Category Archives: packaging

Beautiful Packaging

Mondays are not my favorite, and this particular Monday is no exception. Four places to be at the same time…one of me…it’s not a happy combination. My apologies on the lateness of the blog, especially to those of you in the rest of the world (meaning NOT the US) because I think I’ve pretty much missed the deadline of getting it to you on Monday if you’re waiting for it by email. These things happen, and to some of us more often than others, I suppose.

Last Friday brought a good surprise to my front door, and that was the delivery of my gatefold vinyl of the TV Mania album. I ordered the album with very little in the way of expectations – I just knew that I wanted something besides an mp3 of their effort, and while I would have loved the boxed limited edition, I felt that I needed to be more conscious of my household budget. (You can also read that as “If I would have made such a purchase, my husband would have had a fit.”  It’s true.) So I chose the regular vinyl.

With that in mind, when I opened the package – I was pleasantly surprised. To begin with, and this is just a silly thing I suppose – I LOVE the finish on the album cover. It’s a soft matte finish as opposed to a slick and shiny cardboard.  It’s just unique that way, and I like it. The cover is of course exactly what they have shown us on Twitter – and upon closer examination I discovered that Sassy is perched up on one of my dining room chairs, or at least a copy thereof, along with all of the items I would find strewn in my oldest daughter’s bedroom on any given day. Scissors, fabric, a pen cup…thread… and it’s a complete mess.  Vaguely familiar, I’d say.

The inside photo of the gatefold is an older one of Nick and Warren – definitely from the same period that the album was originally conceived. What is interesting to me about this is not the strange mask of beads that Nick seems to be wearing, or the hat that Warren has on his head, but the fact that it is a reminder that this album has been sitting in a drawer somewhere since the mid-90’s. Without that visual reminder, I am not sure I would have ever remembered.

The records contained are in fact the full album on two 12″ records, and then a 7″ remix of Beautiful clothes that I wasn’t expecting. I love surprises like that.  Another lovely surprise was that my album arrived with a plastic protector – I am OCD about that with my albums, they all have plastic protectors, so I was thrilled that this one came that way straight from the store. Thank you, Vinyl Factory.

Lastly, and most importantly for my purposes here, the album comes with a large 12″ booklet that I find positively exquisite. To begin with, Nick painstakingly outlines the story.  From an explanation of the family as Test Group 101 through to the explanation of the wayward son who never leaves his bedroom and video game world, there are certainly parts of this family that I believe can be found in nearly any family, including my own. From there, a bio of each character can be found on the opposing page. That leads into eight pages of photography, and upon examination, it would appear to me that the photographs are grouped by character  designated for Ray, Cathy, Sassy and Snoop.

The photos themselves are images we might have seen before on Twitter (if you followed @TV ManiaMusic). I especially love the plastic covered rotary telephone – there was one similar in my house back in the 70s. I also like the Second Life avatar of Snoop…and the demonic image on the very last page – it’s so pixelated up close, yet when you stand back it’s  much clearer. I can’t help but chuckle, because isn’t that the way life is anyway? Sometimes the most obvious answers can’t be seen until you back away from the problem at hand a bit.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again – I think the work is genius, and there is something to be gained here for DD’s future use. This is a project where the sum of all the parts add up to something much greater than each individual mechanism. I know many DD fans don’t like the music, they don’t understand the visual aspects of the art, and they can’t imagine why Nick and Warren would have bothered with a storyline. My advice to those people is to take a giant step back, and rather than looking at each individual element, try to see it all as a whole.  Try playing the music as you read the storyline and character biographies and looking at the pictures. Yes, the music is experimental and sure – it’s delightfully weird at times. So what? It’s not meant to be a pop album. I think the real tragedy would be if Nick and Warren were trying to tell us it was pop – THEN I would have something to complain about – but this isn’t the case at all. It’s art and as such it is meant to cause a reaction.  As my dear friend Amanda reminded me last week – some of the best art is never understood or appreciated.

What I find most interesting is that if you think about all of it – storyline, imagery, music, etc – in a lot of ways this project is a bit of a mirror held up in front of ourselves.  As I said, I can see definite parallels between this family and my own. I have a son who is FAR more comfortable in front of his computer than he is with real people, and yes – he loves video games. I have a daughter who wants to get into the entertainment industry (although at the moment she isn’t sure if that place is in front of the camera, on the stage, or behind the camera and behind the scenes)…and my husband? Well, he’s far more conservative than I am, rest assured. Me? I’m on the computer, although my obsessive behavior has a little more to do with writing and getting a certain blog done…and aside from a glass of red wine or a good vodka tonic every now and then, there are no drugs here. I’m too much of a control freak, can’t you tell?

