Category Archives: Music

Makes My Hair Stand Up On End

Synchronize but don’t comprehend

Lately, I’ve been stealing topics from Twitter. Shout-out to @BoysMakeNoise for drumming up such great discussion topics through his album surveys. (He’s also the brilliant mind from yesterday’s blog, and I failed to credit his genius directly!) They get me thinking, and that leads to writing.

The fact is, I have little to discussion in terms of actual “fandom” practices these days (give me time, because shows will be happening and I’m sure there will be much to discuss). So I’ve been going back through albums, listening and rethinking. Today is an Astronaut day.

What got me started on this particular album was a survey that @BoysMakeNoise posted on Twitter. It was a simple question – “What do you listen to more often?” The choices were Astronaut and All You Need Is Now.

All You Need is Now won by a virtual landslide, in case you were wondering.

Another moment I commit

The question itself is interesting because of its wording. He didn’t ask which album is preferred, just which one is listened to more often. Upon first thought, one might scoff and say it’s the same answer, but I’d challenge you to think again. For example, if you posed Notorious against Red Carpet Massacre and asked me – LATELY – I’d have to say RCM. I’ve been listening to that a lot lately for a number of reasons, but I still prefer Notorious!

So back to Astronaut. It was the first, and only album, for the fab five post reunion, and that alone caused me to listen to it non-stop for a long time. I knew every subtle nuance, every change in dynamics, and each drum fill. (probably just like anyone else reading!) However, after the Astronaut tour, I admittedly got tired of it. I put the album away, only to listen to a few songs here or there.

I’ve pulled Astronaut out every once in a while, and each time I do – I notice that I don’t need to hear it from start to finish. I tend to choose a few songs, skip around, and then I don’t need to hear it all again for a while. I can still remember how I felt when I first heard the album: mixtures of pride and excitement leveled with a teeny bit of disappointment that some of the demos I’d originally heard weren’t included or that songs were changed.

I’m addicted to the state you’re in

For a long time, I didn’t differentiate my excitement for being involved in the fan community, the joy of the band being back together, or even the elation of traveling to be with friends and go to shows, from the album itself. Those feelings were all entwined, tangled together, indecipherable from one another. Time has done it’s job, and I feel a bit less biased these days than I might have at the time it was released in 2004.

When I listen to Astronaut now, the album shows some age now. There are a few standout songs for me, like the title track, Sunrise, Chains, and even Still Breathing, but I find that a lot of the rest of the album is easy to leave behind. Unlike albums such as Paper Gods, or Rio, or even Seven and the Ragged Tiger, the songs don’t necessarily flow from one to the next. The theme of the album…if there is indeed one (I’d argue there is not), isn’t carried. There’s very little cohesion. Now, that’s not necessarily a fault of the band as much as it might have been the recording style of the day – I’m just glad that they’ve gone back to recording an album as though it is one complete story from the first song to the last.

Where it’s gonna end up, anybody knows

Oddly, these points don’t make Astronaut less endearing to me. I still love it because of what time it represents during the band’s history. I think there is much to love there – who would have thought in 1997 or 1998 that a brand new album from the original five members was just around the corner?? Instead, I find a great deal of satisfaction from being able to sit back and thoroughly examine Astronaut’s chapter in Duran Duran’s history.

I also think this discussion provides a great springboard into the topic of listening to complete albums versus playlists. Is there still merit to recording a full-album? I have to wonder how the band feels, as well as how fans feel about it in 2019…but that will have to wait for another day.

-R

I know what it is coming over ya

Get in the system

Alright friends, it is time to get real. True confession time! My confession for today is that I never fell in love with “Danceophobia”.

I’m waiting for all of you to get over your shock. It’s okay. Take your time. I can be patient.

As difficult as that might be to come to terms with, it is true. Danceophobia is not on my “most played” list, even after I heard that Dom had writing credit on the song. For several months after the first listen, I only had to hear the first opening chord and I’d hit “skip”. I just couldn’t force myself to cringe my way through it, so I didn’t. Eventually, I started listening to the complete album to get the full experience, rather than skipping around.

