Category Archives: Music

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

Personal Jesus 2011 by M.A.N.

In my quest to find something worthy of blogging about today, I stumbled across something by chance that I’d forgotten about. Did you know that “Personal Jesus 2011” by Depeche Mode was released on YESTERDAYS date (in 2011, of course!) featuring production remix by none other than Nick Rhodes?

Forgive me, but I don’t even remember this happening. I’m sure I must have heard about it at some point, but now I’m driven to find a copy somewhere. I researched it online, just in case I was mistaken.  This is an EU 5-track pressing of the 2011 remix version of Personal Jesus. Nick, along with a certain Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt (they call themselves M.A.N.) produced one of the remixes of the track.

With that info in hand, I moved on to YouTube, and luckily – I was able to find it. (I’m convinced I can find just about anything on YouTube!!)

I’m not going to review it after only one or two listens (been there, done that….learned my lesson EXTREMELY well, thanks.), but I will say that I had absolutely no trouble recognizing the obvious influences, and I liked it. Very much. I loved the way they put their own stamp onto the song without changing the spirit of the music.

Ok, I can’t even follow my own rules. Never mind. Here’s the link. Check it out for yourself. I dare ya not to buy it if you don’t already have it, and shame on me for missing out the first time!

 

One more note: here is a very good reason why we do the day in history. We learn, and maybe…you learn a little sometimes too.

I’m off to work. It’s my very last day. I’m sad to say goodbye to the kids and my coworkers, but I’m also super excited to be done for now.  I’m hoping to focus on getting this house packed up, and spend some time up in the area we’re hoping to move. I’d also like to do some writing and reworking of this website during the fall and winter. Time is short, gotta run!

-R

The Next Line: Should a band move on?

Duran Duran is my most favorite band. But there are other bands I also love and adore, and like more than a few Duranies out there – Spandau Ballet is on that list.

Up until a few years ago, I’d never seen Spandau live. I’d always wanted to, but timing (I grew up just a couple of years too late), and their own break-up made that pretty impossible until 2015. But the wait was worth it. I didn’t go all-out for tickets in the same way many of my friends did, traveling all over the country to see them, but I did see them a few times that year. And each time I saw them, the show seemed tighter, the band seemed more on fire, and I was thoroughly convinced that it wouldn’t be the last I’d see of them onstage together.

The end of the tour arrived, and not terribly long after, Spandau announced that Tony Hadley, their lead singer, would not return. He had his own plans for a solo career, and he was apparently satisfied with what he’d accomplished with Spandau Ballet. All good things must come to an end; out with the old, in with the new, and so on, right?

But what about the band? Many long time Spandau fans felt like Tony’s departure meant the band should also come to an end. I can’t tell you how many times I read that Tony’s voice is what made the band Spandau Ballet.

Actually, yes I can give an approximation of how many times I read that – just imagine the same happening in Duran Duran, and you’ll know exactly how often it’s been written.

I understand where those fans are coming from. There’s no denying that Tony’s voice is important to the sound we recognize as Spandau Ballet. If it were Simon and Duran Duran we were talking about, the very same could be said, and we’d all nod our heads in agreement. Yes, I’d also argue that the guitar, drums, bass and even sax are important parts, but the voice is the voice.

But there is another side to this story, and that’s of the band. Those other guys. There are many who feel like they’re worthy of some importance. I am firmly in that camp, whether we are talking about Spandau, or even Duran Duran. (yes, I said it) Is it fair for one person to call the shots for the entire group? Is it right that one individual decides the destiny for everyone else? Spandau vowed that this wouldn’t break them, and that they would return.  While I knew that in the moment they probably did mean every last word – I wasn’t so sure The Next Line would actually come to them . It’s one thing to be indignant and insist a group can move on, it’s another to actually do it.  I was supportive, but silently doubtful.  Let’s just say I was thankful I saw them live when I did, just in case.

