Category Archives: Music

American Science – Austra (Making Patterns Rhyme)

Today is Tuesday, and I bring you a review of new music, freshly released by Manimal Records.  American Science by Austra was leaked out last week and I listened, but I waited to review it until it had been put up on Soundcloud so that I could properly share.

American Science is a beloved song for many DD fans.  I was curious as to what Austra might do with it to make it her own.  I really liked the intro – in some ways it reminded me of the simplicity of a heartbeat. Her vocals are almost ghostly, backed by subtle synth loops that really allow for her voice to be the star. The song feels so existential to me, ethereal…other worldly even. I think it makes an effective statement without being at all “in your face” about it. I’m not sure that it makes the same type of impact as the band’s original, but then, that’s really not the point, is it? Austra is telling the story from her own point of view, and I am happy to sit back and listen.

I turn it over to you. What do you think?  Shoot me a line here or on Twitter or Facebook!

This marks my last blog post for a couple of weeks because it’s Family Vacation time for me and my family.  Don’t get too jealous – we’re going camping. If you happen to see a blue truck pulling an RV up the highway in California, wave…because it just might be my family!

-R

 

Do You Believe In Shame – Halo Circus (Making Patterns Rhyme Tribute)

Today we’re finding new music from Halo Circus in the form of Do You Believe In Shame.

I loved the deep bass line as the intro, and hearing Alison Iraheta’s vocals with the addition of a different musical element throughout the first verse was particularly effective, bringing the song to a full crescendo. Once again, just as I settled in for the ride, I was dropped head first into the full power of the chorus.

There is a lot I really like about this cover. The simplicity of adding the musical elements throughout the verses really works for me. I’ve always liked the message of this song, and the power of her vocals really brings that home and enhances what was already a very strong song. I am not quite so crazy about the wall-of-noise that seems to hit me in the chorus, like everything is turned up to “10”, but I can forgive that for the new journey this cover carves for the listener.

As always, I look forward to seeing what you think!
-R

Hungry Like the Wolf – Covers!

I’m a day behind with my weekly post on Duran Duran covers, and I apologize. I could lie and say that I was really busy yesterday afternoon, but the truth is that I didn’t realize it was Wednesday until far too late in the evening to even try putting something together. Yes, that really IS what happens when you’re at home with the kids all summer. I live and breathe by the texts asking me to take them/pick them up from somewhere, and that’s about it!  After today, I’m going to take a two-week break from my blogs on DD covers, and so look for one again the week of July 28th!

When I first heard about the Making Patterns Rhyme tribute album, I’ll admit, I filed the information into the back of my head and went on my way. I didn’t know if I’d be that interested, because in the past, I hadn’t heard many covers that seemed worth my time. Like many, I felt that the only people qualified to do a Duran Duran song was, well, Duran Duran, so to hear someone else try – well, it almost always fell flat (for me). I’m really not sure when and where that really changed. It could have been when I first listened to Moby’s Rio. Now, don’t get me wrong – that song is about as far away from what I know to be Rio as possible, but I think when I started reading all of the negative and poison-filled comments, I recognized two things: 1. Fans can be very, very cruel. 2. I didn’t want to be negative.  I challenged myself to find at least one positive from every single cover on the album.  That doesn’t mean “Be fake and love it all”, it means “widen your effing ears and mind… and TRY.”  So I did. That doesn’t mean I’ve loved everything I’ve heard, but I can say that there have been elements within each song that I’ve enjoyed.

What really shocks me, and by now it probably shouldn’t…is what people will say directly TO the band (You think they’re not reading or noticing, and maybe you’d be wrong.). No, of course you don’t have to like what you hear, and I’m sure that various members of the band would agree.  There’s not really a lot of point in being flat-out mean, nor is there much point in listening to the first 10 seconds of a song, realizing that it’s not Simon singing and saying you hate it purely because it’s not Simon. We all get it: you’re loyal to this band. *I* am loyal to the band. Three decades as a fan would indicate that from all of us, yes! But it’s the band who is calling attention to these songs. It’s not hard to see this because they put the links up on their very own Facebook page, they tweet them out…and Patty Palazzo did the artwork for the album, for crying out loud. They’re proud of the fact that others are covering their music, and they should be! It’s OKAY.

So with that, let’s find some covers to listen and enjoy!

Let’s pick my favorite song this week…Hungry Like the Wolf.  (Heather, this is for you!) I was challenged to find one I like….let’s see if I can!  My challenge here is that there are about 50,000 covers of this song on YouTube.  It pains me to see that many, actually. (they DO have other songs, people…)  I trudge on…

I did hear that Dave Grohl did HLTW once.  I haven’t found it on YouTube. If you have it, send it!  Moving on…

Hungry Like the Wolf – Incubus

I smiled when I saw this on YouTube, because who would ever think – Incubus? Oh why the hell not?!?  They stick very close to the original (surprisingly), and while the song has a harder guitar than the original and the intro to the song goes on until the 2:10 mark…it’s not all that different. Huh.

Hungry Like the Wolf – Reel Big Fish

This one has been around for a long time now.  I’d come to the point where I could at least acknowledge it’s existence without needing therapy…a far cry from the days where I’d cover my ears and run screaming, but I pressed play with nervous trepidation.  I have to say, it’s not bad. I kinda like it even.  It’s very ska, and if you like ska – which I actually do – this might tickle your funny bone a bit.  If nothing else, applaud the musicianship, because they can play your face off.