Trying to get to you

As the muted sound for Danceophobia would begin, discomfort would settle into the pit of my belly. I’d have to fight the urge to turn up the volume because the sound was muted (I’d already made that mistake several times prior, nearly having my eardrums explode before remembering Duran’s cute little “trick” with first muting and then bringing the volume back to normal). Then I’d force myself to plow my way through it, trying to find something likable about the song.

The more I listened to it, the more I realized that the music itself wasn’t the issue. The lyrics are cheeseball and pretty cringy, but I’ve heard worse and still bobbed my head in time to the beat without a problem. Truthfully, I didn’t mind the music at all. It’s catchy, in it’s own sticky-sweet, popcorn ball sort of way. So what was my problem?

Look around

I can remember when that fateful picture of Nick and Simon with Lindsay and her sister first graced the internet. I was appalled. Why on earth would Duran Duran pick Lindsay, of all people on the planet, to do the voiceover for “The Doctor”? It was so gross. I saw it as a fairly blatant, desperate attempt to stay in the news. (I’m sorry!!) People certainly talked about the picture – Lindsay herself posted it on Instagram, and for whatever reason – people still follow her like she’s some sort of god. For a few weeks, that picture seemed to be everywhere. I still screw up my face and make squinty eyes whenever I think about it. I just couldn’t understand why this band needed Lindsay of all people. Wasn’t there anyone else with a throaty voice who could pull off the part?!?

I doubled down on my dislike when Lindsay appeared with the band at the O2 in London, and wasn’t quite able to remember all the words…and again in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, when once again she was a little stumped. I just didn’t get the hype.

You don’t dance

I think that in the back of my mind, I knew there had to be a good reason why Duran Duran wanted Lindsay on that album, and I definitely wasn’t buying Simon’s story that they were friends and that she texted him asking to be on the album. It all seemed just a bit too contrived for me to believe. Maybe the band wanted to attract more male fans by having her appear. (Really though??) Was Lindsay really attracting THAT many more first time listeners? In my mind – she was a fairly washed-up American actress (I use that word lightly). Sure, she had followers. However, were they following because they really adored her? Or, were they following because they were voyeurs, wanting to witness the next time Lindsay fell down? I felt, and still feel, it’s the latter.

At some point, I gave up asking myself questions and just went with it. I couldn’t figure out their line of thinking, but I didn’t think I’d ever really get it. Until yesterday.

Sometimes, one has to take a step back away from a painting to really see the big picture. And other times, we need somebody else to point out the obvious. I needed both.

Am I getting through to you

During a friendly discussion about Paper Gods, the topic of Danceophobia came up. I immediately admitted that it was my least favorite on the album. I explained my feelings about the song, and didn’t think much of it until someone offered up a reason I’d never considered for Lindsay’s appearance.

“Maybe she’s supposed to make you cringe. The idea of her being a doctor is incredibly ironic”


Wait, did you just use my favorite word?? IRONY.

The fact that she hasn’t really been relevant or “cool” in over a decade was never lost on me….but did the band know that? Maybe so. I thought about how she still has so many followers, and yet I was convinced the majority of people were simply just there waiting for the next “show”. Even the way the song begins so uncomfortably quiet – like you’ve got to sit up and take notice that it’s different – began to make more sense. It was as though the possibility existed that the band was trying to use Lindsay as a perfect example of a Paper God, and I missed the entire point.  

I am your doctor

To say I’m a little embarrassed wouldn’t be wrong. I don’t know why I didn’t think about this angle before now. I kind of feel like I should have listened more in school….

Duran Duran is a thinking band. Amanda and I have talked about that at length, and we’ve written about it on this blog many times over the years. The messages, and even the laughs and jokes are always hidden. If you think the video to Is There Something I Should Know is really about the military, for instance; or that Rio really IS just about a river in North America…or even that the video for Falling Down is ONLY about models in rehab, you’ve missed out on 90% of the message, and nearly 100% of the bands humor.

It is the same reason I chuckle when people tell me that Simon only writes about sex…”because that’s what he’s said in interviews for years.” (True, when he is avoiding questions about what his lyrics are about….)