All was fairly quiet until yesterday, when a curious email hit my inbox. Spandau Ballet sent an email….and yes my friends, they are about to write The Next Line. I silently cheered at my desk. They have a new, yet to be announced lead singer, and they are not only announcing their return, they’re playing a show in London at the Subterania on June 6th. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10am GMT. They will sell out in a flash, and I desperately wish I could be there.

As any fan might, I wanted to see the reaction from social media. That’s the difference between today and thirty or even forty years ago – within a couple of clicks I can see fan reaction. Suffice to say, all was not well. There were fans, like myself, who were excited to see the band go on. However, many were not. Some say that because Tony has left, Spandau Ballet as we’ve all come to know it, no longer exists. Rename, reframe, and move on if they care to do so, but using the same name isn’t right. Many others think that no matter what the band does, it won’t be the same and that they should just quit.  Apparently for those people, Tony was the band.

I don’t know what Spandau will sound like. I’m assuming it will be very different with someone else at the microphone. Even in the case of Duran Duran – band members have changed, but Simon has always been the singer – changes still come with every album.  Some, I’ve loved, others, I have not. There’s no argument from me that a new lead singer will take getting used to, only that I really believe  they have the right to try.

As for the name of the band, that’s a legal thing, worked out amongst the members.  Tony continues to have Spandau Ballet songs in his set, although they’ve been totally rearranged so that the highlight is completely and totally on his voice. He doesn’t tour as Tony Hadley, ex-Spandau Ballet or whatever-you-will, he just tours as himself with a backing band. I think it’s bizarre (and not entirely successful, in my own opinion) to hear Tony singing, but to have other people playing a different arrangement of the songs I grew up with. He’s covering Spandau, so to speak. I think it sounds a little weird, but it is his right to move on.

Can you imagine if it were Duran Duran?  Spandau Ballet fans are easily as ardent as Duran fans. They are certainly as opinionated, and possibly as stubborn. I cringe and shudder to think what might be said if Simon were to go it alone and leave the band. I’m sure many are saying that the band would hang it up. Maybe they would. It is certainly their right to do so. But it would also be their right to try.  Wouldn’t we owe it to them, at least in some sense, to applaud their strength and fortitude to have a go at it?  We might not like it (but hell, as I said above, there have been entire albums I haven’t necessarily loved and yet I survived!), but I still applaud their willingness to keep going. That’s the creative process at work.

As a fan, it is difficult to see past the emotionality, but we should try. The band name brings out certain feelings and memories. To the band themselves – it’s more than that. In the eyes of the courts, Spandau Ballet is a partnership, a legal entity. The business is entwined with the time and energy spent together.  In the midst of the drama, I suspect the arrangements and legalities become more about the pieces of paper indicating who is entitled to what and so forth moving forward, than history and emotions. Someone said that dissolving a band partnership is like a divorce, and I don’t doubt that. In this case, the vocalist starts over, single and free with a solo career, the band keeps the name and marries a new lead singer. Fans are caught in the middle, just like the children. We’re pissed that our family name is continuing to be used by someone we don’t even know or recognize. It’s hard.

Ultimately, Spandau is trying to move on. I can’t blame them.  I wish them nothing but success. I suspect it must really be difficult to be in their shoes right now, and I applaud their bravery. I wish fans would think about that a little more before being so quick to tell them to hang it up. For us, it’s about music we love. For the band, it’s their career.  Why shouldn’t they keep trying? I’m going to keep cheering them on, even though I would love to be there in person to witness The Next Line at that first London show.

Here’s to possibilities and not giving up! Cheers!

-R

 

Its Time to Take the Pressure Off

This morning, Duran Duran asked what one song energizes and gets fans going.  I stopped and thought a bit. I think this question might have been far too difficult for a Monday morning, at least for me.

Possibilities abound. I think first to the live shows. Should I choose “[Reach up for the] Sunrise”, because at every show when it’s played I feel as though I’ve caught a second wind? What about “Careless Memories”? Although they’ve neglected it lately, when that song starts, it feels like a train – you either get on board with it or get run over. I love it! How about “All You Need is Now”? I adore that song, but does it really energize me or just send me back in time? “Pressure Off” is pretty darn good too – I mean, that tune just keeps me in the moment, and sometimes, that is exactly what I need. Then of course there’s “Rio”. How can I not dance to that?  It reminds me of sun, sand, and everything I love about the beach and summer. I can’t forget “Hungry Like the Wolf”. When I’m in that audience and I hear the first chords, I know what is going to happen next. John and Dom are going to come front and center, and I’m going to dance (and sing) whether I like it or not. Does it make me move? Um, yeah it does!