Hungry Like the Wolf – Hole

 

I don’t really know what to say about this one…other than she doesn’t know the words much, and I am pretty sure it’s not the entire song (or else I phased out halfway through).  But hey, it’s acoustic.

Amaru – Hungry Like the Wolf

So this version is pretty true to the original, except for the mid-section.  Then they go all out on their own here.  I have to say that the sound of this band sounds very much like any other 90’s “hard rock” (not grunge) band I’ve heard.  It’s not awful, it’s just not very original.

Gothic Nights – Hungry Like the Wolf

This cover is proof that there really doesn’t seem to be a way to un-pop this song. I was truly expecting some crazy-ass metal with this one, but even here – it’s pop…like “The Nelsons” brand of pop (if you haven’t heard of them, Google!)  I’ve always wanted to hear the song without the “doo doo doo” and now I have.  *blinks* Funny how I didn’t think I’d miss it.  Until I did.  Damn.

Act as If – Hungry Like the Wolf

Talk about a surprise. It’s pretty much all electronic with a male singer and a female backup.  It’s a very different (yet similar) feel to the original…and after hearing Gothic Knights “nelson” this song to pieces…this isn’t half bad.  They keep the spirit of the original but play it in their own style, and it’s original.

As I said, there are thousands of covers out there. If you’ve got one that is incredibly different that I’ve got to hear (seriously, if you have that one of Dave Grohl, please send it!), definitely post it in the comments.  These are just a few that I found along the way.  In my quest, I found a jazz version (I would have posted it if I knew who was performing it – but there was no credit given.), an angry metal version (just…no.), and a TON of acoustic versions.  But one that I liked?!?

*sigh* this was a hard task, Heather…but Reel Big Fish might actually win that contest.

What say you?  Send in your favorite, even if it’s not listed here!

-R

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come Undone – Carina Round [Feat. Aidan Hawken] (Making Patterns Rhyme Tribute album)

Just when you’re bored to death watching the inevitable slow death of Germany Brazil…in a World Cup match…along comes an incredibly powerful and wonderfully shocking cover that you can’t WAIT to review.

When I hit “play”, I immediately decided it was way too slow. I was set to dislike.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I hear a male voice…and the song suddenly becomes interesting.  Just as I settle in and start paying attention, the music changes. It becomes ever so slightly angry – but quiet. Then the strongest female voice takes over the second verse.  Texture beyond words….and then we go back to the original style. Unreal. Unfucking real.

This is exactly what I’m talking about when I describe a song that has been allowed to keep it’s bones and even a piece of it’s spirit – but is changed and evolved into what the covering artist wishes to convey. At this point, it’s not a remake of a Duran Duran song, it is Come Undone BY Carina Round. Don’t be offended by that, embrace it as a fan. Be proud that our band gave someone else inspiration to use their music as a launch point. You don’t have to like the song, and you certainly don’t have to like what Carina Round chose to do with it, but you absolutely MUST applaud her courage and creativity.

And I really, really like it.  Well done.  Extremely well done.  This one is going on my iPhone for sure.

By the way, Ms. Patty Palazzo – you are brilliant. I love this cover. This is art that speaks to me, and if I could frame it and put it on my wall, I would.

-R

Anyone Out There – Service Bells (Making Patterns Rhyme Tribute album)

Today brings new music in the form of a newly released single from the upcoming Making Patterns Rhyme tribute, curated by Manimal records. Service Bells put their mark on “Anyone Out There”, and I took a listen before posting it on Facebook.

For the first thirty seconds, the music is pretty unrecognizable…and depending upon whether you like that sort of creativity or not will likely determine how you feel about the rest of the song. I think it’s slightly harder or rougher edged than the original, but on the same token there are certain sounds that remind me very much of some of the old remixes from that day or even of songs on Seven and the Ragged Tiger…but not as polished and glossy.  The same familiar guitar riff can be heard, but Service Bells doesn’t stop there. They take their liberties and make the song their own.

As always, give it a listen, see what you think and let me know!!

 

-R

 

Book Club: Mad World (The Psychedelic Furs, Depeche Mode and Yaz)

It is Monday and you know what that means! It is the next installment of our most recent book club, in which we read and discuss a book, chapter-by-chapter! This time around we are reading, Mad World. This week, we read the chapters on The Psychedelic Furs, Depeche Mode and Yaz. We would love to have you read and discuss right along with us!

The Psychedelic Furs:

Amanda:

This entire chapter made me think about what makes a certain band, a certain rock star cool and popular. Lori Majewski mentions in her introduction that Richard Butler, the lead singer, became “one of the most romantic figures in music.” That quote got my attention as I never once thought about him in that way. I am a fan of both of the songs, Love My Way and Pretty in Pink, discussed in this chapter and yet, I never considered him “romantic”. If I read the lyrics, I can see where she is coming from. I suspect that this has less to do with the lyrics or the mood of the song and more to the age we were when these songs came into our lives. I’m young for the typical New Wave fan. For example, Love My Way came out in 1982 but I don’t remember hearing it or knowing it until much later. If I did hear it then, I was 7. I certainly wasn’t thinking “romantic” then.