You may be experiencing feelings of confusion

So, the next time you listen to “Danceophobia”, think about the irony of someone like Lindsay Lohan being brought in – someone who has had worldwide gossip paper notoriety and has millions of followers, to be “The Doctor”. Yet she hasn’t really been relevant beyond the crosshairs of the public eye for a long time, and I have to think the band knew that. While I don’t believe they purposely set out to make fun of Lindsay – I do think they may see her celebrity as a great example of what the word “Paper God” really is. When I think about the song in those terms, it makes so much more sense, and I can completely understand its placement on the album.

Paper is thin, is fragile, and can be destroyed easily. What is newsprint one day, becomes trash the next. I can think of several celebrities who have faced similar fates over the years, Britney and Lindsay among them. The irony of having someone with that sort of background (earned or otherwise) as “the doctor” makes far more sense.

We can beat this thing

I hang my head in shame only because I should have seen that coming. I was off my game and they got me good.

Bring it, boys.

-R


A Silhouette Begins the Show

So, show of hands….how many of our readers are at home because of snow/cold days?!? I hear that Chicago is going to be colder than the Antarctic this week. Amanda has been telling me about forecasts that have Madison’s wind chill at -50 (Fahrenheit) or more. That’s ridiculous!! I hope everyone stays warm!

I apologize for the lateness of the blog. I used to have this routine down – I’d be up by 7, blogging by 8. Nowadays, I’m dragging myself out of bed at 8:30 and I’m hard pressed to get the blog finished by noon my time. It’s not a great routine yet, but I’m working on it.

A fog is lifting

I came upon something today that reminded me about Reportage. It was a picture of what was obviously a fan-made cover for the album, and it was in turn on the cover a book titled Bootlegs. I’d never seen a cover of any kind for the album until today. That said, as far as I’m aware, no copies exist outside of the hands of the band. Naturally though, this photo got a few of us talking.

It would seem that very few fans have heard Reportage. Most everyone else continues to speak of it as though it is this hidden treasure. To find it is akin with finding the Golden Ticket. I think the expectations of the album have likely been inflated beyond maximum pressure. Those that have listened are usually quick to downplay, and not much of real substance is explained beyond a perfunctory, “Yeah, it wasn’t bad. You could probably find it if you wanted.”

Could I find it? Really? More importantly – do I really want to find it?

In the shadows

These are questions I was asking myself this morning, as I chatted back and forth with friends on Twitter. There are real collectors in the Duraniverse. They are people I very much admire because they work hard to find that obscure poster from 1981 or a specific promo copy of “Hallucinating Elvis”. I have a great deal of respect for people like that, and I tend to learn a lot when speaking with them too. There is a vast amount of expertise to be gained from the collectors amongst us! Me? Nah. I don’t spend a lot of time hunting for albums in old vinyl shops (although I do pop in and check the “D” section from time to time), I don’t hunt online for posters on eBay. I don’t have all of the tour books, pins, or even t-shirts. I do like knowing that I’ve heard all of the variations of music, though.

When it comes to unreleased music though, I’m not sure how I feel. On one hand, I love hearing how Duran Duran went from Point A to Point B. Hearing demos is one way of audibly experiencing that journey. I enjoy having that understanding, because when it comes down to it – I’m still a musician at heart, and I dearly love being able to hear the progression of a song from reasonable beginning to completion. On the other hand though, as I said this morning, if the band wanted me/us to hear it – I would think they’d just let us have it. So to get it from some other means seems, well, not right.

Lit by scandal

As my friend said in reply – I’m no goody-goody here. It doesn’t seem right or fair to the band to get hold of something that they weren’t ready to put out themselves. It is, of course, very different if John or Nick said “Hey, why don’t you take a listen?” But to just leak an album and broadcast its existence wouldn’t be right. As we know, that hasn’t happened with Reportage anyway. I mean, at least not that I’m aware. In some ways I still wonder if I’m among the last remaining DD fans that hasn’t heard it.

I suppose I haven’t really hunted much for Reportage. Several years ago I did try to sniff it out online, but came up empty. After that, I kind of let it go, only to be reminded of its existence every now and again. I’ll think of it for a few minutes, and then I’m off again. I would have figured it would have been leaked by now and be commonplace. It would seem that this is one of the better-kept “secrets” in our fandom, at least from my perspective!

So while I suppose I’m still curious about what it sounded like, I’m also more interested in what the band is working on now, post-Paper Gods. Hearing Reportage now would be like looking back, when really all I want to do is keep moving ahead.