And lastly….just what IS it with those barcodes?? Anyone?  I wish I had a barcode reader…they all seem different, so what do they say?

-R

Calendars, Tour Books and Collections…Oh My!

I was thrilled to hear/see that Duran will have a calendar for 2012!  I so missed having one for 2011 as I have all of their recent calendars (2006-2010).  This year I decided to pick my favorite picture for any given month to display since there wasn’t a current calendar.  That worked out fine but it wasn’t very functional and often had to remind myself that it wasn’t the current year.  In case you have not heard, their calendar for 2012 will be available to purchase from the dd.com store on Monday, November 7th.  (Happy Birthday to Rhonda!)  Now, I suppose that I should wait to purchase it until I come back for the UK or simply put it on my Christmas wish list since all of my extra money will be going towards the trip, but I probably won’t.  I get too worried that it will sell out, which causes me to buy right away, which is strange because I’m not really like that with anything but Duran.

I admit it.  I like Duran stuff.  They make a lot of money off of me as I’m someone who buys merchandise.  I have a ton of t-shirts, which include ones that I bought at a show and ones that I bought from the website.  I already mentioned the calendar.  I have posters.  I have keychains and I have buttons.  There are tons of bags that have some Duran logo in my closet from various tours and VIP packages.  Heck, I renewed DDM and did the Gold package in order to get the message bag, t-shirt, bookmark, etc.  I am such a sucker for Duran related items.  I am weak.  I admit it.  They must love having fans like me (other than the part that I voice my opinion about what they are doing and sometimes it isn’t all that…flattering or positive). 

I was like this as a kid, too.  Like everyone else of my Duran generation, I had the tons and tons of posters on my wall and saved up money to buy this week’s copy of Bop or Tiger Beat.  I bought every album and singles, when I could.  I even had Duran Duran pajamas!  How cool was I when I pulled that nightshirt out at a slumber party?!  Of course, I purchased copies of Sing Blue Silver, Dancing on the Valentine and their other major videos.  I also saved my money to buy larger books of Sing Blue Silver, the photograph book, and the Book of Words.  How could I not?  I wanted to buy as much Duran as I could, including one of my favorite Duran items of all time…the Into the Arena board game!  I still have my original board game despite it being away from me for awhile.  I bought the game when it came out and even attempted to play it a few times.  The directions still dumb to me but the pictures were pretty!  Anyway, at some point in my childhood, I decided that I should try to move on from Duran for various reasons.  Yet, I couldn’t just get rid of everything so I did the next best thing!  I gave my stuff to one of my good friends!  Years later, then, she asks me if I wanted the stuff back!  Of course, I did!  Thus, items like the board game were returned home to their rightful place.  I went to my first Duran show with this friend and we went to a few more after that together.  Now, I will see her during our UK tour as she will be hosting Rhonda and I and going to the Glasgow show with us! 

My childhood revolved around getting Duran items so it isn’t super surprising that my adulthood is filled with that as well.  One of my more recent items is this tour’s tourbook.  I have the ones for Astronaut and RCM.  (By the way, who didn’t think the Astronaut one was cool as hell?!?!)  I have fond memories of both of them.  My friends and I purchased our copies of the Astronaut tour book in Chicago in March of 2005.  It provided fun reading material as we drove from Chicago to Milwaukee to the show there the next night.  Likewise, I purchased the RCM one in Chicago in May of 2008 but didn’t have fun with it until I purchased one for Rhonda.  Then, I could go through it and highlight the fun parts for her.  We did the same after purchasing copies of the Ask Katy book, “Would Someone Please Explain?” and read it together on a flight to Philadelphia in December 2008.  Therefore, we decided to purchase this year’s tourbook.  Originally we planned to buy it in the UK.  Thankfully, we didn’t as the size is…uh…an issue.  It is 12 inches by 16 inches and is way too long to be user friendly. 

As far as this year’s tourbook content goes, there is some positive aspects and some…I think are lame.  The cover is a shiny silver with a big pink D on it.  It fits with the theme of the album art.  It has many photographs of the band members taken live but they aren’t my favorite as the photos are more artistic and less clear.  They are also in black and white.  That said, there are colored photographs that are quite lovely.  Unfortunately, the crease of the book gets in the way at times, including blocking Nick in one picture and Dom in another.  Lame.  Some of the photographs were those that were used to create the album cover.  Again, I didn’t think they were necessary.  Call me crazy but I would rather have photos of the guys!  Most of the photographs besides the live ones were of the band, either as a group or as individuals.  Yes, most of those photos were quite attractive!  They did include a page with photos of Dom, Anna and Saxy Simon. 