Later in the chapter, Richard Butler explains how the band had a “cool popularity” and Love My Way threatened that. He explained how with that song, girls started to show up in the front rows and that they had to use back doors because of the fans. He said that they had to be “careful” with this popularity. As someone who studies fandom and fan/celebrity interaction, I totally understood what he meant. On one hand, having that level of fame and adoration must be amazing and addictive. On the other hand, it can and does change people significantly. Perhaps, the goal isn’t and shouldn’t be to be the most popular. It sounds like the point was that they wanted to have “fans” but not in an all-encompassing, overwhelming fan base kind of way.

Similarly, he didn’t seem all that excited with having Pretty in Pink associated with the John Hughes movie starring Molly Ringwald. I was a little jarred by that statement as someone who grew up watching those movies and loving them. Yet, for him, it seemed like he was bothered by how the intention of the meaning of the song seemed to change by its connection to that movie, that storyline. On one hand, I can understand that frustration. On the other, I like songs that can be interpreted in different ways. To me, that is a sign of intelligence by both the songwriter and the listener.

Rhonda:

So, to jump on Amanda’s bandwagon – I wasn’t into Richard Butler. I loved Psychedelic Furs, but this is one case where I can easily say I loved the music. Period.  Maybe I’m a late-bloomer, but “Love My Way”, “Pretty In Pink” and “Ghost in You” were some of my favorite songs simply because of the lushness of the sound – I don’t think I really listened to the words for interpretation until I was much older. (I think back to how my mom would ask me “Do you know what this song is about?!?” and how often my answer was “No, Mom. I don’t even listen to the words. I just love the music!!”….and I guess it’s not really surprising that my kids answer similarly when I ask them the same question. Sometimes I’m really shocked by what my kids are hearing until I realize that it was the same for me…and I survived.) So to recap: never thought of Richard Butler in that romantic sense….I didn’t listen to the words…and yet I call myself a fan. Awesome.

I’ve seen Psychedelic Furs live a few times, and so it was not really a surprise to me to read “We’ve always been a band that pulls people in. You won’t see me stomping up and down saying, ‘Can you hear me at the back?!’ and ‘Hello Chattanooga! It’s great to be here!’ The amount of words I will say to an audience during a tour is a page of a notebook and they would most be ‘Thank you.’ I don’t like talking much between songs.” (Page 155) 

I’d agree. Richard Butler doesn’t say much during a show – and from what I’ve witnessed, this is a band that, when they’re on, they’re good. When they’re off (which I’ve seen more than once), they’re not good and no one is being drawn anywhere. There’s not a lot of “connecting” going on between the band and audience – this isn’t a band you go and expect great showmanship in the same vein as you might from others. Whether that is a good or bad thing really depends on the show, in my opinion. 

I found Richard Butler’s comments about the movie, Pretty In Pink to be pretty sad. The movie gave the music more exposure…even if the song wasn’t presented in the light the band had written. I thought it was interesting that Richard didn’t necessarily think about how many possible fans could have been drawn to their music through that movie – for him it was all about the song and it’s use. In that sense, and based on his activity during their shows, I’m not sure that he derives a lot from the audience or his fans. There isn’t really as much of a give and take sort of connection there as I have seen with other bands, such as Duran Duran, but certainly others as well…and I think his statements here are good example of that.  It’s not that I think it’s particularly awful he feels that way, either. What’s fascinating to me though is that he’s also a painter – which is a very sort of introspective sort of art. One doesn’t necessarily connect with their audience when they paint – they connect with the work itself, in much the same way as Butler does or did with his music. Coincidence? Probably not.

Depeche Mode:

Amanda:

I openly admit that Depeche Mode is one of my favorite bands and has been for a long time. It hasn’t been as long as I have been a Duran fan but close. The introduction to this chapter reminded me that Depeche has changed over time, much like any other long lasting bands. In their case, they started out “optimistic” and cheerful unlike many of the other synth pops of that era. Of course, Depeche Mode at this time included Vince Clarke, who later left to form other bands like Erasure. Despite my love for the band, this early period isn’t my favorite Depeche era. I have always preferred the darker Depeche.

Vince described how they were often bored in the town of Basildon as it was a town that had nothing to do for kids. The town is described as just “mud”. It seems to me that music produced from a band in an area like that could either express the frustration, the despair created from the environment or the opposite. Depeche obviously didn’t want their music to match their surroundings. Of course, they also opted for synthesizers over guitars as they were “cheap”.  They didn’t need expensive amps like guitars did. Likewise, they didn’t require any knowledge of chords. This reminds me of how Daniel Miller in a previous chapter declared that electronic music was the most democratic. It was more accessible to everyone.

As Vince shared the story of how Depeche got started, I was amazed that one label offered them a spot on the Ultravox tour if Depeche signed with them whereas Daniel Miller offered only a single and they went with Daniel. It seemed like they did because of who Daniel was connected with. I know that Duran looked into who else EMI had signed into consideration when they were trying to decide which label to sign with.

I always wondered why Vince decided to leave Depeche. While this chapter didn’t really explain that much, I did learn that he was truly the leader of the band at that time. Perhaps, his leaving could have been the best thing for the rest of the band as they had to step up and take on more responsibility. This would be needed if the band was going to continue and be successful. Obviously, it worked out well for Vince, too.