-R


Muse is Hungry LIke the Wolf

Give me a sign

Has anyone noticed that DDHQ has been promoting a cover of Hungry Like the Wolf performed by Muse lately? I did – and filed the information in my head for later.

Today was that day, my friends. I had to mentally prepare myself. I would not only be listening to Hungry Like the Wolf, but sitting through an actual cover of it. Doesn’t everyone do that???

In touch with the ground

In full disclosure, I’ve liked Muse for a long time. They’ve been on my radar since the soundtrack for the first Twilight was released with “Supermassive Black Hole”. (Yes, I did actually read the books and go to the movies with my oldest. I’m a mom. It’s what we do.) I was a little surprised they decided to do a cover of a Duran Duran song, much less HLTW. It seems to be one that many bands choose for their cover. I was curious to see what Muse would do with it.

Covers usually take one of two basic routes: either they are rearranged to the point where they are almost unrecognizable, or they hold true to the spirit of the original. Maybe they have a little flair here and there, but the spirit of the song holds on faithfully. I really wasn’t sure which way Muse would go. I figured it would be a little different, yet recognizable.

I’m on the hunt

Clearly, DDHQ has been promoting the song to some extent – so I wanted to hear what it had to offer! I sat down with my coffee this morning, and clicked play, hoping I wouldn’t be completely disappointed or put off. (one never knows!)

Here is the link if you want to see and hear it for yourself! Muse is Hungry Like the Wolf.

The first thing I can tell you is that Muse held true to Duran Duran. I don’t even know if they changed a single drum beat, which surprised me. Obviously, I could tell it was Muse playing the song, but I don’t think they took much in the way of poetic license with the arrangement or even the rhythm. It sounded like Muse playing Duran Duran, and while that was comforting, it was also strange.

I think that bands are in a no-win situation with covers much of the time. If they take too much liberty – fans will hate it because the original is what they fell in love with, or what they know. If they don’t take enough, then they’ve got yahoos like me saying “Hey, how come you didn’t get more creative with it?”

Straddle the line

In my own defense, I like to see a band choose a song that inspires them, and pushes them to do more with it. Take the song to a different level, or a different place. Explore the sound, create a new environment – that sort of thing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to hear HLTW sound like a ballad, but I want to hear them create something fresh.

In my opinion, the song was good. They didn’t perform it to make fun of it or to change it from pop to classical jazz. They wanted to perform in tribute to a band that they apparently respect and admire, and they were absolutely successful in doing so. I think Muse could have done more with it on a creative level, to be sure, but they chose not to – and I have to respect that because the song was performed incredibly well. Obviously they felt it is amazing as is, and you know, that speaks to Duran Duran’s own songwriting genius. I can’t argue with that!

Discord & Rhyme (my favorite line!!)

I did rather enjoy the end of it, as Matt Bellamy began to launch into a very familiar guitar riff/solo that Dom likes to do during the live shows…and I thought it was an interesting spin to have that part end the song rather than act as the bridge. So in that aspect, they did assert some creativity with the arrangement.

Overall, I enjoyed it, and I still say that “Hungry Like the Wolf” is indeed the song that will outlive all of us.

-R

Make Me Smile

I was in the car a couple of days ago, driving home from dropping off the youngest at school. Traffic was heavy, because it was raining.  I felt fairly brain dead and cold as I would tap the gas, then the brake pedal, over and over. The stereo was playing an endless conglomeration of Christmas tunes, and I was pretty weary of the whole episode. I reached over and switched radio stations, hoping for anything that might wake me up. The familiar backwards-piano sound from the beginning of Rio filled the car, and I immediately grinned. I went from dreary and drowsy to energized in less than a second, because of a single song. 

Rio is one of those songs that I can hear anywhere, and will almost always smile. I say almost because I don’t think I’ve heard it at a funeral yet. I’m not quite sure I’d smile if I did. Never know, but here’s hoping I don’t have to test that theory.  Not every Duran song has that superpower hidden within it’s tracks, at least, not for me.  For example, occasionally I’ll be out at a store and hear Ordinary World. While I will acknowledge it’s Duran Duran (I don’t actually stop people and tell them who it is – I’m not quite that far gone just yet), I might not break into a toothy grin. Though as far as “Rio”goes, that song has just the right magic.  I can feel the smile coming on, almost as a reflex. (Yes, really.)