Beyond the photos, they did include some written content, which I was generally disappointed with.  One page included the news story from the Man Who Stole a Leopard.  Really?  That was necessary? Then, there were pages where the band and Ronson discussed making the album.  Typically, this type of content would thrill me.  It didn’t, in this case, because I had all ready heard it on the DVD for the album.  Nothing drives me more crazy than when they recycle material.  The one part of the writing I really did enjoy, though, was when each band member was given the same series of questions.  I loved reading their answers and getting an insight into how they think.  A few answers really stuck out to me.  Clearly, Nick is obsessed with time and getting things done as he listed his greatest fear as running out of time and listed wasting time as his greatest extravagance.  Roger dislikes his nose and thinks that he is lazy.  Simon actually gave much longer answers and told a beautiful story about when his eldest daughter, Amber, was born.  John wishes that he didn’t care what others thought of him.  Very interesting, overall. 

Thus, while the tour book had some great photographs and some lovely insights into the boys, I wished for much more content.  I also wish it was smaller to be easier to store and travel with.  Despite its limitations, I’m still glad that I have it.  I’m glad that I have all of my Duran stuff, including the tourbooks, t-shirts, videos, calendars, bags, posters and board game.  Do you collect Duran?  If so, what is your favorite item?

-A 

The Daily Duranie Review – All You Need Is Now (Deluxe Version) Packaging

Continuing in our weekly review series, today A & R will be reviewing the packaging for the new album.  For most bands, perhaps that seems like an odd thing to review, but as fans of Duran Duran know, the band takes as much pride in how their end product is packaged as they do the content contained within.  We will be reviewing the Best Buy Deluxe Edition packaging for the U.S.

Rhonda’s notes:

It’s a relief to finally have something physical to actually hold!!  I’d been waiting months to be able to pour over the artwork, hoping that the photos would somehow become clearer to me than what I’d seen online.  Sadly, that isn’t really to be the case here, as you’ll read below.

First of all, I do like the striking contrast of the pink and charcoal front.  The print is done in an almost metallic like finish, which is very different from what other artists use these days, since all of that ‘extra’ adds to the final cost of the album!  The photo(s) on the front consist of a bed on one side (the “pink”) side, and on the charcoal side – what I think might be a chandelier.  Maybe.  Then of course there’s the infamous black “burn mark” with a giant pink D in the middle, along with the band’s name at the top, and the name of the album scrawled across the front.  An interesting point is that there appears to be some sort of an animal print (Leopard maybe?) rug thing on the floor by the bed.   I was really hoping that once I was able to see the artwork in person that it would somehow become clearer to me – and that just isn’t the case.  I still can’t tell exactly what I’m looking at – although perhaps that’s the point.  The only thing that is clear is what we’re examining at the time?

Clunie Reid is the artist that the band chose to work with to create the album artwork.  I’m fairly familiar with her body of works, but what strikes me most about the artwork is that Clunie worked from pictures that Nick Rhodes took – and then used her own artistry to manipulate the photos into the story she wished to tell.  My problem with the artwork is simply that it’s incredibly obvious.  Think of Duran Duran for a moment.  Tell me what images come to mind when you think of them (aside from each member of the band!).  Women, beds, body images, sex…oh and I suppose some yachts might be nice on the side! (that would be over the top obvious for this album, no?)  This album’s artwork has all of that…and perhaps even a leopard print rug.  Duran Duran is smarter than that, and quite honestly, so is Clunie Reid.    That aside though, the images aren’t necessarily beautiful.  I look at the bed coverings – they seem to be those really cheap satiny finish bedspreads that I remember my mom having back in the 70’s.  There’s a big black spot on the album cover that I still can’t quite figure out.  The images in the art booklet that is included inside the album are very grainy…distorted and have more of that metallic finish.  The artwork doesn’t detract from the packaging…but it doesn’t add that extra layer of interest that I believe Duran Duran have always excelled at including.  The artwork isn’t smart, it doesn’t make you think…and that is very disappointing for this fan.

The booklet, as I mentioned above, comes with the deluxe version of the album.  It’s printed in a reasonably good weight of art paper, probably so that the metallic effect that Clunie worked with would show itself off well.  It appears that the images in the book are variations of the same exposure.  The first pages are of a woman in what I think might be a jacuzzi or bath – she’s got a diamond pendant held up to her mouth.  The second pages (intermixed with lyrics) are of a topless woman with water being sprinkled over her.  There is great beauty in the female body – I’m pretty sure the band understands that rather well!   There’s just a certain amount of boredom (for me) that goes along with that. I’m no prude whatsoever, but it’s just so OVERDONE and EXPECTED.  I’m not surprised it’s there – I probably would have been more shocked had it not been, but it would just be nice to have it actually mean something for a change.  It’s Duran Duran though, and I do suppose there’s a certain frivolity that goes along with that.  As I said, it was expected!

