularity.”  Exactly.  Music represented a generation.  For those of us who grew up in the 1980s, it was New Wave.  We all know the artists and songs.  Of course, we know some better than others or like some better than others, but it is something that unites people of my generation.  I love that Nick had the same experience, too.  I have to wonder if kids these days experience the same thing with SO many choices available at all times.

Nick dives a lot deeper in explaining how New Wave really came to be from the consequences of punk rock, the development of affordable technology, and more.  He described how New Wave developed differently in the UK and in the US.  I especially appreciated how he explained the influence of the times and current events on the formation of New Wave.  The UK of the 1970s, according to Nick, contained “political turbulence and social unrest.” As a student of social sciences, I have always believed that political happenings and current events have incredible influence on the cultural products of a place and time, especially with music.  I loved how Nick then described that bands either expressed darkness or light as a response to the state of the UK at that time.  Duran had a balance.  Ah, yes.  That idea really spoke to me.  People always claim Duran to be nothing but a feel good, optimistic, colorful band and I believe, at times, they are.  Yet, there have been moments and songs that are the exact opposite.  I love that they express the full range.

Nick goes on to describe the New Wave culture as being focused on standing out rather than fitting in.  I never really thought much about that, but I can definitely see that and like that.  Every artist or band seemed to have a slightly different sound and/or look, which isn’t the case with other genres or musical time periods, in my opinion.  I like that they did all strive to be unique.  It certainly made it more interesting and enjoyable.

Rhonda:

I highlighted a few sections of Nick’s foreword that seemed to jump out at me. 

Nick states that each of the bands in the book were “different reflections of similar views. Some chose to express the darkness, others looked towards the light”. This was exactly how I found New Wave to be — there was something for my every pubescent mood. Sometimes I needed Rio, and in others, I needed Blasphemous Rumours. I tend not to notice such wide differences in today’s music, and I’m not ignorant of the fact that much of this probably has to do with my age rather than the quality of music. As Curt Smith states much much later in this book  (I’m paraphrasing) – there was a lot of crap music to be found in the 80s. I certainly didn’t listen to top 40 radio with the same sort of enthusiasm that I might have had while listening to KROQ, that is for certain. I think that nowadays I have a much harder time finding “the good stuff”….and not nearly as much time as I need.  Anyone else?!? 

Nick talks a bit about reality TV and commercial radio — for me personally, these are dirty words. I can’t stand any of it (with the crazy exception for The Bachelor, because I am a melodramatic female at times, admittedly.) He comments about how these mediums have created opportunities for some and taken away from others, and that what is broadcast to the audience is more formulaic. I have to agree. I find that the “hits” of today seem to follow a fairly generic formula. Some may say that New Wave of the 80s has it’s own formula – and I’d agree. It’s called “Creativity”. Ultimately, Nick describes the public attention span as being incredibly short, and again – I have to agree. We have a thing for instantaneous gratification, and when you combine that with the near-endless array of choices available – no one sticks around for long. It really is a miracle that bands such as Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears are still around and care to participate. We thank them.

Introduction:

Amanda’s Thoughts:

The introduction is straight forward.  The authors not only define the term “New Wave” but describe why they chose it and the format of the book, which is helpful as we dive into each band/artist and song.

I found it useful that they took the time to explain the connection between punk and New Wave.  While I’m pretty familiar with the history between the two, it was good to be reminded.  The explanation of why artists went towards New Wave as opposed to punk was made clear by the list they provided, including the development of  MTV (as Duranies know!), the power of the British music press, Top of the Pops and more.

While the authors admit that the 1980s was a bit ridiculous, they also point out what was good about it.  The bands/artists were not manufactured and had tons of imagination and personality.  From my stand point, this is what made the era fun.  The ridiculousness wasn’t so evident to me as a kid.  Now, I see where the criticism comes from, but it doesn’t matter that much to me.  Perhaps, those fun memories of my childhood over shadow any negative.

Rhonda: I liked the introduction, but I tend to shy away from the characterization of the artists being ridiculous. Call the bands excessive at times. Ridiculous though?  I think this lends itself to some discussion if others care to chime in.  In hindsight do you agree that some of the music, videos, images, etc. from this time were ridiculous?