(Although once again, I must reiterate I haven’t excitedly stopped anyone and said “That’s Duran Duran. I love them!! or “I know them!!” ….probably because I don’t know them.  BUT… I’m not going around shouting that I blog about them every day either. Yet. ) 

I know there are other songs in their catalog that wave a similar wand and cast the same spell on me. The list is rather lengthy when I think about it, which isn’t surprising. This IS my favorite band. I think the rather remarkable point is that like Rio, many of the songs I find myself smiling in response to aren’t necessarily at the top of my list of favorites. They’re unmistakably songs that my memory references as Duran Duran, of course – and typically they are ones that have great memories attached to them. 

For me, when I hear Rio, I think of touring and giant beach balls. The scene of the band kicking said balls in the general direction of the audience, while we attempt to aim them right back… oh wait…I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that. 

Never mind. Nothing else to see or read there…

I think of summer and sand, and seeing pictures of the band in Hawaii.  That moment at the end of the show comes to mind, too. It is when Dom, John and Roger are all watching one another, waiting for Roger to signal that his chops have had enough for one night and he’s about to end the wind-up at the very end of Rio. I think of seeing John, Roger, Nick, Simon, Dom, Simon W., Anna and Erin at the front of the stage waving. I’m back in my happy place. How could I not smile?

What about you? 

-R 

A Special Halloween Playlist

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Today is a “special” sort of Halloween. The kind where you still have school in the morning, a showing at your house in the afternoon, and no time to clean, much less get ready for trick or treating.

I realized this morning that I packed our candles. More specifically, I packed the tea-light candles I typically use for jack-o-lanterns. Those are packed along with the bucket I use for the trick-or-treat candy, our Halloween decorations, and the trick-or-treat pumpkin that my youngest normally uses for collecting her treats. They are in a storage unit approximately 3 hours from my house right now. God, I love moving…and even more so now that we’ve been “moving” for about six months.

Since I was thinking about Halloween, and showing my house later on…and since I also have a real sense of humor, I was considering putting together a special play list to have going softly in the background as people come to see the house today.

Yeah, I’m THAT type of seller. Hard to imagine my home still being on the market, huh?

Anyway, I want the playlist to be Duran-centric, for the most part. It can’t be too long because my house doesn’t take that long to see, but I’ll also use it tonight for the darling little trick-or-treaters as I’m sipping on some sort of apple-cinnamon type of drink. Hey, we ALL should get treats on Halloween, shouldn’t we?!?

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Night Boat (Yeah, I took DDHQ’s idea. Sue me.)

Out of My Mind

The Flame (Yes, it’s Arcadia. And??)

Tricked Out (I picked this because for some strange reason it reminds me of something Danny Elfman might compose, and he reminds me of Halloween. Yeah, I’m stretching. Again, sue me.)

Secret Oktober (come on now…of course this has to be on it!)

Chains (It has this haunting sort of feel to it that goes well for the occasion)

Red Carpet Massacre (the name alone works for me!)

Only in Dreams (can you pick a song just because it has the word “vampire” in it? I say you can.)

New Religion

Late Bar (legs and arms crawling through. Good enough for me!)

Election Day (Yeah, has nothing to do with Halloween but everything to do with what will come next. GO VOTE!)

The Universe Alone

 

There are plenty more that I could add..but what would you add to your own Halloween playlist? Give it a try and let me know!

Off to go get myself some candles….

Happy Halloween!

-R

 

 

 

 

John Taylor’s “All Love” Playlist!

Have you listened to JT’s “All Love” Playlist on Spotify yet?  No judgment if you haven’t, only encouragement. “Try it, you’ll like it!”

It took me a couple of weeks to finally hit “shuffle”, but I caught a tweet from Duran Duran saying he’d updated the play list and figured I’d give it a try. I don’t really know why it took me so long.  I suppose, if I were to be honest, I was a little apprehensive, and admittedly – I’m stuck in a rut.