Rhonda: 

Like most teens, I had my happy-go-lucky moment and my depressing moments. Thankfully for me, Depeche covered both rather well.  I’d start off with “Just Can’t Get Enough” and end with “Blasphemous Rumours” (my long-lasting favorite).  Never did I realize that Vince Clarke had everything to do with my happy moments, and nothing to do with my sadder ones. I feel a little embarrassed to admit that, given that I’ve been a DM fan for almost as long as I’ve been a DD fan – but the two bands couldn’t be farther apart from the ways I choose to practice that fandom. For me, DM is the band I simply listen to in the VERY few quiet moments I find. DD, on the other hand…well, I do write a blog, don’t I? I’ve never seen Depeche Mode live, yet I own all of their albums and a lot of their imports – singles, etc. I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything having not seen them. In fact, I rather enjoy that for me – this fandom is EASY. I expect nothing but music, and I’m never disappointed.  

Like New Order in some respects, Depeche Mode got me interested in electronic music. I asked for a cheapy Casio keyboard for Christmas one year just because I wanted to be able to learn to play some of their music by ear. It’s funny to me that I never thought to ask for a guitar – I think that generally speaking, the guitar seems a lot more complicated to me. All those strings, chords and fingerings. I can make a lot more happen on a keyboard or synthesizer by fiddling with some knobs and buttons. So, I can understand why Martin Gore went with the synthesizer – and it’s a good thing for us that he did go that route, since everyone in the band followed! 

Vince says something else that really hits home with me, “I’m a fan of Kraftwerk, but I’m more of a fan of people like OMD, because I like emotional records. Music affects me changes my insides – it really does.”  This couldn’t possibly be any more dead-on. I’ve never been able to articulate why I like some electronic and dislike others. I didn’t really have a good answer for why I’m not into some of the electronic I hear today…until now. The emotion matters. Music has to hit me internally, it needs to stay with me. Some songs do that just because of the music – I don’t know why but they do. Others, it’s the lyrics. With Depeche, I find a lot of both, and equally from the one record that Vince Clark did with them through to what people like to call “Depressed Mode”. Truthfully, their songs ARE depressing – but those songs are also what helped this very-awkward young lady get through some difficult moments in high school.  

Yaz:

Amanda:

In this chapter, the song, “Only You,” is described by Alison Moyet, the singer, as a “universal, everyman song.” Vince Clarke agreed that it had a simple arrangement and one he had written after Depeche.  He wanted Alison to demo it because she could sing with emotion.  She agreed simply because she needed the money. She didn’t desire to be a pop star or have a big hit. I always find it interesting when some artist gains some success without really trying 110%. I always hear the opposite. Success happens with that passion combined with lots and lots of hard work, right? Maybe not always.

Alison’s frustration about the lack of acknowledgement about her work in the band comes through loud and clear in this interview.  According to her, people always assume that Vince wrote everything and she was just the singer. She sounds so tired of trying to explain to everyone that she, too, wrote songs for the band. Is this an example of sexism within the music industry? Possibly. I would be interested to know if other female performers who wrote material experienced the same assumption. Yet, she later states how women experienced less sexism then in comparison to present day. Now, she says women have to present themselves as sex toys but then women could express themselves as independent people with a bit of aggression. I have to agree with her that real freedom isn’t always about appearing as characters in male sex fantasies.

I found her definition of being “famous” to be really fascinating. To her, it wasn’t about people all loving her as much as it was about how she was recognized and how people always had something to say about her. Is that the real definition of fame?

Rhonda:

I had no idea that “Only You” was written by Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet.  I knew it as Yaz, and I knew that I loved it’s simplicity. Sometimes it’s nice just to love something without knowing anything about it – it feels innocent and pure. Sure, I might be naive…and I like it here.

I like the way Alison Moyet describes the song as nursery rhyme simplicity – and how Lori Majewski calls it a lullaby. Those words are perfect. The song is simple, clean and beautiful. My only disagreement with Alison Moyet on this is that I feel you DO have to be a great singer to pull off that emotion – and she does. Period. End of story.

While I would be perfectly content to keep this song on a pedestal of its own and never know the backstory – it’s interesting to read that Clarke and Moyet weren’t really “a band” in the same sense of others in this book. They were so detached from one another, it blows my mind that they could be that detached and yet put out two albums – maybe I shouldn’t be surprised (hello naivety!!)  I can absolutely read the frustration from Alison when she talks about how it was assumed that Vince was the creator and she was the voice. I’d like to tell her that for me – it was always her. She was the voice, and I just assumed that for her to sing with that kind of emotionality, she had to have been the one to write the words – if not the music as well.  I just didn’t know any different.  I’d also argue that for me, I usually assume that the vocalist IS the writer.  Maybe that’s just because Duran Duran has trained me to think that way – but I do, and I doubt I’m alone. 

I usually leave the comments on Feminism to my writing partner – but on this one, I have to interject. I agree wholeheartedly with Alison Moyet that today – women can’t just present themselves in a male light without being sexually aggressive. It’s annoying – it’s as though the only way a female can portray real power in the industry is as a sex-toy.  It’s so insulting to me as a female that women in the industry line up, practically begging for the opportunity to be used in that way – it’s as though they’re willing to do whatever they’ve got to do in order to make it through.  It’s gross. I choke on the idea that Beyonce…of all the women on the freaking planet, is considered to be “the most feminist” of female artists.  Are you joking?  Because she tells men that if they liked it they should have put a ring on it?  That’s IT?  We have pretty low standards for what qualifies as power these days.  

Next week, we take a look at Kim Wilde, Howard Jones and Berlin – so be sure to check in!!