One thing the booklet does not include are pictures of the band.  Conspicuously absent from the artwork are any photos of the band.  I know many fans don’t care, still others care very much.  My personal opinion is that it would have been nice to have had at least one.  I know it’s difficult to believe, but there are actual people out in the world that haven’t seen the band since the 1980’s.  I’m guessing those people, should they be compelled to pick up this album, would like to see what the band looks like these days.  Well, they won’t see that here.  They’d better get themselves to iTunes or Youtube and watch some videos!

I paid special attention to the liner notes on the back page of the booklet, as well as the credit page.  The list of thank you’s seems to be getting longer and longer!!  One thing that I really found distasteful was the very last few lines of credits.  The name of the band and it’s current members are in bold…and then a line is skipped and then Dom Brown is listed as guitar.  I think it’s fine to have bolded the band – but I think that they could have found a better place to credit Dom with guitar.  Perhaps he could have been included on the credits page (not in bold), and that way it wouldn’t have looked like such an afterthought on the back page of the book.  Yes, it’s nit-picky.  I agree.  I just think it looks kind of lame to put him there, to be honest.  I know the intention was probably to include his name prominently, but because of the fact the band is bolded, and Dom is not a 5th member of the band they couldn’t do that for him but felt he was worth more than just a mention on the credit page.   It just looks tacky in the end.

Ultimately for me the packaging on this album is generally ho-hum.  It doesn’t add, it doesn’t really detract…but it’s not the work of beauty that the album so richly deserves.  When I think back to what this album really stands for, and what adversity the band has come from in order to get to this point, I just feel they missed the yacht on this one.

Amanda’s notes:
Many of my comments will be similar to Rhonda’s and others not so much.  Like Rhonda, I was completely thrilled with being able to hold an actual album in my hands.  While I am okay with downloading much of my music, for some bands, for some artists, I must get a hardcopy.  Those artists are like Duran in that I have a large collection of their music AND they take their time to produce a quality product.  I can remember even being excited to hold Red Carpet Massacre in my hands on the day it was released.  I also remember being generally pleased with the packaging even if I wasn’t thrilled with the actual cover.  Therefore, I figured that AYNIN would, at least, be as good of quality. 

I purchased my copy at the local Best Buy (see Rhonda’s post on March 22nd for all of the details of her experience!).  As soon as I unwrapped it, I noticed there was a sleeve covering the actual album.  At the time, I thought that seemed strange to have an additional sleeve like that because it is cumbersome to take off and on, especially since it goes on from the top or bottom as opposed to the side.  On closer inspection, I realized that this additional sleeve was added to show the additional songs available on the exclusive Best Buy edition.  That made perfect sense to me until I realized the back cover of the actual album doesn’t match like the outside sleeve does.  On top of that, the booklet does not match either.  The booklet contains the lyrics to 13 of the songs with lyrics.  It does not contain the lyrics to ALL of the songs on the Best Buy edition.  Okay.  I can live with that.  Networker Nation’s lyrics are in the booklet with the track number being 15.  Uh.  On the Best Buy edition, it is number 17.  Why put song numbers at all if the booklets were to be used for all editions?  Why not just have song titles?  The way that they have it seems lazy.  If they wanted to keep both song titles and track numbers, then why not have a special booklet for this exclusive edition?  Then, it could have included all song lyrics.  This seems very un-Duran Duran like.  Where was the attention to detail here?

Now, as for the front cover itself, my opinion about it didn’t change much from when it was unveiled online months ago.  I appreciate the glossy quality of the pink D and think that it is a nice touch to have the “All You Need Is Now” part raised.  That seemed to be the Duran that I know and love.  Very detail focused.  That said, the artwork still seemed generally okay with me.  I was hoping that it would fit more with the music, but it didn’t.  The left side still seems dark and the right side or pink side seems brighter.  Yet, on the album, the songs don’t go in the same order.  Some of the darker songs are toward the end of the album.  Maybe that is the whole point.  Maybe the cover really doesn’t have anything to do with anything and that the joke is on those of us who are looking for a pattern, a reason, something.  As for the back cover, I liked that it was all in pink and still had a big D on it, which goes in the opposite direction.  Yet, it didn’t have the same glossy finish.  It isn’t bad but it isn’t anything special either.

The inside part of the packaging had more Nick photos with Clunie Reid’s art.  Like Rhonda, I, too, don’t really need to see another woman.  Duran has done it to death.  I do appreciate that the artwork carried over to the actual CD and DVD even with a D featured on them.  I do appreciate that they got a theme and stuck with it.  I wish that the CD and DVD were easier to get out and in.  I worry that I will end up putting fingerprints all over them!  Perhaps, they would have been better off putting it in different kind of case?  I don’t know.  Obviously, it doesn’t matter for the booklet at all, though.