I guess I just don’t see their creativity in that same way. I see the desire to be individual during a period of time when the world still tried to set and keep firm boundaries. People were beginning to push the limits, escape the stranglehold of societal labels and explore the far-reaches of originality. I feel that the artists of this period – particularly those that were discussed in this book, were indeed following that trend. I see New Wave as a response to an angry Punk. Rather than just be screaming angry, artists use the music, the visual, the imagery to explore the emotion (Thank goodness for those London Art Schools), and art begins to entangle with emerging technology. To be fair, I don’t think the point of the authors was to necessarily say that yes, the music of this era was really beyond the seriousness of critics. Instead, I think they were saying to those critics, “Listen, you might not have liked this…but you really do need to give the music it’s just due. It is still around, and it is still continuing to inspire.”  

Adam and the Ants:

Amanda’s Points:

Adam and the Ants isn’t an artist I’m super familiar with.  I blame my age for that.  I was pretty young when they had their big hit here in the States (Goody Two Shoes in 1982).  That said, a number of things really grabbed my attention while reading this chapter.  First, the music press was a significant force in the UK.  I had always heard/read/known that from Duran history, but this confirms it.  I am completely intrigued that an artist like Siouxsie and the Banshees (similar style) was accepted by the UK music press but Adam and the Ants weren’t.  I wonder why that is.  I know that Siouxsie and the Banshees became well-known during the height of punk.  Could that be it?  Could the greater association to punk equal more respect?  No matter the reason that Adam and the Ants weren’t accepted, it certainly was significant as it influenced lyrics and even their image.  I suspect that this power of the British music press will be a theme throughout the book.

Second, I always knew that punk was a really, really big deal for all artists of this era.  Yet, I really got that after reading that Adam quit his first band, Bazooka Joe, after seeing the Sex Pistols in 1975.  By 1979, punk was still influencing.  This time, they wanted the opposite of punk, which led Adam to change the band.  I loved that he then combined influences from history (Napoleon), Native American culture and art history (Futurists).  Of course, this also mixed with Adam’s frustration of the record industry.  I knew that the look of the stripe was a combination of pirate and Native American.  What I didn’t know was that it was a “declaration of war” on the record industry.  Similarly, the song, “Kings of the Wild Frontier,” was about being held back by society whether due to race or class or whatever.

The last thing that really caught my attention was how they felt that punk eventually became conformist and boring.  I wonder if this criticism was a factor when Adam decided to take off the makeup.  Is this concern about becoming boring and conformist one for all artists of this era?  Could this be part of the reason that Duran is always so concerned with updating their sound and look?

On that note, next Monday, we will move along to discuss the next 3 chapters, which include Gary Numan, some band named Duran Duran and New Order.  Happy reading!

Rhonda:

One thing that I found throughout this entire book was that the chapter read much better as I listened to the song/artist in question.  As often as I might listen to music from this period, reading the book and contemplating the places from which many of the songs were written and how they’ve survived over the years allowed me to hear the music with nearly brand new ears. I’d encourage our readers to do the same – it creates a much more multi-dimensional experience!

I liked Adam and the Ants, and I loved Adam Ant. I have to admit that much of Adam’s music was among my first real foray into KROQ in the 80s. I can remember sitting at my friend Christy’s house back in about 1981(ish), just before I really got into Duran Duran.  We would whisper about his lyrics in her bedroom – because we dared not talk loudly about the things that Adam Ant made us think about – her parents would have flipped, because in all honesty, for us Adam WAS sex in 1981.  He seemed blatantly sexual, almost daring pretty young adolescents like us to think about what his songs were about (and I’ve come to decide that in most cases, we were wrong, but boy did we ever enjoy laughing and giggling as we listened). 

I found it fascinating that Adam used the Apache war stripe as his own personal declaration of war against the record industry. I found that to be an ongoing theme throughout this book, and I blame my surprise on my age at the time. Oh to be ten and not have a care in the world again….

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen Adam Ant live. He’s one artist from the 80s that I’ve kicked myself repeatedly for missing. That’s the trouble I find with many of these artists in the book – I haven’t seen them live. However, I’ve promised myself that I’m going to take the opportunity to see as many that are still touring as I can. No more waiting if I can help it. I’m happy to hear that Adam is still recording and touring, even if I missed my chance to see him here – and yes Adam, 16 years is still worth the wait, although I’m really hesitant to say that here on this blog….Duran Duran, I am looking at you.  