The Chauffeur – Warpaint (Making Patterns Rhyme Cover Album)

I love the days when Manimal releases a new song from the Making Patterns Rhyme album, because it’s like getting brand new music! Today is certainly no exception. I suspect that many fans will find this new single easy on the palate, and perhaps even something that they’ll add to their playlists.

When I first hit ‘play’, I won’t lie – at first I found myself the teensiest bit underwhelmed. It’s not that the song isn’t beautiful or that the vocals left me cold. I liked the sound, but I felt like they could have pushed that envelope a bit further. It sounded too much like what Duran Duran had done. I wanted more. I wanted to hear what Warpaint could really do with it on their own.

At this point – I might have shut the song off to write a short blog because I thought I’d gotten a good idea of what they’d done. This time though, I left the song playing as I went on to tackle the next morning task on my list. I’m glad I did, because as they say – “the best was yet to come”. The further it got into the song, the more that Warpaint played with the melody – not taking away from the original, but adding more to the sound. The vocals grew more haunting, more ethereal; the music more deconstructed, so to speak. They explored the sounds in a way that Duran Duran hadn’t, and I loved it! The last 30 seconds or so of the song are worth waiting for – and you’ll want to play the song over and over again because it really is that good. They took the beauty of the original and added their own color to the artistic palate.  Rather than just being comfortable with letting the original melody stand on it’s own, they explored a bit with the sound combinations, and in many ways – Warpaint improved upon the original. I suspect this one sentence may get me into trouble with my fellow Duranies, but it’s the truth – and it pays the highest compliment possible to Duran Duran.

Additionally, I’m taking a second to gush over the artwork that our very own Patty Palazzo has created for the project.  In each case, she has taken an image from the original song (most from videos, with the obvious exceptions of the songs that did not have videos) and updated it as the artwork for the cover version.  It’s kind of like taking a bit of the old to send off the new, and I love that simple, yet effective theme.  I really like the specific images Patty has chosen – they ‘re iconic for us, and explanative of the cover version as well.

Take a listen and let me know what you think! -R

Covers, Covers, we got your covers!!

Second “real” blog post in two days.  You’d think I was gearing back up for an album or something…

I think most Duranies are aware of the Making Patterns Rhyme tribute album that Manimal records is producing, and if you’re not familiar with the yet-to-be-released full album, surely you’ve heard Moby’s Rio and Belief’s Sound of Thunder.   If not – go check them out, the links are there for your convenience!

Yesterday, John Taylor asked DDHQ to ask about your favorite Duran Duran cover song.  I almost tweeted back that I was going to sit down with some popcorn and drinks, and let the games begin.  I knew that I’d be reading a litany of “You can’t do Duran Duran better than Duran Duran”, but I was curious to see what other answers might come up.

Personally, I haven’t paid a ton of attention to covers over the years. I knew they were out there – but I didn’t really care. I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t really feel the need to hear them, either. I was so busy just enjoying Duran Duran that I didn’t think I needed to pay attention. I knew Reel Big Fish had done Hungry Like the Wolf, and I remember Hole’s version on The Chauffeur…and I can’t really forget the medley of DD songs that Rockapella performed  (I have it on my iPad somewhere…), but I didn’t take the time to really search or listen beyond that.  Somehow, I suspect I’m not alone.

So, when John Taylor asked about our favorite covers yesterday, I really thought about the question, and more importantly, why he might be asking. There were definitely an overwhelming number of  those “it’s nothing if it’s not Duran Duran” type-replies, and I suspect that John knew he’d see that. So, why ask?  I’m sure he was curious what we have heard. After all, not every single Duran Duran cover has been promoted by the band. (and from the research I’ve done in the past couple of days, I can understand why…) I think asking that sort of question gives him a reasonable gauge of what we’ve exposed ourselves to hearing.  I also think he wanted to somehow indicate that while he appreciates loyalty to the band and all – he fully expects that we might occasionally hear, and enjoy a cover of their music…and that it’s OK.  Additionally, just talking about covers gets fans thinking about covers, and maybe, just maybe…it gets us listening and exposing our ears to what is out there.

My own response, and theory to what is going on here with the complete dismay, dislike, and venom (I could go on…) for the covers of Rio and Sound of Thunder (not as much so for the LUXXURY version of Girls on Film…) is that quite simply: I don’t think fans are used to hearing them much.  We haven’t taken the time to expose ourselves. It takes time to accept that it’s OK that it’s not Simon singing the vocals, John on bass, Nick…Roger…etc, and the only way you grow to accept it is to force yourself to keep listening.  Eventually you realize that no, the world does NOT come to an end because someone covered a Duran Duran song. Even better, you start recognizing that yes, there are people out there who have a tremendous gift and can continue to be creative with what is already an amazing song. Then the pendulum starts to swing to the point where you want to see just how far someone can go with the original song.  How far can it be taken before it’s not really Rio, or Hungry Like the Wolf or The Chauffeur?  Where are the boundaries?? Sure, this might not be the case for everyone, but I really kind of think it’s the case for many.  I know because I was there, and I’m betting I’m not alone. This was definitely me several years back.  I though I was being the good little fan by saying nothing was as good as the original.  I missed out on some really great music in the process.

I made the comment yesterday that part of the problem is that I don’t think fans have been exposed to many covers and that someone…maybe even a fan blog (because I’m a smart ass that way) should start posting some and getting people to listen.  I’ll say this much: after you hear some really bad covers, you start listening to the covers that might be way out there but still very creative much, much differently.  I can almost promise that.