Speaking of the booklet, I had a very similar reaction to Rhonda.  In fact, on that day, while she was still in her quest to find a Best Buy with a copy, I had texted her to complain that there are NO pictures of the band.  While I love art and I do (my mom is an artist), I also love seeing pictures of the band.  I keep seeing these great photoshoots but where are the photos?  When and where will I see them?  It is like they are trying to tease me/us!  Now, I do appreciate that they included the lyrics (unlike RCM—what does that say about what they think about these lyrics vs. those lyrics of the last album?!  Hmm….)  I also appreciated that they included the date of the writing/recording as well as who was a writer on the song.  🙂

My general impression is like Rhonda’s.  The packaging isn’t bad but it isn’t really what I’m used to.  Of course, they have a chance to redeem themselves a bit when they come out with the vinyl packaging.  I was much more impressed with the packaging for RCM’s vinyl than I was for the regular or deluxe version of it.  Perhaps, the same thing will happen with this album. 

Late March

Today, a news article in Variety magazine was released with some updated news about the band and their upcoming tour.  You can read the article here.

Once again, Durantime rears it’s head, complete with bed-head hair and the remnants of last night’s makeup underneath it’s eyes.  Clearly, it’s been a wild-ride thus far.  In reading the news, it’s impossible to overlook the fact that in December, the plan was to release early February, then mid-to late February, then March…and now late March.  I’m sure that there are many reasons behind the release date that someone like me, someone who is just a fan, would not even begin to understand. That said, the point of our blog is to examine the news from the point of view of the fan.  Sometimes, that’s a good thing.  Like it or not, the fans are the lifeblood to the longevity of the band.  If we’re excited about something, that certainly isn’t a bad thing.  The converse also holds true, however.  If the fans aren’t on board – it’s tough to make headway.  I’m not trying to make the fans appear to be an unstoppable force (although one glimpse of us at a show and perhaps that would seem to be the case!), but I am saying that we’re a team with the band.  It truly is teamwork that keeps the band going, and really – that keeps US going as fans.  So, with that in mind, I forge ahead.

My first thought upon reading the news of the day is that it’s already been quite a while since the digital version was released, and as far as I can tell – our excitement has already began to simmer down.  I think that’s natural, and in this day and age with electronic media – what at one point took an entire month to cycle (as in a magazine), now takes days.  Information flows so quickly that we consume it and go on to the next thing in a blink of an eye.  This gives anyone, any band, much more of a challenge to continue to remain new, fresh and relevant;  momentum can be gained and lost overnight.  I think that’s really the energy behind Twitter and even Facebook to some extent, and if bands and artists don’t learn how to use it, well – they lose it.  This is where my concern lies with Duran Duran.  The “public” has already heard the new single.  They have a decent portion (appetizer or otherwise) of the new album.  Sure, sales were good that first week – I’m not really sure how they’re doing now but I have to imagine they’ve weakened since then, and that’s OK.  That said, now there’s a real wait on our hands until late March…and let’s be honest…it could easily be late April, as happens in Durantime.  (imagine if they had decided to withhold everything until then?  As my friend Jessica mentioned today – MUTINY!)

I have to ask – how is that going to help them?  They had real momentum in December.  It would have been very easy to continue to capitalize on that by doing a select number of shows, MANY more interviews, etc.  Instead it would seem as though there was a slight hiccup or misstep in the planning process, and now we’ve got this huge gap of time.  Make no mistake, 3 and a half or four months between the release of digital material and the actual physical CD is a LONG time.  I’ve seen artists have their work released, distributed, and sent BACK to the distributor in that amount of time. (not kidding there)  It’s a gamble, to be sure.  I know they are putting new unheard material on the physical album, the packaging is supposed to be very cool, etc etc.  It all makes me think back to (Reach up for the) Sunrise off of Astronaut.  Here was the first single from the original 5 members in over 20 years.  It was released as a single off of the Queer Eye soundtrack – a different version, yes.  Then, in what I feel was a very risky move – it was released as the single off of the bands own album in yet another version.  Did it gain attention?  Nope.  Not even from fans – we’d already heard it.  Been there, done that, so to speak.  I have some concerns that this album is going to garner the same sort of attention, or lack thereof.  Of course, there were many other issues present with Astronaut, and I’m sure one can find a myriad of reasons why the album didn’t do as well as it should have commercially – MY point is simply that once the fans have heard it and consumed it – we move on quickly.