Looking forward to next week – please feel free to chime in with your own comments and discussion!!  

-A & R

Going crazy, wanna come along? Daily Duranie Book Club – Mad World

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Well, we’re not really going crazy…but we’re definitely taking a trip down the MAD side of things because for the next several weeks, Amanda and I are going to talk about Mad World each Monday here on the blog, and we’d love for you to come along for the ride!

Just as we’ve done in the past, we’re going to do this as a sort of book club where we take a chapter or three each week (which amounts to discussing a few bands) and talk about them.  We want to open this up to discussion – so if you want to follow along and participate, feel free to comment with your thoughts as we go along. We encourage that here!

This will begin next week on the blog – and we’ll do the first 3 chapters in the book.  This gives you some time if you haven’t gotten your copy of the book yet!!

-R

Careless Memories of a Mad World, LA style!

Yesterday afternoon, I packed up my Mad World book, picked up my own chauffeur from work (my husband!), some Daily Duranie wristbands (do you have yours yet?!?), my camera and made my way up to the Sunset Strip to one of my favorite bookstores: Book Soup!  My mission was to have my book signed by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein, authors of Mad World.  I’d never been to a book signing that had a DJ along for the ride, spinning tunes as we stood in line.  My husband Walt commented as we stood in line hearing Echo and The Bunnymen that it felt like we’d been propelled back in time to the early 80s. Observant, that husband of mine…. I loved the music, and yes, I did stay long enough to catch the familiar chords of Girls on Film flowing in the air.  But back to that signing…

Book Soup is not a huge bookstore. It is this fabulous, homey feeling bookstore in the heart of the Strip. Situated just up the street from the likes of the Key Club, Viper Room and The Whisky among others, it’s in an unlikely spot, which is very much part of it’s charm. It reminds me of the independent bookstores I’d find on the main street of Glendora or Covina – my home town(s).  Not only can one find books in Book Soup, but there’s vinyl as well – bonus!!

As I arrived last night and stepped into the store, there was no way you couldn’t be immediately swept away back to the 80’s. Kajagoogoo was playing, and no – I can’t listen to “Too Shy” without thinking of Nick Rhodes. I’m forever cursed. Thanks Nick. I wound my way to the line snaking around the perimeter of one side of the store, and as I stood in line, I dared myself to think back to what it was like listening to these songs in the 80s.  I was pretty young back then, and if I only knew where it all might lead me… (and if I could figure that out now, well, maybe I’d actually be making a decent living!!) I just remember a time when I could turn on the radio and song after song would carry me away from my teenage problems to a world of daydreams.  Nowadays I struggle to find a regular radio station that I can actually stand to listen to more than a song or two. The joys of aging, I suppose.

I looked up as I stood in line and caught the wandering eye of Lori Majewski,  as she glanced to see how far back the line began. She  waved. I started to wave back but then thought to myself, wait a minute. She couldn’t possibly recognize you, Rhonda. She doesn’t even KNOW you. Now you’re waving like an idiot. Awesome. So I looked around, only to find that no one else was looking up.  She was waving my way after all.  Great job, self-confidence.  *begin slow clap here*  I swear it was it was my own personal Ducky moment from Pretty in Pink.  (watch the end of the movie if you don’t know what I mean…and why on earth do you not know what I mean?!?)

As I recovered from that moment (there are just times when I’m glad the band ISN’T there, you know??), I saw Patty Palazzo walk past me – and so I did what any normal person might do any Duranie might do, I got out of line to go say hi! I’d never met Patty before, but I have exchanged emails a few times….and actually, we’d agreed to talk that night about setting up an interview for the blog!! (I’m so excited about this news that I might burst! No really. I just ate carrot cake. I might honestly burst.) I don’t know where my courage came from because I am really not this brave ever, but I walked up and said hello, and even dared to hug her.  *gasp* I don’t know WHERE that came from, because my friends – Rhonda is not a hugger. I like personal space. I am not touchy-feely.  But I hugged Patty last night, and I’m pretty sure I violated her personal space.  Maybe this is why I’ve never really gotten anywhere near the band…I’m a closet hugger!!! *gasp* This is really why I should never be allowed to go to events like this unattended. (meaning without Amanda) I even got Patty and a few new friends to wear our Daily Duranie wristbands! Amanda should be so proud…because I had those darn wristbands in my bag, and I kept thinking to myself: do I dare hand them out? Really? Should I? Will I look as super cool as I do right now if I hand them out?