I also think about here at home. What do I put on when I’m cleaning, or more likely these days, packing? “Is there Something I Should Know” gets my happy feet moving. It is my favorite song for a reason. “Late Bar” is another, although I tend to sing that one at the top of my lungs, which is not necessarily quite as welcomed by my family as one might think!  I’ll even put on “Big Thing”, or “Red Carpet Massacre” from time to time, just to get myself up and going. I am not an energizer bunny – I need something!

Then there is the car. I leave for work just before 7 am, and I don’t know about the rest of you out there,  but I’d love my job a lot more if it started at like, 10 am! I’m up by no later than 5:30, and although I’m awake for my drive, sometimes I need more than just my trusty travel mug of coffee to get me in good spirits for the day. No, I’m not talking about adding vodka to it!! (although there are days…and then there are DAYS…) I’ll start to see my youngest nearly curling up in a fetal position for the drive, and I know I’d better get some tunes on the stereo.

When I think about it, there is at least one song on every single album that is my go-to shot for energizing. “Friends of Mine”, “Rio”,  “New Moon on Monday”, “Notorious”, “Big Thing”, “Violence of Summer”, “All Along the Water”, “Too Much Information”, “White Lines”, “Big Bang Generation”,  “Electric Barbarella”, “Last Day on Earth”, “Sunrise”,  “Red Carpet Massacre”, “All You Need is Now”, “Other Peoples Lives”, “Pressure Off”, “Last Night in the City” and yes, even “Danceophobia” (we all have our weak moments!!)—it is a playlist to wake me up, keep me going, and make me smile, even during the times when I’d rather just curl up somewhere and cry.

I guess the real question is what I listen to first, and given that the playlist I just compiled won’t quite fit into a tweet, I must choose one. So for today, I’ve got to go with “Pressure Off”. When I think back on the past few years – it is the song I listen to most often, and it  works exactly as I think Simon and the band intended. It reminds me to breathe. I’ve needed that a lot lately, along with something to energize me! I’m off to do more packing, and just GUESS what song I’m putting on first!?

-R

Can’t We Just Love Them All?

I touched on the whole guitarist debate yesterday, and I realized I had something else to write.

Why does it really matter? What is it about Andy, Warren and now Dom that makes all of us feel the need to debate their worthiness?

Let’s face it, Andy was with the band during much of their climb to the top. He helped write many of the songs we continue to hear on the radio, and in their live shows. There’s no denying any of that, and I don’t think anyone is trying to rewrite that history. However, there’s also no debate that Andy has left the band at this point. He did his job, and from everything that I can see, it would appear that he’s happy to remain outside of Duran Duran.

On the other hand, Warren took up where Andy left off.  While Andy was chasing a solo career, Warren made himself available and willing. He wrote a lot of the music that many love most, and at least two of the songs that are still played most on the radio. No one is trying to rewrite THAT history, either. However he too is no longer in the band at this point, regardless of how that happened.

Lastly, there is Dom, who is not a band member in the same respect as the other two. He began as a studio musician, a hired “gun”, so to speak, standing in for Andy while he was sick. Then again as Andy was away due to his father’s death, and carried on after he quit. He has been given writing credit on a few of the band’s albums in the years since, and while many have settled in with his presence onstage, still others choose to ignore what they cannot accept.

After a lot of needless, useless time spent defending Dom over the years – he doesn’t need defending – I realized that it doesn’t matter.

IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER  (although sometimes I still forget)

Andy and Warren are ex-bandmembers. They no longer play with Duran Duran, no matter how amazing they were. There’s no debate there, even though I know that some fans are intent on having one.   Even if Dom weren’t with the band, it would still be someone else other than Andy or Warren playing guitar, and we would still be hearing that they aren’t as good as <fill in the blank here for whatever the reason>.