So each week I’m going to take Wednesdays (since this is what day this is) and post some covers and a short little review of them.  It’s going to be YOUR job, as good readers, to listen and post whatever you think.  You are probably going to hate most of them at first. I get that. I’ll keep reminding you that they’re not as terrible (most of the time) as you think, and that no – Simon will not hate you for listening to them.  That I can pretty much promise.  Eventually you might just find something you like, and by that time, hopefully this damn #DD14 album will be READY TO PLAY!!!  (that was for you, John Taylor and Co….)  What I’m going to try to do is pick a song and then find a few covers of that song to post.  I might not ever find them all – in which case if you know of one to share, please do. Send a link, email us…and we’ll post it!

The question is where to begin. So this week let’s try Ordinary World. There are a TON of covers of this song, so I picked my favorites. If you have others that you want me to hear, send ’em!! Link is in the title:artist name. Short review is below each.

Ordinary World: Aurora

So this cover is different. The melody is definitely secondary to the rhythm track – in an attempt to make it danceable, and it has a much more atmospheric, spacey sound in parts. It’s also sped way, way up from the original.  That said, it’s completely recognizable…and the lead singer is apparently Robert Pattinson’s (of Twilight fame) older sister.  She has a beautiful voice.  Funny how I never thought much about females taking on Duran’s tunes before…but as you’re going to see over the next several weeks, MANY of the most beautiful covers out there are done by females!

Ordinary World: Gregorian

Very interesting, this Gregorian. (really…I’ve studied real Gregorian chant, and it’s not quite to that point) The music is somewhat subdued, and of course the voices are meant to stand out on their own.  For me, this doesn’t really quite do it…but you know, it IS beautiful in it’s own right. I just keep thinking it feels a bit too much like karaoke.

Ordinary World: Joy Williams

This is my favorite cover of this song (that I’ve found so far).  Haunting, emotional…it’s as though all of the sorrow that could be found in this song is packed into her vocals. No guitar, just piano…and it’s stunning in every single way.

Ordinary World: Red

Love the strings on this one and the additional synth sounds make it interesting and their own. The song is executed in much of the same style as Duran Duran, but it’s definitely their own spin on it musically with a little more of a rock anthem type of sound to it.

Ordinary World: Ainjel Emme

Another female artist.  This time, it’s just guitar and vocals.  Her vocals are stunning, and the guitar is acoustic – very pretty.  My only constructive criticism is that she does very little to make the song her own, and I’d like to hear what she could do to take the song to a different place.

Ordinary World: Rust

Wow. This is a much harder rock version. They kept the melody, the guitar solo…probably kept most of the synth that we know…and added a whole new element. Truthfully out of the covers I chose to include, this is probably the farthest from the original – but it’s interesting.  The hard rock gives the song a great gritty texture to it for those moments where I’m really just majorly pissed off AND sad at the same time!

That’s six different versions of Ordinary World. I know there are a ton more out there that I didn’t even include (I could be here for days…listening and writing away….), but it’s a start. Take a listen. Get your ears used to hearing other people performing Duran’s music. It won’t kill you. In fact, I think it broadens the horizons a bit.

-R

 

 

 

 

Sound of Thunder – Beliefs (Making Patterns Rhyme cover album)

Today brings the gift of music…a freshly released cover by the Beliefs  of Sound of Thunder!

Like Moby’s Rio, this single can be found on Making Patterns Rhyme – the Duran Duran tribute (cover) album that has been produced by Manimal Records.

This cover is in the style of “Shoegaze” and if you’re not really familiar with that sound – I would suggest possibly listening to old Tears for Fears, like anything off of The Hurting, for instance.  This has a little heavier guitar (with a lot of reverb going on), and the vocals are pretty existential, which completely changes the vibe of the song.  For me, Sound of Thunder was a song that described sitting back and  watching the world go by, as though not being an active participant for whatever reason. The slightly disjointed, disconnected lyrics hovering just over the top of the guitar really bring that concept home.  For me, this version hits a home run; but I’m really more curious about what you might think – so take a listen and send me a line!

The song is available as of tomorrow 6/10 on iTunes, proceeds go to Amnesty International.

Here’s the link on Soundcloud!

-R

Book Club: Mad World (The Normal, Kajagoogoo, and Thomas Dolby)

Week 6 of our latest book club is here!  We are moving along in the book, Mad World:  An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s.  This week, we tackle the following chapters and artists:  The Normal, Kajagoogoo and Thomas Dolby!  Read those chapters and share your thoughts with us!

The Normal:

Amanda’s thoughts:

I have adored this song for quite awhile now.  Maybe it is when it was featured on Only After Dark, a compilation by Nick Rhodes and John Taylor that came out in 2006.  Maybe, it was when I realized the connection between this song and bands like Depeche Mode.  I suspect, though, that the liking of this song became stronger after seeing Duran include it in their electro set on Broadway in November 2007.  I remember how the audience seemed perplexed, at first, then seemed to grasp the coolness.  Here is a clip of that:

Right away, author, Jonathan Bernstein, sums up what made this track so cool, so unusual and so important, the machines and Daniel Miller’s “detached delivery”.  Exactly.  I hear so much of that machinery in music that followed.  Likewise, that detached delivery can be heard in many, many songs to follow.  It along with other songs like it definitely was a trend setter and would work to change music.