I don’t spend a lot of time listening to music these days, and even less trying to find new music I enjoy. With at least two of my three kids here, along with my husband, it is never quiet. Someone always wants me for something, and I find that if I’ve got earbuds in, I’m constantly having to hit “pause” and pull them out anyway. As the years have dragged on, I’ve noticed I spend far less time listening to music. Whenever we’ve got something on in the background, it’s normally not a very recent release. I hang my head in shame. I think I get my best new music recommendations from my daughter Heather, because as a choreographer, she really does need to know what’s out there.

When did I have to actually start working at finding new music? it used to be so easy. I think the rut creeps up on so slowly, we don’t even notice. My kids call my music the “Oldies”, and that makes me cringe because, of course it is NOT. “It’s New Wave. NEW Wave, kids”, is my typical reply.

Yeah, I’m not buying it either, and wow I sound like an old person. EEK!

I’m at the point in my life where I care very little about someone’s image, and a whole lot more about their talent. It takes a lot to make me buy music these days, and not much out there seems worth my dime. So I fall back to what I know, because in the ten minutes I might have to actually listen to something throughout the day before I’m interrupted, I want to hear what I know I’m going to like. I hate the idea that I have to TRY to like something. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I’m not looking for instant “love”, I just don’t want to feel as though I’m having to find artistic merit within the sound of nails going down a chalkboard.

Yep, still sounding a lot more “Get off my lawn” than I’d like to admit, I’m afraid.

So, when I finally did hit “shuffle” on his playlist as I was cleaning downstairs, I decided I wouldn’t look at what was playing, or what was coming up. My job was simply to listen and enjoy. I won’t lie, occasionally I found myself rushing to my phone to click “next”. More often than not though, I liked what I heard. Sometimes, I liked it enough to go see who the artist was and make a note to check out more of their music! Not only that, but John’s playlist surprised me. He certainly didn’t bind himself to only one genre. I heard everything from Phillip Glass, who is arguably one of the finest composers of our time, to Kanye. Ariana Grande to MNDR and TOKiMONSTA. Bowie to Chic, and of course Duran Duran.  I heard plenty that I liked, and even more that I loved.  I shouldn’t be surprised, but I kind of am!

John isn’t afraid to challenge us to expand our musical horizons. I can appreciate that, and goodness knows I need the kick in the pants. I’m finding that it takes real work to stay wired in to what is relevant. I remember something that Nick said in a Katy Kafe a few years back, and it really stuck with me. He was talking about how difficult it really is to get music heard these days. He described it as the internet being this fat pipe of information, and so everything comes at us as though it’s a fire hose. It is difficult for any one thing to catch on and be noticed. I feel it. Spotify is so overwhelming with many choices. I rarely know where to start.

Over the years, John has fed me more than one new artist to check out that I’ve ended up really enjoying. From this playlist, I’ve discovered Charlotte Gainsbourg most notably, among a few others. She’s someone I probably should have known about and just didn’t. So while sure, a part of me is like “Soulja Boy?  Kanye?? Really??? Hard pass, John.” I know I need to at least try before I scoff too much. So I do, and now I’m glad I did.

Thank goodness John does his homework and is willing to share. I might be a slacker, but even I know what’s good for me!

Check out his “All Love” playlist on Spotify!  (Link is in the words)

-R

What is definitive Duran Duran?

Happy Wednesday! I’m sorry for my unexpected absence yesterday. We were having carpeting installed, and we had to disconnect the octopus of wires behind a desk. Unfortunately, that also disconnected our WiFi and disrupted our internet connection until it was far too late in the day for blogging.

I’m also late today, because of a meaningful, deep, philosophical discussion regarding the merits of the song “Drive By”.

Only a fellow Duran fan understands enough to talk about the space a specific song or album occupies. It is rare to find someone who understands and is able to relate such a song to the bigger picture is a gift.

The conversation was simply about why I believe “Drive By” is a definitive Duran Duran song of the Simon-Nick-John-Warren period. Actually, I think its one of the more definitive songs of their career. “Drive By” is definitive of their career during the mid-90s, but does it’s statement go even farther than that?

Let’s consider the period of time. John, Simon, Nick and Warren were defining themselves as another iteration of Duran Duran. This was an era of rediscovery, reinvention, and to some extent – forgetting who and what they once were (as a group). So “Drive By”, a deconstructed, even “now separated, once-conjoined twin” of “The Chauffeur”, is a spectacular example of this period of Duran’s career.