It is a pretty unfair battle when you think about it. Can’t we just love them all?

-R

 

Quicksand featuring John Taylor, 2016

From the “Another Something I Didn’t Know ” file…

On this date in 2016, Jilann O’Neill released Not Alone, an album of Bowie-esque tunes with Mike Garson, and co-produced by John Taylor.

On this album is a little song called “Quicksand” that features John Taylor…and he’s singing, both as a duet AND alone.

Cue shocked face.

 

Yep, that’s the one.

Now, I’m not shocked that John Taylor can sing. It is just rare to hear him singing, generally speaking. I mean, I have his solo music, it isn’t as though he never does it…but in Duran Duran, it’s not all that often that we get to hear him, that’s all.  (this is code for: don’t send me hate mail)

Here’s a link to a YouTube audio of the song, in case like me, you haven’t heard it or don’t already own it.

The song is beautifully simple and organic, and vocals are intriguingly raw, which gives the song even more depth. I really liked it, particularly because it is 100% different from anything I’ve heard from John before. Huge thumbs up from me, and I feel kind of bad that I hadn’t listened to it before. (Although as I type that, I’m wondering if maybe I did hear it and just forgot. I’m going to have to take a walk back through our blogs in 2016!)

So your homework for today is to go check out the album Not Alone, by Jilann O’Neill. Google it and give it a good listen! If you haven’t heard it before, its new music for you!

-R

Feel the New Day: What’s your theme song?

Every once in a while, Duran Duran puts out a question on social media that makes me think. This morning, as I was quickly scanning through Twitter, I saw a tweet from them asking about personal theme songs.

That tweet made me stop and think a little. My knee jerk reaction was to go with a favorite song, but those favorites aren’t necessarily theme songs—they’re just songs I like. For example, my very favorite DD song is still “Is there Something I Should Know”, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that song SPOKE for me in that way, exactly. I just fell in love with it from the first listen and it’s stuck with me. By the same token, I’ve had a few songs become sentimental favorites along the way because they came out at particular points in my life, and perfectly described how I was feeling or what I was going through in those moments. “Finest Hour”, and “Red Carpet Massacre” are two songs that come immediately to mind.

When “Finest Hour” came out on Astronaut, I immediately took the song to heart because it was describing exactly how I felt at the time in my private life. I was also rediscovering who I really was as a Duran fan, and to some extent, I was learning about myself as well. The song really kind of epitomized that moment for me.

“Red Carpet Massacre”, the title song from the album of the same name, was released in probably my darkest time. I’ve written about my feelings about the album and even what I was going through personally, but the more I listened to this song, the more I felt that it described the nature of this fan community at times. The album came out during a time when I was just really starting to see the cutthroat nature of fans, and so at the time, the song really did become a sort of theme!

In the years since, I’ve had moments where various songs have become my sort of personal theme. “Late Bar”, “Secret October”, and even “Rio” have all taken their turn as my theme of the moment or day.  Right now though, I feel as though “Sunrise” describes it best for me. I’m looking for that new day to come. I have the sense that life is about to take a turn for my family, and I’m waiting to see how that’s going to play out. I’m trying to see it all as positive rather than dwell on the negative part, because hopefully that will be short-lived (Which is that my husband is currently sitting in my son’s room, which he’s converted into his temporary office space, looking for a new job).

So, what’s your theme song?

-R

What is the function of a single in 2018?

My “Day in Duran History” desk calendar reminds me that on this day in 2011, BB2 announced that “Girl Panic” was the next single off of All You Need is Now.

Although I am the first to admit my memory isn’t what it used to be, I do remember hearing that “Girl Panic” would be the next single. I found that fascinating because up until that point, I hadn’t heard “All You Need is Now” more than a couple of times on the radio, if at all. I didn’t really understand the point of naming a single, unless of course we were talking about the physical release of a single – like on a 45. Sure, I’m dating myself here, but I really didn’t see the point, particularly if land-based radio wasn’t going to play anything the band released anyway.  I did buy the vinyl single, and like everyone else I waited on pins and needles for the video. But beyond that, I never quite got the necessity of the single.