Daniel Miller talked a lot about electronic music and synthesizers in this chapter.  One idea that really grabbed my attention is how electronic music was pure punk with the do-it-yourself attitude.  He differentiates this with punk rock, which has a similar philosophy but, obviously, sounds differently.  I can definitely see his point.  Anyone can pick up a synthesizer and play with various sounds without any training needed.  There is no need for expensive lessons.    Then, of course, he worked to spread that electronic music by starting Mute Records and helping others express themselves through that electronic music.

Rhonda:

So the reality is that for a good many years, I danced to this, well perhaps dance is the wrong word…but I was out on that floor and surely I did something akin to bobbing around, for many years before I really knew what the song was or who it was by.  It was an anthem of sorts, and anyone who was anyone in the club I went to (Fashions – Redondo Beach Pier, Redondo Beach, CA. If there had been a frequent club-goer card, mine would have been gold. Or black. Probably black.) put their drink down, stubbed out the last of the clove cigarette they had in hand, and got out on that floor. Lori Majewski said it best.  “…it was our new wave rave’s version of Kool and the Gang’s ‘Celebration’, inviting even those not outfitted in skin-tight PVC to join…the car crash set.” (page 132)  Perfect. 

I particularly liked reading that Daniel Miller didn’t enjoy Anglo-American music, because that’s really how I felt as a teenager. 99% of the music I loved most was from the UK or elsewhere in Europe, and the more obscure the better. Granted, he’d already rejected most of it by 1970 – the year I was born – but hey, I’m finding out that I wasn’t really quite as alone as I may have thought. Thank goodness for New Wave. I’ll go to my grave saying that. It kept me alive through some of the darker periods of my teen years.

I went around for years saying that I really didn’t like electronica. I hated beat-boxes and a lot of the synthetic, heartless feeling that went into a lot of “today’s” music…specifically the crap (including auto-tune) that you find on a top 40 station. That’s totally unfair of me though, because you don’t have to look very long to find music in my collection that fits that label. I think my problem with a lot of the electronic music out there is that for all the creativity allowed through that medium – a lot of it sounds ridiculously familiar.  Not so with New Wave, and certainly not with “Warm Leatherette”. I loved the detached delivery, and a lot of my favorite songs that followed had that same sort of vocals to them. I think I liked the unfeeling, robotic nature – it provided a texture we didn’t have before, and I completely embraced that.

The Normal was the “parent” EDM of my generation (but far, far more creative than what you hear today, in my humble opinion!) I know from reading Mad World that Daniel Miller hates that term – but without The Normal, there wouldn’t have been a Mute Records, and without Mute, Depeche Mode, Erasure, Goldfrapp might not have happened.  For that alone I owe a huge thank you to Daniel Miller. 

Kajagoogoo:

Amanda:

This song and band always makes me laugh.  I can’t help it.  Maybe it is their look or the name.  Perhaps, it is the fact that Nick Rhodes produced it and got him his first number one, even before Duran.  Nonetheless, every time I hear the song or see the video, I laugh.  The introduction reinforces this as the authors mention how their success was sudden and “mocked”.  I suppose my reaction even today shows this.  It isn’t that I don’t own the song or don’t have fond memories of it because I do.  There is just something about this band that creates a certain amount of ridicule.  That said, the introduction pointed out why they are important to know, though.  They were an example of a band without a long past, who did want to shock in some way.  They did affect things, no matter that people did not take them seriously.

Lead singer, Limahl’s, story about how much he loved music and wanted to use it as an escape from the no-future mining life is not a unique one.  Yet, unlike some, he actually went for his dream.  He mentioned how being young helped both him and his band mates.  Being young meant that they weren’t as worried about everything and just went for it.  I admire that.  When I was young, I did everything to become safe and secure when I should have just taken some risks.

I was hoping to learn more about the name.  They named their band to shock people and there was some connection to the  movie, The Mirror Crack’d, according to this chapter, but, as someone who hasn’t seen the movie, I’m at a bit of a loss.  Can someone explain it?

Of course, I loved the story about how Limahl met Nick at the Embassy Club.  How brave of Limahl to just try to get Nick a copy of their demo tape.  Then, Nick loved it and got EMI to sign them!  Amazing!!  If we could all be so lucky!  He is right that Duranies were interested because Nick produced them.  Many of us are like that even today in that if there is a connection to a member of Duran, there is likelihood that some/most/all of us will check it out.

Speaking of fans, I thought it was interesting that as a gay man, he didn’t want to talk about his sexual orientation when they had a lot of teenage females fans despite his belief that teenage fans don’t/didn’t actually want to have sex with the rock star.  I often wonder that.  Would rock stars who are gay get the same level of attention?  Respect?  Intensity of fans?  I would like to believe that things are better now, but, in 1983, I don’t blame Limahl for keeping it quiet.

Rhonda:

It didn’t take Nick Rhodes to get me to love “Too Shy”. In fact, I don’t think that I realized Nick had anything to do with them until later. I just didn’t know. If I remember correctly, I heard them on the radio, made a note of their name – and found them on a cover of a magazine, of course.  Sure, Limahl was pretty, and once I did realize that Nick was involved, I wanted to see what they were all about. So yes, in that sense I suppose Nick did drive me to buy their album.