I can point to the cover of “Medazzaland” as another example, granted in a slightly different period. The graffiti-laden image of “Rio” weighs heavily in my mind. I often wonder if they weren’t really trying to bury that bright and glossy 80s magazine pin-up image of the fab five. Let’s face it, there was quite a bit to run from at that point. Maybe they were really over the idea of fans swarming their limos, even if by necessity. Perhaps they were anxious to be accepted as serious musicians. Maybe they were  over being the pin-up dreams of fresh-faced, dewy-eyed teenage girls?  Maybe they saw this new iteration of Duran Duran as being the “anti”1980s Duran Duran?  It isn’t difficult to imagine what they might have been thinking of when picking a cover for “Medazzaland”.

Rather than examining the song, or any one song, under the Duran Duran microscope, lately I’ve been thinking about the broader context. I’ve considered the changes in their sound over the years,  such as the rearranged, heavy jazz sounding brass and horn version of “Hungry Like the Wolf” or “Burning the Ground” – the remix to put a final period on 80s era Duran Duran.  I’ve pondered the more obvious, recent style changes, like the full, production-heavy pop sound on Astronaut compared to the deep urban groove of Red Carpet Massacre, or retro sounding All You Need is Now, along with Paper Gods.  Individually, each seeming to be a stroll down a different musical lane, but collectively – what do they really say about this band?

To some extent, I tend to believe the band has spent a great deal of time and energy running from what they (and critics) believed they were in 1984. We can say they’re not comfortable sitting upon their laurels, and we can claim that they are not easily satiated, creativity speaking, and I don’t think we’d be wrong. However,  I don’t think it hurts anyone to examine the deeper motivation of what might drive them.

Recently, during the BBC takeover night of DD television a couple of weeks back, John admitted that the critical comments from music journalists back in the day have bothered him up until very recently. This was not a surprise to me, other than being shocked at his utterance of the words out loud for all to hear. Amanda and I have been talking about that for years now – we’ve written about it many times on the blog, and I think we both cheered when we heard John say the words. Of course it bothered them. I get it! I very much appreciate his honesty and vulnerability. Accepting, and even respecting that one nugget of truth gave me such a different perspective on their career. It is like finally having the big picture come into focus. I just love them.

This is a band with an image based on the proverbial double-edged sword. On one side, they were incredibly successful because they appealed to teenage girls. They never said no to being the – poster boys of the 1980’s. In fact, they welcomed it, and we welcomed them! On the other side of that sword though, somewhere down deep, they secretly aspired to reach the recognition, acclaim and respect that comes from critics and other musicians. Screaming girls are wonderful, but perhaps having respect mattered too. Could we really blame them?

That isn’t to say the band’s career has been a giant folly, or that they were wrong to explore. Not in the least, and I want to be clear on that. In my mind, the fans are the ones who have made out the best on this deal. This band is still hungry. They are still in search of whatever is out there. With each new album comes a newly discovered Duran Duran. I just happen to believe the motivation to do so comes from something a bit more definitive.

-R

Duran Duran Playlist for Newbies!

Today, I’m writing from a Starbucks on State Street in Santa Barbara. I woke up at the unkind hour of 4am, and accompanied my husband Walt up here for the week. He’s working, and I’m…well…I’m not really sure. I’m looking around, trying to decide if I mind how compact and busy Santa Barbara is, or if I prefer to be farther north with more land and fewer people. (I am leaning towards the latter) For this morning though, I’ve made this Starbucks my mobile Daily Duranie office!

Last week, I participated in a fun survey, courtesy of GuyFansofDuran on Twitter (@BoysMakeNoise). The question was simple: If you had to create a comprehensive mix tape/playlist for someone who had never heard of Duran Duran, what songs would you pick?

In order to make it easy and give everyone a good starting point, he did one survey per album. All one needed to do was pick the song they felt best represented the album (or whatever song they wanted). At the very end, he did a survey to choose one B-side, and as a bonus track (there are ALWAYS bonus tracks!), we could write in an additional B-side.