Then there is/are the sheer lack of dates.  We’ve got what appears to be about 2 months and some before the album drops – I read tweets each day from the band saying that they’re working on bass, keys, vocals for the bonus material – and while that’s exciting, what would really fill the time between now and the album dropping are shows.  That’s right, shows.  You want to keep the fans attention?  Play some shows.  Yeah, it would require work.  Yeah, it would be a pain in the butt to get it all together, but it would keep our interest, and the band might even get some new attention from new fans too.  Of course, they could already be planning shows, I have no idea.  There are rumors of some UK dates in February (seems to me that those should already have been announced or else they’re totally behind the 8-ball…),   but otherwise, I’ve heard of nothing.

I suppose one could say that the wait increases demand.  I would say in return that you’re playing an awfully risky game.  Fans are fickle, and the last album should have proven that without a doubt.  Sorry to those of you diehard RCM fans out there, but a lot of fans simply gave up on the band after that album was released.  So now other bands are starting to announce tours for the spring/summer, and people who might have thought about going to Duran shows are starting to consider other bands – and trust me when I say that most people do not have the money to do it all.  Recession…United States…banks failing all over the world…any of that ringing a bell with anyone?  I just don’t feel that Duran Duran is in the position to play that game and win.

For all of the downer news, however – there is always some good.  For instance, the CD/vinyl will have 14 tracks (if you’re counting, that means we haven’t heard at least 4 or 5 of them, depending upon whether Mediterranea is included), and according to their management, they are looking at doing specific packaging and extras for specific retailers, which means plenty of versions to buy.  I suppose that could be deemed as bad news – but for me, I want it all and I’m not ashamed of that.   We know that they’ll eventually announce tour dates, because they are planning a tour in April (hurry up April!), and in time – all of this waiting will be a distant memory.  Heck, if they wait long enough – I’ll probably forget all about it! (memory isn’t what it used to be!)

I suppose that some will say I’m impatient (no, really?), and some will say I’m negative. (listen, even if the glass is half empty – there’s still vodka left in there, how is that not positive?!?)   That’s OK.  I’m positive most of the time, I try to see the good in the band, and there’s plenty of that to see.  It’s just very hard not to notice the missteps at times, and ANY fan should be able to recognize that.  I still love them all and really, the bottom line here is that if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t mention any of it.  For that matter, I wouldn’t blog.

-R

Album Cover Artwork Interpretation

It has been a few days since Duran Duran revealed the cover to their new album, All You Need Is Now.  The discussion about it is still raging.  While there are many fans who find the cover fascinating, clever, interesting or thought-provoking, there are others who are openly disappointed, upset or worse.  Some fans are so angry that they have discussed trying to let the band or artist responsible know how upset they are.  In fact, some are declaring that this is an example of how disrespectful they are of their fans.  In this line of thought, people believe that the band should choose a cover that the fans like and some would love to see them allow us the chance to vote for the cover.  In the meantime, the community attempts to figure out exactly what the images are on the cover and what it means.  I, too, am trying to decide on the meaning.  Unlike many, though, I don’t believe that every little image should be figured out.  I prefer to look at the image as a whole and interpret from there.  In fact, I would argue that the images are distorted for a reason and if they wanted it all to be clear, then they would have chosen something completely different. 

Before, I dive into my interpretation, let me just be clear here.  This is only MY interpretation.  I fully expect many of you reading this to disagree.  I’m fine with that.  That said, I don’t need any insults coming my way for it, either. 

The first thing I notice when looking at the cover is that the left side is darker and less clear than the right side which features a bed, lights, something leopard on the floor.  Your eye tends to spot the big black dot first then moves over to the brighter side.  What does the big black dot with the wires or whatever coming off of it represent?  I’m not sure.  Many have said that they believe it to be a burn mark or an egg (as in conception).  I prefer to think more ambiguous.  I think one thing it could be is one’s subconscious–all of the parts we worry about, the past we aren’t proud of, the darkness within ourselves, etc.  The part that seems to try and get us no matter what, which is why there are “arms” or something reaching from it.  It seems to be reaching to either get to the light or to grab us back from the light.  It is the part that is often expressed in our dreams, our nightmares.  I see some sort of weird scary face at the bottom on that side.  (Others have seen an upside down chandelier there.)  I think the scary face or whatever could be the physical manifestation of worry.  I don’t know. Then, you move over to the lighter side.  There is the bed–perhaps to indicate that the dark side is often seen and felt while you sleep.  Yet, there is the lettering written to remind us that we can stay with the light because All You Need Is Now.  It is handwritten because the now isn’t always perfect.  Life, even when good, can be messy.  Is messy.  Nonetheless, the pink represents fun, good times and positive energy.  Notice that the big D is pink and crosses over.  Isn’t that what Duran has represented to all of us?  Generally the positive?  This positiveness, for most of us Duranies, has overlapped into the negative.  It sort of reminds me of the lyric to SAP–“You don’t need to dream at all but live a day.”  Isn’t that what they are saying there?  Just live.  Don’t worry.  Enjoy it.  Enjoy the now.  The positive now can’t overtake the negative but can make it more bearable, more tolerable.