What I remember most though, was how my friends gave them almost zero time. None of my friends felt they had staying power, and a good many of them thought they were TRYING to be Duran Duran. Fair assessment?  I’m not sure. They didn’t last long enough for me to decide. I think that ultimately, they really weren’t a lot more than a pop band trying to make a splash with what they had. They hit fast and hard, and were gone within a blink of an eye.  Not many gave them much credence beyond (or including) “Too Shy” – if I ever thought the critics were hard on Duran Duran, all I had to do was see what they had to say about Kajagoogoo before realizing DD had it easy in comparison. They’d written this band off before it even got started. 

Limahl  says something in this chapter that really gets my “fan” blood percolating a bit, though. He mentions that the Duran Duran fans were interested in what Nick was doing with Kajagoogoo. True statement. It’s the one immediately following though that I think is incredibly rude and unfair: “You know how fans are in that obsessive way.”(page 141) To begin with: that “obsessive way” probably made you some cash over the years Limahl, so you’re welcome. Secondly, that sort of thing is really called “MARKETING”. When you are a fan of a band, or someone in a band that works on a new project – it doesn’t mean you’re obsessive to check that new project out. It means you’re curious, and that curiosity paid off a bit for Kajagoogoo. So while I would agree with Amanda that yes, that sort of thing still happens even to this day, it’s not necessarily out of some sort of crazy obsession.  If that were the case, what happened with John’s solo material, or even better – The Devils?  Fans don’t know much about either of those things unless they were very interested, and from what I’ve been able to tell – not many were. So that’s where I take issue with Limahl and his ego.

This was a band that reunited for the sole purpose of making money, that much is clear. A lot of bands do it, but some just can’t figure it out to make it work for the long term. This one is on that list. Nick Beggs, who is incredibly talented in his own right, said it best, “It’s not a great song, it’s just a reasonable pop tune”  He’s right, and it’s OK to have an iconic song from that time period under your belt.  A lot of these bands have them, and sure – if you look hard enough, you can certainly see the debris field they left behind. It’s called “my life”….. and just as Nick Beggs says, “…music can transport us across the years to where we once stood.”  Absolutely. 

Thomas Dolby:

Here is a little story for you.  Every time I mention Science at work (I teach in a middle school), I say, “Science as in she blinded me with.”  The kids, of course, have no idea what I’m talking about but it doesn’t stop me.  I can’t help it.

I found his songwriting process fascinating.  First, he had to come up with an image and he adopted the professor look as he had family in education and because he knew he couldn’t be a “pin-up”.  Then, he wrote a storyboard for a video to go along with a song title he had.  He didn’t know what the song would sound like but he had the title.  This, of course, is the exact opposite of how Duran works with music first then lyrics, with the title being towards the end.

I love that he got Dr. Magnus Pyke to be in the video and that the video became his claim to fame rather than his scientific work.  (In case you didn’t know, Dr. Pyke was a British scientist.)

Of course, after Dolby experienced commercial success, the record label wanted him to make more songs with the same formula.  Like the young Limahl in the previous chapter, he decided not to go the safe route and told them no.  He makes an interesting point.  He says that people think that the music is “fake” if an artist changes styles or genres.  Does the music industry really put artists into a box?  Has Duran felt that way or felt like they had to keep to a certain formula?    On the other side of the coin could be artists trying to be or sound like something they are not?  You can’t blame fans for not wanting that, either.

Rhonda:

Amanda, you should really play your students the video at the end of each school year or something so that way they better understand your psychotic ramblings.  (I can say that because we’re friends…and because I’m 2000 miles away from her right now.)

I remember watching Video One (or MV3 as it was called even earlier on)  during the week with Richard Blade, and invariably he’d play “She Blinded Me With Science” or “Hyperactive”…both of which I loved.  I think just from watching the videos and listening to the music, even as a kid, I sensed he was a genius. I liked that he didn’t seem like just an everyday rock star. I mean, sure…Simon LeBon is great and all, but there is something equally intriguing to me about Thomas Dolby because he wasn’t afraid to push boundaries and he’s willing to try something completely new. I stand fascinated by his marketing of “A Map of the Floating City” because rather than just continually blame the demise of the industry, it’s like Thomas Dolby sees it as a challenge, so he comes up with a damn video game for it. Who does that?! Thomas Dolby…because he’s a genius!!

I also found his comments about the music industry pretty true-to-life. I think that once a band or artist found their niche – even to this day to a large extent – it’s tough to break out of that. Part of it, in my opinion, is that record labels are freaking lazy. They don’t want to have to try to sell something different once they’ve figured out how to market a band. While I think it’s pathetic that bands weren’t given the leeway to discover themselves in a lot of ways, I can also see the business-end. Look at how fans have reacted to what Duran Duran have done over the years. It’s not always a bed of roses, even though we all say (and we do all say this) that we admire the band for taking risks. And we do. As long as they adhere to the sound we’re used to.  I’m guilty of this as much as anyone.  So, for a label, where it all comes down to dollars and cents through image and sound – once that’s all been hammered out and proven successful, they don’t want to change that formula.  We’ve read that again and again. The trouble is, I don’t know many bands, particularly from this era – that were willing to keep remaking the same album over and over again. That formula works far better today than it ever did in the 80s. 

What’s up for next week you ask?  Psychedelic Furs, Depeche Mode, and Yaz!  We’d love to see some comments on the discussion, but until then – we’ll just keep talking!!