The votes were counted, and after each survey ended, the results would be posted for discussion and fodder. More often than not, I wasn’t surprised by the result, but saddened that my choices never quite made it to the top. I didn’t start questioning my own choices and/or sanity until later in the week, beginning with the winner for The Wedding Album – “Femme Fatale”.

To be honest, I never even considered “Femme Fatale” as a possibility to win, particularly since it shares album space with “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone”. I narrowed my eyes a bit when I read the results, wondering if I’d either lost more of my vision that day, or that I’d woken up in an alternate universe. I even checked to make sure that Ordinary World and Come Undone were in fact included in the choices for the survey. I did not choose any of those songs, but I’ve been in the fan community long enough to know that many others would – and to think that neither of those songs won – well, that blew my mind. But hey, whatever, right? It’s all just for fun.

Similar things happened for Big Thing, and then again for Rio, to the point that @BoysMakeNoise decided to clear the results and try again. Apparently, either as an attempt at a joke…or to pad the ballot box, someone had figured out how to foil the system. My feeling is, if you’re going to make a joke – go full throttle! Don’t stop at “Femme Fatale”, go “Shotgun”!!  Make me crazy and pick “Can You Deal with It” off of Liberty. Then again, maybe you did.

Eventually, a mixtape did result from the redone surveys, and it was a fun experiment to see what the community came up with. The mixtape was put together on YouTube, and I have the link here. If you’re a Spotify fan though, here is YOUR link!  What do you think?  What would you choose??

-R

Rob Fincham of The Purple Lights in the studio with Nick & John!

Alright, music fans – have you ever heard of The Purple Lights?

In full disclosure, I had not. I really do try to keep myself up to date and educated. However, as it was once described—the internet is a super fat pipe, and I am but a single, very thin, straw. I miss a lot. I would need to make it my career in order to even have the time to begin scratching the surface. Sounds like a great job, but not one that I am meant to do, I’m afraid.

I am more than willing to be enlightened, particularly when said group tweets out a photo in the studio with Duran Duran. Off to the internet I go, in search of knowledge and hopefully a track or two! My first stop is Soundcloud, which has a few tracks. I tentatively hit play and prepare myself.

Here’s the thing: I’ve learned a few things about myself since beginning the blog nearly eight years ago. One of those things is that I tend to be the cynic between the two of us, and if someone is going to give a bad review—it’s probably going to be me. I’m blunt to a fault, and I sometimes react with a knee jerk rather than be contemplative. So, I’ve learned that sometimes, it really IS better to sleep on things (and maybe even a few times!!) before publishing. Imagine that! Live and learn.

Every time Duran announces studio time or collaboration with someone, I worry. Is the sound going to be something I can actually champion? In my position, it is very easy to fall victim to being so overly critical that it does zero good for anyone. Overthinking, judgmental…maybe even a bit unfair at times. I’ve done it all and then some. It’s fine to have an opinion, and it is fine not to like all of the choices, but by the same token, I need to give it all a chance and not react before I think. Easier said than done.

So I listen to the first song on Soundcloud. “Not Alone”. The music is great. It’s got a real groove to it, which isn’t too surprising since they call their brand of music, “Groove Rock”.  I hear everything from pop, heavy or even acid rock to reggae influencing their music, and I like it.   I can’t wrap my head completely around who The Purple Lights remind me of, but they definitely remind me of something I’ve heard before. Maybe a bit of Hot Hot Heat?  Interestingly enough, I also hear a bit of early Killers in there somewhere too. I like it. Modern, but approachable, and the music is outstanding. Musicianship matters!! I’m definitely on board with this.

Of course, we have no idea why Rob from The Purple Lights was in the studio with Nick and John. Could it have been about the musical? New album? Something else?? We never know for sure. We also never quite know if it’s going to go anywhere. It’s the joy of the process, right??

No matter, it’s beginning of what is sure to be a year or more of pictures or inexplicable pictures being tweeted that include people I’ve never heard of in them. I’ll I scratch my head in wonder, and head to my trusty Google search bar. It’s the one thing I can count on for sure from Duran Duran—with every single album, I learn something new. I can appreciate their drive to expose themselves (and in turn, their fans) to new musical direction.

Nick with Rob (The Purple Lights) Fincham and John, courtesy @ThePurpleLights Twitter

 

Can’t wait to see where this goes!

-R