My questions about singles lingered on through the release of Paper Gods, although on second thought I wonder if it’s simply that I have the wrong expectations in my head for what a “single” really means. Take “Pressure Off” for example. I never once heard the song played on any of the radio stations in Southern California. Not once. I didn’t hear about it being played anywhere, either. I don’t remember any kind of physical release, CD, vinyl, or otherwise for it…so what’s the point?

On the other hand, I know LA radio pretty well. In this market, there really isn’t a station that plays a genre that lends itself to recent Duran Duran. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard “Rio”, “Girls on Film”, “Ordinary World”, “Come Undone” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” on at least three, if not four stations in my area. It is rare that I can get into my car and drive the whole way home from work (45 minutes on a bad day) without hearing one of the above songs played. That said, as far as LA radio is concerned, Duran Duran hasn’t released even one song since 1993.  I’m pretty sure I don’t need to go into a full diatribe on that kind of stupidity, so I won’t.

I do have to ask though – what is the point behind putting out a single these days? Is it beneficial for Spotify? For subscription services like Sirius XM? What about internet radio? Does a band really need to release singles? I suppose that leads me to the question of an album, too. Are albums still necessary?

I know that recently Nick suggested that perhaps the studio time the band has casually thrown around in mention during their Katy Kafe wouldn’t necessarily lead to a full album. He’s said similar things in the past. I can’t say I’ve liked the idea enough to shout from the rooftops about it. I’m a big fan of full albums, myself. I like the idea of a complete story being told through music. I hate the idea of losing that format.

Are albums really any more necessary today than singles? I’m not sure.  Let’s not confuse this with whether we want more albums and singles. Rather, let’s consider their necessity and usefulness in this current business model and market.

-R

 

 

“What Did I…” (Feat. Dom Brown): Authentically Michael Kratz!

Amanda and I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful fellow fans, and people we would have likely never crossed paths with otherwise. Recently, another such moment occurred when Amanda texted me while I was camping in the middle of a forest in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington (shout out for wi-fi!), letting me know that Dom was a featured guitar player for a new song by someone named Michael Kratz out of Denmark. I diligently downloaded the song when I got home, and enjoyed the slight flashback to the 80s in the process. I blogged about it, and assumed that would be the end of the story, right?

Wrong.

A few weeks later, I got an email from Michael himself, thanking me for writing about it, and offering me the chance to get an early copy of another unreleased song that also features Dom.

First of all, I have to tell you that Michael is the real deal. He’s a very nice guy, with a fantastic career to boot. I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of him prior to August of this year, but like most other things in life—the more you know, the more you recognize you really don’t know.  Secondly, Michael Kratz is a Duranie. Who knew?!? (turns out, a lot of Duran fans did. I’m just a bit late to the party, as usual!)  I promptly asked Michael if he’d be willing to do a short Q&A for me since I know next to nothing about him, to which he agreed, and it wasn’t long after that I had new music and a Q&A in my inbox greeting me.

If I had to sum up Michael in one word,  it would be “authentic”. He is genuine in every sense, including his approach to music, which he describes as “old school”.  His sound gives a loud shout out to the 1980’s, and Michael embraces this.

“I think my sound is pretty old-school. After many years in the music business I figured out, that I must be honest to myself and my roots. I have released several albums with different bands, but it was difficult for me to relate to the way the music was produced.”

He likes to call his brand of music West Coast, and if you think back to bands like Toto, Michael McDonald, Richard Marx, Marc Jordan…and I’d even add a bit of Cutting Crew to that list…his music fits in very well in that lineup.  Rather than try to be something he’s not, he found a producer, namely Kasper Viinburg (and his father Ole Viinburg) who understood and appreciated the sound he was trying to attain. I think any of us who have been around for the entire evolution of Duran Duran recognize how difficult it can be to find a producer that is equal parts of push and pull (pushing to reach new levels, pulling the authentic, real sound out).