(The answer is no. No Rhonda…you never looked super cool to begin with, so…you’re safe. Go with it.) So I did! Never mind that it took my darling husband three or four tries to get a decent photo…

wristbands

Before I knew it, we were up to the front and Jonathan Bernstein was doing everything possible to make sure I knew it was time to hand over my book. I was too mesmerized by the process to see that he was practically grabbing my book out of my hands. (so sorry!) The next thing I knew, I was being introduced to Lori Majewski by Patty, and we’d set up a time to get together for something I’m not going to talk about just yet…you’ll have to just watch this space! (Again, I’m really thinking I might burst. Remind me that carrot cake is never an acceptable breakfast substitute…)

photo

It’s blurry (sorry Jonathan…I hope your photographer was better than mine!)…but it is a very cool memory.  Admittedly I am fangirling just a bit over meeting Lori. Back in the day, before writing Mad World, before Teen People, she was the editor of a Duran fanzine. How cool is that?? I don’t know where in the hell I was back then, but I intend to ask her all about that…when we meet up for that thing I’m not going to talk about just yet!

If that weren’t enough, and it’s really not EVER enough (I believe there’s a John Taylor quote to be had somewhere in there), after I had my books signed I had the chance to run into Duranie friends.  I know that I’ve lamented here about how much I miss the band, and I do. Maybe that’s overly sentimental, but I miss seeing them play and I especially miss that sense of “one-ness” that we all feel with them when the show is going right. We’re all in that same place together feeling the same thing. It’s a remarkably cool feeling that I hope all fans get to experience at one time or another. However, it’s in moments like some that I had last night that I remember how much I miss my friends from afar. Friends from the UK, Europe, the midwest, east, northwest…southeast…I’ve been very lucky to have made real friends in a multitude of places, and last night I had just the smallest taste of getting to see some of them again. We don’t gather very often, and it was really nice to catch up with a few of them. Friendships are the one collective “thing” about being a Duranie I treasure most. Well, there is the music too…I mean, duh… (can’t really forget to mention the band, can I??), but I love seeing friends from all over.

The night ended relatively early for us, as we had to get back home, but it was really a great night and I’m glad I went to the signing. If you haven’t gotten your copy of Mad World yet, do yourself a favor and look for it on Amazon. I have read the entire thing once and am going back through it a second time.  Jonathan and Lori did a fantastic job interviewing all of the bands, and there is just so much information in there – things we never would have ever known about the music we grew up with.  It is genuinely worth the read.  You should see my book, I was telling Jonathan last night as we left that my book is all marked up, highlighted, red-lined, complete with notes in the margin!  (Note to self: next time, bring a book that is not already marked up with your notes in it…)

-R

 

 

 

It’s a very very MAD WORLD.

As promised, today I’m going to give a brief review (with no spoilers!!) of Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein’s new book, Mad World which is out today!

First of all (and most important), I want to disclose that Lori approached Amanda and I several months back about helping them out with promo for Mad World.  While the typical “Are you sure she meant to contact us? I mean…we’re just a couple of fans!!” were made between Amanda and I, we were (and are) extremely honored. I suppose we could act cool, calm, collected and professional and put off an air of “Well of course they’d want our help”…that’s not exactly our style. Amanda and I are simply fans. Like you. We began this blog from that very simple two word fact, and that’s how we’re going to continue, forevermore.  I should also disclose that I received a copy of the book early for review – and that has never happened before, so for us, this is a first, and we are completely honored by the opportunity.  Maybe that’s overreaching on our part, maybe we’ll be slammed for saying so; but for Amanda and I, the way we see it is that someone out there sees the good we’re doing, and we’re very, very proud of that.

However, that won’t stop me from bringing forth an objective review….just so we’re clear about how much I adore this book.