Interestingly enough, the album cover does seem to be opposite of the t-shirts presented with solid, lettering onto basic black, white and red.  I wonder why.  I don’t have an answer for that.  Then again, I don’t really know if my interpretation is anywhere near what they were thinking.  Nonetheless, I hope that they don’t explain these things to us.  I want to ponder its meaning for years to come much like I do the lyrics to Union of the Snake.  I want the fandom to keep thinking and keep discussing.  I like that it isn’t simple and boring.  It has created such strong emotions in all of us.  Messy emotions.  Is this indicative of the music on the album?  I don’t know but cannot wait to find out.

-A

Merch

About a week ago, Duran Duran posted a picture of John and Roger wearing new t-shirts with the upcoming album title, “All You Need is Now.”  These t-shirts were in black and white and simply had that phrase.  Today, I received an email from the ddstore, letting me know that there are new items in the store, including these t-shirts and more advertising the new album.  I immediately had to go check things out, despite the fact that I was still at work and needed to finish a report.  Like many Duranies, I saw many products that caught my attention, including those and other t-shirts, mugs, etc.  Since then, I have seen other fans react with interest, matching my own, and others who aren’t feeling it.

The fans who are not interested in the new merchandise complain that these simple t-shirts look like they could have been made at an online “make your own custom products” store.  While I can’t necessarily argue with that, I also can see why they are as simple as they are.  The title of the album and, even the little part of the song I have heard, incident a feeling of embracing the present and living in the moment.  In many ways, it is about living simply and ignoring the past and stop worrying about the future.  It suggests the need to remove all of the extras and just go with what you love best.  For Duran Duran, it is the music.  Simple as that.  If they were to have really complex designs on the shirts, wouldn’t that be going against the overall feeling and mood they seem to be trying to convey?  Shouldn’t they be simple and straight-forward?  I love the idea of embracing the now and living simply and if the shirts and album help us with that, great!  Of course, the other complaint is about how costly they are, especially at this time of year.

Duran Duran and their management aren’t stupid (although, sometimes, we have wondered).  They are thinking about making a profit like any other business.  Obviously, they want to charge a lot more than what the shirts are worth in order to make money on them.  Yes, the shipping is horribly expensive for those of us living outside of the UK.  Yet, it seems smart of them to put these items up for sale now.  They didn’t wait for tour time, which is great.  First, people are getting ready to buy gifts for the holidays and many of these items could be given for such a purpose.  Second, some people (me) aren’t that excited to buy merchandise at a show.  People don’t have a lot of extra cash at those times because they have spent the money on tickets, travel, etc.  They don’t have a lot of money for extras.  Personally, I don’t like buying t-shirts and posters at a show because I can’t stand having to carry them around.  I will and I have done it when I have had no choice but I don’t like to.  Besides, I like having t-shirts to advertise a new album for the band ahead of time.  After all, if I’m excited about it, I want others to know.  In this day and age, there are too many people out there who don’t know that this band is still around and is still releasing new music.  Wearing t-shirts help to educate the public about the current status of Duran Duran.  🙂

Therefore, based on both the fact that I like the shirts and I like to show my Duranie pride (silly me!), I’m sure that I will be buying a shirt or two.  Of course, I will also put them on my wish lists and maybe my supportive family will buy me one!  Wouldn’t that be cool?! 

-A

Download vs. Actual Hard Copy

A new rumor has been posted on various message boards and on Gimme a Wristband.  This rumor came via Duran’s makeup artist.  According to this person, Duran’s album will be released through a download version in December and actual hard copy in January.  This, if it is true, is fascinating.

The first question I have is in regards to a record label.  Does Duran have one?  If so, which one?  Was this idea of two separate releases their idea or Duran’s?  What is the logic behind it?  Why does there need to be a month in between?  I, obviously, don’t have any answers to these questions.  I’m sure that, in time, all information will be shared.  Until then, I’m going to continue to speculate.  Maybe they do have a record label and one that wanted it just released via downloading as this would cost less for them and might move more “units”.  I could see Duran, specifically Nick arguing for a hard copy release.  After all, they have always been all about the packaging.  Of course, I could be all wrong.  Maybe the band is releasing it on their own.  They don’t want to wait for the hard copies to be pressed so they will release earlier via downloading.  (Yeah, I’m being super kind about the band’s desire to please the fans in this fashion!)