Having grown up on the west coast, I certainly heard a lot of that music on the radio.  If you take a look at my iTunes, you’ll see quite a bit of that in my library as evidence. It isn’t a stretch for me to listen to “What Did I…”.  As I listen to the opening notes, I can’t help  but think of Richard Marx, in the same way that I thought of Toto or Michael McDonald when I heard “Never Take Us Alive”.  While sure, the sound isn’t necessarily pulse-pounding, state-of-the-art EDM, it is clear, authentic, and real, which I appreciate.  Dom’s guitar gives the melody a modern edge without completely blowing the song out of the water. There’s something to be said in this day and age for music that holds true to the roots of the writer while seeking to be contemporary. “What Did I…” hits all of those notes. A little something more I picked up on after listening several times— Dom’s blues influence is evident. I challenge anyone to give this a listen, and then take “Please, Please” from Dom’s Blue to Brown for a spin. The similarities are there for the taking.

Overall, I’m thrilled to help out a fellow Duranie. There’s a part of me that finds a certain poetic justice in the fact that once again, it’s Duran Duran’s music that brings people together. I may have never heard of Michael had Dom never recorded with him. Yet here I am, writing about how like many of us, Michael recorded Sing Blue Silver from TV back in 1985, and he rewound and played “Save a Prayer” over and over again because he loved the song so much. Who hasn’t done that with their own favorite song or band member?  Michael has also had the chance to see the band quite a bit over the years, although because he’s a musician in his own right, he’s missed opportunities. Michael cites a story that only seems familiar to me because my overall luck has been similar.

“Back in 2008 when DD played in Odense (DK), I was playing in a venue right next to the stage. I got to see the support act (Saybia) and 10 minutes before DD should enter the stage I had to leave for my own soundcheck. So while tuning my drums I could hear the band’s starter, The Valley, and I couldn’t go out to see them. That was a bad day!”

While we’re on common ground as far as being fans goes, I can’t say I’ve ever missed a DD concert because a gig of my own was happening at the same time! Then there’s meeting and recording with a fellow musician who just happens to tour with Duran Duran…

“I just wrote him [Dom Brown] an email one Sunday afternoon.  I sent him some tracks and we talked about styles etc. and agreed to meet in October last year. My producer and I stayed with Dom at his studio for two days and we did two songs (“Never Take Us Alive” and “What Did I ..?”. He is very nice and it was very easy to work with him.”

Michael Kratz is one hard-working musician. “What Did I…” is due out tomorrow, so grab your copy!  His new album, Live Your Life, which includes “What Did I…”, is due out October 26. In addition to Dom, Michael worked Steve Lukather of Toto, Michael Landau (Michael Jackson, Richard Marx), and David Garfield (George Benson).  He describes the album as ranging from the classic pop/rock vibe heard in “What Did I…” to a more modern Brit-pop, which intrigues me.  He also has re-recorded his first album, Cross that Line, which was just released, and then on November 30, he will release a double live-album that was recorded in February of 2017.

If being hard-working in the studio isn’t enough, Michael is also easy to connect with online. He’s no slouch to social media, and MANY Duranies have already found him on Facebook as well. (I dare say that I know of a guitar player that could learn a little something about self-promotion from him)

I want to thank Michael for pushing me to get back in touch with my own roots. Since first hearing his music, I find myself gravitating to my old Cutting Crew and Toto albums, which has been a refreshing change of pace. There’s something about the authenticity in the music that I’ve been enjoying, and it’s good to hear someone like Michael staying true to himself. The fact that he’s also a Duranie is a bonus! I look forward to staying in touch and keeping up-to-date with what he’s working on.

“What Did I…” and “Never Take Us Alive” are available on all digital platforms worldwide (“What Did I…” drops tomorrow!), and they’re also available as CD’s from Michael’s website http://www.michaelkratz.net.

If you want to connect with Michael Kratz (and I really think you should!), check him out:

Michael on Facebook

Michael on Twitter

Michael on Instagram

-R