I don’t want to give a lot away about Mad World because I really want everyone to go get their own copy.  But, if you could see mine – you’d see it completely red-lined and highlighted. Yes, I still read as though I’m reading for a college course.  If you take away just one thing from my review – I want our readers to know that reading this book makes the songs sound new again.  Let me try to explain.  Let’s face it: these songs are around thirty years old now.  At one point or another, the songs started fading into the background. I might still listen to the music. I might (I do) still have nearly all of them included on my trusty mp3 player, but I don’t really hear them the way I once did.  I don’t pay attention to every last drum beat, or every single crescendo or synth loop.  I still love the music, but I don’t feel the music as much. It doesn’t completely consume me.  Or at least it didn’t before Mad World.  

Once I started reading though, that all changed. The book is basically divided into chapters that correspond with songs.  So for example there is a chapter called Girls on Film. I’m pretty sure you can guess what and who that’s all about.  Jonathan and Lori give their initial thoughts on the song (and band in a broad sense), then they include the interviews done with the band about that particular song – since this is an oral history. What I really like is the song is discussed in the original historical context – “How was it back in the 80s”, and then they have a section called “That was then, this is now”; and in that section the song is talked about from the present point of view.  So, I found myself listening to the song before reading the chapter, then reading the chapter, and going back to listen to the song again.  I couldn’t help but hear the song differently. It was as though my ears were reinvigorated!

This is not a book that I would critique based on writing style, or how much “dirt” was drummed up about the subject…although I feel that the bands involved seemed to be incredibly forthcoming and honest about their work, which is refreshing.   Of course the writing is good. and I love that Lori and Jonathan are true to themselves. When they are fans, they say so and own it rather than try to play the “We are completely professional and above it all” card.  Their commentaries are rooted in reality, and it is obvious that they enjoyed the work that went into the writing.  However, the real star(s) of the book are the interviews. I learned so much in reading, and it wasn’t the big picture stuff that resonated – it was the little things.  I could really get a sense of the emotionality that some of the artists interviewed continue to carry with them about songs that were written so long ago. I felt some of the heartbreak that others had when they looked back.  I could even hear the anger, despair, distain and even apathy of others for their fellow band members.  Those points in the book make the songs whole.  It’s as though now I’ve got the full story – the 360 degree view.

This isn’t a book that could have been written as successfully even ten years ago.  So many of these people needed to get past their own egos, whether they were overly trumped up, or completely deflated in the years gone by.  It has taken this long for many of them to simply come to terms with what took place, which is why I really believe the interviews worked so well.  In all honesty, I think that I needed to become an adult in order to fully treasure their stories.

Lori and Jonathan say that they wanted Mad World to be a fan friendly book. They have taken the route of going directly TO the fans to answer our questions, and get us involved. I have to give them kudos for doing so, because I believe the evidence is clear: it worked.

I am an 80s kid. I was born in November of 1970 and so when the year 1980 rolled around, I was 9 years old. My formative years were spent in the 80s, and when I think about the music I love, New Wave from 80s is the first to come to mind. It is a vital portion of my personal soundtrack, my playlist.  Mad World fills in the gaps, the things I pondered while laying on my not-quite-orange but also not-quite-brown shag bedroom carpet listening to my stereo and staring at my green walls peppered with pinups of Duran Duran when I was a kid.  Definitely worth the read.

Amanda and I plan to do more with Mad World in the coming weeks – so watch this space!

-R

To order your copy: Mad World 

Today in Duran History – Glasgow and a bit of Mad World

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

On today’s date in 2004, Duran Duran played the SECC in Glasgow.

Do you want to know what I remember about Glasgow, and the SECC in particular?  It was bloody FREEZING in there.  I remember sitting and waiting for a show in December of 2011, complete with my down ski parka on…continuing to shiver.  I don’t think I completely thawed out again until I touched down back in California, a day and a half later.  Naturally, that was in the month of December…and this show took place in April.  So there’s that, right?  Who was there in 2004??

Also, today is officially MAD WORLD day!  That’s right, the release of Mad World – the book that all New Wave 80s music lovers should have, hold and caress fondly (but never nostalgically….no. We can’t have that…because we, my friends…are not old. We’re not nostalgic. We just know good music.), has been released today!!  If you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy and you’re not waiting by your front door to tackle the mailman or UPS guy, I urge you to rectify the situation immediately and order it from Amazon!!  Why, you ask?  I’m reviewing it.  Later today.

In the meantime, check out the Reddit AMA with Lori & Jonathan: Mad World Reddit

Need a link to grab the book?  Fear not, my friends.  I’ve got you covered: Mad World.

-R