Assuming this rumor is true (big assumption, I know!), I, for one, am glad that they plan on releasing hard copies.  I can’t imagine not being able to hold a new Duran album in my hands.  What would it be like to not look through the lyrics?  I don’t know that I could survive not seeing the new cover.  If these things were missing, it would be like missing an essential part of Duran.  After all, they have always been about the visual as well the musical. 

-A

Album Cover Art

One of the topics most discussed across the Duranie community lately is that of the artist chosen to do the cover art for Duran’s next album, Cluney Reid.  Her work is not always easy or fun to look at but definitely interesting and thought provoking, in my opinion.  Duranies have had much to say about this choice and about album covers, in general.

It appears that most fans who have seen samples of Reid’s work are not impressed.  Those people, it seems, would prefer something more obvious, something easier to look at, something that generally seems happy.  Some fans prefer the cheerful, now iconic, image of the Rio cover. Other fans request covers featuring the band’s image like Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  Many mentioned the possibility of how the album cover might affect sales of the album.   This lead me to think about the purpose of both art and album covers.

Are album covers supposed to just help sell the album?  Are they supposed to encompass the overall feeling of the album?  Are they supposed to do something more and ask people to think about something?  It seems to me that they can do all three.  I don’t really know if an album cover could actually sell an album, especially now.  Would a cover make you buy something from an artist or band that you have never of?  Would it make you try a band again if they had not been enjoyable to you?  I doubt that the album cover would have much impact on sales in that way, especially in the era of downloading.  Maybe it helps fans be proud of an album, though, and that this pride translates into playing and showing the album to friends and family, which might result in more albums being sold.  Nonetheless, I suspect that any increase in sales via the album cover is minimal.  Should the album cover do more then just trying to sell copies then?

Should the cover reflect the mood or theme of the album?  Should it give a hint about what the music will sound like?  This seems possible to me.  If I see an angry image on the cover, I might have some idea that the music might be loud and angry, maybe something in more of a metal genre.  Likewise, if I see something happy and carefree, I would suspect that it might be light pop music.  Should the title then match the mood or feeling?  I think that it isn’t a horrible idea.  Duran has done that, sometimes.  Red Carpet Massacre has an album cover that certainly matches the title and to some extent, the music.  At other times, they haven’t.  For example, the album Astronaut showed a picture of the band rather than any space references.  Will this album cover match either the music or the title?  Will it do both?  Only time will tell.

One thing that I have always appreciated about Duran’s album covers is that they have always been interesting to me.  There are some I like more than others.  Yet, they have always made me think a bit more about art and about the music included.  If that is part of the goal of an album cover, then, I am beyond excited by the idea of using an artist like Reid who obviously wants people to think when they look at her work.  Maybe it will spur more discussion about some or many contemporary topics.  Perhaps, the fans will have much to ponder as they have had with past album covers.  For this, I appreciate that the band has always taken time to really think about the album’s cover.  Of course, sometimes, I have wished that they would not have spent so much time on the cover in order to get the album out faster!!!  🙂

-A

Our background and logo!

We are very fortunate to have access to a fabulous artist, my mother, who has created both our background image and our logo.  Lucky for me, she has always been someone who has supported my love of Duran Duran.  I have even caught her singing along at times!  I think she, especially, appreciates the song, “Notorious.”  🙂

When I gave her the task of creating our images, she was dubious.  She did not think that she would be able to capture what we hoped.  Yet, as always, she has not only met my expectations but exceeded them.  When I explained what we were looking for, the idea was completely influenced by Duran and things that have and will always remind us of them.  I wonder if other Duranies will be able to see what we see by our artwork.  I wonder if Duran Duran would be able to!  I suspect that they would, at the very least, appreciate it.

One thing I have always admired about the band was their connection to art with Nick and his photography and John with his graphic arts.  They have not only been friends with artists like Andy Warhol, personally, but have sought out ways to support artists and to include art in their work.  While I, like most Duranies, get frustrated by the time it takes for Duran to actually produce something (cd, documentary film, t-shirt logos, etc.), I am confident that they have taken PLENTY of time (and more!) to make sure that the product looks good, visually!  For example, while many in the Duran community did not necessarily like the album, Red Carpet Massacre, musically, I did not hear anyone complain about the package.  Of course, the solid packaging also helps to sell their products.  I know many people, myself included, bought Red Carpet Massacre on vinyl simply because of the cool look to it.  The actual vinyl was red!  How cool is that?!  That said, I’m fully expecting this upcoming album to be at least as visually stunning as the last album and the album before that and the album before that…
-A